Lawrence Livermore's popular lecture series returns to Chabot Space and Science Center

Science on Saturday (Download Image) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's popular lecture series, "Science on Saturday," returns to the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m..

LIVERMORE, California -- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's (LLNL) popular lecture series, "Science on Saturday," returns to the Chabot Space and Science Center Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m., located at 10,000 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland.

The series will offer two different lectures, Oct. 20 and Nov. 10, with the theme "Marvelous Machines." Each lecture is targeted to middle and high school students and presented by leading LLNL researchers who are joined by master high school science teachers. Admission is free for the presentation; all other Chabot Space and Science Center admission rates will apply. Seating is on a first-come basis.

Kicking off the series on Oct. 20 is "Laser-Plasma Accelerators: Riding the Wave to the Next Generation X-Ray Light Sources," by LLNL scientist Felicie Albert along with teacher Dan Burns of Los Gatos High School. The presenters will cover how particle accelerators have been revolutionizing discoveries in science, medicine, industry and national security for more than a century.

An estimated 30,000 particle accelerators are active around the world. In these machines, electromagnetic fields accelerate charged particles, such as electrons, protons, ions or positrons to velocities nearing the speed of light. Although their scientific appeal will remain evident for many decades, one limitation of the current generation of particle accelerators is their tremendous size (typically a mile long) and cost, which often limits access to the broader scientific community.

A plasma is a neutral medium composed of negatively charged free electrons and positively charged ions. Plasma can sustain electrical fields three orders of magnitude higher than conventional particle accelerators. Acceleration of electrons in laser-driven plasmas has been drawing considerable attention over the past decade. These laser wake field accelerators promise to dramatically reduce the size of accelerators and revolutionize applications in medicine, industry and basic sciences.

On Nov. 10, LLNL scientists Matthias Frank and Megan Shelby, along with Erin McKay, a biology teacher from Tracy High School, will present "Biomolecular Action Movies: Flash Imaging With X-ray Lasers." Proteins are nature's machines, performing tasks from transforming sunlight into usable energy to binding oxygen for transport through the body. These functions depend on the structural arrangement of atoms within the protein, which was, until recently, only possible to measure statically. This talk will describe the technology that allows for the recording of "molecular movies" showing proteins in action.

Students will receive a worksheet to record key information from the talk. The worksheet will be marked with the official Science on Saturday stamp at the end of the presentation. Many teachers use the worksheet to award extra credit. Students should check with their teacher in advance to determine if they will receive credit for attending.

Science on Saturday is sponsored by LLNL's University Relations and Science Education Program. For more information about Science on Saturday, go to the web or contact Joanna Albala, (925) 422-6803, or albala1 [at] (e-mail).