|September 22, 2000|
By Paul Preuss
The puzzle: what is the nature of the dark energy that fills the universe? To solve it, Berkeley Lab physicists, astronomers, and engineers, working with colleagues from UC Berkeley and other institutions, propose to launch a satellite named SNAP -- the SuperNova/Acceleration Probe.
Through Berkeley Lab's Physics Division, the Department of Energy has funded a year of development for the project, which is meant to explain what one prominent theorist, Frank Wilczek of MIT, calls "maybe the most fundamentally mysterious thing in basic science" -- a conundrum that cosmologist Michael Turner of the University of Chicago more colorfully refers to as "the biggest embarrassment in theoretical physics."
Studies of this type of supernova by the international Supernova Cosmology Project headquartered at Berkeley Lab and the High-Z Supernova Search Team in Australia led to the announcement, in 1998, of what Science magazine named its "breakthrough of the year" -- that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
Combined with other cosmological studies, such as the BOOMERANG and MAXIMA cosmic microwave background radiation results reported earlier this year, the supernova data strongly suggest that the universe is geometrically "flat" and that as much as two-thirds of its density is due to an unidentified form of energy -- the cause of the accelerating expansion.
To confirm these results, SNAP would discover many type Ia supernovae at redshifts greater than any yet found. Because of SNAP's ability to measure their light curves and spectra to high precision, any uncertainties concerning the brightness and redshift of very distant supernovae can be minimized.
SNAP's optics will serve a set of precision instruments: a billion-pixel CCD camera with a 1-square-degree field of view and quantum efficiency greater than 80 percent, with wavelength coverage from 350 nanometers to 1 micrometer; an infrared imager with up to 10 x 10 arcminutes field of view; and a 3-arm spectrograph sensitive to wavelengths from the near ultraviolet to the near infrared.
Unlike most astronomical CCDs currently in use, which have relatively poor response to red and infrared light and are difficult to combine in large arrays, SNAP will use radiation-tolerant, high-resistivity CCDs based on Berkeley Lab's experience with detectors developed for high-energy physics.
These can be combined in large-format mosaics and will extend sensitivity into the infrared, creating an ideal tool for finding distant, high-redshift supernovae.
Prelude to discovery
For over 10 years the Supernova Cosmology Project, supported by the DOE, the National Science Foundation and NASA, has been studying the expansion of the universe by measuring the redshift and brightness of distant type Ia supernovae.
Type Ia supernovae -- stars that explode in thermonuclear cataclysms brighter than entire galaxies -- make ideal "standard candles" with which to survey the universe. Their light curves and spectra are all nearly alike and they are bright enough to be seen across billions of light years.
By 1998 a few score type Ia supernovae had been analyzed in detail, enough to lead the Supernova Cosmology Project and their colleagues in the High-Z Supernova Search Team to the startling discovery that the expansion of the universe is not slowing, as had been expected, but accelerating.
Redshift in an accelerating universe
As light travels through space, space itself is expanding. The effect is to stretch light waves and shift their color toward the red end of the spectrum.
Light from the most distant galaxies has traveled billions of years, giving a snapshot of the universe at a fraction of its present age. If expansion were slowing under the influence of gravity, supernovae in distant galaxies should appear brighter and closer than their high redshifts suggest.
The distant supernovae found so far tell a different story. At high redshifts, the most distant are dimmer than they would be if expansion were slowing; they must be located farther away than would be expected for a given redshift -- powerful evidence that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating.
The cosmological constant
In the very dense early universe, when matter was close together, gravitational attraction was strong and expansion was slowing. Today, because of continued expansion, matter is farther apart and the density of the universe is low -- so low that it has apparently dropped below the density of some unidentified energy now causing it to expand ever faster.
The dark energy may be what Albert Einstein called the "cosmological constant," an arbitrary term he added to the general theory of relativity to make sure it described a static universe. Although Einstein later abandoned the idea, evidence for an accelerating universe has forced cosmologists to consider the existence of a cosmological constant once again.
In a typical galaxy, type Ia supernovae occur only a few times in a millennium, and so far only several dozen have been measured with enough precision to answer key cosmological questions. Before the nature of the dark energy can be determined with confidence, observations of many more supernovae over a wider range of redshifts are needed -- observations with much better control on systematic uncertainties.
Enter SNAP. Not only will the satellite be able to find thousands of type Ia supernovae every year, it will also shed new light on galaxy clusters, gamma-ray bursters, cold dark matter, weak lensing, asteroids, astronomical transients, and many other phenomena. But its primary mission is to discover the nature of the dark energy that accelerates the expansion of the universe.
In the ancient light from thousands of exploding stars, the mysterious energy that fills the universe will be unveiled.
Once upon a time, when astronomers spoke of the universe as "closed," "open" or "flat," they meant that the density of the universe was either so great that the universe would eventually recollapse because of gravitational attraction; so low that gravity would be insufficient to keep it from expanding forever; or so delicately adjusted that, eventually, it would neither expand nor contract.
Closed, open and flat actually refer to the shape, or curvature, of space-time itself. Impossible to picture in three spatial dimensions, this is easy enough in two: two-dimensional space with positive curvature would resemble the surface of a sphere (on which parallel lines converge). Two-dimensional space with negative curvature would be like the surface of a saddle or a Pringle's potato chip (on which parallel lines diverge). A flat two-dimensional universe would resemble a sheet of paper (on which parallel lines stay parallel).
Many independent observations indicate that the universe is in fact flat. Moreover, inflation theory -- the notion that a small portion of the universe briefly underwent very rapid expansion shortly after the Big Bang, which is favored by cosmologists not least because it explains many otherwise puzzling things, such as the remarkable smoothness and homogeneity of regions of space that have never been in contact -- requires a flat universe.
But if the universe is flat and the density of matter low -- including visible matter, invisible matter, and ordinary energy (equivalent to matter) -- something must provide the missing density. That something is the cosmological constant, or some other form of dark energy.
Such invisible energy could propel even a closed universe to eternal expansion. If the cosmological constant really is constant, the expansion of the universe will accelerate indefinitely.
By Ron Kolb
To the Laboratory's scientific divisions, programmatic peer reviews are a fact of life, litmus tests for past performance and a compass for defining future opportunities.
Not so with the Lab's staff operations units -- until now. What began as a way to take the pulse of a newly formed administrative department has become a systematic assessment of service delivery and quality for programs in Human Resources, Facilities, Procurement, Finance, Sponsored Projects, Computing Infrastructure Support (CIS), and Information Systems and Services (ISS).
It all started with the fledgling Administrative Services Department (ASD), just over three years old and still experiencing growing pains. Laboratory Director Charles Shank suggested that an external review be scheduled so that the future of this support unit of 350 employees could be objectively evaluated.
The idea sounded so good to Deputy Director for Operations Klaus Berkner that he extended it to all of his support departments. Some of them had been sporadically reviewed in the past, but never has there been a systematic assessment to parallel those that researchers undergo every year or two. So, with the inaugural two-day overview of Human Resources in April, a new era of program improvement was launched.
The trigger for all of this activity, ASD, waited until August for its review while new department head Anil Moré completed his job transition. But when all was said and done, Moré and senior management got what they wanted.
"The committee said it's a good organization," Moré said. "It's here to stay, and we're moving in the right direction." He also noted the committee's list of a dozen key findings, which include the need to convey the ASD concept more effectively to the Lab community, to strengthen training programs for ASD members, and to build a positive identity for a group of employees who have often felt like second-class citizens.
The template that Shank, Berkner and Associate for Operations Guy Bear established for this and the other operations reviews is rigorous and comprehensive: two days of presentations, interviews and roundtable discussions with about four reviewers from the outside -- at least one from another laboratory, one from a University of California campus, and one from private industry.
"The recommendations you get come from very qualified and competent reviewers," said Bear, who oversees the reviews. "They will validate directions or suggest changes. And they will not only review the organization, but the interfaces that they have with other units."
"I am surprised at how much information these reviewers can pick up in just two days," said Berkner, whose charge to each review team is "to evaluate the effectiveness of the department management, the quality of department staff and capabilities, and the department's overall responsiveness to laboratory needs."
Bear said that one of the more unusual and valuable segments of each review is the "customer roundtables" held on the second day. Service users are brought in with no departmental management in attendance to offer honest assessments of their experiences. What might be intimidating to some managers was actually welcomed by Moré.
"We had four customer groups," he recalled. "They spoke to department heads and group leaders, scientific leaders, ASD staff, and business managers from the divisions. They pretty much validated the issues we had self-identified."
Another value of the reviews, according to Bear, flows from the preparation and presentation of materials by departmental personnel.
"It really helps bring the department together," he said, "and to educate each other on how the various parts work." And that relates to the team-building and the interfaces that Moré contends are so essential to a successful administrative organization.
ASD's first-day program included presentations by the Human Resources Department head and a center manager, the Chief Financial Officer and business managers, the Sponsored Projects manager, an administrator from a division, systems administrators, and the travel manager.
The review also featured visits from Shank, Berkner, Deputy Director Pier Oddone, and other senior managers and division directors.
"The ASD staff really felt good about the review," Moré said. "We became a closer team and got favorable remarks. It helps to look at our issues institutionally, so that we're all on the same page and moving in the same direction."
So far, the Human Resources, Facilities and Procurement departments have had their reviews, along with ASD. Waiting in the wings are Finance, Sponsored Projects, CIS and ISS.
Berkeley Lab Director Charles Shank has sent a letter to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson in response to an "open letter" advertisement in the New York Times placed earlier this month by the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) on behalf of Laboratory clerical workers. CUE and the University of California have been in negotiation over contract issues with about 18,000 represented employees systemwide for two years.
September 7, 2000
Dear Secretary Richardson,
On September 4, 2000, the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) placed advertisements in the New York Times and the Washington Post which were critical of the position of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in ongoing collective bargaining negotiations with CUE. I would like to respond to the allegations and misstatements that appeared in this ad.
As background, CUE was certified as the representative of 18,000 clerical employees in the University of California system, including 235 employees at Berkeley Lab, in November 1997 after an election in which CUE defeated AFSCME, the prior representative. Negotiations for a successor contract did not begin until June 1998 and have continued to date without an agreement. From June 1998 to July 1999 minimal progress was made in negotiations. At that point, CUE had not made a complete contract proposal to the University. In July 1999, the University implemented the FY 1999 wage increases (retroactive to Oct. 1, 1998) in exchange for a comprehensive proposal from CUE. Negotiations have continued since that date.
For Berkeley Lab, the remaining issue is a compensation program that is tied to performance. More specifically, CUE seeks to end the Lab's merit-based pay system. The Lab defends this system on the premise that our compensation program, based on external market factors and employee performance, has enabled clerical employees at the Lab to be paid significantly higher than their counterparts at the campuses. The Lab has made a wage offer for the next two years, as follows:
On top of this, the Lab has proposed additional monies so that employees with at least five years of service are placed at the salary midpoint of their classification following the range adjustment and merit distribution.
CUE's newspaper ad unfairly portrays a difference in compensation philosophy, alluding to racial profiling, thesettlement of a lawsuit concerning pre-employment medical tests, and the demographic composition of the clerical bargaining unit at Berkeley Lab. These are not new allegations: CUE has made them in various forums for several months, most recently in a charge filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These charges of discrimination and inequity are without merit.
I wish to make the following points in response to specific statements in the ad:
Assertion: "...three out of four...who are stuck in the very lowest clerical pay classifications are African American, Latino, Asian, or Pacific Islander."
Fact: The "lowest paid" classification consists of only 5 out of 235 clerical employees.
Assertion: "...unlike other Lab employees whose pay is adjusted according to scale, our pay is based on a totally arbitrary - and phony - merit system that delivers little and guarantees nothing."
Fact: The Lab's merit pay system is based on having the midpoint of the salary range for a classification roughly equivalent to the external market. Movement within a salary range is largely driven by an employee's performance, not by longevity or by automatic cost-of-living increases. The only employees at Berkeley Lab who are not on the "merit" pay program are skilled trades and fire fighters - 115 people among a total workforce of nearly 4,000.
Assertion: "University management is using this `merit' system to pay brand new workers substantially higher salaries than long-standing employees."
Fact: Decisions to hire some new employees at the midpoint or, in some cases, above midpoint were based on market factors made worse by the fact that the clerical employees at the Lab have not had wage increases for almost two years. This situation will be ameliorated when the FY 2000 and FY 2001 wage increases are implemented.
Assertion: "...the average pay increase for long-term employees during FY98-99 (3.5%) sunk below the 4.8% rate of inflation in Northern California for the same period."
Fact: The average wage increase for employees in the clerical unit for FY 1999 was 5.01%. And about one-third of the Lab's clerical employees received promotions in the past year.
Assertion: "...clericals are leaving in droves, with turnover rates of more than 60% between 1997 and 1999."
Fact: The turnover rate for employees in clerical positions at Berkeley Lab, about 20 percent per year, is roughly equal to the turnover rate for similar jobs in the private sector.
Assertion: "...earlier this year LBNL settled a $2.2 million lawsuit filed on behalf of African American and minority employees who were subjected to illegal and involuntary genetic testing."
Fact: The so-called "genetic testing" litigation is actually a class action lawsuit concerning certain medical tests at one time included in employee health examinations at the Laboratory. While a proposed settlement is expected to be finalized in the near future, the parties have stipulated in documents filed in Federal District Court that the case is being settled to avoid time-consuming and costly litigation and without any admission of liability on the part of the Laboratory. It is completely irrelevant to the clerical negotiations.
Assertion: "we ask you to...insist that the University of California resume, in good faith, the contract negotiations they broke off with CUE on April 6..."
Fact: The Lab has had a representative present at all negotiating sessions affecting it for the last five months; the last negotiation session ended Sept. 1. The Lab has specifically informed CUE that it is willing to resume separate negotiations on Lab compensation if CUE believes it productive to do so. On Aug. 31, 2000, the parties did meet separately from the system-wide negotiations to attempt to reach resolution on wages for Lab employees.
We are committed to resolving these negotiations and being able to put into effect the wage increases which the clerical employees at the Laboratory deserve. However, we cannot do so ourselves. CUE must accept responsibility to achieve the same objective.
I am pleased to answer any other questions you might have about these issues.
Former UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien has been hospitalized at UCSF Medical Center since Sept. 7 for treatment of a brain tumor. Tien is also on the staff of Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division.
According to a UC spokesperson, Tien has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and his condition has been upgraded from critical to serious. Meanwhile, Tien's family report "slow but steady improvement."
Over the Labor Day weekend family members noticed that Tien appeared unusually tired and urged him to seek medical attention. Doctors discovered that he had a brain tumor and surgery was performed. Tien's son, Norman Tien, said that the family is confident his father will make a good recovery and noted that he is alert and communicating with the family.
Tien, 65, became internationally known as a leader in higher education during his tenure as UC Berkeley chancellor from 1990 to 1997. He is currently the NEC Distinguished Professor of Engineering.
"All of us at the Berkeley campus and members of the Cal family everywhere send our best wishes and our prayers to Dr. Tien for a swift and full recovery," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl.
The University of Chicago has appointed Hermann A. Grunder, an internationally recognized nuclear and accelerator physicist and former deputy director of Berkeley Lab, as director of Argonne National Laboratory. Grunder has served as director of the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), a Department of Energy nuclear physics research laboratory in Newport News, Virginia, since its founding in 1985. He will assume his new position at Argonne effective Nov. 1.
Grunder has a 23-year association with Berkeley Lab, which dates back to 1959 when he joined the Bevatron staff. In the ensuing years he was actively involved in the development of heavy-ion accelerators here, and was instrumental in the evolution and upgrade of the BEVALAC. He served as Laboratory associate director and head of the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division.
"I have made it my career to serve where I was most needed in the national lab system," Grunder said. "I am honored that the University of Chicago and the Department of Energy found my knowledge, experience and management style equal to the complex needs of a premier multi-program lab such as Argonne National Laboratory."
Grunder succeeds Yoon I. Chang, associate laboratory director for engineering research, who has served as Interim Director since July 1, 1999.
Don Michael Randel, the president of the University of Chicago which manages Argonne, praised Grunder as a "forceful, smart and dynamic scientific manager."
A native of Basel, Switzerland, Grunder is an expert in high-energy and heavy-ion accelerators and in applications of accelerators in medical research. He received the Distinguished Associate Award from the DOE in 1996 and the U.S. Senior Scientist Award from Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 1979. --Monica Friedlander
By Paul Preuss
Quasicrystals are metallic alloys whose peculiar structure was once considered impossible; after their discovery, the preeminent Linus Pauling refused to believe they were real.
Not only are quasicrystals real, they have intriguing properties: they are durable, stable at high temperatures, and make excellent nonstick coatings. And they can store hydrogen at high density.
"Before quasicrystals were discovered by Dan Schechtman and his colleagues in 1984, most people would have said they were structurally impossible," says Eli Rotenberg, a staff scientist at the Advanced Light Source. While ordinary crystals endlessly repeat geometric arrangements of atoms, "you can't tile a plane with pentagons -- not without leaving gaps -- and you can't fill space with dodecahedrons."
Even more startling is their electronic structure. Composed of excellent conductors such as aluminum and copper, quasicrystals themselves are extremely resistive -- the more perfect the quasicrystal, the more resistive it becomes.
Yet little work has been done on the basic properties of their electronic states. "In other words," Rotenberg says, "where are the electrons and how do they move?"
Working with Karsten Horn of the Max-Planck-Society in Berlin and other colleagues, Rotenberg investigated the electronic structure of a quasicrystalline alloy of aluminum-nickel-cobalt (AlNiCo). At ALS beamline 18.104.22.168 they measured the emission angles and kinetic energy of electrons scattered from near the surface of the material by soft x rays.
One surprising finding, Rotenberg says, was that "the electrons aren't localized to clusters; instead they feel the long-range quasicrystal potential -- the electrons propagate nearly freely, like conduction electrons in an ordinary metal."
Ordinary metals are good conductors because their valence electrons can move freely from atom to atom in the long-range periodic structure. Because quasicrystals lack periodic structure, "one might imagine that from an electron's point of view the material appears disordered. If so, the electronic states would be confined to localized clusters."
The alloy the researchers examined is a special kind of quasicrystal, consisting of stacked planes of atoms exhibiting ten-fold symmetry. By looking at the behavior of electrons in the plane, they could observe the effects of quasicrystalline ordering; by looking at right angles to the planes, they could observe the effects of the periodic, crystalline-like ordering of the stack.
They demonstrated that the electronic states of these strange alloys are more like those of ordinary metals than theorists believed possible; their electrons travel in "bands" with distinct momentum and energy. Band-like properties are common in metals and other ordinary crystals but were not expected in quasicrystals.
The discoveries open many new avenues for inquiry, including how to relate these observations to unusual properties such as high resistivity.
"Quasicrystalline valence bands in decagonal AlNiCo," by Eli Rotenberg, Wolfgang Theis, Karsten Horn, and Peter Gille appeared in the Aug. 10 issue of Nature. For more about the electronic structure of quasicrystals, see http://enews.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/quasicrystal-states.html.
For the third consecutive year, Berkeley Lab is sponsoring a charitable giving campaign which encourages employees to donate to their favorite charity organizations. Called Berkeley Lab SHARES (Science for Health, Assistance, Resources, Education and Services), the campaign begins Friday, Oct. 13 and ends Wednesday, Nov. 22. All Lab employees will receive a SHARES packet in the mail the week of Oct. 9.
And for the first time, this year the SHARES kick-off will coincide with the Berkeley Lab Runaround. After completing the course, employees can head over to the cafeteria to visit the Charity Fair, which will bring together representatives from many of the organizations included in the campaign.
An orientation session for SHARES division coordinators will be held on Oct. 3 at 10:30 a.m. in Bldg. 2, conference room 100B. The meeting will address packet distribution, raffle prizes, and the SHARES donation process.
Calling the national laboratories "a wellspring of innovation," Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced R&D Magazine's top 100 awards for outstanding technology developments with commercial potential. Two of them went to Berkeley Lab research.
Lara Gundel of the Environmental Energy Technology Division won for "a coating for pollution control and monitoring that removes organic vapors from the air, greatly improving measurement accuracy for semivolatile and particulate contaminants." (See Currents, July 16, 1999.)
The Materials Sciences Division scored with "a technology for accelerating discovery of new materials with improved properties." Combinatorial synthesis was pioneered by Peter Schultz, now head of the Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics, and developed by Xiao-Dong Xiang of EETD. The R&D Award goes to the commercial version being marketed by Symyx Technologies, Inc.
Twenty of the 100 R&D awards this year went to DOE-funded researchers.
Richardson Seeks More Women in Science and Technical Fields
Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson has announced a series of actions to help DOE "attract, retain and develop" highly qualified candidates, particularly women, in science and technology fields. He called for the national laboratories to provide hands-on science education and an annual "report card" to monitor progress.
"America's unprecedented prosperity is fueled by science, engineering and technology enterprises, but only nine percent of current jobs requiring engineering skills and 10 percent of jobs requiring physics background are filled with women," said the Secretary. "The Department of Energy, as a leading scientific and technical employer, has an opportunity and an obligation to do better."
DOE employs approximately 120,000 contractor and federal employees across the country. Its current federal workforce in technical areas includes 15 percent women and 17 percent minorities. The contractor workforce has a slightly higher percentage of professional women.
Richardson laid out the following initiatives, to be implemented at both the DOE headquarters and throughout its complex of laboratories and field offices. The national labs are to collaborate with the National Science Foundation to provide science education and a "teaching culture" that will bring real applications of science to life. DOE is to partner with the Office of Personnel Management and the Congress to cut bureaucracy and better compete for highly qualified technical personnel at the national labs.
DOE will also undertake an aggressive outreach and recruitment effort to fill key technical positions, including 50 DOE research and development managers; establish formal training of scientists and managers to serve as volunteer mentors; and create a database system or "report card" for lab directors, contractors and departmental managers to monitor the progress of all these initiatives.
DOE Says NIF Now on Track
Secretary Bill Richardson has submitted to Congress a final baseline report for the National Ignition Facility that confirms a construction cost of $2.2 billion and completion date of September 2008. Total project-related costs are $3.5 billion.
The final NIF baseline report includes a strategy to deploy beamlines so that stockpile stewardship experiments can begin early in the construction schedule -- several years before the facility becomes fully operational. The report also announces that the department has hired an industrial contractor, Jacobs Engineering, to build and install the laser system infrastructure. The final NIF baseline report can be obtained from http://www.dp.doe.gov.< -- Lynn Yarris
Currents and the Human Resources Department are partnering to bring readers timely information about benefits and other HR issues on a more regular and consistent basis. And to help get the message out, the Benefits Department is introducing its new mascot.
"LBNL makes another amazing discovery!" quips Richard Takahashi, the Lab's benefits manager. "In a joint effort between lab scientists and the Benefits staff, two basic elements, Beryllium (Be) and Neon (Ne), were combined to create a new life form -- BeNe the Bee."
Henceforth, BeNe will help HR report on topics such as retirement benefits, the partnership between UC and Fidelity Investments, UC services available to Berkeley Lab employees, special events, and other benefit and compensation initiatives.
Today's column kicks off the series with a quick overview of a few timely issues. Future editions will feature expanded coverage of benefits issues in anticipation of Open Enrollment Month.
To make this column a success we hope you will send us your suggestions about issues you would like covered here. Please send e-mail to [email protected].
Open Enrollment: Nov. 1 - 30
Open Enrollment Month offers employees the opportunity to change their medical or dental plans and to add or drop dependents. Any changes made will be effective Jan. 1, 2001. An enrollment packet with more information will be sent during the last week of October.
Two Open Enrollment fairs will give employees a chance to meet the pro-viders and discuss their concerns. In addition to a fair at the Lab on Nov. 22, the Benefits Department is partnering with its UC counterpart to allow Lab employees to attend the University's benefit fair on Nov. 14. The Benefits Department will also hold at least one Open Enrollment brown bag session in November.
Benefits Reaches Out
According to Richard Takahashi, the Benefits Department has good news to report about its relationship to the Lab community.
"In response to your comments regarding our customer service, we have reengineered the Benefits department. Hopefully, we're now easier to reach. We have implemented a new call center and a revitalized Benefit team is hovering by to take your calls."
Employees may call the main Benefits number at X6403 for questions regarding health and welfare or retirement issues.
The Benefits staff would also like to receive feedback from readers via e-mail at [email protected]
Reexamining Retirement Benefits
The UC Retirement System Advisory Board endorsed a change in age factors that would enhance retirement benefits for employees retiring on or after Jan. 1, 2001. This change is subject to a UC Regents vote of approval in November. These proposed changes in effect mean that benefits at ages 50 to 60 will be increased over the current levels for anyone retiring after that date.
More information is available on the UC Bencom website at http://www.ucop.edu/bencom/news/ucrpretbens.html
Changes for Casual Employees
A proposal is being prepared to expand benefits eligibility for employees working in "casual" assignments. Currently, employees who work less than 1,000 hours a year are not eligible for UCRP membership. The proposal would make such employees eligible. The proposal will be presented as an information item at the September meeting of the UC Board of Regents, and as an action item at their November meeting.
Bencom Website at Your Fingertips
A quick reminder: You can reset your benefits PIN, enroll in the 403(b) plan, make fund transfers and get updated balances on line on the UC Bencom Website at http://www.ucop.edu/bencom/.
By Lisa Gonzales
Want to learn to tango or do the downward-facing dog? How about attending guided museum tours or playing ultimate frisbee at lunchtime? These are just a few of the dozens of activities offered by employee clubs at Berkeley Lab.
Currently, the Employee Activities Association (EAA) sponsors 21 clubs -- 13 recreational clubs, five cultural clubs, and three educational or professional clubs -- that are open to employees, retirees and their families.
"I'm surprised that so many employees don't know about the clubs, or their ability to start new ones," says Sheril Miura, EEA coordinator.
The EEA is the umbrella organization that provides clubs at Berkeley Lab with financial assistance, subsidizing activities in support of each club's budget. According to spending guidelines, the EAA can help clubs pay for items such as facility rentals and group equipment.
"The clubs are a great way to have fun outside of the workplace," Miura says. "Plus you can meet people with similar interests outside of your immediate work environment."
Many clubs are also involved in community service. In June, for example, the Gay and Lesbian club brought panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt up to the Lab, along with a speaker from the national Names Project which sponsors the quilt. And the Green Team reaches out to the community through projects such as beach clean-ups, litter removal efforts and tree planting.
New clubs are highly encouraged by the EEA. In order to start a club through the Association, Miura says, employees need to send her a written mission statement giving background for the club and planned activities, along with a list of officers and members. This information is reviewed by the EAA Advisory Panel, who then determines funding based upon demonstrated employee interest and a viable club structure.
Another possibility, Miura suggests, is restarting an inactive club, such as the Bowling Club, Toastmasters, the African-American Employees Association, Women in Science or Engineering, and the Work/Family Committee.
"This is the best time of year to start a club," says Miura, citing the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Starting this summer, California Casualty insurance expanded nationally and changed its name to A+ Auto and Home Insurance Plus.
The company offers UC employees payroll deduction, auto and home discounts, 12 month premium rate guarantee, and a special employee recourse procedure for resolving claims disputes.
For more information contact them at (800) 800-9410.
Weight Watchers Starts New Series
The next "Weight Watchers at Work" series is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with an open meeting being held next Wednesday, Sept. 27 at noon in Bldg. 26, room 109.
All interested employees are welcome to attend the open session with no obligation to join. A minimum number of members is required to hold the series. For additional information, call Charlotte Bochra at X4268.
Crafters Invited to 2000 Craft Fair
Lab artistis and crafters are invited to participate in Berkeley Lab's annual Craft Fair, to be held this year on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the cafeteria. Vendor participation is free, except for the request to donate a product for the free drawing.
No commercial products are allowed and all items must be hand-made (such as baked goods, ornaments, paintings, drawings, jewelry, pottery, photography, wood items, knitted or stitched pieces, etc.).
To be eligbile, crafters must be Lab employees or retirees or be sponsored by an LBNL employee. Tables and chairs will supplied to each vendor.
To sign up contact Shelley Worsham at X6123 or [email protected] lbl.gov.
Conference on Retirement Strategy
Lab employees are invited to attend a conference on "Redesigning Retirement" on Saturday, Oct. 7, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on UC Berkeley's Clark Kerr Campus. The registration deadline is Sept. 25. The event is sponsored by the UC Berkeley Retirement Center and the Academic Geriatric Resource Program. The cost is $25 and includes lunch and reception.
Nationally acclaimed speakers will explore options available to today's retirees and help participants design a retirement plan. More information can be found at http://thecenter.berkeley.edu or by contacting the UC Berkeley Retirement Center at 642-5461.
Flu & Pneumonia Shots Next Month
In anticipation of the flu season, Health Services is once again offering low-cost flu immunization clinics to Lab employees on Oct. 26 and Nov. 16 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Appointments are required. To sign up, call Health Services at X6266.
The vaccines will be administered by the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). The cost is $12 for the flu shot and $25 for pneumonia shot. (Pneumonia vaccines are good for 6 years.) Checks or cash will be accepted.
The VNA requests that employees who receive their first flu vaccination remain in the clinic area for 10 to15 minutes after receiving the shot.
Health officials encourage vaccination particularly for people over the age of 65 and for anyone suffering from heart, lung or other serious health problems.
National Student Poster Contest for Recycling Calendar
Deadline: Oct. 6
Berkeley Lab is participating in a national contest for children of federal employees and government contractors, which aims to generate public awareness and interest in recycling and buying recycled products.
Participation in the poster contest is encouraged from students in grades K through 12. Organizers at Berkeley Lab will pick one winning poster for each grade level, which will be forwarded to the national contest.
The internal submission deadline for children of Berkeley Lab employees is Oct. 6. Nationally, one grand prize winner and 12 additional individual winners will be recognized. The theme of the contest is "For Our Children's Future ... Buy Recycled Today."
Entries must be hand-drawn and submitted on minimum 30% recycled paper 8"x11" in size. No professional drawings or computer graphics are allowed. Entries will be evaluated on the basis of appeal, theme, content, and drawing skill.
A desk calendar featuring the winning drawings will be printed and distributed by December 2000 at no charge to federal, state, and local organizations as well as to the general public.
Since the contest requires that the entries be submitted on recycled paper, employees may take home recycled copier paper from the Lab for use in this contest only.
Each entry must include the child and parent's full name and address and the student's grade level, and must be mailed by Friday, Oct. 6, to Shelley Worsham, Mail Stop 85B.
The contest is sponsored by America Recycles Day, Inc., a non-profit organization of government officials, environmental organizations, and manufacturing industries.
The Facilities Department provides rush courier service with pick-up and delivery both on- and off-site. For pick-up call X5404.
Courier service is also available from IDS Courier, which operates 24 hours a day. For information call 548-3263.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is inviting women employees at Berkeley Lab to participate in a two-day conference focusing on women's contribution to the future of science and technology. The event will be held on Oct. 26-27 in San Ramon and is open to all employees.
Entitled "LLNL 2020: Women Forging the Future of Science and Technology," the conference is being held for the fifth time and showcases the talents and contributions of women in the fields of science and technology and in supporting roles at national laboratories.
Featured will be technical discussions, topical focus groups, plenary speakers, and a poster session. Participation is also expected from employees of Sandia National Laboratories, SLAC, Los Alamos National Laboratory, NASA Ames, the UC Office of the President, and the DOE Oakland Operations Office.
More information and online registration are available at http://www.llnl.gov/2020/.
8 a.m. - 2 p.m., cafeteria
12 p.m., Bldg. 26-109
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., cafeteria lower level
9:30 - 4:30, Clark Kerr campus, UC Berkeley
8:30 a.m, Bldg. 50 auditorium
Send us your announcements
Announcements for the General Calendar and Bulletin Board page may be sent to [email protected] lbl.gov. Seminar & Lectures items may be mailed to currents_ [email protected] You may also fax items to X6641 or mail them to Bldg. 65B. The deadline for the Oct. 6 issue is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2.
Causal and Quantum Limitations on Faster-than-c group Velocities
Speaker: Raymond Chiao, UC Berkeley
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
EETD DIVISION SEMINAR
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Open Source Software Distribution Mechanism
Speaker: Norm Slaught, VA Linux
12 p.m, Bldg. 90-3148
PHYSICS DIVISON RESEARCH PROGRESS MEETING
The LHC Non-Destructive Diagnostics
Speaker: Alessandro Variola, CERN, Switzerland
10:30 a.m., Bldg. 71 conference room
Atom Optics with Coherent deBroglie Waves
Speaker: William Phillips, National Institute of Standard & Technology
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
Observation of Higgs Candidates around 114 GeV/c2 at LEP's Highest Energies
Speaker: Sau Lan Yu, University of Wisconsin
12 p.m., Bldg. 50 auditorium
PHYSICS DIVISON RESEARCH PROGRESS MEETING
Collider Signatures for Extra Dimensions
Exploring High-Tc Superconductivity: One Atom at a Time
Speaker: Seamus Davis, UC Berkeley
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
Optical Biophysics with Single Molecules of DNA
Speaker: Stephen Quake, California Institute of Technology
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
The First Year of Physics with the BaBar CP Violation Experiment
Speaker: Robert Jacobsen, UC Berkeley,
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
Attacking the Cosmological Constant Problem
Speaker: Nima Arkani-Hamed, UC Berkeley
4:30 p.m., 1 LeConte Hall
`95 FORD ASPIRE, at, ac, driver & passenger airbags, hatchback, red, 68.5K mi, huge 60K mi service just done by dealer, drives exc, $3,800/bo, Christoph, X7448
`94 MAZDA 626DX, 4 dr, 5 spd man, 6-cd, ac, 1 owner, blue, good cond, 79K mi, $4,900/bo, Kathy, X4385
`94 CHEVY 1500 4X4 Z71 pickup, exc cond, 350V8, at, silverado pkg, new tires, 89.4K mi, $12,300, Steve, X7855, (925) 682-6008
`92 PONTIAC SUNBIRD SE, 4 dr, at, ac, 65K mi, $4,600/bo, Julie, X4583, 232-6919
`92 JEEP WRANGLER, 2.5 liter, 68K mi, exc cond, $7,200, Steve, X7855, (925) 682-6008
`91 GEO PRIZM, 111K mi, great mi/gal, 4 dr, ac, am/fm, blue, exc cond, $2,500, Mattias, X4631, 528-5149
`90 MAZDA MIATA, blue, hardtop, softtop in very good shape, roll bar, dayton wire wheels, lots of extras, $6,100, Ray, X6212
`90 FORD TAURUS, 4 dr, 103K mi, ac, am/fm, pwr str/win/lock, air bag, very good cond, $2,000/ bo, must go, Aldo, X2899, 849-0423
`86 HONDA ACCORD DX, at, ac, good running cond, 143K mi, $1,800/bo, Xiangyun Song, X7363, (925) 377-5028
`83 TOYOTA COROLLA, 4 dr sedan, at, ac, am/fm, exc cond in/out, no leaks, well maint, $1,500, Susan or Dean, (707) 647-1409
`82 GMC 3/4 TON PU, 4 wd, 10K ton power take off winch w/ cable pulling spool, ladder rack & 2 mounted tool boxes, $3,500, Tom, X8648, 547-5445
`81 MERCEDES 240D, 70K mi on new engine, total 225K mi, new tires, front brake pads, sensors, calipers, tie rod, alt, ignition lock tumbler, drive shaft support, center support & drive shaft bearing, relat new rad & batt, $2,000/bo, Katrinka, X6315, 644-0364
`77 VOLVO 245DL wagon, runs but needs clutch & other work, $700/bo, Marion, X6415, 526-4528
S. BERKELEY, room+, part furn, shared entr & bath, no cooking, 1/2 blk to BART & bus, 20 min walk to campus, $675/mo, first, last & dep, refs req, Amy, X5044, 843-6023 (6-8 am/pm)
WALNUT CREEK, 1601 Alvarado Ave, lge 1 bdrm apt on ground floor of 4-plex, patio, carport, pool, AEK, avail 10/1 & 10/15, $750/mo, Bob, (925) 376-2211
VISITING POSTDOC from Italy seeks furn room for 6 mos start mid-Oct, preferrably close to shuttle line, Michela, [email protected] ifctr.mi.cnr.it, Brionna, X7689
VISITING SCHOLAR from Poland seeks studio or room near campus/close to bus/BART, 9/28-03/30, Sebastian, [email protected] cskwam.mil.pl
VISITING SCIENTIST & family from Germany seeks furn house or apt, approx 2/01-5/01, any offers welcome, [email protected]
ETAGERE/ENTERTAINMENT UNIT, oak stained, 2 glass doors, 72"x48"x16", $75; black wrought iron baker's rack, 4 shelves, 72"x 26"x16", $50, Rick or Angela, 482-5259
EXEC DESK, $40; office chair, $10; Panasonic fax, $20; exercise bike, $30, (925) 831-9172
MATTRESS & BOX SPRING, full sz, $40/bo, Jean, X5916, 524-8472
PRINTERS, 2 HP Deskjet 540 color, 1 HP deskjet 672Z color, $40/ea, Barbara, X7840
SEAT COVERS for car, 2 for front bucket seats & headrest covers, blue & gray woven tweed, barely used, $20/bo; luggage, blk suitcase, Ricardo, shoulder strap, good cond, $10/bo; duffel bag, med, black canvas, good cond, $5/bo; luggage cart, Samsonite, up to 75 lbs, fold-up, blk metal, barely used, $12/bo, Melissa, 665-5572, lv msg
SOFA, French Provencal sectional, $99; various French Provencal chairs, reasonable, Rae, 653-6964
STORAGE BOXES, #9, 3 gal, transparent & clean, $20; jigsaw puzzles, 5/ea, Jan, X6676
WASHER/DRYER, GE, approx 10 yrs old, tan, $100/pr, Rich, X6295, 526-7447
WASHING MACHINE, Maytag, 1990, heavy duty,extra cap, works well, major new parts installed, manuals, $100, Paul, X4587, pager 840-3598
WATERBED, queen sz, motionless, new style, fits any queen frame/sheets, $200/bo; futon frame & matt, $150/bo; 2 floor lamps, $40/bo; desk lamp, $25/ bo, all reasonable offers considered, Eric, X4634
TREADMILL in good working cond, (925) 831-9172
TAHOE KEYS at S. Lake Tahoe, 3 bdrm house, 2-1/2 bth, fenced yard, quiet, sunny, close to attractions, prvt dock, great view, $150/ night, 2 night min, Bob, (925) 376-2211
Submissions must include name, affiliation, extension, and home phone number. Ads must be submitted in writing via e-mail ([email protected]), fax (X6641), or delivered/mailed to Bldg. 65B.
Ads run one week only unless resubmitted, and are repeated only as space permits. They may not be retracted once submitted for publication.
The deadline for the Oct. 6 issue Thursday, Sept 28.