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    Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcanoes—they all stem from the very same forces that give our planet life. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Science and engineering can be used to understand extreme events and to design our cities to be resilient, but we must overcome the psychological drive to normalization that keeps humanity from believing that we could experience anything worse than what we have already survived.

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Carnegie’s Winslow Briggs, a giant in the field of plant biology who explained how seedlings grow toward light, died on February 11 at Stanford University Medical Center. He was 90.

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The density of rock layers on the terrain that climbs from the base of Mars’ Gale Crater to Mount Sharp is less dense than expected, according to the latest report on the Red Planet’s geology from a team of scientists including Carnegie’s Shaunna Morrison. 

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China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal. Ambitious Chinese regulations on coal mining that took effect in 2010 have not curbed the nation’s growing methane emissions as intended, says new research from a team led by Carnegie’s Scot Miller and Anna Michalak. 

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Carnegie's Juna Kollmeier and Université de Bordeaux's Sean Raymond kicked off an internet firestorm late last year when they posted a draft of their article about submoons on a preprint server. The online conversation obsessed over the best term to describe such phenomena.  But nomenclature was not the point of Kollmeier and Raymond’s investigation, who set out to define the physical parameters for moons that would be capable of being stably orbited by other, smaller moons.

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Today, humanity is increasingly aware of the impact it has on the environment and the difficulties caused when the environment impacts our communities. Environmental change can be particularly harsh when the plants we use for food, fuel, feed and fiber are affected by this change. High salinity is...
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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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The Earthbound Planet Search Program has discovered hundreds of planets orbiting nearby stars using telescopes at Lick Observatory, Keck Observatory, the Anglo-Australian Observatory, Carnegie's Las Campanas Observatory, and the ESO Paranal Observatory.  Our multi-national team has been...
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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Over the past few years, Dr. Sheppard and his team have been performing the largest and deepest survey ever attempted of our Solar System’s fringes. In December 2018, he...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Entrepreneur and inventor Dr. Rothblatt cofounded Sirius Satellite Radio and then pivoted to establish biotech company United Therapeutics in an effort to save her daughter’s life from...

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, March 18, 2019 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

Astronomers have mapped almost the entire history of our universe, from the Big Bang to the present day. One last frontier remains, an epoch known as cosmic dawn, when the first stars and galaxies...

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Cosmochemist Larry Nittler studies extraterrestrial materials, including meteorites and interplanetary dust particles (IDPs), to understand the formation of the Solar System, the galaxy, and the universe and to identify the materials involved. He is particularly interested in developing new...
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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...
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It’s common knowledge that light is essential for plants to perform photosynthesis—converting light energy into chemical energy by transforming carbon dioxide and water into sugars for fuel. Plants maximize the process by bending toward the light in a process called phototropism, which...
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Artist's conception. Credit Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
February 14, 2019

Washington, DC—Carnegie’s Andrew Steele is a member of the Earth First Origins project, led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Karyn Rogers, which has been awarded a $9 million grant by NASA’s Astrobiology Program.

The five-year project seeks to uncover the conditions on early Earth that gave rise to life by identifying, replicating, and exploring how prebiotic molecules and chemical pathways could have formed under realistic early Earth conditions.

The evolution of planet Earth and the emergence of life during its first half-billion years are inextricably linked, with a series of planetwide transformations – formation of the ocean,

February 12, 2019

Washington, DC— Carnegie’s Winslow Briggs, a giant in the field of plant biology who explained how seedlings grow toward light, died on February 11 at Stanford University Medical Center. He was 90.

Briggs joined Carnegie as the Director of the Department of Plant Biology in 1973 after teaching both at Harvard University—where he completed his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D.—and at Stanford University. He held the position for two decades, establishing himself as a global leader in plant genetics and physiology, publishing landmark research on the molecular mechanisms that plants and other organisms use to sense and respond to light

Self-portrait of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Vera Rubin Ridge with Mount Sharp poking up just behind the vehicle's mast. Image is courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS Curiosity.
January 31, 2019

Washington, DC—The density of rock layers on the terrain that climbs from the base of Mars’ Gale Crater to Mount Sharp is less dense than expected, according to the latest report on the Red Planet’s geology from a team of scientists including Carnegie’s Shaunna Morrison. Their work is published in Science.

Scientists still aren't sure how this mountain grew inside of the crater, which has been a longstanding mystery. 

One idea is that sediment once filled Gale Crater and was then worn away by millions of years of wind and erosion, excavating the mountain. However, if the crater had been filled to the brim, the material on the bottom, which

Coal mine, public domain
January 29, 2019

Washington, DC—Chinese regulations on coal mining have not curbed the nation’s growing methane emissions as intended, says new research from a team led by Carnegie’s Scot Miller and Anna Michalak. Their findings are published in Nature Communications.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, which is used to generate more than 70 percent of its electricity. It also emits more methane than any other nation, and the coal sector accounts for about 33 percent of this total. This happens when underground pools of methane gas are released during the mining process.

In the atmosphere, methane acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping heat

February 20, 2019

Over the past few years, Dr. Sheppard and his team have been performing the largest and deepest survey ever attempted of our Solar System’s fringes. In December 2018, he announced the most-distant object ever observed in our Solar System. His team’s work has shown that the farthest-out-there objects—beyond the Kuiper Belt and the influence of the known major planets—are strangely grouped together in space. This suggests the existence of a yet-unobserved planet, sometimes called Planet X or Planet 9, more massive than the Earth, which is shaping the current orbits of these objects. Dr. Sheppard will 

March 5, 2019

Entrepreneur and inventor Dr. Rothblatt cofounded Sirius Satellite Radio and then pivoted to establish biotech company United Therapeutics in an effort to save her daughter’s life from pulmonary arterial hypertension. The company now has five drugs on the market—which have drastically improved survival outcomes for the disease—and it is currently innovating to reduce the number of patients who die waiting for a lung or kidney transplant. Her guiding philosophy is finding ways to “turn a Moonshot into an Earthshot,” in this case how to tackle the goal of an unlimited organ supply by developing procedures to increase the number of donated organs that are in

March 18, 2019

Astronomers have mapped almost the entire history of our universe, from the Big Bang to the present day. One last frontier remains, an epoch known as cosmic dawn, when the first stars and galaxies were born and changed the universe forever. Dr. Ji will take us on a short tour of the early history of our universe and explain how we obtain glimpses of this era.

Dr. Alex Ji: Hubble Fellow, Carnegie Observatories

#CosmicDawn

April 1, 2019

Popular images of galaxies, while beautiful, do not provide the information that astronomers need to measure their inherent properties, such as their dynamics and the compositions of their stars and gases. Using the latest technological advances, Dr. McGurk is building a new, custom-designed instrument for Carnegie Observatories' Magellan Telescopes, which will reveal the universe in extreme detail–making it possible to efficiently create 3-D maps of galaxies, nebulae, and more.

Dr. Rosalie McGurk: Fellow in Instrumentation, Carnegie Observatories

#GalaxyMap

The Carnegie Hubble program is an ongoing comprehensive effort that has a goal of determining the Hubble constant, the expansion rate of the universe,  to a systematic accuracy of 2%. As part of this program, astronomers are obtaining data at the 3.6 micron wavelength using the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on Spitzer Space Telescope. The team has demonstrated that the mid-infrared period-luminosity relation for Cepheids, variable stars used to determine distances and the rate of the expansion,  at 3.6 microns is the most accurate means of measuring Cepheid distances to date. At 3.6 microns, it is possible to minimize the known remaining systematic uncertainties in the Cepheid

Carnegie is renowned for its post-doctoral and graduate student fellowship programs, which operate on each of the Carnegie campuses. Our fellows participate fully in the institution’s vigorous intellectual life, and have complete access to the laboratory instruments and facilities at the institution. The fellowships are extremely competitive, and are prized for their independence and for the resources they afford the fellows. The fellowships vary in duration depending on the research area. Each fellow is key to ehnancing the Carnegie mission and expanding Carnegie's influence of unfettered, imaginative scientific research into the next generations.  For information about

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 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

Geochemist and director of Terrestrial Magnetism, Richard Carlson, looks at the diversity of the chemistry of the early solar nebula and the incorporation of that chemistry into the terrestrial planets. He is also interested in questions related to the origin and evolution of Earth’s continental crust.

  Most all of the chemical diversity in the universe comes from the nuclear reactions inside stars, in a process called nucleosynthesis. To answer his questions, Carlson developes novel procedures using instruments called mass spectrometers to make precise measurements of isotopes--atoms of an element with different numbers of neutrons--of Chromium (Cr), strontium (Sr),

Juna Kollmeier’s research is an unusual combination—she is as observationally-oriented theorist making predictions that can be compared to current and future observations. Her primary focus is on the emergence of structure in the universe. She combines cosmological hydrodynamic simulations and analytic theory to figure out how the tiny fluctuations in density that were present when the universe was only 300 thousand years old, become the galaxies and black holes that we see now, after 14 billion years of cosmic evolution. 

 She has a three-pronged approach to unravelling the mysteries of the universe. On the largest scales, she studies the intergalactic

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 temperature. He particularly focuses on properties of materials under extreme conditions such as high pressure and high temperature. This research applies to various topics and problems in geophysics and technological materials.

Some of his work focuses on understanding the behavior of high-technology materials called ferroelectrics—non-conducting crystals with an electric dipole

The Ludington lab investigates complex ecological dynamics from microbial community interactions using the fruit fly  Drosophila melanogaster. The fruit fly gut carries numerous microbial species, which can be cultured in the lab. The goal is to understand the gut ecology and how it relates to host health, among other questions, by taking advantage of the fast time-scale and ease of studying the fruit fly in controlled experiments.