Conel Alexander Explains Why We Should be both Grateful and Afraid of 'Rocks' from Space at his Neighborhood Lecture

Conel Alexander

DTM staff scientist Conel Alexander explained to a sold-out crowd why they should be grateful, but also a little afraid, of 'rocks from space at his Neighborhood Lecture on April 27. The lecture was the second installment of our Spring 2017 Neighborhood Lecture Series.

Conel Alexander presenting his Neighborhood Lecture to a sold-out crowd on Thursday, April 27. (Photo by Janice Dunlap, DTM)

‘Rocks’ from space have had a profound influence on the evolution of Earth – from the giant impact that created the Moon, to the asteroids that killed off the dinosaurs and, more locally, created the Chesapeake Bay, to tiny grains that may have brought prebiotic molecules that helped kick start life on Earth. The rate at which the Earth has accreted material from space has decayed dramatically since it formed. 

An overview slide from Alexander's presentation showing how much space rocks can teach us about Earth and maybe life's origins. (Photo by Natasha Metzler, Carnegie Science)

Nevertheless, ignoring the occasional large ‘hiccup,’ some 30-40 thousand tons of extraterrestrial material fall to Earth every year as meteorites and cosmic dust. This has been a boon to science, providing samples of other stars and Mars, helping to develop our picture of the timescales and conditions at the birth of our Solar System, and providing constraints for how the terrestrial planets formed. In this talk, Alexander reviewed where and how meteorites and cosmic dust are collected, and what they have taught us about the origin and early evolution of our Solar System.

The Carnegie Neighborhood Lecture Series spotlights the science at our campus on Broad Branch Road, which is home to DTM and the Geophysical Laboratory. Light refreshments are served prior to each lecture, and each talk lasts approximately one hour.

The next Spring 2017 Neighborhood Lecture titled "Mars, Moons, Missions & Microbes: Life as We Don't Know It - How Do We Find It?" will be given by Andrew Steele of the Geophysical Laboratory on Thursday, May 25, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. in the Greenewalt Lecture Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. Lecture Hall seating is first come, first serve. Eventbrite tickets are not required, so please arrive early to reserve your seat. Eventbrite registration is encouraged to skip the sign-in process at the door.

April 28, 2017

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