News

Vera Rubin's Influential Work on Dark Matter is Highlighted in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Vera Rubin Cosmos

Co-Cosmos-creator circa 1980, Ann Druyan, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, teamed up with animator Seth MacFarlane in 2009 to create an updated version of the 1980 series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, entitled, Cosmos: A Spacetime OdysseyAfter 12 riveting episodes that dissected the vast world of space exploration in its 2014 series revival, Tyson ended the season with an episode entitled "Unafraid of the Dark."

Tyson highlights this strive for discovery in various scientific achievements throughout history, including DTM staff member emeritus Vera Rubin's acclaimed work with Kent Ford on dark matter. After Fritz Zwicky postulated the existence of an unknown mass in observable galaxies, or dark matter, in the universe in 1933, Rubin was able to provide proof of his theory in the 1970s by observing the rotation of stars at the edge of these observable galaxies and calculating that they did not follow the expected rotational behavior without considering the existence of Zwicky's dark matter.  

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Two Planets Orbit Nearby Ancient Star

Two Planets Orbit Nearby Ancient Star

An international team of astronomers, including five Carnegie scientists, reports the discovery of two new planets orbiting a very old star that is near to our own Sun. One of these planets orbits the star at the right distance to allow liquid water to exist on its surface, a key ingredient to support life. Their work is published by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and available online here.

The astronomers—including DTM's Pamela Arriagada and Paul Butler along with Carnegie's Steve Shectman, Jeff Crane, and Ian Thompson—used new data from the HARPS spectrometer at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla observatory, the Planet Finding Spectrometer at the Magellan/Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and the HIRES spectrometer at the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii to measure tiny periodic changes in the motion of the star. The Doppler Effect enabled the scientists to deduce some properties of these planets, including their masses and orbital periods.

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Roman Reveals the Underlying Activity of Volcanoes at Carnegie's Neighborhood Lecture Series Last Night

Roman

Last night friends, neighbors, and fellow scientists of Carnegie gathered at our Broad Branch Road Campus to hear a riveting talk on the "The Secret Life of 'Quiescent' Volcanoes" held by DTM Staff Scientist Diana Roman at our final 2013-2014 installment of the Neighborhood Lecture Series.

Although eruptions are the most recognizeable volcanic activity, they represent only a small fraction of what is actually occuring beneath the surface. Roman divulged on the other geological activity that occurs at Earth's volcanoes and displayed the seismic instruments she uses to measure this activity on the volcanoes her and her team work on. The talk began with a history lesson on Pompeii, the ancient-roman city that was burried under 20 feet of ash and pumice following the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. By reviewing the ignored warning signs the doomed citizens of Pompeii experienced before their demise, Roman was able to show the different levels of earthquakes that lead up to volcanic eruption. She explored different types of non-eruptive volcanic unrest through a survey of case studies and explained the implications for eruption forecasting in the modern age. 

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Dr. Matthew P. Scott Named 10th President of the Carnegie Institution for Science

Carnegie News

By unanimous vote of the Carnegie Board of Trustees, Dr. Matthew P. Scott has been appointed the 10th president of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Dr. Scott is Professor of Developmental Biology, Genetics, Bioengineering, and Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and will succeed the current President, Dr. Richard A. Meserve, on September 1, 2014.

“This is an extraordinary time for the Carnegie Institution for Science,” said Co-Chairs Suzanne Nora Johnson and Stephen Fodor. “The scientific departments are flourishing with strong support from Trustees and a well performing endowment. The Trustees and Departmental Directors all believe Dr. Scott captures the independent spirit of Carnegie Science’s long tradition of leading science at the frontiers. We are enthusiastic about his leadership.”

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Rick Carlson Named Acting Director of DTM

Carnegie News

Carnegie President Richard Meserve has named Rick Carlson Acting Director of DTM following the departure of former DTM Director Linda Elkins-Tanton.

Carlson studies the chemical and physical processes that formed the terrestrial planets. Using the known decay rates of various radioactive isotopes, he investigates the chronology of early processes on small planetary objects and studies the chemical and physical aspects of old and young crust-forming processes on Earth. He has developed and applied a range of isotope geochemical and cosmochemical tools to shape our understanding of the origin of continental magmas, the formation of the continental crust and lithospheric mantle, the early differentiation of the Earth and Moon, and the chronology of the early Solar System.

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Mary Horan is Awarded Carnegie's Service to Science Award

Carnegie News

The Service to Science award, awarded this year to DTM's Geochemistry Lab Manager Mary Horan and Embryology's Allison Pinder, was created to recognize outstanding and/or unique contributions to science by employees who work in administration, support, and technical positions at the Carnegie Institution. Horan and Pinder both received their award at this year's Carnegie Evening held on 30 May 2014.

Horan has been the Geochemistry Laboratory Manager for over 17 years. Her job involves: technique development; the training and supervising of postdocs, students, and visitors; and keeping the laboratory ready for the research activities of our geo/cosmochemistry scientific staff. Often visitors feel so indebted to her selfless support of their work that they involve her as coauthor on the manuscripts that result from their visit. 

 

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