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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Washington, DC— An international team of astronomers released the largest-ever compilation of exoplanet-detecting observations made using a technique called the radial velocity method. They demonstrated how these observations can be used to hunt for planets by detecting more than 100 potential exoplanets, including one orbiting the fourth-closest star to our own Solar System, which is about 8.1 light years away from Earth.

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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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The MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission to orbit Mercury following three flybys of that planet is a scientific investigation of the planet Mercury. Understanding Mercury, and the forces that have shaped it is fundamental to understanding the terrestrial...
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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation...
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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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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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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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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Thursday, April 6, 2017 -
6:30pm to 8:00pm

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...

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While the planets in our Solar System are astonishingly diverse, all of them move around the Sun in approximately the same orbital plane, in the same direction, and primarily in circular orbits. Over the past 25 years Butler's work has focused on improving the measurement precision of stellar...
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Some 40 thousand tons of extraterrestrial material fall on Earth every year. This cosmic debris provides cosmochemist Conel Alexander with information about the formation of the Solar System, our galaxy, and perhaps the origin of life. Alexander studies meteorites to determine what went on before...
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Viktor Struzhkin develops new techniques for high-pressure experiments to measure transport and magnetic properties of materials to understand aspects of geophysics, planetary science, and condensed-matter physics. Among his goals are to detect the transition of hydrogen into a high-temperature...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science
February 13, 2017

Washington, DC— An international team of astronomers released the largest-ever compilation of exoplanet-detecting observations made using a technique called the radial velocity method. They demonstrated how these observations can be used to hunt for planets by detecting more than 100 potential exoplanets, including one orbiting the fourth-closest star to our own Solar System, which is about 8.1 light years away from Earth. The paper is published in The Astronomical Journal.

The radial velocity method is one of the most successful techniques for finding and confirming planets. It takes advantage of the fact that in addition to a planet being influenced by the gravity of the star it

February 6, 2017

Washington, DC— 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 led by Skoltech’s Artem R. Oganov (also a professor at Stony Brook University and head of Computational Materials Discovery laboratory at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) has predicted two stable helium compounds—

February 2, 2017

Washington, D.C.—In Earth’s interior, water (H2O) plays an important role in rock physics, but geoscientists rarely treat water in its constituent forms, that is as hydrogen plus oxygen. New work from a team led by Carnegie’s Dave Mao has identified that hydrogen can escape from the water under conditions found in Earth’s lower mantle leading to a new paradigm in lower-mantle chemistry. Their results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A.          

In the atmosphere, hydrogen is a colorless, transparent gas. It bonds with oxygen to form water, which fuels the biosphere on the Earth’s surface. Deep in the rocky world beneath our feet, so-called

February 1, 2017

Yingwei Fei, a high-pressure experimentalist at the Geophysical Laboratory, and Peter Driscoll, theoretical geophysicist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, have been awarded a Carnegie Science Venture Grant for their project “Direct Shock Compression of Pre-synthesized Mantle Mineral to Super-Earth Interior Conditions.”

The project is an entirely new approach to investigate the properties and dynamics of super-Earths—extrasolar planets with masses between one and 10 times that of Earth. They will use the world’s most powerful magnetic, pulsed-power radiation source, called the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratory, to generate shock waves that can simulate the intense

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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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

April 17, 2017

The formation of galaxies like our Milky Way involves gravity, dark matter, gases, star formation, and stellar explosions. Theoretical astrophysics is now revealing this complex process by using the world’s most powerful supercomputers to simulate galaxy formation. Dr. Wetzel will describe dramatic new advances in understanding how galaxies form within the cosmic web of the Universe.

Andrew Wetzel, Caltech-Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow

Registration opens Wednesday, February 15. Registration is required. 

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,

The Spradling laboratory studies the biology of reproduction. By unknown means eggs reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging. The fruit fly Drosophila provides a favorable multicellular system for molecular genetic studies. The lab focuses on several aspects of egg development, called oogenesis, which promises to provide insight into the rejuvenation of the nucleus and surrounding cytoplasm. By studying ovarian stem cells, they are learning how cells maintain an undifferentiated state and how cell production is regulated by microenvironments known as niches. They are  also re-investigating the role of steroid and prostaglandin hormones in controlling the

Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

Approximately half of the gene sequences of human and mouse genomes comes from so-called mobile elements—genes that jump around the genome. Much of this DNA is no longer capable of moving, but is likely “auditioning”  perhaps as a regulator of gene function or in homologous recombination, which is a type of genetic recombination where the basic structural units of DNA,  nucleotide sequences, are exchanged between two DNA molecules to  repair  breaks in the DNA  strands. Modern mammalian genomes also contain numerous intact movable elements, such as retrotransposon LINE-1, that use RNA intermediates to spread about the genome. 

Given the crucial role of the precursor cells to egg

What sets George Cody, acting director of the Geophysical Laboratory,  apart from other geochemists is his pioneering use of sophisticated techniques such as enormous facilities for synchrotron radiation, and sample analysis with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to characterize hydrocarbons. Today, Cody  applies these techniques to analyzing the organic processes that alter sediments as they mature into rock inside the Earth and the molecular structure of extraterrestrial organics.

Wondering about where we came from has occupied the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. Using samples from comets and meteorites, George Cody tracks the element carbon as it

François Schweizer studies galaxy assembly and evolution by observing nearby galaxies, particularly how collisions and mergers affect their properties. His research has added to the awareness that these events are dominant processes in shaping galaxies and determining their stellar and gaseous contents.

When nearby galaxies collide and merge they yield valuable clues about processes that occurred much more frequently in the younger, distant universe. When two gas-rich galaxies collide, their pervasive interstellar gas gets compressed, clumps into dense clouds, and fuels the sudden birth of billions of new stars and thousands of star clusters.

Some of the newborn clusters

Devaki Bhaya wants to understand how environmental stressors, such as light, nutrients, and viral attacks are sensed by and affect photosynthetic microorganisms. She is also interested in understanding the mechanisms behind microorganism movements, and how individuals in groups communicate, evolve, share resources. To these ends, she focuses on one-celled, aquatic cyanobacteria, in the lab with model organisms and with organisms in naturally occurring communities.

 Phototaxis is the ability of organisms to move directionally in response to a light source.  Many cyanobacteria exhibit phototaxis, both towards and away from light. The ability to move into optimal light for

Josh Simon uses observations of nearby galaxies to study problems related to dark matter, chemical evolution, star formation, and the process of galaxy evolution.

In one area he looks at peculiarly dark galaxies. Interestingly, some galaxies are so dark they glow with the light of just a few hundred Suns. Simon and colleagues have determined that a tiny, very dim galaxy orbiting the Milky Way, called Segue 1, is the darkest galaxy ever found and has the highest dark matter density ever found. His team has also laid to rest a debate about whether Segue 1 really is a galaxy or a globular cluster—a smaller group of stars that lacks dark matter. Their findings make Segue 1 a promising