Sports Update: SLAC


The past couple of weeks have been especially hectic for me, so this is a bit of a light-hearted post on the world of sports. Unfortunately for any English readers, I will not be going into the Rugby World Cup Final between England and South Africa. (My friends decided not to invite me to watch any more rugby with them because I giggle too much.)

Fig 1. Stanford Students celebrating the SLAC Softball Championship. Or maybe it was the football win against USC. I’m not sure. (See below.) Image adapted from the Stanford Daily, photographer Steven Puente.

Worth noting, I’m not the only physics blogger to take a detour into sports. A few noteable examples in my memory:

Anyway, the big news this year is about the SLAC Laboratory Softball Championship. Since 1962 the SLAC theory and experimental groups would face off on Roble field for bragging rights and, as of 1999, the coveted Drell-Richter trophy. Though the Experimentalists have won the lions share of the matches, nothing made me more proud of my undergraduate adviser than learning that he was a key part of one of the most successful Theory softball teams in recent memory.

In the 45 years since the first SLAC softball championships, the national lab has won 3 Nobel prizes, made countless contributions to a wide range of sciences, and has been an overall cool place to do a postdoc. And all this time the softball championship has been a constant in the lab’s history.

Until this year.

Perhaps reflecting a recent major reorganization of the lab, this year’s softball championship was not between the usual theory and experiment teams. Instead, those two teams merged into a research team which squared off against the accelerator team, composed of current-and-future accelerator researchers.

I was naturally cheering for the research team, which unfortunately was trounced by the accelerator team 38-10. The MVP was accelerator pitcher Tim Winstead. (With a team name like that, they’d better have a good pitcher.) Maybe next year, researchers!

In unrelated Stanford sports news, the LA Times cheered Stanford’s football team for using their brains, while the school newspaper shook its head at Stanford’s star basketball player for not.

Stanford was, however, coming off of what some consider the greatest college football upset in history. Which is why I love the front page photo (reproduced above) which highlights Stanford’s multicultural and diverse student body celebrating… along with the one disgruntled dude (highlighted) in the back who’s obviously just trying to make it to his study group on time. 🙂

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