# Newsmakers

Science  21 Dec 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5858, pp. 1841
1. # TWO CULTURES

Taking a break last year from observation runs at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, astronomer and flamenco guitarist Juan Delgado (front, right) began playing “Hotel California”—the Eagles' rock anthem from the 1970s. The moment inspired Kelly Fast (front, left) and her colleagues from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to describe in verse what it's like working at a high-altitude observatory, testing an instrument designed to study the atmospheres of Mars and Venus. “The baseline is drifting / The spectrum looks weird / Are those emission lines? / What's this dip over here?” Fast croons in the video as her frustrated colleagues point at spectrographic data.

“Hotel Mauna Kea” has been viewed more than 10,000 times on YouTube since its posting on 20 November. “It captures in a humorous way the trials and tribulations of observing, especially when one has built an instrument and is struggling to get data,” says Alan Tokunaga, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Fast says her group has some more songs up its sleeve, so stay tuned.

4. # ON CAMPUS

PERSUADED. Particle physicist Persis Drell has been named director of the 45-year-old Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Menlo Park, California. Acting director since September after the departure of Jonathan Dorfan, Drell, 51, was leading a search committee when Stanford President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy convinced her that she was the best person for the job. “They prevailed on me,” says Drell, who plans to revamp the lab's management to better match SLAC's newly diversified mission.

The daughter of SLAC professor emeritus Sidney Drell, Persis Drell came to the Department of Energy lab in 2002 and has helped broaden its research beyond particle physics. Experimenters will stop smashing particles in September, and in 2009 will begin using an x-ray laser for studies in materials science and biology. The lab is also pursuing astrophysics. “When we had a single mission, … we had one hill to climb and one flag to capture,” Drell says. “It's not so simple anymore.”

Drell is a natural leader, says William Madia, executive vice president for laboratory operations at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio. “As lab director, you have to love all your children,” he says, “and Persis understands all the parts of SLAC.”