Michael Walter Begins Tenure as Geophysical Laboratory Director

Experimental petrologist Michael Walter is now the eighth director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory. We will officially welcome him to Washington on May 9 when he will give a public talk called "Deep Earth Through a Diamond Looking Glass."   

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    In honor of Women's History Month, we're revisiting some discussions we shared with scientific experts from a variety of disciplines who visited our flagship building in Washington, DC, as part of our Capital Science Evening series of public programming. 

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Pasadena, CA—Pomona College junior and returning Carnegie Observatories intern Sal Fu was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of her academic and research success and to support her continued “academic study and research in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.” Fu has participated in the Carnegie Summer Undergraduate Research program over the past two summers, working with staff astronomer Josh Simon studying dwarf galaxies and streams of stars surrounding our Milky Way using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

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A team of scientists including Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram now report unexpected quantum behavior of hydrogen molecules, H2, trapped within tiny cages made of organic molecules, demonstrating that the structure of the cage influences the behavior of the molecule imprisoned inside it. 

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Last week, scientists and staff from Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory volunteered for Astroday 2018 at a 170-year-old school in the nearby city of Las Serena, the Colegio Seminario Conciliar.

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Four new Carnegie Venture Grants have been awarded, following the second call for proposals of 2017. Projects funded by Carnegie Science Venture Grants ignore conventional boundaries by bringing together researchers from different backgrounds with fresh eyes to explore new questions. Each grant provides $100,000 for projects that are likely to grow in unexpected ways. Proposals are chosen by the President’s office.

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  • Degraded forests play a crucial role in the future survival of Bornean elephants. A new study from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory team paired GPS tracking data for 29 elephants with airborne laser-based images of forests in Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo. By creating high-resolution, three-dimensional maps of forest canopy height and structure, Greg Asner, Luke Evans, and their research partners found that forests of surprisingly short stature are ideal for elephants.

     

     

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The Giant Magellan Telescope will be one member of the next class of super giant earth-based telescopes that promises to revolutionize our view and understanding of the universe. It will be constructed in the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. Commissioning of the telescope is scheduled to begin in...
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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 ƒor America DC strives to reclaim America’s...
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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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Astronomy Lecture Series
Monday, April 23, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:45pm

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...

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Capital Science Evening Lectures
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Oregon State University, Joy Leighton
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm

Can we use the ocean without using it up? The task is daunting given current trajectories in fisheries, plastics, and other pollutants, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. ...

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

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade,...

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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...
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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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With the proliferation of discoveries of planets orbiting other stars, the race is on to find habitable worlds akin to the Earth. At present, however, extrasolar planets less massive than Saturn cannot be reliably detected. Astrophysicist John Chambers models the dynamics of these newly found giant...
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April 17, 2018

Washington, DC—Interim Co-Presidents John Mulchaey and Yixian Zheng are thrilled to welcome experimental petrologist Michael Walter as the new Director of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory.  

Walter’s recent research has focused on the period early in Earth’s history, shortly after the planet accreted from the cloud of gas and dust surrounding our young Sun, when the mantle and the core first separated into distinct layers. Current topics of investigation also include the structure and properties of various compounds under the extreme pressures and temperatures found deep inside the planet, and information about the pressure, temperature, and chemical conditions of the mantle that

April 9, 2018

Palo Alto, CA—Senior scientist Arthur Grossman of Carnegie’s Department of Plant Biology was part of a team* awarded a three-year grant, with $100,000 for each year, from the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Organization. The team will use an integrated approach to investigate how light and metabolic signals control photosynthetic processes in algae.  

HFSP’s collaborative research grants are given for endeavors that address “complex mechanisms of living organisms.” The program only supports “cutting-edge, risky projects” conducted by globally distributed teams.

Grossman has been studying algae for years.  Algae dominate the oceans, produce half of the

April 5, 2018

Pasadena, CA—Pomona College junior and returning Carnegie Observatories intern Sal Fu was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of her academic and research success and to support her continued “academic study and research in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.” Fu has participated in the Carnegie Summer Undergraduate Research program over the past two summers, working with staff astronomer Josh Simon studying dwarf galaxies and streams of stars surrounding our Milky Way using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

“The Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Carnegie Observatories provides undergraduate students the exciting opportunity to

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Timothy Strobel
March 27, 2018

Washington, DC—A team of scientists including Carnegie’s Tim Strobel and Venkata Bhadram now report unexpected quantum behavior of hydrogen molecules, H2, trapped within tiny cages made of organic molecules, demonstrating that the structure of the cage influences the behavior of the molecule imprisoned inside it. Their work is published by Physical Review Letters. 

A detailed understanding of the physics of individual atoms interacting with each other at the microscopic level can lead to the discovery of novel emergent phenomena, help guide the synthesis of new materials, and even aid future drug development.

But at the atomic scale, the classical, so-called Newtonian,

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

Tune in to the live video here on and after 4/23: https://livestream.com/accounts/14570535/asteroidfam

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Oregon State University, Joy Leighton
April 25, 2018

Can we use the ocean without using it up? The task is daunting given current trajectories in fisheries, plastics, and other pollutants, and the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.  However, new scientific insights, tools, and partnerships are providing hope that it’s not too late to transition to more-sustainable practices and policies.  Dr. Lubchenco will draw on her four years as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the Administrator of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), her two years as the first U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean, and her decades of research around the world to summarize the importance to people of

May 7, 2018

Sound waves propagating through the Universe only 400,000 years after the Big Bang now offer some of our most-precise measures of the composition and history of the Universe. In the last decade, we have detected the fossil imprint of these sound waves using maps of the distribution of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Dr. Eisenstein will describe these waves and the ambitious experiments that use them to extend our cosmological reach.

Dr. Daniel Eisenstein: Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University and Director, Sloan Digital Sky Survey III

#CosmicSound

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, University of Bristol
May 9, 2018

Looking upward, the vastness of the heavens is accessible through giant telescopes that collect light from the beginning of time. Turn a telescope downward and the opaqueness of our planet conceals the secrets of its origin and evolution. Diamonds, those translucent rarities, illuminate the depths of our planet and reveal connections between the deep Earth and the surface of our planet through both time and space.

Dr. Michael Walter: Director, Geophysical Laboratory,, Carnegie Science 

#DiamondScience

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,

The Carnegie-Spitzer-IMACS (CSI) survey, currently underway at the Magellan-Baade 6.5m telescope in Chile, has been specifically designed to characterize normal galaxies and their environments at a distance of about 4 billion years post Big Bang, expresses by astronomers as  z=1.5.

The survey selection is done using the Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy fields, which provides as close a selection by stellar mass as possible.

Using the IMACS infrared camera, the survey goal is to study galaxies down to low light magnitudes. The goal is to reduce the variance in the density of massive galaxies at these distances and times to accurately trace the evolution of the galaxy mass

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 opportunities in

The Geophysical Laboratory has made important advances in the growth of diamond by chemical vapor deposition (CVD).  Methods have been developed to produce single-crystal diamond at low pressure having a broad range of properties.

Peter Driscoll studies the evolution of Earth’s core and magnetic field including magnetic pole reversal. Over the last 20 million or so years, the north and south magnetic poles on Earth have reversed about every 200,000, to 300,000 years and is now long overdue. He also investigates the Earth’s inner core structure; core-mantle coupling; tectonic-volatile cycling; orbital migration—how Earth’s orbit moves—and tidal dissipation—the dissipation of tidal forces between two closely orbiting bodies. He is also interested in planetary interiors, dynamos, upper planetary atmospheres and exoplanets—planets orbiting other stars. He uses large-scale numerical simulations in much of his research

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

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 developing crops for the changing climate.

The Dinneny  lab focuses on understanding how developmental processes such as cell-type specification regulate responses to environmental change. Most studies have considered the organ or even the whole organism as a single responsive unit and ignore the potential diversity of responses by the various cell-types composing an organism. Dinneny has

Alan Linde is trying to understand the tectonic activity that is associated with earthquakes and volcanos, with the hope of helping predictions methods.  He uses highly sensitive data that measures how the Earth is changing below the surface with devises called borehole strainmeters that measure tiny strains the Earth undergoes.

Strainmeter data has led to the discovery of events referred to as slow earthquakes that are similar to regular earthquakes except that the fault motions take place over much longer time scales. These were first detected in south-east Japan and have since been seen in a number of different environments including the San Andreas Fault in California and in