John Hill watched with eager anticipation as controllers ramped up the power systems driving SLAC's X-ray laser in an attempt to achieve the record high energies needed to make his experiment a runaway success.
The Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist was the leader of a research team that had come from Illinois, Germany, Switzerland and England to use the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), and this was their last day. They would get only one shot.
Two SLAC physicists with decades of particle accelerator experience helped a Silicon Valley company design and build X-ray devices that scan cargo containers for nuclear materials and other hazards. A version of this screening system is now in commercial use, and on May 16, the company received national recognition for its successful development from the federal Small Business Administration.
SLAC researchers have demonstrated for the first time how to produce pairs of X-ray laser pulses in slightly different wavelengths, or colors, with finely adjustable intervals between them – a feat that will allow them to watch molecular motion as it unfolds and explore other ultrafast processes.
In 1971, physicist Burton Richter of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center was building a new type of particle collider called a storage ring. The lab’s two-mile-long linear accelerator—housed in what was then the longest building in the world—would shoot electrons and their antimatter twins, called positrons, into the 80-meter-diameter Stanford Positron Electron Accelerating Ring, and SPEAR would set the beams of particles on a collision course. Richter and his colleagues stood by to examine the debris to see what discoveries came out.