Michael Walter Begins Tenure as Geophysical Laboratory Director

Experimental petrologist Michael Walter is now the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory. We will officially welcome him to Washington on May 9 when he will give a public talk called "Deep Earth Through a Diamond Looking Glass."   

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  • A team of researchers including Carnegie’s Bob Hazen is using network analysis techniques—made popular through social media applications—to find patterns in Earth’s natural history. By using network analysis to search for communities of marine life in the fossil records of the Paleobiology Database, the team—including researchers at Harvard University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—was able to quantify the ecological impacts of major events like mass extinctions. Their work may help humanity anticipate the consequences of a “sixth mass extinction,” which the rate of species disappearance over the past few decades led many scientists suspect we are in the midst of right now.

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    In honor of Women's History Month, we're revisiting some discussions we shared with scientific experts from a variety of disciplines who visited our flagship building in Washington, DC, as part of our Capital Science Evening series of public programming. 

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Washington, DC — On Saturday, March 17, middle and high school students in the nation’s capital showed off their science and math skills in a full-day celebration of STEM education and innovation at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. Three DC high school students were selected as grand prize winners of the DC STEM Fair’s Senior Division. 

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Palo Alto, CA—Senior scientist Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology was part of a team* awarded a three-year grant, with $100,000 for each year, from the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The team will use an integrated approach to investigate how light and metabolic signals control photosynthetic processes in algae.  

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Pasadena, CA—Pomona College junior and returning Carnegie Observatories intern Sal Fu was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of her academic and research success and to support her continued “academic study and research in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.” Fu has participated in the Carnegie Summer Undergraduate Research program over the past two summers, working with staff astronomer Josh Simon studying dwarf galaxies and streams of stars surrounding our Milky Way using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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A team of scientists including Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram now report unexpected quantum behavior of hydrogen molecules, H2, trapped within tiny cages made of organic molecules, demonstrating that the structure of the cage influences the behavior of the molecule imprisoned inside it. 

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The Geophysical Laboratory has made important advances in the growth of diamond by chemical vapor deposition (CVD).  Methods have been developed to produce single-crystal diamond at low pressure having a broad range of properties.
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Carbon plays an unparalleled role in our lives: as the element of life, as the basis of most of society’s energy, as the backbone of most new materials, and as the central focus in efforts to understand Earth’s variable and uncertain climate. Yet in spite of carbon’s importance, scientists remain...
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Fresh water constitutes less than 1% of the surface water on earth, yet the importance of this simple molecule to all life forms is immeasurable. Water represents the most vital reagent for chemical reactions occurring in a cell. In plants, water provides the structural support necessary for plant...
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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, May 7, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade,...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Bristol
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Looking upward, the vastness of the heavens is accessible through giant telescopes that collect light from the beginning of time. Turn a telescope downward and the opaqueness of our planet...

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, May 21, 2018 - 6:15pm

As Carl Sagan once said, "We are made of star stuff." However, each element has its own astronomical origins story. Elements are created everywhere from the centers of stars, to supernovae...

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Staff associate Christoph Lepper, with colleagues, overturned previous research that identified critical genes for making muscle stem cells. It turns out that the genes that make muscle stem cells in the embryo are surprisingly not needed in adult muscle stem cells to regenerate muscles after...
Meet this Scientist
Guillermo Blanc wants to understand the processes by which galaxies form and evolve over the course of the history of the universe. He studies local galaxies in the “present day” universe as well as very distant and therefore older galaxies to observe the early epochs of galaxy evolution. Blanc...
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Galacticus is not a super hero; it’s a super model used to determine the formation and evolution of the galaxies. Developed by Andrew Benson, the George Ellery Hale Distinguished Scholar in Theoretical Astrophysics, it is one of the most advanced models of galaxy formation available. Rather than...
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April 23, 2018

Washington, DC—A team of researchers including Carnegie’s Bob Hazen is using network analysis techniques—made popular through social media applications—to find patterns in Earth’s natural history, as detailed in a paper published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 

By using network analysis to search for communities of marine life in the fossil records of the Paleobiology Database, the team—including researchers at Harvard University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—was able to quantify the ecological impacts of major events like mass extinctions. Their work may help humanity anticipate the consequences of a “sixth mass extinction,” which the rate of species

April 23, 2018

Washington, DC — On Saturday, March 17, middle and high school students in the nation’s capital showed off their science and math skills in a full-day celebration of STEM education and innovation at Ron Brown College Preparatory High School. More than 100 local students participated in the 2018 DC STEM Fair, where they presented their own science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) projects to a group of 80 volunteer judges, including representatives from local universities, STEM professional organizations, research institutions, and STEM employer groups.

Three DC high school students were selected as grand prize winners of the DC STEM Fair’s Senior Division. For the first

April 17, 2018

Washington, DC—Interim Co-Presidents John Mulchaey and Yixian Zheng are thrilled to welcome experimental petrologist Michael Walter as the new Director of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory.  

Walter’s recent research has focused on the period early in Earth’s history, shortly after the planet accreted from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding our young Sun, when the mantle and the core first separated into distinct layers. Current topics of investigation also include the structure and properties of various compounds under the extreme pressures and temperatures found deep inside the planet, and information about the pressure, temperature, and chemical conditions of the mantle that

April 9, 2018

Palo Alto, CA—Senior scientist Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology was part of a team* awarded a three-year grant, with $100,000 for each year, from the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The team will use an integrated approach to investigate how light and metabolic signals control photosynthetic processes in algae.  

HFSP’s collaborative research grants are given for endeavors that address “complex mechanisms of living organisms.” The program only supports “cutting-edge, risky projects” conducted by globally distributed teams.

Grossman has been studying algae for years.  Algae dominate the oceans, produce half of the

May 7, 2018

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade, we have detected the fossil imprint of these sound waves using maps of the distribution of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Dr. Eisenstein will describe these waves and the ambitious experiments that use them to extend our cosmological reach.

Dr. Daniel Eisenstein: Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University and Director, Sloan Digital Sky Survey III

#CosmicSound

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Bristol
May 9, 2018

Looking upward, the vastness of the heavens is accessible through giant telescopes that collect light from the beginning of time. Turn a telescope downward and the opaqueness of our planet conceals the secrets of its origin and evolution. Diamonds, those translucent rarities, illuminate the depths of our planet and reveal connections between the deep Earth and the surface of our planet through both time and space.

Dr. Michael Walter: Director, Geophysical Laboratory,, Carnegie Science 

#DiamondScience

May 21, 2018

As Carl Sagan once said, "We are made of star stuff." However, each element has its own astronomical origins story. Elements are created everywhere from the centers of stars, to supernovae explosions, to the Big Bang itself. Dr. Drout will take us on a journey through the periodic table, highlighting how our recent discovery of a 'kilonova' associated with the cataclysmic merger of two neutron stars has filled in one of the final pieces of the elemental puzzle—the origin of many of the heaviest elements in the universe.

Maria Drout: Hubble, Carnegie-Dunlap Fellow, Carnegie Observatories

#StarStuff

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, RedSeal
May 23, 2018

The new reality is that all digitally networked enterprises and organizations will fall under cyberattack and be breached.  RedSeal CEO Ray Rothrock will be speaking about his new book Digital Resilience, which explores the threats we face, how to assess the resiliency of networks, how to identify and address weaknesses, and how to respond to exploits swiftly and effectively.  He will be joined by cybersecurity expert and former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism  Richard A. Clarke for a discussion about the future of cybersecurity.

Ray Rothrock: CEO, RedSeal

#DigitalResilience

    Pre-order your copy from Politics

Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass over a specific time. Joe Berry was part of a team that took an entirely new approach by using satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis as shown by the artwork.

The plant produces fluorescent light when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Satellite instruments sense this fluorescence yielding a direct

High-elevation, low relief surfaces are common on continents. These intercontinental plateaus influence river networks, climate, and the migration of plants and animals. How these plateaus form is not clear. Researchers are studying the geodynamic processes responsible for surface uplift in the Hangay in central Mongolia to better understand the origin of high topography in continental interiors.

This work focuses on characterizing the physical properties and structure of the lithosphere and sublithospheric mantle, and the timing, rate, and pattern of surface uplift in the Hangay. They are carrying out studies in geomorphology, geochronology, thermochronology, paleoaltimetry,

Carbon plays an unparalleled role in our lives: as the element of life, as the basis of most of society’s energy, as the backbone of most new materials, and as the central focus in efforts to understand Earth’s variable and uncertain climate. Yet in spite of carbon’s importance, scientists remain largely ignorant of the physical, chemical, and biological behavior of many of Earth’s carbon-bearing systems. The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) is a global research program to transform our understanding of carbon in Earth. At its heart, DCO is a community of scientists, from biologists to physicists, geoscientists to chemists, and many others whose work crosses these disciplinary lines,

Carnegie's Paul Butler has been leading work on a multiyear project to carry out the first reconnaissance of all 2,000 nearby Sun-like stars within 150 light-years of the solar system (1 lightyear is about 9.4 trillion kilometers). His team is currently monitoring about 1,700 stars, including 1,000 Northern Hemisphere stars with the Keck telescope in Hawaii and the UCO Lick Observatory telescope in California, and 300 Southern Hemisphere stars with the Anglo-Australian telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The remaining Southern Hemisphere stars are being surveyed with Carnegie's new Magellan telescopes in Chile. By 2010 the researchers hope to have completed their planetary census.

Staff associate Christoph Lepper, with colleagues, overturned previous research that identified critical genes for making muscle stem cells. It turns out that the genes that make muscle stem cells in the embryo are surprisingly not needed in adult muscle stem cells to regenerate muscles after injury. The finding challenges the current course of research into muscular dystrophy, muscle injury, and regenerative medicine, which uses stem cells for healing tissues, and it favors using age-matched stem cells for therapy.

Previous studies showed that two genes Pax3 and Pax7, are essential for making the embryonic and neonatal muscle stem cells in the mouse. But Lepper and team for the

The mouse is a traditional model organism for understanding physiological processes in humans. Chen-Ming Fan uses the mouse to study the underlying mechanisms involved in human development and genetic diseases. He concentrates on identifying and understanding the signals that direct the musculoskeletal system to develop in the mammalian embryo. Skin, muscle, cartilage, and bone are all derived from a group of progenitor structures called somites. Various growth factors—molecules that stimulate the growth of cells—in the surrounding tissues work in concert to signal each somitic cell to differentiate into a specific tissue type.

The lab has identified various growth factors that

Alan Boss is a theorist and an observational astronomer. His theoretical work focuses on the formation of binary and multiple stars, triggered collapse of the presolar cloud that eventually made  the Solar System, mixing and transport processes in protoplanetary disks, and the formation of gas giant and ice giant protoplanets. His observational works centers on the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search project, which has been underway for the last decade at Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

While fragmentation is universally recognized as the dominant formation mechanism for binary and multiple stars, there are still major questions. The most important of these is the

There is a lot of folklore about left-brain, right-brain differences—the right side of the brain is supposed to be the creative side, while the left is the logical half. But it’s much more complicated than that. Marnie Halpern studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry.

Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, Halpern explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord. The zebrafish is ideal for these studies because its basic body plan is set within 24 hours of fertilization. By day five, young larvae are able to feed and swim