MENLO PARK — A local government laboratory whose research has led to three physics Nobel Prizes is bringing back free public tours this month.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a Department of Energy facility operated by Stanford, is offering tours on April 15 and April 29 for the first time in roughly three years.
“Tours were put on hold because the previous tour program coordinator left, and there were some temporary budget constraints on filling that position,” said Andrew Gordon, SLAC’s external communications manager, adding that the lab is looking to offer tours more than twice a month in the near future.
The downside is the tours are generating so much interest that the April spots have been filled. Gordon said registration for tours in May will begin at 9 a.m. April 29, and that the May tour dates will be finalized and posted to SLAC’s website in the near future. For more information or to register for future tours, visit http://tinyurl.com/slactour.
Tours last 90 minutes and attendees must be at least 12 years old and are asked to wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes. Attendees under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and all must sign waivers.
“There is a little bit of walking involved,” said Gordon, adding shuttles ferry attendees between sites.
Guests start by watching a short, introductory film before visiting a portion of the 2-mile-long linear accelerator to learn about its history and significance. From there, guests are ferried to the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world’s first electron-free hard X-ray laser. Guests can view up to seven active experiment stations, “depending on what experiments are taking place,” Gordon said.
Though it is not part of the tour, a project SLAC is currently working on, in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, is using X-rays to research ways to eliminate silver and lead from solar cell manufacturing to bring down prices.
Tours begin at 1:15 p.m. in the SLAC Orientation Theater, Room 1010, Building 53 (2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park).