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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The recent discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate has profoundly affected physics. If the universe were gravity-dominated then it should be decelerating. These contrary results suggest a new form of “dark energy”—some kind of repulsive force—is driving the universe. To get...
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The fund supports a postdoctoral fellowship in astronomy that rotates between the Carnegie Science departments of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington, D.C., and the Observatories in Pasadena California. 
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Stem cells make headline news as potential treatments for a variety of diseases. But undertstanding the nuts and bolts of how they develop from an undifferentiated cell  that gives rise to cells that are specialized such as organs, or bones, and the nervous system, is not well understood.  The...
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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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Peter van Keken studies the thermal and chemical evolution of the Earth. In particularly he looks at the causes and consequences of plate tectonics; element modeling of mantle convection,  and the dynamics of subduction zones--locations where one tectonic plate slides under another. He also studies...
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The first step in gene expression is the formation of an RNA copy of its DNA. This step, called transcription, takes place in the cell nucleus. Transcription requires an enzyme called RNA polymerase to catalyze the synthesis of the RNA from the DNA template. This, in addition to other processing...
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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Institution
Greg Asner is a staff scientist in Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology and also serves as a Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford University. He is an ecologist recognized for his exploratory and applied research on ecosystems, land use, and climate change at regional...
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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

Along with Alycia Weinberger and Ian Thompson, Alan Boss has been running the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search (CAPS) program, which searches for extrasolar planets by the astrometric method, where the planet's presence is detected indirectly through the wobble of the host star around the center of mass of the system. With over eight years of CAPSCam data, they are beginning to see likely true astrometric wobbles beginning to appear. The CAPSCam planet search effort is on the verge of yielding a harvest of astrometrically discovered planets, as well as accurate parallactic distances to many young stars and M dwarfs. For more see  http://instrumentation.obs.carnegiescience.edu/ccd/caps.

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. None of the accepted paradigms explain why the magmatic and tectonic activity extend so far east of the North American plate margin. By applying numerous techniques ranging from geochemistry and petrology to active and passive seismic imaging to geodynamic modeling, the researchers examine an assemblage of new data that will provide key information about the roles of lithosphere structure,

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

The Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), developed by GregAsner, is a fixed-wing aircraft that sweeps laser light across the vegetation canopy to image it in brilliant 3-D. The data can determine the location and size of each tree at a resolution of 3.5 feet (1.1 meter), a level of detail that is unprecedented. By combining field surveys with this airborne mapping and high-resolution satellite monitoring the team has been able to detail myriad ecological features of forests around the world.

As one example, Carnegie scientists with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment mapped the true extent of gold mining in the biologically diverse region of Madre de Dios in the Peruvian Amazon.

Integrity of hereditary material—the genome —is critical for species survival. Genomes need protection from agents that can cause mutations affecting DNA coding, regulatory functions, and duplication during cell division. DNA sequences called transposons, or jumping genes (discovered by Carnegie’s Barbara McClintock,) can multiply and randomly jump around the genome and cause mutations. About half of the sequence of the human and mouse genomes is derived from these mobile elements.  RNA interference (RNAi, codiscovered by Carnegie’s Andy Fire) and related processes are central to transposon control, particularly in egg and sperm precursor cells.  

The Bortvin lab, with colleagues

Yixian Zheng’s lab has a long-standing interest in cell division. In recent years, their findings have broadened their research using animal models, to include the study of stem cells, genome organization, and lineage specification—how stem cells differentiate into their final cell forms. They use a wide range of tools, including genetics in different model organisms, cell culture, biochemistry, proteomics, and genomics.

Cell division is essential for all organisms to grow and live. During a specific time in a cell’s cycle the elongated apparatus consisting of string-like micro-tubules called the spindle is assembled to move the chromosomes into two new cells. Another structure

Like some other Carnegie astronomers, staff associate Jeffrey Crane blends science with technology. His primary interests are instrumentation, the Milky Way and the neighboring Local Group of galaxies, in addition to extrasolar planets. In 2004, then-research associate Crane joined Steve Shectman, Ian Thompson, and the Carnegie team to design the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS), now installed and operational on the Magellan Clay telescope.

Radial velocities are the speeds and directions of stars moving away from or toward the Earth.  Extrasolar planet hunters use them to detect the telltale wobbles of stars that are gravitationally tugged by orbiting planets. Astronomical

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 superconductor under pressure—a state predicted by theory, but thus far unattained—to discover new superconductors, and to learn what happens to materials in Earth’s deep interior where pressure and temperature conditions are extreme. 

Recently, a team including Struzhkin was the first to discover the conditions under which nickel oxide can turn into an electricity-conducting metal. Nickel