KIPAC Newsletter, Winter 2015

Dear KIPACers,

We have many wonderful news items to share with you before this winter break. E.g. that the annual report is out, a number of recognitions of KIPAC members, some nice science results and some good news for our projects. We hope you will have a restful break and are looking forward to seeing you back for an exciting 2016.

Happy Holidays!  



for the KIPAC management team

Tom, Pat, Ziba, Greg, and Risa

PS: As always please let us know about any omissions and possible future Newsletter items.

  • Please feel free to use our KIPAC Holiday Greeting CardIf you print it two sided it folds in the middle and gives you the extra KIPAC cheer.
  • The KIPAC Holiday Party will be held on Dec 18, at Mistral Restaurant and Bar, 370-6 Bridge Pkwy, Redwood City.  If you can attend - we look forward to see you there!  
  • SuperCDMS successfully passed their CD1 review. Congratulations to the whole team for passing this important milestone.
  • Congratulations to  Leonardo Senatore for winning the New Horizon’s prize was honored for his "outstanding contributions to theoretical cosmology" by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
  • Congratulations also to Steve Kahn on being elected as a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science for his ongoing leadership of the LSST project and for his contributions to X-ray astronomy through observations made with XMM-Newton’s Reflection Grating Spectrometer.
  • Greg Madejski and our alumnus Stefan Funk have been elected to be Fellows of the American Physical Society.  Greg’s citation reads “for insightful research over a thirty year career on relativistic jets and rich clusters of galaxies, his effective contributions to many successful high energy astrophysics space missions, and leadership in the community.”  Stefan’s citation reads “For scientific contributions and effective leadership in high-energy gamma-ray astrophysics.”  
  • Kate Folett’s, Bruce Macintosh and their colleagues in Arizona and elsewhere  announced a major discovery in Nature on a first incontrovertible detection of a planet still in the process of forming. The paper is in in Nature magazine and received significant public attention in various News outlets.
  • Congratulations to Peter Sturrock on having his new book ‘Late Night Thoughts About Science’ published and available for the holiday season on Amazon. One nice characterization on Amazon says: "This book is written by a renowned scientist for everyone who dismisses extra-ordinary phenomena out of hand, without knowledge of the facts. It is an eye opener and a mind opener! It reveals a vaster world, beyond the reach of our current scientific paradigm." - Federico Faggin, co-inventor of the microprocessor
  • LUX reported improving their sensitivity to lower mass WIMPS. The work of SLAC team was instrumental for the latest papersubmitted to Physical Review Letters. The first run of the new liquid noble test platform at SLAC also successfully condensed 80 kilograms of xenon and will be used for testing prototypes for the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter search. This is another key technological milestone passed.
  • Astro-H launch has been scheduled for February 12 2016, at the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center.  Astro-H is a joint Japanese - US project, and will carry a novel microcalorimeter designed for high-resolution spectroscopy of celestial X-ray sources.  See
  • New arrivals:  
    • Daniel Gruen has recently arrived from Munich, and is joining KIPAC as an Einstein Fellow.  Daniel will continue work on the Dark Energy Survey and other topics in cosmology and LSST.
    • Hirokazu Odaka just arrived - he will be working with Greg Madejski on the Astro-H project, studying the particle-induced background in Astro-H instruments, but also analyzing data for accreting black holes and neutron stars.  
  • Fermi Collaboration meeting will take place at SLAC on March 14-17, and will be followed by one-day Symposium and dinner to celebrate scientific accomplishments of our own Elliott Bloom - this will be on Friday, March 18.  Please mark your calendars!  
  • We have two astrophysics and cosmology related courses for graduate students offered in the Winter Quarter:  PHYS 361Cosmology, A comprehensive exposition of the standard model of cosmology, connecting a fundamental physics description to contemporary and proposed observations taught by Roger Blandford. Also there is a 2 unit course PHYS 368 entitled “Computational Cosmology and Astrophysics”, taught primarily by Tom Abel, introducing students to techniques for studying the dynamics of dark matter and gas as it assembles over cosmic time to form structure in the Universe.
  • KIPAC Annual Report of 2015 is now also online.
  • Winter shutdown regulations:

Phishing attacks at SLAC: On Nov. 24, the account of a SLAC employee was used to send phishing emails to most SLAC employees. Contained several grammatical errors and did not have any SLAC branding/identifiers. Did NOT contain malware and exploited the trust people have for messages from coworkers. About 40 people clicked the link in the emails, and 19 of those provided their password to the attacker. Subsequently, those accounts were used to send phishing emails to SLAC and other organizations. 10 accounts in all sent phishing messages. Some of these, including patient zero  were likely compromised in an earlier phishing attack. Please exercise extra care with computer security! Double check the URL’s in your browser if you use webmail and make sure it says: and not anything else.