News FocusNATIONAL LABS

For a Famous Physics Laboratory, A Quick and Painful Rebirth

Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 221-223
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_221

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Summary

Renowned for particle physics experiments, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has reinvented itself as a multipurpose lab featuring the world's first x-ray laser. Like a butterfly cracking its chrysalis, SLAC has shed its former self. On 7 April 2008, physicists turned off the lab's last particle smasher. On 10 April 2009, they turned on its new flagship facility, the world's first x-ray laser. And although Director Persis Drell has reorganized the lab to try to break down barriers between the particle physics and x-ray science sides of the lab, some are critical of the transition to a multipurpose lab, saying that the lab is now more bureaucratic and has lost the cohesive culture that made it such a stimulating place to work.