Press Releases

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Solar System has a new most-distant member, bringing its outer frontier into focus. New work reports the discovery of a distant dwarf planet, called 2012 VP113, which was found beyond the known edge of the Solar System. This is likely one of thousands of distant objects that are thought to form the so-called inner Oort cloud. What's more, their work indicates the potential presence of an enormous planet, perhaps up to 10 times the size of Earth, not yet seen, but possibly influencing the orbit of 2012 VP113, as well as other inner Oort cloud objects. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Kavli Foundation’s board of directors has announced the election of three new board members including Richard A. Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science, expanding the board from five to eight members.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Plants convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy during a process called photosynthesis. This energy is passed on to humans and animals that eat the plants, and thus photosynthesis is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. New research uses satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates.The findings are key to understanding the planet’s thermal, tectonic, and volcanic history, and the structure of its unusually large metallic core. “These new results resolved a decades-old paradox between thermal history models and estimates of Mercury’s contraction,” remarked lead author of the study, Paul Byrne.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Evolution is based on diversity, and sexual reproduction is key to creating a diverse population that secures competitiveness in nature. Plants had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material. Flying pollinators—insects, birds, and bats—were nature’s solution.  To make sure the flying pollinators would come to the flowers to pick up pollen, plants evolved special organs called nectaries to attract and reward the animals. Yet despite the obvious importance of nectar, the process by which plants manufacture and secrete it has largely remained a mystery. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Some galaxies grew up in a hurry. Most of the galaxies that have been observed from the early days of the universe were young and actively forming stars. Now, an international team of astronomers, including Carnegie’s Eric Persson and Andy Monson, have discovered galaxies that were already mature and massive in the early days. Fifteen mature galaxies were found at a record-breaking average distance of 12 billion light years, when the universe was just 1.6 billion years old. Their existence at such an early time raises new questions about what forced them to grow up so quickly. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

In many ways, plants act as chemical factories, using energy from sunlight to produce carbon-based energy and taking nutrients from the soil in order to synthesize a wide variety of products. Carnegie scientists asked the question: How much does the portfolio of chemicals generated by plants vary, depending on the surrounding environment, and what can this tell us about how we interact with forests? The answer involved climbing into the Amazonian canopy, resulting in the discovery that the forest's chemical portfolios form a rich mosaic that varies with elevation and soil content.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The international consortium of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project has passed two major reviews and is positioned to enter the construction phase. When completed, the 25-meter GMT will have more than six times the collecting area of the largest telescopes today and ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

As every gardner knows, nitrogen is crucial for a plant’s growth. But nitrogen absorption is inefficient. This means that on the scale of food crops, adding significant levels of nitrogen to the soil through fertilizer presents a number of problems, particularly river and groundwater pollution. As a result, finding a way to improve nitrogen uptake in agricultural products could improve yields and decrease risks to environmental and human health. New work from Carnegie's Cheng-Hsun Ho and Wolf Frommer developed tools that could help scientists observe the nitrogen-uptake process in real time and could lead to developments that improve agriculture and the environment.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The pace of global warming over the last century has been about twice as rapid over land than over the oceans and will continue to be more dramatic going forward if emissions are not curbed. According to an analysis of 27 climate models by Carnegie’s Chris Field, if we continue along the current emissions trajectory, we are likely facing the most rapid large climate change in the last 65 million years. This will clearly pose great challenges for a variety of terrestrial ecosystems.