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Secretary of Energy Tours Bates Lab

By Shao-Fei Moy

United States Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson offered his support to the researchers and employees of the MIT Bates Linear Accelerator Center in Middleton, Mass. during his visit Tuesday. This marks the first ever appearance by an energy secretary to Bates Lab.

Richardson’s visit began with a meeting with ten researchers from across the country representing Bates. During the meeting, the researchers expressed their appreciation for the Energy Secretary’s work in amending the budget which originally had Bates heading for a “cold shutdown” at the end of the year. Each of the ten representatives stressed the importance of Bates in the research they have done and will continue to do at the facilities.

Bates Lab, which is operated by the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science for the Department of Energy, is a national user facility and has been a center for world-class experiments in nuclear physics for 25 years. Over 200 physicists from 52 institutions are actively utilizing the Bates’ facilities; about 120 Ph.D. students have been educated and trained at the lab.

In President Bill Clinton’s fiscal year 2000 budget released on February 1, 1999, Bates’ allocation would have been reduced from $10.8 million to $2.5 million, beginning October 1, 1999. However, with the amendment in place, Bates has been revived with a $14.5 million grant for the Bates Large Acceptance Spectrometer Torrid (BLAST) and other experiments. Richardson estimates that the revised funding should keep Bates in operation until 2004.

Richardson expressed his support for the continuance of research at the lab. “I want to show a commitment to science,” the energy secretary commented. “I do not want to terminate my relationship with MIT. You’re the best scientists in the world.” Richardson also announced that his amendment was officially approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

After the meeting with researchers, Richardson was offered a tour of the facilities. He was shown the BLAST project, which is currently under construction, and other equipment already in use.

The tour ended with an award ceremony. Richardson presented the Peter T. Demos Award to Xiaodong Jiang for his outstanding contribution to the Out-of-Plan Spectrometer Experiment.