John Mulchaey and Yixian Zheng named interim co-presidents

Carnegie Observatories Director John Mulchaey and Carnegie Embryology Director Yixian Zheng jointly will serve in the Office of the President on an interim basis starting January 1, 2018. Their selection as interim co-presidents was a unanimous decision of the Carnegie Board of Trustees. 

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  • Roots face many challenges in the soil in order to supply the plant with the necessary water and nutrients. New work from Carnegie and Stanford University’s José Dinneny shows that one of these challenges, salinity, can cause root cells to explode if the risk is not properly sensed. Salinity has deleterious effects on plant health and limits crop yields, because salt inhibits water uptake and can be toxic for plants. But Dinneny and his collaborators, including Alice Cheung at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Carnegie’s Wei Feng determined a never-before-described effect that salt has on the plant cell wall.

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    Drs. Peter and Rosemary Grant
    Professors emeriti, Princeton University
    Charles Darwin said evolution was too slow to be observed, but modern studies have corrected this assertion. The Grants discussed their decades of work studying Darwin’s finches on the Galápagos Island of Daphne Major, as chronicled in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. Their research showed that Darwin’s finches evolve repeatedly when the environment changes. They have even observed the initial stages of new species formation!

     

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Water is so common that we take it for granted. Yet water also has very strange properties compared to most other liquids. In addition to ordinary water and water vapor, or steam, there are at least 17 forms of water ice, and two proposed forms of super-cooled liquid water. New work from Carnegie high-pressure geophysicists Chuanlong Lin, Jesse Smith, Stanislav Sinogeikin, and Guoyin Shen found evidence of the long-theorized, difficult-to-see low-density liquid phase of water.

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A star about 100 light years away in the Pisces constellation, GJ 9827, hosts what may be one of the most massive and dense super-Earth planets detected to date, according to new research led by Carnegie’s Johanna Teske. This new information provides evidence to help astronomers better understand the process by which such planets form.

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A team of experimental and computational scientists led by Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram have synthesized a long sought-after cubic crystalline phase of titanium nitride, Ti3N4, which is a semiconductor with promising excellent mechanical and wear resistance properties.

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It is well understood that Earth formed from the accretion of matter surrounding the young Sun. Eventually the planet grew to such a size that denser iron metal sank inward, to form the beginnings of the Earth’s core, leaving the silicate-rich mantle floating above. But new work from a team led by Carnegie’s Yingwei Fei and Carnegie and the Smithsonian’s Colin Jackson argues that this mantle and core separation was not such an orderly process.

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  • Dust is everywhere—not just in your attic or under your bed, but also in outer space. To astronomers, dust can be a nuisance by blocking the light of distant stars, or it can be a tool to study the history of our universe, galaxy, and Solar System. New work from a team of Carnegie cosmochemists published by Science Advances reports analyses of carbon-rich dust grains extracted from meteorites that show that these grains formed in the outflows from one or more type II supernovae more than two years after the progenitor stars exploded. This dust was then blown into space to be eventually incorporated into new stellar systems, including in this case, our own.

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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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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...
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The Gall laboratory studies all aspects of the cell nucleus, particularly the structure of chromosomes, the transcription and processing of RNA, and the role of bodies inside the cell nucleus, especially the Cajal body (CB) and the histone locus body (HLB). Much of the work makes use of the giant...
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Special Events
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Origins
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 - 5:30pm to 9:00pm

How and when did life originate on Earth? How many other Earth-like planets exist in our Solar System and universe?

From the beginnings of recorded history, humans have had a fascination...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Julia Clarke, University of Texas
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

How do we go beyond the bones to bring dinosaurs to life? Dr. Clarke will explain the new toolkits she uses to  study what dinosaurs might have sounded or looked like when they roamed the Earth....

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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, April 9, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

What is the Universe made of? We can peer millions of years into the past in the night sky, yet we barely understand just 5 percent—the “regular” matter that we can see. In the standard...

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Hélène Le Mével studies volcanoes. Her research focuses on understanding the surface signals that ground deformations make to infer the ongoing process of the moving magma  in the underlying reservoir. Toward this end she uses space and field-based geodesy--the mathematics of the area and shape of...
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Earth scientist Robert Hazen has an unusually rich research portfolio. He is trying to understand the carbon cycle from deep inside the Earth; chemical interactions at crystal-water interfaces; the interactions of organic molecules on mineral surfaces as a possible springboard to life; how life...
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Staff astronomer emeritus Eric Persson headed 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...
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February 16, 2018

Stanford, CA—Roots face many challenges in the soil in order to supply the plant with the necessary water and nutrients.  New work from Carnegie and Stanford University’s José Dinneny shows that one of these challenges, salinity, can cause root cells to explode if the risk is not properly sensed. The findings, published by Current Biology, could help scientists improve agricultural productivity in saline soils, which occur across the globe and reduce crop yields.

Salts build up in soils from natural causes, such as sea spray, or can be introduced as a consequence of irrigation and poor land management. Salinity has deleterious effects on plant health and limits crop yields,

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Chuanlong Lin, Guoyin Shen
February 13, 2018

Washington, DC—Water makes up more than 70 percent of our planet's surface and up to 60 percent of our bodies.

Water is so common that we take it for granted. Yet water also has very strange properties compared to most other liquids. Its solid form is less dense than its liquid form, which is why ice floats; its peculiar heat capacity profile has a profound impact on ocean currents and climate; and it can remain liquid at extremely cold temperatures.

In addition to ordinary water and water vapor, or steam, there are at least 17 forms of water ice, and two proposed forms of super-cooled liquid water.

New work from Carnegie high-pressure geophysicists Chuanlong Lin,

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, European Southern Observatory
February 8, 2018

Pasadena, CA— A star about 100 light years away in the Pisces constellation, GJ 9827, hosts what may be one of the most massive and dense super-Earth planets detected to date, according to new research led by Carnegie’s Johanna Teske. This new information provides evidence to help astronomers better understand the process by which such planets form.

The GJ 9827 star actually hosts a trio of planets, discovered by NASA’s exoplanet-hunting Kepler/K2 mission, and all three are slightly larger than Earth. This is the size that the Kepler mission determined to be most common in the galaxy with periods between a few and several-hundred-days.

Intriguingly, no planets of this size

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Venkata Bhadram
January 24, 2018

Washington, DC—A team of experimental and computational scientists led by Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram have synthesized a long sought-after form of titanium nitride, Ti3N4, which has promising mechanical and optoelectronic properties.

Standard titanium nitride (TiN), with a one-to-one ratio of titanium and nitrogen, exhibits a crystal structure resembling that of table salt—sodium chloride, or NaCl.  It is a metal with abrasive properties and thus used for tool coatings and manufacturing of electrodes. Titanium nitride with a three-to-four ratio of titanium and nitrogen, called titanic nitride, has remained elusive, despite previous theoretical predictions of its

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Origins
March 6, 2018

How and when did life originate on Earth? How many other Earth-like planets exist in our Solar System and universe?

From the beginnings of recorded history, humans have had a fascination with their origins and with questions such as these. As part of our ongoing Science & Society project, Carnegie Science is pleased to present a series of four discussion forums on origins-related questions, including: How did we get here, where are we going, are we alone and what does that mean for humanity?

The invitation-only events and subsequent video series will highlight the importance and process of discovery science—emphasizing both how scientists think about fundamental

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Julia Clarke, University of Texas
March 29, 2018

How do we go beyond the bones to bring dinosaurs to life? Dr. Clarke will explain the new toolkits she uses to  study what dinosaurs might have sounded or looked like when they roamed the Earth.

Dr. Julia Clarke: Wilson Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology & HHMI Professor, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin

#DinosaurBones

April 9, 2018

What is the Universe made of? We can peer millions of years into the past in the night sky, yet we barely understand just 5 percent—the “regular” matter that we can see. In the standard cosmological model, a quarter of the remaining 95 percent is dark matter. Dr. Seidel will discuss her quest to understand dark matter, and her experiences bringing astronomy education to some of the most remote and under-served locations on Earth.

Dr. Marja K. Seidel: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Carnegie Observatories

#DarkMatter

April 23, 2018

The formation of our Solar System was a chaotic collapse of gas and dust into the Sun, planets, asteroids, and comets we have today, punctuated by catastrophic collisions between these forming bodies. Dr. Masiero will discuss how the asteroid families in the belt today are the last remnants of these massive collisions, and give us a window into the processes that shaped our Solar System.

Joseph Masiero: Scientist & NEOWISE Deputy-PI, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

#AsteroidFam

The Fan laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms that govern mammalian development, using the mouse as a model. They use a combination of biochemical, molecular and genetic approaches to identify and characterize signaling molecules and pathways that control the development and maintenance of the musculoskeletal and hypothalamic systems.

The musculoskeletal system provides the mechanical support for our posture and movement. How it arises during embryogenesis pertains to the basic problem of embryonic induction. How the components of this system are repaired after injury and maintained throughout life is of biological and clinical significance. They study how this system is

CDAC is a multisite, interdisciplinary center headquartered at Carnegie to advance and perfect an extensive set of high pressure and temperature techniques and facilities, to perform studies on a broad range of materials in newly accessible pressure and temperature regimes, and to integrate and coordinate static, dynamic and theoretical results. The research objectives include making highly accurate measurements to understand the transitions of materials into different phases under the multimegabar pressure rang; determine the electronic and magnetic properties of solids and fluid to multimegabar pressures and elevated temperatures; to bridge the gap between static and dynamic

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,

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. 

Allan Spradling is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and director of the Department of Embryology. His laboratory studies the biology of reproduction particularly egg cells, which are able to reset the normally irreversible processes of differentiation and aging that govern all somatic cells—those that turn into non-reproductive tissues. Spradling uses the fruit fly Drosophila because the genes and processes studied are likely to be similar to those in other organisms including humans. In the 1980s he and his colleague, Gerald Rubin, showed how jumping genes could be used to identify and manipulate fruit fly genes. Their innovative technique helped establish Drosophila as

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

Mark Phillips is the Las Campanas Observatory (LCO) Director Emeritus. From 2006 to 2017 Phillips served as the Associate Director for Magellan, and from 2014 to 2017 he was the interim LCO Director. He is a world-renowned supernova expert. Most stars die quietly by cooling down and “turning off” when they have exhausted their nuclear fuel. But, a few stars end in a gigantic thermonuclear explosion known as a supernova. These objects remain extremely bright for a few weeks, sometimes outshining the galaxies in which they reside. Their extreme brightness at maximum makes them potentially powerful “standard candles”—baselines for probing distances, geometry, and expansion of the universe

Staff member emeritus 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