A day in the life of an accelerator designer

Tor Raubenheimer

What do particle accelerators and craggy outcrops have in common? Both have Tor Raubenheimer trotting the globe. Thanks to both his work at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and his passion for rock climbing, he has gotten to know people and places on several continents.

“There are places around the world where I know a group of people and I can go and work and hang out,” says Raubhenheimer. “It’s neat.”

Raubenheimer is an accelerator physicist — someone who designs, builds or operates particle accelerators. It’s a title that only a few thousand people lay claim to worldwide. Throughout his career, Raubenheimer has operated SLAC’s accelerators and designed new ones through international collaborations.

He is also an avid rock climber. He makes frequent trips to a local climbing gym — three or four times a week, he says — and occasionally, much longer trips to climbing destinations. Just in the last few years, he has climbed in Australia, Sardinia and Thailand as well as at California favorites like Joshua Tree National Park. For Raubenheimer, rock climbing is a fun way to get to know people and places.

“It’s having something in common, right?” Raubenheimer says. “Either accelerator physics or climbing. When you go to a different area, it makes merging into the culture there much easier.”

Raubenheimer’s climbing pursuits also played a part in bringing him to SLAC. During his college years as a physics and computer science double major at Dartmouth College, he took a year off to ski and climb in Yosemite National Park and was captivated by Yosemite Valley. After college, when he had the opportunity to work as a programmer at SLAC, the proximity to Yosemite and other outdoor wonders attracted him to California.

Working at SLAC opened Raubenheimer’s eyes to accelerator physics.

“As an undergraduate, I had no idea that the field even existed,” he says. “I knew about high-energy and particle physics. I knew about lasers. I didn’t know that there was actually a field studying accelerators.”

As a programmer at SLAC, he worked on software for the damping rings that helped narrow the particle beams emitted by the two-mile SLAC linear accelerator. Occasionally, he needed to go into the linear accelerator tunnel to check on a component or fix something. It’s this hands-on work, he says, that got him hooked.

“The immediate satisfaction of being able to do something and see a result was great,” Raubenheimer says.

He decided to go to graduate school in physics and got his PhD at Stanford, where he worked on a couple of other research projects before returning to accelerator physics. He worked on the linear collider at SLAC as well as researching problems that would need to be solved to build more advanced linear colliders. During his postdoc at SLAC, he started working on the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser and brought his knowledge of linear colliders to the project. In the years since, while a scientist and professor at SLAC and Stanford, he has worked on designing accelerator facilities at SLAC and internationally.

For the last few years, Raubenheimer has been working on the upgrade for LCLS, called LCLS-II. The upgraded LCLS-II will be able to shoot electron pulses and produce X-ray laser flashes up to one million times per second. LCLS-II will let scientists investigate microscopic phenomena in incredible detail and may ultimately lead to advances in storing energy and curing diseases.

The multifaceted nature of accelerator physics makes it an interesting challenge. On top of theory and simulations, Raubenheimer says, “you have to worry about plumbing, and all the details of how you support things, and what metals go in radiofrequency fields and what don’t. So it’s a very broad field. It requires expertise and knowledge across a wide set of disciplines.”

Many physics experiments involve either huge facilities and thousands of collaborators, like the Large Hadron Collider experiments, or smaller-scale equipment and a handful of researchers. For Raubenheimer, one of the draws of accelerator physics is working on large-scale projects in small teams, which lets him have his fingers in many pies.

“You’ll do the theory, you’ll do the simulation studies, and then you can do the experiments,” Raubenheimer says. “I like having large facilities to play with, but with a small group of people, you can really be involved in all aspects of the physics.”

[“source=symmetrymagazine”]

An Ecologist and a Game Designer Walk Into a Forest

An Ecologist and a Game Designer Walk Into a Forest

There are animated parties in the forest with a motley bunch of attendees, their colours and calls hidden among the trees. Pay a little more attention and you can see birds of various hues and sizes in a palpable buzz of activity. Mixed species bird flocks have been reported all around the world, and form the basis of a new card game called ​Flocks!” developed by an unlikely duo.

Mixed Species Bird Flocks

Flock image: Rangu Narayan. Modified to current form: Navodita

In the beginning it is overwhelming because you see one bird, then you see another and then you realize there could be so many…there is not just one or two species but very often, several of them,” says Priti Bangal who studies mixed species bird flocks as a PhD student at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

There is some systemic kind of play inherent in mixed species bird flocks,” says Prasad Sandbhor, a freelance game designer based in Bangalore. He got interested in issues related to nature and society through extra-curricular activities while growing up, and now designs games professionally.

The game rules do not move away from scientific observations. The creators did not bring in anything alien for the sake of a story. For example, gregarious species are important in the formation of mixed species flocks and hence their role as flock starters in the game.

Also Read: An Overview of the Gardens Under the Sea

Another important rule states that a species added once, singly or in a group, cannot be added to a mixed species flock again. The idea comes from the fact that a family group of a gregarious species present in a mixed species flock is not joined by another family of the same species.

It is the same in case of solitary species, which are often territorial in nature. ​I try to justify the ecology side of things and he [Prasad] tries to justify the game-play side of things. We always try and find the balance in between,” Priti says.

Flocks!

Image of cards: Prasad Sandbhor. Modified to current form: Navodita

When we started, we thought anybody could play this game and our play testing has been with a wide age group,” Prasad says. From the feedback they have received, it seems to be especially effective among high school kids.

It is a good introduction to birds and mixed species flocks, and players seem to remember the roles of birds – warblers as flock starters, drongos as protectors and the interactions between other species. ​It is a good way to introduce people to the different elements in the flock…but it is not a lesson plan,” Priti says.

The popularity of other science-based games in the market such as Birds of a Feather, Wingspan, Evolution and Phylo, gives them confidence that there are takers for Flocks!.

It has the potential to be a game on its own and we would like to bring it out in the world for people to play,” Prasad says. They would like to keep it self-sustainable and are looking for companies or ecological organisations who may be interested in collaborating. They also want to collaborate with schools to test the game with a larger audience and use it as a means of scientific outreach.

The journey so far has inspired them to keep working on designing games and playful material like stories and comic books among other formats. They want to work on material that connects players to nature, making them curious to look around and observe natural phenomena, says Prasad.

For Priti, discussing mixed species flocks with people outside an ecology background has allowed her to think about questions that may otherwise be taken for granted. ​It helps me become clearer in articulation about the system,” she adds. ​It definitely has been a fun and enriching experience.”

[“source=thewire”]

Solving shoes, the carbon footprint that really is a footprint

Solving shoes, the carbon footprint that really is a footprint

Consumers worried about their carbon footprints might want to take a look at, well, their footprints. The footwear industry is already aware of the climate impacts linked to materials and production, and working on solutions.

Now new luxury brand AERA has hit the streets with a shoe collection designers say is carbon-negative. The AERA line is a concept developed by prominent fashion executive Tina Bhojwani, an industry veteran of Donna Karan and Dolce & Gabbana, along with footwear designer Jean-Michel Cazabat and entrepreneur Alvertos Revach. They teamed up to deliver what they’re calling “vegan shoes” while offsetting the carbon and water inputs of footwear.

“We are working to set a new normal, one in which style, design and quality are analogous with sustainability,” said CEO Bhojwani. “I’m thrilled to announce that we have reached our number one objective – to become carbon negative.”

The company says it’s doing that through investment in reforestation projects that offset the carbon footprint by 110 percent, and water restoration certificates purchased through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to achieve the same level of offsets on consumption. “And we’re not stopping there,” Bhojwani said. “Our next objective is to find ways to offset other key impacts.”

The shoes are made in the Veneto region of Italy in partnership with two families that have operated shoe factories for years, with just 20 and six employees respectively; the AERA team says that’s a conscious decision to support artisanal craftsmanship and corporate stewardship. AERA is also committed to living wages across its supply chain and is sourcing 95 percent of its materials from Italy too. The shoes are sold to consumers online.

A life-cycle assessment and impact verification for all AERA products was completed by SCS Global Services (SCS) to evaluate  the environmental  impacts of the materials, manufacturing process, transport and ultimate end-of-life for the shoes. Keith Killpack, the technical director for SCS, says the work “sets an important precedent for this industry given our current global climate challenge.”

The value of offsets and credits in the climate change fight can be controversial, as illustrated by a recent Pro Publica report on carbon credits and deforestation, but the AERA launch is a well-heeled step in the right direction for an industry that is looking for solutions to its outsize footprint.

A 2018 report from Qantis International looked at the impacts of synthetic, leather and textile-based shoes produced globally – more than half are synthetic – and found that footwear accounts for between 16 and 32 percent of the fashion industry’s total pollution though in different ways. Leather requires more raw materials and processing, often with toxic chemicals; textile-based shoes use a lot of water, and synthetics a lot of plastic.

Far too often all of them end up in a landfill, which is a problem reuse and recycling advocates like ShoeAid in the UK are trying to change.

Some shoe companies are turning to new materials like eucalyptus tree pulp or recaptured ocean plastic. Adidas hopes to make all of its running shoes from recycled plastic, beginning with marine waste. The company is a co-sponsor with nonprofit Parley of the Run for the Oceans, which kicks off on World Oceans Day on June 8.

[“source=sustainability-times.”]

Kolkata gets a one-stop-shop for affordable designer Western wear at Atrium

atrium8

ATRIUM is the city’s new address dedicated to luxury Western wear at affordable prices, something that the city desperately needed. Tavishi Kanoria, the young owner of Citrine, a multi-designer fashion boutique on Shakespeare Sarani, tapped into the fashion pulse of the city, and started the new luxury wear store with her sister Parthivi, last month. “Citrine was already fetching a good response, but we felt the need to stock more designers and create a separate space dedicated to Western wear. We wanted to tap a market that is untapped, as it has great potential. Hence Atrium was born,” avers 27-year-old Tavishi, adding that the venture is purely passion-driven.

The 2,500 sq ft store is a one-stop- shop for everything from LBDs to easy casual wear to fun brunch outfits, at affordable prices. “Atrium offers affordable luxury brands, and though designerwear can make a big hole in your pocket, we generally keep a cap on the pricing. So you can get everything within Rs 25,000,” says Tavishi, who completed her business studies from Babson College, Massachusetts. The latest collection at Atrium includes statement cowl tops and dresses by Harsh Harsh, stunning resort wear with quirky prints by Masaba, gorgeous flowy and dramatic gowns by Rippii Sethi and Lakme Fashion Week brands like Ezra and Swatee Singh. For casual summer wear, you can choose from breezy printed cotton dresses by The Jodi Life or embroidered cotton dresses by Irabira. Kai’s swimwear and resort wear has a riot of pop colours tin her collection, and it’s something that the city has been looking for. The embellished monokini, bandeau swimsuit, wrap swim-dress, crossover monokini and high-waisted bikini are perfect for private pool parties. The cover-ups too were equally stunning with lace, mesh and crochet. Tavishi, who happens to be a gifted painter and was also into Oddissi, says, “First, we keep in mind the affordability factor. Secondly, our collection is trendy and on par with all the latest fashion so you will find ruffles, tassels, organza, asymmetrical cuts, shimmery dresses, monochromes and more. Further, we concentrate on good quality fabric. We then try to keep designers who are flexible in customising and who are reliable with the delivery date.” Tavishi further adds, “Atrium is for open-minded new-age progressive women but at the same time, our values are extremely traditional and conservative. That’s something that we haven’t left out in our curation”.

[“source=indulgexpress”]

What it takes to become a ‘social designer’

Social design is the application of design methodologies to solutions for complex human problems. A world battling pollution, education, inequality, and climate change requires each of us to contribute in ways we deem meaningful. There is a need for design professionals and recent design graduates to think beyond traditional (product, building, service) design through an additional lens of purpose.

Design is a tool to create environmental and social value that has a role in social development and is definitely the need of the hour.

But the question is how do designers find these opportunities? Enough design schools and institutions are not taking it upon them to urge students to think about the potential impact that they can have in the world through their work. Secondly, most people, designers included, are of the opinion that solving social problems are for government, non-profits, and CSR institutions, and hence don’t think about this as a career opportunity.

Last but not the least, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that the role of design in the social development sector is still not a mainstream concept in India and most parts of the world and hence, there are no such ‘jobs’ to begin with. Until we change this narrative and create platforms/avenues/opportunities to engage and make available careers for design professionals and recent graduates in the social development space we will not be able to grow the field and make these opportunities readily available to pursue.

 

In this article we highlight design mindsets and toolsets that can be incorporated in social development work and help prepare potential social designers for this field.

1.  Looking for impactful career choices

The first option of course is looking for opportunities to use your design skills to solve environmental and societal problems, be it in government, non-profits, CSR, or design consultancies that consult for any of these. If you decide to start on your own be mindful of the problem that your organisation will solve.

2.  Getting into the right mindset 

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by training your muscles like a social designer.

●     Adaptability: Given the ever-changing social landscape, it is vital that our thinking is both flexible and adaptable to support future growth and change.

●     Learning through failure: The process is iterative with the need to constantly pivot in face of new learnings, insights, and data.

●     Cultivate empathy: Being empathetic is always a given in design. You might have heard it a lot. Empathy means understanding and sharing. Taking some time out to truly listen is important when you design for them. Only when you listen, you are able to understand the problem and the solutions.

●     Embrace ambiguity: There are always times that we start solving a problem and then realise after more in-depth research that the problem that we set out to solve was not the problem at all and end up learning the crux of the problem. Embracing such ambiguous moments ultimately end up leading to ‘Aha!’ moments in design.

3.  Building your toolset

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by building a social designer toolset.

Design methods:

Design is an iterative and non-linear process that can be divided into four phases – Understanding, Looking, Making, and Testing.

Systems thinking/Mapping:

While designing for one end user, one can fall into the trap of unintended consequences for other people in the system interacting with the user. When you design, you design within a larger system, in order to leverage best experiences for all the players in the system, systems mapping is a useful tool to understand the ecosystem.

Storytelling/Communication:

Often times, explaining the problem is the hardest. Storytelling involves communicating design insights, and creating brands and bite-sized information that are easily understandable and approachable. Storytelling adds value to the user experience and involves both visual storytelling, verbal and written narratives.

Measurement and evaluation:

It’s easy to fall in love with our solutions and ideas. And hence, it’s important to create a feedback loop to ensure that our design solutions are working. Measurement and evaluation is a crucial step in social design to track progress.

4.   Social design learning resources

Last but not the least, change is the only constant so don’t wait to become a continuous learner. Here are some wonderful resources to learn and get inspired by people all around the world using design approaches in social impact.

Podcasts – Podcasts are great for inspiration and get a sneak peek into what others in the field are doing, for example Social Design Insights by the Curry Stone Foundation.

Open innovation challenges – Nothing is better than picking up a challenge with a friend or colleague – Open Innovation Practice by Ideo.

Toolkits – The wheel does not have to be reinvented each time, there are plenty of toolkits to refer

●       Design for Health by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dalberg Design, Sonder, and USAID

●      D.I.Y Toolkit by Nesta, UK

●      NYC Civic Service Design by New York City Mayor’s Office of Innovation

Talking to people in the field – There is nothing better than learning about the impact space and the role that you and your skills can play by speaking to people who are affected the most by the problem as well as those who are in the frontlines trying to solve these problems.

I hope these resources are helpful to open our minds to new ideas and possibilities whether we work for technology companies or non-profits or consultancies. The question I want to leave you with is how might we as designers incorporate strategies to be leaders of advocating for social change wherever we go?

[“source=yourstory”]

Aldous Harding’s Designer mixes a lush surface with compelling depth

One of my favourite things of late has been to show unsuspecting people the music video for Aldous Harding’s ‘The Barrel’. As a song, it’s an excellent little thing, the perfect aural venn diagram of Tori Amos and Katie Melua – all the shameless opacity of the former mixed with the pleasant approachability of the latter. With the willfully bizarre video, it gains an extra dimension, a threat and a weirdness that draws you into the song rather than pushes it away. Maybe it’s Harding’s simple, beguiling dancing. Maybe it’s the sudden shift to a blue-faced goblin. Maybe it’s that sudden cut at the end.

It’s a song that I haven’t tried to figure out. I’m perfectly content to listen to it over and over again and bask in the very obvious surface pleasures of it; the interplay between the guitar and the piano, Harding’s smoky falsetto and the insistent drumbeat. But hearing it in the context of Designer, Harding’s first album after her Taite-winning Party, it makes me want to figure out what is at the heart of the song. To get to know it better, to get to love it better. Or, at the very least, try and work out why ‘I know you have the dove / I’m not getting wet’ has been in my head for the past few months.

Designer is full of songs like this. They’re not united by sound necessarily – other than a dedication to loping acoustic melodies, the only genre that fits the album is the lazily defined ‘alternative’ label – but more by a linked sense of mystery. This is an album that rewards multiple listens, with little bits of each song jumping out at you every time you listen to it. The little electric guitar in ‘The Weight of the Planets’, the sudden empty darkness of ‘Heaven is Empty’, the whimsical air to ‘Pilot’. Some songs are easier to work your way into than others, the aforementioned ‘Heaven is Empty’ is a fairly clear lament about the lack of an afterlife, but the majority of the album has a sense of finding a feeling, an image, or a character and then rolling about in it.

It’s easy to label something as ‘enigmatic’ and leave it at that, and unfortunately the label has become a backhanded compliment. We dismiss something as enigmatic rather than try and figure it out, and we reward art that reveals itself to us immediately, that tells us what its about, where it comes from, and why its here. ‘Enigmatic’ can be seen as being difficult and inaccessible, and god knows, I’ve been guilty of applying the latter label to something I didn’t think of as worthy of my time or investigation.

It’s a word that’s been applied to Harding in the past. Her earlier reticence in interviews, while perfectly understandable to me, equated a desire for privacy with a similar desire to be mysterious. Her malleable, shapeshifting voice only adds to that mystery, capable of stirring low notes and rapturous high notes, with more characters in between those extremes than you can name. While nothing about Designer is obvious, there’s nothing about this album that is closed off. Designer wants to be listened to, and relistened to. It wants you to figure it out, and to enjoy whatever the hell its about.

But while I’m figuring that out, there’s still so much surface to love in Designer. The entire album, co-produced with PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, has an enveloping lushness that makes it suitable for that late night, slightly tipsy, walk home or a too-tired Sunday morning. You don’t just listen to the album, you spend time in its world, wandering around in it. The best part of a mystery isn’t the answer – it’s actually the time you spend getting there. Designer values each part of the mystery equally; the question, the journey, the answer, and it’s so rare to hear music that values all three parts equally.

[“source=thespinoff”]