By Taghi Rostami
You might have heard about Slack, the messaging app, but the SLAC that I am going to talk about is spelled differently as you see and does scientific research, totally unrelated to messaging.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is one of 10 Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science laboratories and is operated by Stanford University on behalf of the DOE. Since its opening in 1962, SLAC has been helping create the future. SLAC built the world’s longest particle accelerator, discovered some of the fundamental building blocks of matter and created the first website in North America. This facility attracts thousands of scientists from all over the world each year. Along with their own staff scientists, they’re working to discover new drugs for healing, new materials for electronics and new ways to produce clean energy and clean up the environment (SLAC’s website).
SLAC’s revolutionary X-ray laser is revealing intimate details of atoms and chemical reactions and making stop-motion movies of this tiny realm, with the goal of doing the same for living cells. SLAC’s scientists are also exploring the cosmos, from the origin of the universe to the nature of dark energy, and developing the smaller, more efficient particle accelerators of the future (SLAC’s website).
If you are majoring in science or have the tiniest interest in science-based research, I totally recommend visiting SLAC. During this tour, we went to Accelerator site which is about 2 miles long inside a straight narrow long building expanded on both sides of highway I-280. Then we visited SLAC’s control room where there were hundreds of monitors on the walls being watched by controllers to prevent any catastrophe. There, we met a person involved with power and energy needs of the facility and found out SLAC is one of the greatest consumers of power in the country and has to acquire it from different sources. In the end, we headed to X-ray laser facility which was my favorite part. In this facility, they could film atoms and chemical reactions as well as delicate biological samples, including infectious viruses, living cells, and proteins. The tour guides, scientists themselves, were gracious and shared a wealth of information during the Site visits and bus rides. I consider SLAC among research facilities that define the future in science realm and recommend visiting the facility to anyone interested in science.