In 1903 the Carnegie Institution established a Desert Laboratory to explore the properties of desert plants. From that humble stone building in Tucson, Arizona, eventually emerged our spectacular Department of Plant Biology on the Stanford University campus and, by descent, our Department of Global...
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    With the New Horizons historic flyby of Pluto next week, imagine how excited we were a few weeks ago to unearth a set of plates from 1925 in our vault that include Pluto--five years before Pluto was discovered. This unexpected find led to a bit of historical detective work to uncover the story of these unusual astronomical plates. This short video tells the tale of our digging and what we learned from it, and highlights the amazing work done by astronomers of an earlier, pre-digital era. You never know what you might find in your own archives!

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Stanford, CA—Wolf B. Frommer, Director of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, has been elected as a member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, one of the world’s oldest national academies.

Leopoldina has a membership of about 1,500 outstanding scientists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other nations. The organization is “dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humankind and to the goal of shaping a better future.”

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Washington, DC— New work from Carnegie’s Alan Boss offers a potential solution to a longstanding problem in the prevailing theory of how rocky planets formed in our own Solar System, as well as in others. The snag he’s untangling: how dust grains in the matter orbiting a young protostar avoid getting dragged into the star before they accumulate into bodies large enough that their own gravity allows them to rapidly attract enough material to grow into planets.

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Alexander Goncharov's experiment on noble gases could give new insight into the interiors of gas giant planets says Scientific American. More

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Baltimore, MD—Carnegie’s BioEYES K-12 science educational program launches a new center sponsored by the University of Utah, Department of Pediatrics, Pediatric Research Enterprise. The new program manager and educator of BioEYES Utah, Judith Neugebauer, will use her zebrafish research experience to introduce students to the scientific method with a hands-on learning opportunity to watch live, transparent, zebrafish embryos develop.

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Monitoring tropical deforestation and forest degradation with satellites can be an everyday activity for non-experts who support environmental conservation, forest management, and resource policy development. Through extensive observation of user needs, the Greg Asner team developed CLASlite ( the...
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Starting in 2005, the High Lava Plains project is focused on a better understanding of why the Pacific Northwest, specifically eastern Oregon's High Lava Plains, is so volcanically active. This region is the most volcanically active area of the continental United States and it's relatively young....
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In March 2014, a technical support unit (TSU) of ten, headquartered at Global Ecology, had successfully completed a herculean management effort for the 2000-page assessment Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, including two summaries. They were issued by the United Nations (...
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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 6:45pm to 8:00pm

Modern tomatoes lack the intense flavor of heirloom, grown in your back yard varieties. What exactly is “tomato flavor”? Where did it go and what can we do about it? We believe that better flavor...

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Special Events
Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - 6:45pm to 8:00pm

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first discovery of exoplanets, Carnegie Institution for Science and NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program are hosting a special program, highlighting...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 6:45pm to 8:00pm

The financial collapse of 2009 brought with it major changes in the economic, political, as well as media landscape. This talk will explore how these ongoing changes have affected the public’s...

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One way to adapt to climate change is to understand how plants can thrive in the changing environment. José Dinneny looks at the mechanisms that control environmental responses in plants, including responses to salty soils and different moisture conditions—work that provides the foundation for...
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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...
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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...
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August 3, 2015

Stop burning fossil fuels now: there is no CO2 'technofix', scientists warn More

August 3, 2015

Washington, DC—Continuing current carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trends throughout this century and beyond would leave a legacy of heat and acidity in the deep ocean. These changes would linger even if the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration were to be restored to pre-industrial levels at some point in the future, according to a new Nature Climate Change paper from an international team including Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira. This is due to the tremendous inertia of the ocean system.

Greenhouse gases emitted by human activities not only cause rapid warming of the seas, but also an unprecedented rate of ocean acidification. Ocean acidification occurs when atmospheric carbon dioxide

July 30, 2015

Stanford, CA—Wolf B. Frommer, Director of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology, has been elected as a member of the German Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, one of the world’s oldest national academies.

Leopoldina has a membership of about 1,500 outstanding scientists from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other nations. The organization is “dedicated to the advancement of science for the benefit of humankind and to the goal of shaping a better future.”

Frommer, who joined Carnegie in 2003 and has been Plant Biology Director since 2007, has had a distinguished career in plant sciences in both Germany and the United States. His work provides the foundation for increasing

July 28, 2015

Washington, D.C.—Carnegie investigator Greg Asner has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). He is one of 60 new members. The honor is given “to individual AGU members who have made exceptional scientific contributions and attained acknowledged eminence in the fields of Earth and space sciences.”

Asner was hired as the Department of Global Ecology’s first addition in 2001. He has pioneered new methods for investigating tropical deforestation, degradation, ecosystem diversity, invasive species, carbon emissions, climate change, and much more using satellite and airborne instrumentation, coupled with on-ground fieldwork. His innovative techniques measure the

September 17, 2015

Modern tomatoes lack the intense flavor of heirloom, grown in your back yard varieties. What exactly is “tomato flavor”? Where did it go and what can we do about it? We believe that better flavor leads directly to better, healthier food choices. So we have systematically taken apart the chemistry and genetics of flavor in order to understand and restore it to its former glory. Along the way we’ve learned some amazing things about the way we taste and smell that have major implications for foods.

Dr. Harry Klee, University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences Department

October 21, 2015

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first discovery of exoplanets, Carnegie Institution for Science and NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program are hosting a special program, highlighting prominent scientists connected to the discovery and our understanding of exoplanets. Please join us for an interactive exhibit, followed by a panel discussion concerning the past, present, and future of exoplanet research.

Speakers TBA

Co-hosted by the Carnegie Institution for Scinece and the National Aeronautics ans Space Administration.

October 28, 2015

The financial collapse of 2009 brought with it major changes in the economic, political, as well as media landscape. This talk will explore how these ongoing changes have affected the public’s perception of climate change as well as discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the United States as world leaders gather in Paris later this year for United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-21). One of those challenges will require creating new models for science journalism and one of those opportunities may require a redefinition of what it means to be a scientist.

Dr. Heidi Cullen, Chief Scientist, Climate Central

November 9, 2015
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Physics and chemistry have arrived at a deep understanding of the non-living world. Can we expect to reach similar insights, integrating concepts and quantitative explanation, in biology? Life at its origin should be particularly amenable to discovery of scientific laws governing biology, since it marks the point of departure from a predictable physical/chemical world to the novel and history-dependent living world. The origin of life problem is difficult because even the simplest living cell is highly evolved from the first steps toward life, of which little direct evidence remains. The conference aims to explore ways to build a deeper understanding of the nature of biology, by

Fifty years ago, Americans led the world in math and science, claiming some of the most important inventions and technological breakthroughs of the 20th century.  Today, American 15-year-olds rank 25th in math compared to their peers worldwide.  Math for America strives to reclaim America’s reputation for scientific greatness by recruiting and supporting the very best secondary education math teachers.

Here in Washington DC, the majority of secondary school students are not math proficient.  Only about two thirds of secondary school math teachers are fully certified.Our goals follow:

Recruit candidates with strong math knowledge and teaching aptitude, which enhances the

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 growth. It acts as the carrier for nutrients absorbed from the soil and transported to the shoot. It also provides the chemical components necessary to generate sugar and biomass from light and carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. While the importance of water to plants is clear, an understanding as to how plants perceive water is limited. Most studies have focused on environmental conditions

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.

The High Pressure Collaborative Access Team (HPCAT) was established to advance cutting-edge, multidisciplinary, high-pressure science and technology using synchrotron radiation at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

The integrated HPCAT facility has established four operating beamlines in nine hutches An array of novel X-ray diffraction—imaging at tiny scales--and spectroscopic techniques to reveal chemistry,  has been integrated with high pressure and extreme temperature instrumentation.

With a multidisciplinary approach and multi-institution collaborations, the high-pressure program at the HPCAT has enabeld myriad scientific

Director Emeritus, George Preston has been deciphering the chemical evolution of stars in our Milky Way for a quarter of a century. He and Steve Shectman started this quest using a special technique to conduct a needle-in-the-haystack search for the few, first-generation stars, whose chemical compositions sketch the history of element formation in the galaxy. These earliest stars are very rare and they are characteristically low in heavy metals because of their age. They were made of Big Bang material, mostly hydrogen and helium. It was only later that heavier elements were formed in the nuclear furnaces of newer stars.

 In their first study, Preston and Shectman compiled a list

Eric Persson heads a group that develops and uses telescope instrumentation to exploit new near-infrared (IR) imaging array detectors. The team built a wide-field survey camera for the du Pont 2.5-meter telescope at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and the first of two cameras for the Magellan Baade telescope. Magellan consortium astronomers use the Baade camera for various IR-imaging projects, while his group focuses on distant galaxies and supernovae.

Until recently, it was difficult to find large numbers of galaxies at near-IR wavelengths. But significant advances in the size of IR detector arrays have allowed the Persson group to survey one-square degree of sky.

Greg Asner was the first staff scientist hired by the fledgling Department of Global Ecology in 2001. The new department grew out of over 100 years of planet research at Carnegie, including the establishment of the field of ecology, to celebrate 100 years of Carnegie science and  address  the pressing 21st century questions  facing our planet. 

Asner brought a unique approach to the discipline—he marries sophisticated satellite and airborne mapping  technology with traditional gum-shoe fieldwork to develop innovative techniques to measure the Earth.

Asner has pioneered new methods for investigating tropical deforestation, degradation, ecosystem diversity, invasive species,

Joe Berry has been a Carnegie investigator since 1972. He has developed powerful tools to measure local and regional exchanges of carbon over spaces of up to thousands of square miles. He uses information at the plant scale to extrapolate the carbon balance at regional and continental scales.

According to ISI's Web of Science, two of Joe Berry's papers passed extremely high, rarefied citation milestones. The 1980  paper “A biochemical model of photosynthetic CO2 assimilation in leaves of C3 species,” has had over 1,500th citations. His 1982 paper “On the relationship between carbon isotope discrimination and the intercellular carbon dioxide concentration in leaves” passed its 1,