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Press Release: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson Dedicates New Research Facility at Stanford

Date Issued:October 26, 1998


  • Office for Communications, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center: Telephone: 650-926-8703 Fax Number: 650-926-8793


  • Michael Riordan, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center: 1 (650)926-2613
  • David Salisbury, Stanford: 1 (650)725-1944
  • John Belluardo, Department of Energy: 1 (510)637-1811

Menlo Park -- Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today joined leading scientists from around the world at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) to dedicate a state-of-the-art research facility called the B Factory.

Funded by $177 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, this particle collider is a collaborative project of SLAC and the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

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"The B Factory will help examine one of nature's great secrets -- why matter exists in the Universe," said Secretary Richardson. "I congratulate the three laboratories involved for once again demonstrating why our national laboratories are the crown jewels of this nation."

"The new B Factory guarantees that SLAC will continue to be an exciting place to do research at the frontiers of particle physics well into the 21st century," said SLAC Director Dr. Burton Richter.

Stanford University Provost Condoleezza Rice added her congratulations, "Stanford University is very proud to have managed SLAC for more than three decades and we are very excited to be part of these very significant scientific accomplishments. The research done here at SLAC will no doubt play a major role in our future understanding of science."

The B Factory accelerates two beams of subatomic particles to nearly the speed of light, then forces them to cross. At the crossing point, some of these particles collide, producing tiny bursts of pure energy that materialize almost immediately as other subatomic particles called B mesons.

The B Factory is the world's first particle collider in which the electrons and positrons meet at unequal energies; electrons have almost three times the energy of positrons. Because of this difference, plus the need to circulate high currents in order to produce millions of B mesons, physicists have designed a machine with the two different kinds of particles traveling in two separate rings.

A complex array of magnets near the crossover point brings the beams together and then separates them after they clash. These magnets also focus the beams down to small dimensions in order to enhance the chances of obtaining electron-positron collisions.

The collider is now in the midst of a long tuning process, or commissioning, that will continue into the spring, when the machine is scheduled to begin operations for physics research. In January, a 1,000-ton particle detector known as BaBar will be moved into position at the point where the two beams intersect.

The design and construction of the BaBar detector also involved important contributions of nine international partners: Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This detector is designed to search through the debris of electron-positron collisions for evidence of short-lived B mesons. By comparing the production and disintegration of these particles, physicists hope to learn more about the differences between matter and antimatter that led to the Universe being composed almost entirely of matter.

Other participants at the dedication included Congresswomen Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren; Dr. Martha Krebs, Director of DOE's Office of Science; Dr. Bruce Tarter, Director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Dr. Charles Shank, Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and DOE's Oakland Operations Office Manager Dr. James Turner.

Stanford University operates SLAC on behalf of the Department of Energy. Established in 1962, SLAC is a world-class research facility with 1,200 employees on site, 2,500 visiting researchers from around the world, and an annual budget of approximately $172 million. Three SLAC scientists have won Nobel Prizes for ground-breaking experiments done at the laboratory.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was founded on the Berkeley campus of the University of California in 1931. It is the oldest of the Department of Energy laboratories. The current budget is $330 million and 3,800 employees work in diverse fields such as fundamental physics, energy conservation technology, genetics, medical imaging, materials science, and structural biology. Lawrence Berkeley is involved in research activities such as the Human Genome Center, which focuses on development of human DNA sequencing, and the Advanced Light Source (ALS), the world's most powerful source of "soft" x-rays for basic and applied research.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was established in 1952, also under the management of the University of California, to help ensure national security through the design, development, and stewardship of nuclear weapons. National security continues to be the Laboratory's defining responsibility. Lawrence Livermore has additional programs in energy, the environment, and bioscience to improve human health. The technical expertise acquired in defense work has also been used to achieve major national innovations ranging from uranium enrichment to space technology. The current budget is $1.3 billion with 7,400 employees.

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