Wednesday, December 19, 2012 - 12:08pm
Closest Sun-like star may have planets
An international team of scientists, including Carnegie’s Paul Butler, has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may have five planets. At a distance of twelve light years and visible with a naked eye in the evening sky, Tau Ceti is the closest single star with the same spectral classification as our Sun. Its five planets are estimated to have masses between two and six times the mass of the Earth--making it the lowest-mass planetary system yet detected.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 8:25am
Forest Carbon Monitoring Breakthrough in Colombia
Using new techniques, Carnegie and Colombian scientists have developed ultra-high resolution maps of the carbon stocks locked in tropical vegetation for 40% of the Colombian Amazon, an area about four times the size of Switzerland. Until now, the inability to accurately quantify carbon stocks at high spatial resolution over large areas has hindered the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program aimed at creating a financial value for storing carbon in tropical forests.
Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 9:55am
Asteroid Found in Gravitational “Dead Zone”
There are places in space where the gravitational tug between a planet and the Sun balance out, allowing other smaller bodies to remain stable called Lagrangian points. So-called Trojan asteroids have been found in some of these stable spots near Jupiter and Neptune. Now Scott Sheppard at the Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and Chad Trujillo have discovered the first Trojan asteroid in a difficult-to-detect stability region at Neptune—the Lagrangian L5 point.
Monday, April 21, 2008 - 10:56am
Plate Tectonics Meets the Ice Ages in North American Landscapes
Tanya Atwater of the University of California, Santa Barbara, gave the final Capital Science Lecture for the 2007-2008 season on April 17th. Her engaging talk included computer animations, maps, and more to explore the interaction of some of North America’s large-scale topographic features and its many striking landforms. The tectonic features were created over long periods via plate tectonics, while the landforms developed during the recent ice ages. Atwater showed how they have interacted to produce some of the most stunning scenery in this part of the world.
Monday, April 1, 2013 - 8:15am
Extreme Algal Blooms: The New Normal?
A research team, led by Carnegie’s Anna Michalak, has determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in Lake Erie was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The team also predicts that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms.
Thursday, April 12, 2012 - 6:12pm
Probing hydrogen under extreme conditions
How hydrogen--the most abundant element in the cosmos--responds to extremes of pressure and temperature is one of the major challenges in modern physical science. Moreover, knowledge gleaned from experiments using hydrogen as a testing ground on the nature of chemical bonding can fundamentally expand our understanding of matter. New work from Carnegie scientists has enabled researchers to examine hydrogen under pressures never before possible.
Thursday, July 3, 2008 - 2:03pm
MESSENGER settles old debates and makes new discoveries at Mercury
Scientists have argued about the origins of Mercury’s smooth plains and the source of its magnetic field for over 30 years. Now, analyses of data from the January 2008 flyby of the planet by the MESSENGER spacecraft have shown that volcanoes were involved in plains formation and suggest that its magnetic field is actively produced in the planet’s core and is not a frozen relic. Scientists additionally took their first look at the chemical composition the planet’s surface material. The tiny craft probed the composition of Mercury’s thin atmosphere, sampled charged particles (ions) near the planet, and demonstrated new links between both sets of observations and materials on Mercury’s surface. The results are reported in a series of 11 papers published in a special section of Science magazine on July 4th. Carnegie’s Sean Solomon, director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, is the mission’s principal investigator. For more see
Image courtesy Science/AAAS
Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 1:57pm
Under pressure: germanium
Although its name may make many people think of flowers, the element germanium is part of a frequently studied group of elements, called IVa, which could have applications for next-generation computer architecture as well as implications for fundamental condensed matter physics. New research reveals details of the element’s transitions under pressure. Their results show extraordinary agreement with the predictions of modern condensed matter theory.
Monday, April 5, 2010 - 1:27pm
For Stem Cells, Practice Makes Perfect
Multipotent stem cells have the capacity to develop into different types of cells by reprogramming their DNA. In a new study, researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science have found that reprogramming is imperfect in the early stages of differentiation, with some genes turned on and off at random. As cell divisions continue, the stability of the differentiation process increases by a factor of 100.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - 2:03pm
Diamonds Reveal Deep Source of Platinum Deposits
The world’s richest source of platinum and related metals is an enigmatic geological structure in South Africa known as the Bushveld Complex. This complex of ancient magmas is known to have formed some two billion years ago, but the source of its metallic riches has been a matter of scientific dispute. Now researchers from the Carnegie Institution and the University of Cape Town have traced the origin of the unique ore deposits by using another of South Africa’s treasures—diamonds.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 - 4:32pm
Carnegie’s Alan Cutler receives James H. Shea Award for Science Writing
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers has awarded the 2008 James H. Shea Award to science writer Alan Cutler at the Carnegie Institution. The Shea Award is given annually. Other winners of the Shea Award include Science magazine writer Richard Kerr, Pulitzer Prize winner John McPhee, and Stephen Jay Gould.
Monday, June 15, 2009 - 8:18am
Advance in understanding cellulose synthesis
Cellulose makes up plant cell walls, gives plants shape and form and is a target of renewable, plant-based biofuels research. But how it forms, and thus how it can be modified to design energy-rich crops, is not well understood. Now a study led by researchers at Plant Biology has discovered that the underlying protein network that provides the scaffolding for cell-wall structure is also the traffic cop for delivering critical growth-promoting molecules where needed.
Monday, May 9, 2011 - 4:26pm
Consumption, carbon emissions, and international trade
Accurately calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the process of producing and bringing products to our doorsteps is nearly impossible, but still a worthwhile effort, two Carnegie researchers claim in a commentary published online this week. The Global Ecology department’s Ken Caldeira and Steven Davis commend the work of industrial ecologist Glen Peters and colleagues, published in the same journal late last month, and use that team’s data to do additional analysis on the disparity between emissions and consumption in different parts of the world.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 - 2:15pm
Astronomers find puzzling dwarf star with complex magnetic fields
Typically, little M-dwarf stars—the most common type of star in the galaxy—are cold, quiet, and dim. Now a team of astronomers led by Edo Berger, a Carnegie-Princeton postdoctoral fellow, found one M-dwarf that doesn’t conform. It has an unusually active and complex magnetic field, stronger than our own Sun’s, and a huge hot spot that covers half of its surface.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 9:54am
Scientists Tackle the Carbon Conundrum
Scientists, including Carnegie's Anna Michalak, have developed a new, integrated, ten-year science plan to better understand the details of Earth’s carbon cycle. It identifies new research areas such as the role of humans as agents and managers of carbon cycling and climate change, the direct impact of greenhouse gases on ecosystems including changes to plant and animal diversity and ocean acidification, the need to address social concerns, and how best to communicate results to the public and decision makers.