Panofsky celebrates his 88th birthday…

W K H "Pief" Panofsky celebrated his 88th birthday at SLAC on 24 April. Surrounded by about 200 well-wishers – including several past and present lab directors and a string quartet – Panofsky modestly accepted abundant praise and congratulations.

"Pief's life has been extraordinary by any definition of that overused term," said SLAC's director, Jonathan Dorfan. "His optimism, his warmth, his patience, his integrity, his kindness, his sense of humour, his courage and his persistence haven't wavered or altered one bit during all these years."

The founder and first director of SLAC, Panofsky has had a profound impact on elementary-particle physics. In parallel with his career in science, he avidly pursues two other interests of equal historical significance: arms control and international security policy.

…and LCLS electrons bring the ice cream

In April physicists and engineers at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) delivered the first electron bunch using the newly installed injector system, so marking the start of commissioning for the new free-electron laser (CERN Courier May 2007 p9). SLAC employees celebrated the event by eating dessert and sending an outsized electron bunch of their own floating harmlessly into the California sky.

Sunshine and refreshments were plentiful as more than 600 people turned out for an afternoon of ice cream, calypso music and crowd-surfing nylon balloons screened with "e". Director of construction, John Galayda, threw out the floating "electron bunch" to start the event. A team of directors – including Galayda and Dorfan – then lined up to serve more than 25 gallons of ice cream to an eager crowd.