Washington, DC–Renowned astrophysicist and National Medal of Science awardee Vera Rubin passed away in Princeton N.J., the evening of December 25, 2016, at the age of 88. Rubin confirmed the existence of dark matter—the invisible material that makes up more than 90% of the mass of the universe. She...
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    “Scientists are my best friends,” wildlife photographer Frans Lanting said during a retrospective program at Carnegie’s Washington, DC, headquarters last week.

    He added that without the ability to learn from researchers and generate ideas for new images with them, his work would not hold the same power. “It’s like sculpting,” he said, speaking of these collaborations and conversations.

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Stanford, CA—New work from Carnegie’s Shouling Xu and Zhiyong Wang reveals that the process of synthesizing many important master proteins in plants involves extensive modification, or “tagging” by sugars after the protein is assembled. Their work uncovers both similarity and distinction between plants and animals in their use of this protein modification. It is published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The population of exoplanets discovered by ongoing planet-hunting projects continues to increase. These discoveries can improve models that predict where to look for more of them. New planetary formation models from Carnegie’s Alan Boss indicate that there may be an undiscovered population of gas giant planets orbiting around Sun-like stars at distances similar to those of Jupiter and Saturn. 

 

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Although helium is the second most-abundant element (after hydrogen) in the universe, it doesn’t play well with others. It is a member of a family of seven elements called the noble gases, which are called that because of their chemical aloofness—they don’t easily form compounds with other elements. Helium, widely believed to be the most inert element, has no stable compounds under normal conditions. Now, an international team of researchers including several Carnegie scientists has predicted two stable helium compounds.

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Baltimore, MD—A first-of-its-kind study on almost 20,000 K-12 underrepresented public school students shows that Project BioEYES, based at Carnegie’s Department of Embryology, is effective at increasing students’ science knowledge and positive attitudes about science. Younger students had the greatest attitude changes. The study covered five years and tested students before and after the one-week BioEYES program.

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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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Established in June of 2016 with a generous gift of $50,000 from Marilyn Fogel and Christopher Swarth, the Marilyn Fogel Endowed Fund for Internships will provide support for “very young budding scientists” who wish to “spend a summer getting their feet wet in research for the very first time.” ...
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The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Carnegie Team focuses on life’s chemical and physical evolution, from the interstellar medium, through planetary systems, to the emergence and detection of life by studying extrasolar planets, Solar System formation, organic rich primitive planetary bodies,...
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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Tuesday, March 7, 2017 -
6:30pm to 8:00pm

Since releasing its first images of space 5 years ago, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has produced many exciting and fundamental results, enabling transformational science...

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Broad Branch Road Neighborhood Lectures
Thursday, March 16, 2017 -
6:30pm to 7:30pm

The DNA of one human cell—two copies of our “genome”—would stretch almost two meters if fully extended. However, normally it’s tightly packaged in 46 chromosomes. About 20,000 genes are...

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, April 3, 2017 -
7:30pm to 8:30pm

Supernovae are cosmic explosions where a single star can become as bright as a billion stars combined. Even though supernovae are crucial to the Universe, including producing the elements...

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Rocks, fossils, and other natural relics hold clues to ancient environments in the form of different ratios of isotopes—atomic variants of elements with the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons. Seawater, rain water, oxygen, and ozone, for instance, all have different ratios, or...
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Seismic waves flow through Earth’s solid and liquid material differently, allowing Earth scientists to determine various aspects of the composition of the Earth’s interior. Broadband seismology looks at a broad spectrum of waves for high-resolution imaging. Lara Wagner collects this data from...
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Ronald Cohen primarily studies materials through first principles research—computational methods that begin with the most fundamental properties of a system, such as the nuclear charges of atoms, and then calculate what happens to a material under different conditions, such as pressure and...
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February 22, 2017

Carnegie trustee emeritus Edward Emil David Jr., died on February 13, 2017, at the age of 92 at his home in Bedminster, New Jersey. He was an active trustee serving for almost 20 years from 1980 to 1997. He had been a trustee emeritus since then. David was a leader in government science policy and industrial research and development for over five decades.  

David was Science Advisor to President Richard Nixon and ran the White House Office of Science and Technology from 1970 until 1973, was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He was

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
February 21, 2017

Washington, DC— The American Institute of Physics’ Center for History of Physics has awarded the Carnegie Institution for Science a $10,000 grant to organize and preserve the archives of scientist Oliver H. Gish and open them for research.

Gish was a prominent figure in American geophysics in the early 20th century and an authority in the study of atmospheric and terrestrial electricity. He was a staff scientist at Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington between 1922 and 1948 and also worked in academia, industry, and government research. His papers are held in the department’s archives.

Gish conducted some of the first cosmic-ray research in the United

February 21, 2017

Washington, DC—New planetary formation models from Carnegie’s Alan Boss indicate that there may be an undiscovered population of gas giant planets orbiting around Sun-like stars at distances similar to those of Jupiter and Saturn. His work is published by The Astrophysical Journal.

The population of exoplanets discovered by ongoing planet-hunting projects continues to increase. These discoveries can improve models that predict where to look for more of them.

The planets predicted by Boss in this study could hold the key to solving a longstanding debate about the formation of our Solar System’s giant planets out of the disk of gas and dust that surrounded the Sun in its

February 20, 2017

Washington, DC—New work from Carnegie’s Stephen Elardo and Anat Shahar shows that interactions between iron and nickel under the extreme pressures and temperatures similar to a planetary interior can help scientists understand the period in our Solar System’s youth when planets were forming and their cores were created. Their findings are published by Nature Geoscience.

Earth and other rocky planets formed as the matter surrounding our young Sun slowly accreted. At some point in Earth’s earliest years, its core formed through a process called differentiation—when the denser materials, like iron, sunk inward toward the center. This formed the layered composition the planet has

March 7, 2017

Since releasing its first images of space 5 years ago, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has produced many exciting and fundamental results, enabling transformational science in a wide range of astronomy and planetary science subjects, from the Solar System to the early universe. Dr. Cox will present a selection of the most-remarkable ALMA scientific discoveries, compare the array’s original fundamental science with its current results, and outline the future evolution of ALMA. 

Dr. Pierre Cox, Director, ALMA
#CosmicOrigins

The Capital Science Evenings are made possible in part by the generous support of Margaret and Will Hearst.

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March 16, 2017

The DNA of one human cell—two copies of our “genome”—would stretch almost two meters if fully extended. However, normally it’s tightly packaged in 46 chromosomes. About 20,000 genes are distributed along this DNA; they carry the information for building and operating a human. Any particular gene is located at a specific place in a chromosome and, normally, stays there. Carnegie scientist Barbara McClintock discovered, in corn, that some genes jump from one place in a chromosome to another. Similar things occur in most organisms, including us. This discovery, which earned a Nobel prize, led to dramatic advances in understanding infectious disease, evolution, and the controls that turn

April 3, 2017

Supernovae are cosmic explosions where a single star can become as bright as a billion stars combined. Even though supernovae are crucial to the Universe, including producing the elements necessary for life, many mysteries remain. What powers them? Which stars are exploding? How do stars die? Astrophysicists are combining clues from observations with theoretical modeling to finally address these issues. And just like with any good mystery, often the answers lead to even more questions.

Tony Piro, George Ellery Hale Distinguished Scholar in Theoretical Astrophysics, Carnegie Observatories

Registration opens Wednesday, February 15. Registration is required. 

April 6, 2017

Dr. Ostrander’s team has taken advantage of naturally occurring variations in dog populations in order to reveal the genetic mechanisms underlying both simple and complex traits. She will show how findings related to the genetic basis for canine disease, behavior, and morphologic traits frame our thinking of human growth regulation, disease, and population migration.

Dr. Elaine Ostrander, Chief, Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics, National Human Genome Research Institute, Nation Institute of Health
#DogGenetics

The Capital Science Evenings are made possible in part by the generous support of Margaret and Will Hearst.

Check back one week prior to the

Carnegie scientists participate in NASA's Kepler missions, the first mission capable of finding Earth-size planets around other stars. The centuries-old quest for other worlds like our Earth has been rejuvenated by the intense excitement and popular interest surrounding the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars. There is now clear evidence for substantial numbers of three types of exoplanets; gas giants, hot-super-Earths in short period orbits, and ice giants.

The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist. Image

Carnegie researchers recently constructed genetically encoded FRET sensors for a variety of important molecules such as glucose and glutamate. The centerpiece of these sensors is a recognition element derived from the superfamily of bacterial binding protiens called periplasmic binding protein (PBPs), proteins that are primary receptors for moving chemicals  for hundreds of different small molecules. PBPs are ideally suited for sensor construction. The scientists fusie individual PBPs with a pair of variants and produced a large set of sensors, e.g. for sugars like maltose, ribose and glucose or for the neurotransmitter glutamate. These sensors have been adopted for measurement of sugar

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Carnegie Team focuses on life’s chemical and physical evolution, from the interstellar medium, through planetary systems, to the emergence and detection of life by studying extrasolar planets, Solar System formation, organic rich primitive planetary bodies, prebiotic molecular synthesis through catalyzing with minerals, and the connection between planetary evolution to the emergence, and sustenance of biology. This program attempts to integrate the sweeping narrative of life’s history through a combination of bottom-up and top-down studies. On the one hand, this team studies processes related to chemical and physical evolution in plausible prebiotic

Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the potential effects from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nitrogen deposition. The site houses experimental plots that replicate all possible combinations of the four treatments and additional sampling sites that control for the effects of project infrastructure. Studies focus on several integrated ecosystem responses to the

John Mulchaey, director of the Observatories,  investigates groups and clusters of galaxies, elliptical galaxies, dark matter—the invisible material that makes up most of the universe—active galaxies and black holes. He is also a scientific editor for The Astrophysical Journal and is actively involved in public outreach and education.

Most galaxies including our own Milky Way, exist in collections known as groups, which are the most common galaxy systems and are important laboratories for studying galaxy formation and evolution. Mulchaey studies galaxy groups to understand the processes that affect most galaxies during their lifetimes.

As a graduate student, Mulchaey led

The entire universe—galaxies, stars, and planets—originally condensed from a vast network of tenuous, gaseous filaments, known as the intergalactic medium, or the gaseous cosmic web. Most of the matter in this giant reservoir has never been incorporated into galaxies; it keeps floating about in intergalactic space, largely in the form of ionized hydrogen gas.

 Michael Rauch is interested in all aspects of the intergalactic medium. He uses large telescopes, like the Magellans, to take spectra—light that reveals the chemical makeup of distant objects— of background quasars, which are highly energetic and extremely remote. He is looking for evidence of gas clouds located between the

The Donald Brown laboratory uses  amphibian metamorphosis to study complex developmental programs such as the development of vertebrate organs. The thyroid gland secretes thyroxine (TH), a hormone essential for the growth and development of all vertebrates including humans. To understand TH, director emeritus Donald Brown studies one of the most dramatic roles of the hormone, the control of amphibian metamorphosis—the process by which a tadpole turns into a frog. He studies the frog Xenopus laevis from South Africa.

 Events as different as the formation of limbs, the remodeling of organs, and the resorption of tadpole tissues such as the tail are all directed by TH. The hormone

Erik Hauri studies how planetary processes affect the chemistry of the Earth, Moon and other objects. He also uses that chemistry to understand the origin and evolution of planetary bodies.

The minerals that are stable in planetary interiors determine how major elements such as silicon, magnesium, iron, calcium, aluminum, titanium, sodium and sometimes water are distributed, and how they behave when melting occurs and  when magmas are generated and transported to the surface in volcanoes.

The presence of water, carbon and other so-called volatiles have a large influence on the strength and melting point of planetary interiors. This in turn determines where magmas are