Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26 Meeting: Summary

The Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) Unveiling the Universe Day is tomorrow, Saturday, October 27 form 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

We will be leaving from CSM at 1:00 pm.

Here are some interesting facts about SLAC: (read more at SLAC)
  • SLAC began in 1962 with 200 employees.
  • Nearly 1,700 people now work on staff plus 300 postdoctoral researchers and graduate students.
  • 3,400 scientists from around the world use our cutting-edge facilities each year.
  • 1,000-plus scientific papers are published each year based on research at SLAC
  • 6 scientists have been awarded Nobel prizes for research at SLAC that discovered 2 fundamental particles, proved protons are made of quarks and showed how DNA directs protein manufacturing in cells.
  • Our employees hail from 50 countries.
  • 150 buildings sit on our 426-acre site on the Stanford campus.
  • 3,073.72 meters (1.9 miles) long, our linear accelerator is one of the longest buildings on Earth.
  • Electrons zip down that linear accelerator at >669,600,000 mph – 99.9999999 percent of the speed of light.
  • 275 universities make use of our resources, and 55 companies use our X-ray facilities for research aimed at developing medicines and other products.
  • SLAC works with Stanford in 4 research centers: Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, Stanford PULSE Institute and SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis.
  • Our X-ray laser zaps samples with pulses a few millionths of a billionth of a second long.
  • The lab has had 3 names:
    • Project M (1956-1960)
    • Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1960-2008)
    • SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (2008–present)
  • 3.2-billion -pixel camera we’re designing for the world’s deepest sky survey will shoot the equivalent of 800,000 8 -megapixel digital camera images per night.
  • 3.6-million -degree-F matter created in our labs mimics extreme conditions in the hearts of stars and planets.
  • SLAC managed construction of the main instrument for a space telescope that’s discovered more than 100 pulsars since its launch in 2008 .
  • The 1st website in North America was at SLAC, designed to help physicists share their research results.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 3

There are still spots available for the SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day, Saturday, October 27. If you would like to attend, register for the 2:00pm tour, here.

Tours Icon

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

The SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day is Saturday, October 27, 2:00 pm.

Some important information:

- Driver should bring a valid drivers license, photo ID or passport.
- Plan on arriving to SLAC 20-30 minutes prior to your scheduled tour time.
- Maps and driving directions to SLAC can be found at
After arriving at SLAC, you will proceed to parking lot C or E, park your vehicle, and then proceed on foot to the SLAC Visitors Center, Bldg 43, next to Panofsky Auditorium. Parking at SLAC is free.

The directions to SLAC from CSM are:

October 26 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The final t-shirt design is here. Place an order by coming to this week's meeting or emailing Laura at demsetz (at) smccd (dot) com.

The price is $11.35 each. Sizes are measured in adult male sizes.

October 19 Meeting: Summary

We voted on the final t-shirt design and took preliminary t-shirt orders.

We decided on turquoise as the letter color. Enough orders were placed so that the cost will be $11.35 each. Final orders and money will be collected at this week's meeting.

4 Turquoise
3 White
2 Tan
2 Lime

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 19 Meeting: Preview

We will continue working on the Arduino catapult project.

Here is one example of a catapult which uses a pulley system to pull back the arm:

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 3

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Open House is tomorrow. The directions to LBNL from CSM are:

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

There are still spots available for the SLAC Unveiling the Universe Day, Saturday, October 27. If you would like to attend, register for the 2:00pm tour, here.

Tours Icon

October 12 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

Members have asked about how much the current and voltage change when the analogwrite function is used. To test the current and voltage, I connected a multimeter to the Arduino across pin 9 and ground, and ran the following code:

int pin = 9;

void setup() {               
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);    

void loop() {
  for (int i = 0; i < 256; i = i + 10){
    analogWrite(pin, i);  

Here is the multimeter attached to the Arduino and meter dial:

Here is the graph of the output (10K Ohm resistor used to calculate the current):

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 12 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

We continue the Arduino Catapult project this week.

October 12 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Open House is this weekend.

Saturday, October 13, 10 am - 3 pm.

Free shuttle to enter the lab starts at The Crescent of the UC Berkeley campus.

Friday, October 5, 2012

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 3

The winner of the T-shirt competition is:
The winning t-shirt color is black. To see all the votes, look at the tab "T-shirt".

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 2

Members are encouraged to attend the Unveiling the Universe Day at SLAC on October 27, 1 - 6 pm. We will be attending the 2 pm tour.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

"In celebration of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s 50th Anniversary, the laboratory, in cooperation with the Bay Area Science Festival, will open its doors for Unveiling the Universe Day. Activities will be targeted to high school students and above, however all those over the age of 12 are welcome to explore our world-class research facility on October 27, 2012 from 1:00 PM- 6:00 PM. Registration is required.

"Participants will learn about the cutting-edge science underway at SLAC in fields ranging from physics and chemistry to astrophysics and materials science that is revealing the universe at its smallest and largest scales, at its fastest and most extreme.

• "Special tours of the SLAC Research areas including our world famous two mile long linear accelerator and the lab's advanced X-ray facilities will be provided.
• "SLAC scientists will also share how we explore the cosmos, from the origins of the universe to the nature of dark matter and dark energy in our unique 3-D Visualization Center"

October 5 Meeting: Summary, Part 1

We started the Arduino catapult project. We will keep working on this for the next two or three weeks. If you could not make it to this week's meeting, there is still room for you to join.

Here is one of the catapult kits (the potentiometers have not arrived yet):

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 4

We will be voting on the t-shirt design, so please take one last look at the designs ("T-Shirt" tab above).

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 3

We finished introducing the Arduinos. If you were unable to finish all the sample circuits, do not worry - you will learn as we go. We will start the Arduino catapult project this week.

Objective: Construct a machine that throws a small rubber ball as far as possible. The machine that throws the ball the farthest wins.

    Popsicle sticks
    wood dowel
    foam core board
    thin wire
    rubber bands
    hot glue
    metal ballast
    manila folder
    hanging Folder
    paper clips
    cotton string
    Arduino kit

    1. The machine must be stationary.
    2. The machine must operate without human aid – only the pushbutton and potentiometer may be touched in order to launch the ball.
    3. The machine should be able to re-load and launch a second ball without the need of human aid other than touching the pushbutton or potentiometer.

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 2

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 2012 Open House is approaching. It is Saturday, October 13, 10 am to 3 pm. We will organize transportation.

There are many activities, which you can read in the program guide here.

10:30 am Manfred Auer — A 3-D Peek Into the Inner Workings of Cells
11:00 am Nathan Hillson — Synthetic Biology: What it Is and How it’s Useful
Noon Saul Perlmutter — The Nobel Prize One Year Later
12:30 pm Paul Alivisatos (Berkeley Lab Director) — Climate Change: What We Need to Know and What We Need to Do”
1:30 pm Ian Hinchliffe — Latest News on the Higgs Boson From the Large Hadron Collider
2:00 pm Blake Simmons — Driving the Bioeconomy: Advanced Biofuels at Joint BioEnergy Institute
2:30 pm Peter Denes — A Next Generation Light Source

October 5 Meeting: Preview, Part 1

The SLAC tour is approaching. Journalist Nathan Mattise of ArsTechnica visited SLAC recently and posted this article: "A rare tour of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (in pictures)".

"Last month, SLAC Labs (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) reached its golden anniversary. After 50 years of operation the organization has built up quite a résumé. For instance, it claims six different Nobel prize-winning scientists for research that discovered two different fundamental particles. And today the facility keeps on churning out science: 1,000-plus papers come out of SLAC each year from the roughly 3,400 scientific professionals from across the world that utilize the facility."