- JAG Announces Upcoming Events: Spring Party, Run-A-Round
- Engineers Celebrate National Week
- Staff Dev. & Training Provides Spring Schedule, Info Programs
- HR&S Plans Benefits Open Enrollment Period
- Beware: IRS Changes Business Travel Rates
A new initiative announced by the Dept. of Energy and the National Science Foundation aims to rapidly boost the nation's scientific computing capability 100-fold. The Strategic Simulation Initiative, or SSI, would by 2003 establish a national scientific network of "terascale" computers routinely capable of executing at least one trillion operations, or "teraflops," per second. Currently, most stand-alone supercomputers operate in the "gigaflops" range, capable of billions of calculations per second.
SSI advocates say the increased computational brawn should lead to significant advances in the understanding of the complex behaviors of atoms, molecules, fluids, materials, and of biological, climate and physics-related systems, such as nuclear fusion and quark-gluon dynamics. Computer modeling of such power and precision would essentially mimic reality, allowing scientists to radically improve the quality and accuracy of simulations. Jefferson Laboratory's participation in the initiative should enable its continuous electron beam to run more efficiently, provide users more power for analyzing experimental data and aid theorists in a more complete understanding of the atomic nucleus.
"The whole idea is to create very cost-effective supercomputing," says Jefferson Lab senior scientist Chip Watson, head of the Laboratory's high-performance computing project.
Currently, the Lab's Computer Center oversees a complex of 80 high-capacity networked computers providing data reduction and analysis in support of JLab's experimental program. The Center manages data volumes far in excess of those generated by any previous nuclear physics experiments conducted at other research facilities, either in the United States or abroad. Plans call for a doubling of the Center's data-handling network within the next year.
Elsewhere, the most demanding calculations still will be performed on stand-alone, state-of-the-art supercomputers consisting of a large number of very fast, interconnected microprocessors. But other calculation-intensive tasks will be handled by clusters of "symmetric multi-processor" machines, or SMPs, also known as "cluster supercomputers". Key to the operation of the clusters --- which should eventually built from commercially available personal computers --- will be parallel software not typically available to the average personal computer user.
Most personal computers are based on serial processors and algorithms that carry out instructions in a set sequence, one after another. Parallel computation derives its speed from a software strategy that subdivides calculations into discrete subtasks and then executes them simultaneously.
"The way to get the computing power is to go parallel," explains Roy Whitney, Jefferson Laboratory's administration division associate director. "A lot of this activity is already taking place in several arenas. There are a number of high-capacity centers. We plan to have a version here of what's available nationally and with our collaborating universities be a leader in serveral areas."
Close to Home
At Jefferson Lab, cluster supercomputing will eventually entail a large increase in computing power, with the goal of addressing problems requiring massive amounts of processing time. Included among the examples of calculation-intensive issues that JLab expects to address are much faster analysis of the huge volumes of data being produced by experimenters in the Lab's three experimental halls; the intensity and focus of the accelerator's electron beam; studies of the complex interplay of particles and forces within an atomic nucleus; and verification of the equations describing the quark theory of matter that underlies all of the Laboratory's nuclear physics experiments.
"Now's the time to make this push into high-performance supercomputing," Watson asserts. "The experiments are starting to move from acquiring data to analyzing data. We are designing FEL upgrades. Increasing our computing power for all these applications would be very helpful."
A small cluster supercomputer can be built for as little as $200,000 - one-tenth of the $2 million cost of a comparable conventionally designed machine. But for many problems its computational power will rival that of high-end models.
Cluster supercomputers should stimulate progress in advanced materials development, like the next generation in high-temperature alloys, as well as improved magnetic photovoltaics for solar cells and atom-size components that will comprise future computers. By permitting many more and faster calculations, cluster supercomputers should allow scientists to save enormous amounts of time when performing simulations prior to experiment design.
As an initial part of its local SSI effort, Jefferson Lab will also be working with universities across the country on fine-tuning next-generation parallel software. Lab-developed computer code could be applied to other physics-related research, including advanced accelerator design, energy production and transport and matters related to the structure and behavior of materials.
"There is nothing special about the hardware. What is special is the software we put on the machines," Watson explains. "We'll be doing what amounts to next-generation software development, pushing the state of the art in cluster supercomputing. It's very cost effective."
JLab's supercomputing foray will begin with the purchase of a cluster of workstations to perform complex computations related to a physics theory known as Lattice QCD. Once up and running, this cluster supercomputer should initially attain an application speed of more than 10 billion calculations per second. Future improvements and upgrades in hardware, application code and software libraries will likely hike speeds by at least a factor of 10 and eventually 100.
Speed limits on American highways are set as much by law as by engineering. So, too, for research data collected at the Laboratory¹s three experimental halls, where the laws of physics and the limits of technology hold sway. But this summer those boundaries will be stretched with a pedal-to-the-metal approach that will accelerate Hall B into the data-collection fast lanes.
Equipment and software upgrades should boost rates of data acquisition by almost 50 percent, from 11 megabytes to as many as 16 megabytes per second. Given that a byte is the equivalent of a single character (such as a letter, a numeral or a punctuation mark), Hall B will be the envy of even the most prolific writer, creating some 3.2 million "words" every second. At such rates, Hall B could theoretically produce a trillion bytes of raw information per day. A week's worth of collected data could thus approach the total number of characters contained within the 17 million books currently catalogued in the Library of Congress.
According to Graham Heyes, JLab head of data acquisition, the increase in collection rates is good news for researchers tracking the outcomes of experiments, as well as for Laboratory staff overseeing and running the halls.
"Most of these experiments are based on statistics. Precision is important, so a large number of events is very important," he says. "If we can substantially increase the rate of data acquisition and transmission, we substantially decrease the amount of time required to do the experiment. Taking the same amount of data in three days that once was taken in a week saves everybody time and money."
Cutting Through the Clutter
Ingenuity has played a major role in the upgrade's planning and development. Although there are physical constraints on how quickly data can be collected and routed, Lab designers have designed workarounds combinations of computer programs, hardware configurations and the pending installation of high-capacity fiber optics that permit more efficient data gathering and transmission.
In particular, designers contended with the telecommunications links between Hall B and the Lab¹s Computer Center. It has taken time and thought, says Dieter Cords, head of Hall B¹s On-line Group for CLAS experiments, but the problem has been resolved.
"It's more complicated than just buying equipment," Cords explains. "You have to take a number of steps to remove bottlenecks. As with any emerging technology, it's a matter of price and convenience."
Storage currently poses little problem; culled information is eventually stockpiled in the Lab's Computer Center, in a device known as the "Silo". Thus far, roughly 40 terabytes of data from all three halls have been amassed on 1,000 of the Silo's 6,000 tapes. Even with Hall B's increased rate of data acquisition, it will be some time before the Silo's capacity is taxed.
Such information inundation is made possible by the detector at the heart of Hall B. Called CLAS, for CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer, the detector's components include time-of-flight counters, energy-measuring calorimeters and particle-tracking drift chambers. CLAS records, on average, 2,200 particle interactions per second on 40,000 data channels.
However fast they prove to be, not all particle interactions are created equal. Particle-interaction recordings may be contaminated by extraneous events. This "noise" can be caused by such factors as background radiation in the hall, electronics associated with detector subsystems, even electrical spikes generated by broken wires.
"These systems don't have to be foolproof, but they do have to be highly calibrated," Cords says. "Many physicists can be involved in just one experiment. Every user wants to ensure that all the data we take is analyzable."
To the rescue has come corrective software developed by physicists working on the CLAS team. Over the past years they have produced data analysis and reconstruction programs for Hall B that interpret experimental results, adjusting for CLAS system changes and weeding out those events that are incomplete or noisy.
"You have to keep running very hard to stay still and even faster to get ahead," says data acquisition head Heyes. "But for the foreseeable future Hall B is where we want it to be."
During Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson's visit in January, ten Jefferson Lab staff members were awarded patents for inventions created while pursuing Jefferson Lab's mission.
Stan Majewski and Randolph Wojcik, Physics Division, received patent certification for their dual energy, scanning beam laminographic x-radiography process. The improvements in the design of a scanning x-ray device can be used for medical imaging and non-destructive analysis of materials. The duo's unique, multiple energy detector improves the sensitivity and image quality over what is currently available in x-radiography.
A superconducting radiofrequency (SRF) window assembly improvement made by Larry Phillips and Thomas Elliott, Accelerator Division, earned them a patent. They improved upon the design of the microwave window assemblies currently used in the CEBAF and FEL accelerators. Their new design increases the energy efficiency of the accelerator and simplifies the assembly process. This technique could be used when CEBAF technology is applied to future state-of-the-art accelerator systems for scientific, industrial or defense applications.
The Physics team of Brian Kross, Stan Majewski, Lukasz Majewski (Stan's son), and Carl Zorn now share a patent for their flexible, liquid core light guide, which includes focusing and light shaping attachments. This invention adds to a number of patents Jefferson Lab scientists have previously disclosed on flexible light guides, which have applications in basic research, medicine and illumination. Many companies have already expressed interest in commercializing this technology. This patent adds a versatile focusing element to the Lab's flexible light guide design < allowing concentration or expansion of an illuminated area.
Majewski, Wojcik and Zorn also teamed up to improve the performance of light guides over a wide temperature range allowing them to be used in environments between 0 and 140 degrees F enhancing their operational range.
Another invention with broad potential for application is William Brooks' incipient fire detection system. The Physics staff member earned a patent for developing a new type of fire detection system that is so sensitive within contained environments it could detect a fire just starting. The system uses infrared light to detect the products of combustion before visible flame and smoke are apparent. This invention has both industrial and commercial applications.
Majewski, Daniela Steinback, Andrew Weisenberger and Wojcik developed a compact, high-resolution, gamma ray imaging device for scintimammography and other medical diagnostic applications. Their compact, highly-sensitive detection system for medical imaging uses biological traces that emit weak gamma rays to pinpoint cancer in the body. This device is the basis for the collaboration of the first commercial spin-off from Jefferson Lab. Dilon Technologies, Inc., is currently developing a commercial breast imaging system based on licenses of this technology. The first systems are undergoing clinical trials at the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University.
David Kashy, Physics, was awarded a patent for designing a new radiofrequency shielded bellows. This is an important improvement for the vacuum chambers used to transport high-brightness electron beams for physics research and Free Electron Lasers. Kashy's innovation provides a significantly lower-cost method of manufacturing this hardware than the current process.
Each of these individuals received a plaque recognizing their achievement as well as a monetary award from SURA. The Southeastern Universities Research Association now holds 17 Lab-initiated patents for inventions created while staff pursued Jefferson Lab's mission.
The Lab's License and Patent Review Committee carefully reviews each disclosed invention and determines the appropriate action to take after considering available resources, relationship to core technologies and potential for commercialization, scientific value or technological advancement.
After setting a new personal best of 5.071 GeV in December, the accelerator made another jump in beam energy during a February 1 test run. The five-pass beam achieved 5.516 billion electron volts on its first high gradient run after helium processing of eight cryomodules (64 cavities) in January.
The accelerator was operating 36% above its original design specification of 4.045 GeV during the test. A few minor glitches were identified during the February run, according to Jay Benesch, senior staff scientist. "We're working these issues now and we'll do another test run March 7," Benesch said. "We'll start running beam at this energy to support physics experiments on March 26."
Achieving 5.516 GeV beam is a major milestone in support of the Lab's physics program
Many people have worked long hours over the past 18 months to bring beam energy up to 5.5 GeV. For some it was part of their job, but for others it was a chance to become more involved in the operation of the Lab's electron accelerator and do something new.
Such was the case for a group of Accelerator Division safety staff. Their first chance to help came last summer. Helium processing was scheduled over the Fourth of July break. It looked like the MCC Safety Systems Operators (SSOs) were going to have to work through a much-deserved holiday until Sandy Prior, Accelerator Division EH&S officer, realized that, with the necessary training and certification, Safety staff volunteers could fill in for the SSOs. "I had set a personal objective to become a qualified SSO because I thought the knowledge I gained would help me to better anticipate the EH&S needs of my managers," Prior said. "Charlie Reece and the Accelerator Development Department's need [for SSOs during helium processing] was the perfect opportunity for making my objective a reality." The next step was approaching the other division EH&S staff; they were also eager and willing to help.
"In order to do the job, we had to become SSOs," Prior explained. The safety volunteers attended eight hours of training given by Kelly Mahoney, Safety Systems group leader. Then they had to spend volunteer time, before or after finishing their normal duties, in the Machine Control Center working the Safety System console. The last step in becoming an SSO was taking and passing a test.
"I'm really proud of my safety staff for the time and energy they put into becoming qualified SSOs and for the amount of time they've volunteered during the helium processing. This was a good opportunity for crosstraining. We were able to expand our experience and provide a vital service. I think this is an important aspect of integrated safety management," Prior commented. "But most important for me is that I now feel like I'm really part of the team!"
Prior feels the experience also enhanced her primary job. "I can better evaluate TOSPs (Temporary Operational Safety Procedures) with my new insight into the accelerator¹s operation and Personnel Safety Systems," she said.
The helium processing offered the safety staff a good time to ease in to SSO duties. "Normally, the SSO is dealing with 10 things at once," said Kevin Crossett, industrial hygiene specialist. "Things were pretty slow during He processing. Our most important tasks were keeping up with log entries and coordinating the Development Department's activities with other maintenance going on in the accelerator," Crossett added. "Normally, I don't have a lot to do with the accelerator. This was a great opportunity to re-familiarize myself with what goes on down there [in the accelerator]."
Eric Hanson, Accelerator Site safety warden, took advantage of his two owl shifts. To fill the hours when SSO demands were minimal, Hanson learned the steps involved in processing the cavities. "Later, I was able to give Charlie [Reece] an extra set of hands to work on the module. It was a great opportunity."
Dean Helms bounded up from his chair to wrestle the thick binder from a neatly arranged office bookshelf. "This", said the Dept. of Energy Site Office manager, plopping the heavy volume on his desk, "represents the terms and conditions that DOE and SURA (the Southeastern Universities Research Association) have to live up to [concerning the management and operation of Jefferson Lab]. Fortunately, we've had very little problem."
As of January 2, Helms left the post he held at the Lab for more than a decade retiring after 32 years of service with DOE. Deputy Manager Jerry Conley is serving as the acting manager until Helms' vacancy is filled. Helms leaves to his successor a highly-trained, professional staff and a legacy of working closely with the Lab a relationship that is the envy of many other national laboratories and research facilities.
Established in 1987, the DOE Site Office is the federal government's representative in all matters relating to the Lab's contract compliance and administration, overseeing conformity to official standards and regulations. Those regulations include health and safety procedures, disposition of intellectual property rights, rules governing hiring and firing, and contracts and procurements. Including the manager position, the Site Office employs eight.
Helms said he always viewed the relationship with JLab as a true partnership. "We have what could be described as a white hat/black hat role," he said, explaining the purpose behind the Site Office. "In one sense, we're an auditor; we check SURA's compliance with rules and regulations. We've been fortunate, though, because SURA has taken their responsibilities very seriously. They put in place programs and procedures that assure compliance."
At the Head of the Class
In June 1995, SURA and DOE negotiated their first performance-based contract, an agreement wherein both parties jointly described and agreed to desired outcomes and performance measures. As part of that contract, SURA has received from DOE a numerical and descriptive score in each of seven categories, each fiscal year since FY96. The scores are tallied and an overall rating is assigned from five possible grades: unsatisfactory; marginal; good; excellent; and outstanding.
In 1996 and 1997, JLab received ratings of outstanding. The Lab recently scored a third outstanding for 1998. The results were released in the DOE's FY98 Contracting Officer's Overlay Performance Evaluation Report released Jan. 8. "Based on these ratings as well as the scientific, technical and institutional management accomplishments, the DOE authorized a 5-year contract extension with SURA," said DOE Site Office Contracting Officer Wayne Skinner. "The Department's policy is to compete these contracts unless there are extenuating circumstances. The Site Office strongly recommended that the current contract be extended based upon SURA's performance and on August 14, 1998, the Secretary of Energy approved the Site Office's recommendation."
While the Site Office must be strict with compliance issues, it also has been diligent in helping the Lab avoid unnecessary regulation. The Site Office and SURA have labored to exempt the Lab from expensive, "one-size-fits-all solutions" that don't apply: "At times," Helms said, "it's been one heck of a challenge to keep unreasonable policies and programs from being implemented at JLab."
Over the years, Helms said the Site Office often found itself in the role of advocate when it came to promoting increased funding for Lab upgrades and improvements. Indeed, it is the prospect of a robust future for the Lab that heartens Helms, who pointed to the sustained interest of young researchers and community support as two primary reasons for optimism.
"You walk the halls here and see a bunch of bright young people," Helms said. "You don't find that in a lot of places. You have a collection of intelligent, motivated individuals and a strong leader, supported by the user community and the community at large. We'll see spin-off and incubator technologies spring up next door. The Lab's future is extremely bright."
Looking for a little fun in the sun? It's not far off! The Jefferson Lab Activities Group would like to let you know about upcoming events.
A spring morale booster is tentatively planned for March 26. Watch for more information in the March newsletter, on the JLab news web page or the JAG page (www.jlab.org/intralab/committees/jag).
The JAG has scheduled the Run-A-Round for May 6. This will be the Lab's 14th annual fun run. Begin training now for that record-breaking finish, or start putting together a relay team! The JAG T-shirt subcommittee is accepting submissions for the 1999 Run-A-Round T-shirt design contest through February 26. On-line voting to pick the new design will take place during the first half of March.
If you'd like information on submitting a design, call JAG members Dave Williams, ext. 7183, or Shannan Kyte, ext. 7337, or check any of the JAG bulletin boards for details.
To celebrate National Engineering Week, all JLab engineers are invited to a party in the Residence Facility great room, February 26 from 3 - 4:30 p.m. Call Betty Beeler, ext. 7491 to make your reservation.
The Lab's Staff Development & Training spring curriculum catalog is available at all three Human Resources & Services information centers. You may also access the new training schedule by visiting the HR&S web page at http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/train/.
The program includes EH&S classes, general staff development programs and management development courses, as well as walk-in programs and something called Training on Demand. These are prepared programs that group leaders may order and have presented at their groups' convenience.
For more information about specific training or class schedules, pick up the catalog, visit the HR&S web site, or call the Staff Development & Training office at ext. 7128 or 7170.
The next series of JLab informational programs describing the Lab's function has begun. Building upon last fall's lectures explaining how the Lab's experiments are conducted, this spring's presentations center on how the Accelerator and the FEL work. "Accelerator Operations for Everyone" includes:
- Injectors: How to Excite an Electron
- Rf and Cavities: Things Your Dentist Didn't Tell You
- Cryogenics: Help! My Tongue's Stuck to the Cryomodule
- Beam Transport: Scotty Lauze and the Beam Benders
- Diagnostics & Optics: Say, Ah,
- 1001 Reasons Why There's No Beam
- Safety Systems: How Not to Become a JLab Legend
- FEL: And Fred said, Let there be light!
- And topping off the series is What's Around the Corner?
All programs are presented by Lab staff and are scheduled for consecutive Tuesdays at 11 a.m. in room 47 of the VARC (except for the presentation on March 16 which will be in CEBAF Center, room L104).
Remember February 22 through March 5 is the 1999 benefits open enrollment period. During this time you may sign up for or change coverage for medical and dental plans, change your pre- or post-tax elections, and purchase or waive short-term disability insurance.
Healthcare representatives will be set up in the VARC Lobby on March 1, from 8 a.m.- noon, to answer questions about Trigon (Blue Cross/Blue Shield) and Sentara (Optima).
Open enrollment forms may be picked up in the Benefits office, room 40-A in the VARC, or at any of the three satellite Human Resources & Services information centers located in the ARC Library, 2nd floor hallway in CEBAF Center, and in the MCC conference room. The completed forms must be returned to the Benefits office no later than close of business March 5. Kisha Owens, Administration, encourages hand carrying the forms to room 40-A to make sure they're received before the deadline.
For more information, call Owens at ext. 7068, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave it to the IRS to change its mind two weeks after announcing the new standard mileage rate for business travel.
The standard mileage rate from January 1 - March 31, 1999, is 32.5 cents/mile for business travel. Beginning April 1, the rate will decrease to 31 cents/mile.
Anyone with questions concerning this change may call Travel Services, ext. 7437 or 7192. Business Services also has a per diem rates link on its home page that goes directly to the GSA rates. Go to www.jlab.org/div_dept/admin, then click on Business Services and select GSA Per Diem Rate Links under Quick Links.
The date of Jefferson Lab's International Food Festival has changed. Now plan to bring your favorite ethnic dish to share at a Lab-wide reception on Thursday, February 25 from 3:30 - 5 p.m. in CEBAF Center.
This annual event offers Lab staff and visitors the opportunity to celebrate the Lab's diversity and Black History Month. This year's theme is "Breads From Around the World". The Black History Month planning committee invites everyone to share their favorite bread(s) and food(s) with their colleagues by preparing a food item which expresses your ethnic background so you may share your heritage with staff and visitors. All types of food items are welcome: snacks, breads, salads, appetizers, meat or vegetable dishes, pasta, rice and desserts. Bring an appropriate serving utensil with any food item you bring.
Serving tables will be set up in the first floor atrium dining area. Plates and eating utensils will be provided. Please attach a list of ingredients to your food to aid individuals with food allergies.
This promises to be an event you won't want to miss! Turn in the name of your food dish to Jacqueline Bacon, ext. 5117 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Afterward, catch photos and a story of the event at www.jlab.org/news/labevents.
Editor's note: If you have or know of a website that could be informative or useful to Jefferson Lab staff, call the public affairs office at ext. 7689 or e-mail Linda Ware (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The U.S. Treasury is boosting its efforts to attract individual investors by automating purchases of savings bonds through bank accounts. Under the new EasySaver program, people will be able to make regular purchases of saving bonds by authorizing direct transactions between their banks and the Treasury, according to Gary Gensler, assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets. The program is modeled after the payroll savings plan for savings bonds and applies to the Treasury¹s standard Series EE savings bonds and its new Series I inflation-indexed bonds.
Get your application to enroll in EasySaver from the Bureau of Public Debt web site at www.easysaver.gov or call 1-877-811-SAVE.