Join Us for the Fall 2020 Virtual Neighborhood Lecture Series

 Artist conception of the Moon forming from a synestia, a hypothesized rapidly spinning donut-shaped mass of vaporized rock. Carnegie field crew on 3.5 billion year old rocks at Point Lake, NWT, Canada. Scientists search for what’s left of Earth’s oldest
Image 1: Artist conception of the Moon forming from a synestia, a hypothesized rapidly spinning donut-shaped mass of vaporized rock. Image 2: Carnegie field crew on 3.5 billion-year-old rocks at Point Lake, NWT, Canada.
Tuesday, September 08, 2020 

After postponing our lectures this spring, we're thrilled to announce that the Neighborhood Lecture Series is back—virtually of course. The silver lining? Now that the lectures are being held online, the whole world is our neighborhood!

As always our Neighborhood Lectures provide an opportunity to explore the world from the perspective of scientists who are working at the leading edge of scientific discovery. The lectures will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST and last for approximately one hour, followed by a brief question and answer period. Please note that registration will be required to access the Zoom webinar. We will also be streaming to our YouTube channel. 

Thank you for joining us! 

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The Earth's First Crust

September 24, 2020 
6:30 PM EST
Presented by Rick Carlson, Director of the Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Laboratory


Earth is unique amongst the rocky planets in having two very different types of crust. Continental crust is composed primarily of silica-rich rocks like the granite of your kitchen countertops. Oceanic crust is instead almost entirely a black magnesium and iron-rich volcanic rock, basalt, like that erupted in Hawaii.

The continental crust juts above water because it is thick and granite is less dense than basalt so it floats higher on top of Earth’s interior. Oceanic crust sinks back into Earth’s interior on hundred-million-year timescales. In contrast, the buoyancy of continental crust allows it to survive longer at Earth’s surface. Even so, only a very small portion of Earth’s surface consists of rocks formed within half a billion years of Earth formation.

Carlson will discuss the continuing efforts to find these rare remnants of Earth’s oldest crust and what they can tell us about what our home planet was like in its infancy.

The lecture will be held via Zoom and will be streamed live to our YouTube channel.

A New Creation Story for the Earth and Moon

November 12, 2020
6:30 PM EST 
Presented by Dr. Sarah T. Stewart, University of California, Davis


The origin of the Earth and Moon is one of science’s greatest mystery stories, complete with false starts and dead ends.

The Apollo missions shattered all the previous ideas about making the Moon. But the precious lunar samples contain a major clue to our planet’s creation: the Moon is Earth’s isotopic twin. The isotopes of different elements are like a planetary fingerprint: no two bodies are the same – except the Earth and Moon. After Apollo, a giant impact became the most likely explanation for the Moon, but it failed to explain this key observation.

Stewart will talk about the accidental discovery of a new type of astronomical object, called a synestia, that may save the idea of a giant impact and forever change the way you think about the birth of our planet.

The lecture will be held via Zoom and will be streamed live to our YouTube channel.