November 21, 2003  


A Day in the Life of a Tour Guide

By Adam Edwards

Itís a sunny California afternoon and Iím giving a tour of our beautiful site. General public tours are usually the most exciting to do; I like the random mix of peopleóand questionsóthat I encounter on these tours.

Adam Edwards (BABAR) enjoys guiding tours. (Photo by Diana Rogers)

"So, what would happen if, say, I put my hand in the beam?" a visitor asks.

"Youíd probably get a nice hole in it. But that would never happen here. Itís very important that the beams donít collide with anything but themselves; thatís why all the air is removed from the beam pipe."

There are those who wonder, "Why isnít anybody ever working wherever we go?" Others are curious about how things work: "Thanks, Iíve always wondered what..."

Many bring their own stories to share: "I was reading my paper this morning after breakfast and I was remembering reading in the paper years ago about this place opening. What year was that?"

Each tour has its own flavor, but inevitably eyes light up as the tour progresses and I tell each group about the work we do.

"Is that the accelerator there?" queries another curious visitor.

"Well, thatís part of it. The actual beam is about 25 feet below ground. But to power the beam we use 240 klystrons. See the machines over there with the red cylinders? They are lined up above the beam in this two mile long shed which is, in fact, the longest building in the world. Itís about 10 feet longer than Hong Kongís airport terminal!"

Fascinating facts are good to know, but even better to share. Both the guides and the guided can enjoy the Ďgee-wizí aspect of it all.

The Public Affairs Office (PAO) runs tours of SLAC most days. The general tour gives guests an introduction to the Lab and then we usually take them from the Visitor Center to the Klystron Gallery, through the research yard and to the SLD detector.

Anyone can guide tours and itís always a fun experience! Iím a graduate student working with the BABAR collaboration, but Iíve found that people from all corners of SLAC give tours. Each of us gives our own spin and highlights our own interests. Itís like giving a tour of our home and everyone just loves what we did with the rooms.

At the end of the tour, guests always say ĎThank Youí. I feel good knowing that Iíve been able to share the marvels of science and may even inspire a new young scientist.

To learn about becoming a SLAC Tour Guideóor to host your own group of visitorsócontact Emily Ball (PAO) in advance (Ext. 2620,


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Wednesday November 19, 2003 by Kathy B