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InTheLoop | 12.06.2003

The Weekly Electronic Newsletter for Berkeley Lab Computing Sciences Employees

December 6, 2003

Microsoft's Jim Gray to Be Next Speaker in CS Seminar Series

Jim Gray, a "Distinguished Engineer" in Microsoft's Scaleable Servers Research Group and manager of Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center (BARC), will be the next speaker in the Computing Sciences Seminar Series. Gray will speak at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, in the fifth-floor conference room of Bldg. 50A (50A-5132). Gray's work focuses on databases and transaction processing. He is active in the research community, is an ACM, NAE, NAS, and AAAS Fellow, and received the ACM Turing Award for his work on transaction processing. Gray edits a series of books on data management, and has been active in building online databases like http://TerraService.Net and http://SkyServer.sdss.org.

His Dec. 17 talk is entitled "Where the Rubber Meets the Sky: Bridging the Gap between Databases and Science." Here is the abstract:

"Scientists in all domains face a data avalanche — both from better instruments and from improved simulations. I believe that computer science tools and computer scientists are in a position to help all the sciences by building tools and developing techniques to manage, analyze, and visualize peta-scale scientific information. This talk summarizes my experiences over the last seven years trying to bridge the gap between database technology and the needs of the astronomy community in building the World-Wide Telescope."

His talk will be the "live" version of the article at http://research.microsoft.com/research/pubs/view.aspx?tr_id=815.

Computing Sciences Opts for Summer BBQ in Lieu of December Holiday Party

For the past several years, the Employee Relations Fund allocated to Computing Sciences has been used to fund two major activities — the Holiday Party in December and the Ice Cream Social in the summer. This year, a small group comprising representatives from each of the three CS divisions was formed to re-evaluate these activities, and to brainstorm possible new ideas. Their recommendation was put forth to management, and the result is that Computing Sciences will host a BBQ picnic at one of the local parks some time next summer, in lieu of the annual holiday party. Any questions can be directed to Yeen Mankin at yfmankin@lbl.gov, or x7580.

NERSC Results Again Grace Cover of Research Magazine

In case you missed the item in the Friday, Dec. 3, issue of Today at Berkeley Lab, Physics World magazine published in England used a simulation from NERSC as the cover image. Here's the item:

An October feature story in Physics World magazine, entitled "Hunting Cosmic Explosions," discusses the subject of gamma-ray bursts, the most violent and energetic explosions in the universe. Astronomers now think that these awesome explosions occur when stars die. The story of their discovery and study over the last few decades has been compiled by three scientists, including Stan Woosley of UC Santa Cruz. Woosley, a NERSC user, created simulations with the NERSC supercomputer, one of which is the cover image for the feature.

Read the Physics World article at http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/17/10/7/1.

Safety-Driven Shutdown at SLAC Curtails Experiments Through December

Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center's (SLAC) Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) are finding their research capabilities severely constrained in the wake of a serious accident in mid-October. Immediately after the accident, in which an electrical contract worker was injured, SLAC Director Jonathan Dorfan suspended all operations on the site. Here is additional information from an article in a recent newsletter for staff at SLAC:

The "Safety Comes First" principle was reviewed and strengthened with everyone at SLAC, including staff, users, and contractors. A team of investigators from the DOE was also on-site for several weeks following the accident and has subsequently completed its investigation. The accident report will be presented to Stanford University, at which time the real causes will become known and the needs for corrective actions be identified.

Except for a number of ongoing work restrictions related to electrical, hoisting/rigging, and subcontractor activities, much of the "normal work" at SSRL (and the rest of SLAC) has now resumed. However, accelerator operations (including SPEAR3) are not expected to resume until SLAC has had time to review the DOE investigation report. Hence, it is highly unlikely that any normal user activities with SPEAR3 will resume during December.

During this period of operations shutdown, SSRL staff has been busy in reviewing and validating many of the procedures and processes involved in running a safe operation and program. One activity of particular relevance to our users is that we have created a task force on user training and safety. This task force has been proactively reviewing training documents and other aspects of user safety at SSRL — covering activities from the time proposals are received until users are on-line conducting experiments.

"As we prepare to move forward with resuming operations of SPEAR3, each one of you is encouraged to remember that safety comes first and it is your responsibility to help us provide a safe working environment," the article concluded.

Don't Use the New Lycos Anti-Spam Screensaver

Lycos Europe has recently released a free screensaver designed to fight spam by flooding Web sites referenced in spam messages with connections. This screensaver is actually a "strike back" tool that in effect launches an attack against these sites. Although fighting spam with such a "strike back" tool might seem like a good idea, the way in which Lycos' screensaver does this is not. The Lab's Computer Protection Program does not use strike back tactics; use of this screensaver on Lab machines or by machines not owned by the Lab but connected to Lab networks is therefore not allowed.

Reminder: LLNL's Jeanie Larson to Speak at Dec. 9 Computer Protection Brown Bag

Jeanie Larson, Livermore Lab's incident response manager, will speak at the next Computer Protection Brown Bag Event at noon Thursday, Dec. 9, in 50D-3416 (the Bldg. 50D conference room). The topic will be "Wireless Security for the End User: Truths and Myths."

About Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) Computing Sciences organization provides the computing and networking resources and expertise critical to advancing the Department of Energy's research missions: developing new energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing new materials and increasing our understanding of ourselves, our world and our universe.

ESnet, the Energy Sciences Network, provides the high-bandwidth, reliable connections that link scientists at 40 DOE research sites to each other and to experimental facilities and supercomputing centers around the country. The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) powers the discoveries of 6,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities, including those at Berkeley Lab's Computational Research Division (CRD). CRD conducts research and development in mathematical modeling and simulation, algorithm design, data storage, management and analysis, computer system architecture and high-performance software implementation. NERSC and ESnet are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the DOE’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.