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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The Marnie Halpern laboratory studies how left-right differences arise in the developing brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry. Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, they explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into...
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CALL FOR PROPOSALS Following Andrew Carnegie’s founding encouragement of liberal discovery-driven research, the Carnegie Institution for Science offers its scientists a new resource for pursuing bold ideas. Carnegie Science Venture grants are internal awards of up to $100,000 that are intended to...
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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...
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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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Broad Branch Road Neighborhood Lectures
Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, Peter van Keken
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 6:30pm to 7:45pm

A little over 50 years ago, the theory of plate tectonics emerged to provide a unifying theory for the dynamic behavior of the solid Earth as expressed by earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building...

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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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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...
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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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Guoyin Shen's research interests lie in the quest to establish and to examine models for explaining and controlling the behavior of materials under extreme conditions. His research activities include investigation of phase transformations and melting lines in molecular solids, oxides and metals;...
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Explore Carnegie Science

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, Peter van Keken
March 22, 2018

A little over 50 years ago, the theory of plate tectonics emerged to provide a unifying theory for the dynamic behavior of the solid Earth as expressed by earthquakes, volcanoes, mountain building, and continental drift. In this talk, Dr. van Keken will discuss how our thinking of plate tectonics has evolved; how natural hazards are connected to the slow convective motion of the Earth’s interior; and how plate tectonics influences the longterm evolution of the Earth.

Dr. Peter van Keken: Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Science

#TectonicPlanet

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

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.

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.

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 (DCO) 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 disciplinary lines,

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

The earliest galaxies are those that are most distant. Staff associate Dan Kelson is interested in how these ancient relics evolved. The latest generation of telescopes and advanced spectrographs—instruments that analyze light to determine properties of celestial objects—allow astronomers to accurately measure enormous numbers of distant galaxies. Kelson uses the Magellan 6.5-meter telescopes and high-resolution imaging from the Hubble Space Telescope to study distant galaxies.His observations of their masses, sizes and morphologies allow him to directly measure their stars' aging to infer their formation history. Kelson is the principal investigator of the Carnegie-Spitzer-IMACS

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 brain and discovers the genes that control this asymmetry.

Using the tiny zebrafish, Danio rerio, Halpern explores how regional specializations occur within the neural tube, the embryonic tissue that develops into the brain and spinal cord. The zebrafish is ideal for these studies because its basic body plan is set within 24 hours of fertilization. By day five, young larvae are able to feed and swim

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