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Past Events

  • Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:30pm - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 6:30pm

    The lectures begin at 6:30PM and will last approximately one hour. Doors open to the public at 6:00PM.
    We provide informational materials about our research programs and light refreshments. Limited parking is available off Jocelyn and 32nd Streets in our lots, and there is street parking in the area. The campus is a three-block walk from Connecticut Avenue and two blocks south of Military Road.

    Lectures Are Free, But Seating is Limited.  Skip the registration line by signing up online, click here.

    5251 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015 - Greenewalt Building (PDF of directions)

    When: Thursday, 19 May 2016

    Title"Beyond Pluto: The Hunt for Planet X"

    Speaker: Scott Sheppard - The Kuiper Belt, which has Pluto as the largest member, is a region of comet-like objects just beyond Neptune. This belt of objects has an outer edge, which we are only now able to explore in detail. For the past few years we have been performing the largest and deepest survey ever attempted to search for distant solar system objects. The ongoing search has discovered the object with the most distant orbit known in our solar system and several of the largest known objects after the major planets.

    These extremely distant objects are strangely grouped closely together in space, which suggests a yet unobserved planet more massive than the Earth is shepherding them into these similar orbits. Dr. Sheppard will discuss the most recent discoveries at the fringe of our solar system.

    To support Carnegie Science, please visit: http://carnegiescience.edu/support

    Past Lectures
    When: Thursday, 28 April 2016

    Title: "High-Pressure Alchemy"

    Speaker: Alexander Goncharov - A major focus of the field of chemistry is predicting how various atoms form bonds, hence molecules, and how such bonding controls the structure and properties of molecular matter. Historically, almost all chemistry has been performed at ambient pressure - the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface. However, the majority of matter in the universe resides at extreme pressures and temperatures that force atoms into extremely close contact, where chemical behavior can become surprising, and where very exotic compounds can become stable.

    During this lecture, Dr. Goncharov will explain how we do experiments at extreme pressures, in some cases exceeding one million atmospheres. He will present some recent discoveries of unusual “salts,” and stable compounds with noble gases. These exotic materials hold a promise of potentially unparalleled physical and chemical properties. Many of these newly discovered extreme materials are made of the most abundant elements in the universe and thus are likely to be present in the interiors of giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.


  • Sat, 11/14/2015 (All day) - Sun, 11/15/2015 (All day)

    The Deep Carbon Observatory will host a workshop on "Molecular Adaptation to Life at the Extremes" on the weekend of 14-15 November 2015 at the Geophysical Laboratory. This workshop aims to foster collaborations among scientists with a broad range of expertise -- ultimately leading to a better understanding of the environmental limits of life from a molecular perspective.


  • Thu, 09/24/2015 - 6:00pm - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 6:30pm

    The lectures begin at 6:30PM and will last approximately one hour. Doors open to the public at 6:00PM.
    We provide informational materials about our research programs and light refreshments. Limited parking is available off Jocelyn and 32nd Streets in our lots, and there is street parking in the area. The campus is a three-block walk from Connecticut Avenue and two blocks south of Military Road.

    Lectures Are Free, But Seating is Limited.  Skip the registration line by signing up online, click here.

    5251 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015 - Greenewalt Building (PDF of directions)


    When: Thursday, 24 September 2015 

    Title: "From Outpost to Icon: A Century of Science at Broad Branch Road"

    Speaker: Shaun Hardy - How did a leafy tract on the rural fringe of Washington a century ago become home to a world-class think tank for scientific research? Join us for an evening of history and science as Carnegie librarian Shaun Hardy recounts the fascinating story of the Broad Branch Road campus – from its inception in 1914 as a “mission control center” for magnetic survey expeditions and sailing ships that crisscrossed the globe to its present role as an interdisciplinary research center for the Earth and planetary sciences.

    Using historic photos from Carnegie’s archives we’ll explore the atom-smashers, radio telescopes, and other cutting-edge facilities erected “on the hill” over the past 100 years. We’ll also highlight some of the most significant breakthroughs by DTM and Geophysical Laboratory scientists, including the discovery of dark matter in the universe and top-secret research that helped shorten World War II.

    Shaun's lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m.; a laboratory tour will precede the lecture at 6:00 p.m. on a first come first serve basis.

    When: Thursday, 15 October 2015

    Title"Memoirs of a Mineral"

    Speaker: Corliss Kin I Sio - Minerals record information that is vital to our understanding of Earth’s formation and evolution. Join me as I take you on a journey to explore a group of minerals that form from magmas. Hidden within these minerals are records of magmatic events that lead to volcanic eruptions and are recorded in the form of chemical and isotopic profiles. Discover how these profiles can be used to visualize the transport of magma inside a volcano.

    When: Thursday, 5 November 2015

    Title"Water in the Moon's Interior: Truth and Consequences"

    Speaker: Erik Hauri - The Moon has been an object of mystery, curiosity, wonder, observation, fascination and speculation since the dawn of mankind. It has inspired fear and worship, medieval and renaissance art, the modern calendar, hundreds of pieces of music, a race to space that consumed nearly 5% of the US budget at its height, conspiracy theories, a rock album that spent more than 14 years on the Billboard Top 100 charts, one good movie (2001: A Space Odyssey) and several bad ones.

    Scientifically, the Moon is no less interesting. The Apollo program returned a literal treasure trove of samples totaling nearly 840 pounds. We have learned that the Moon formed from the debris ejected from an ancient giant impact of a planetary embryo with the Earth, and that it was covered in an ocean of magma that froze and produced “rockbergs” that make up the light-colored lunar highlands that we see today.

    The Moon is too small to retain an atmosphere, and so any water that may have once been at the Moon’s surface has either remained frozen in polar craters or has evaporated into space. Yet new studies at Carnegie on lunar volcanic rocks, erupted more than three billion years ago, have determined that the Moon’s interior may have nearly as much water as the Earth’s interior. This represents a surprising discovery – another mystery - about an object that was once molten in the vacuum of space.

    To support Carnegie Science, please visit: http://carnegiescience.edu/support


  • Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:00pm - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 7:30pm

    The lectures begin at 6:30PM and will last approximately one hour. Doors open to the public at 6:00PM.
    We provide informational materials about our research programs and light refreshments. Limited parking is available off Jocelyn and 32nd Streets in our lots, and there is street parking in the area. The campus is a three-block walk from Connecticut Avenue and two blocks south of Military Road.

    Lectures Are Free, But Seating is Limited.  Skip the registration line by signing up online, click here.

    5251 Broad Branch Road, NW, Washington, DC 20015 - Greenewalt Building (PDF of directions)

    To support Carnegie Science, please visit: http://carnegiescience.edu/support


    Past Lectures

    When: Thursday, 14 May 2015 

    Title: "Alien Worlds and the Origins of Science"

    Speaker: Paul Butler - Modern science began with Copernicus speculating that the Earth is a planet and that all the planets orbit the Sun. Bruno followed up by speculating that the Sun is a star, that other stars have planets, and other planets are inhabited by life. For this and other heresies, Bruno was burned at the stake in a public square in Rome in 1600. Astronomy and extrasolar planets were a really hot field at the time.

    Over the past 20 years more than a thousand extrasolar planets have been found, first from ground-based precision Doppler surveys, and more recently by the Kepler space mission. We have concentrated on building precise Doppler systems to survey the nearest stars. Our systems at Lick, Keck, AAT, and Magellan have found hundreds of planets, including five of the first six extrasolar planets, the first saturn-mass planet, the first neptune-mass planet, the first terrestrial mass planet, and the first multiple planet systems.

    We are focused on surveying the nearest stars with new custom built spectrometers designed to achieve the highest possible Doppler precision: The Planet Finder Spectrometer on the 6.5-m Magellan Telescope, and the Levy spectrometer on the 2.4-m Automated Planet Finding Telescope. These spectrometer will lead to the discovery of many terrestrial mass and potentially habitable planets over the next decade. Within a generation new technology giant telescopes and adaptive optics systems will be able to directly image these systems and begin the detailed search for life.

    When: Thursday, 16 April 2016

    Title"The Quest for Room Temperature Superconductivity"

    Speaker: Viktor Struzhkin - Superconductivity is a rare physical state in which matter is able to conduct electricity—maintain a flow of electrons—without any resistance. It can only be found in certain materials, and even then it can only be achieved under specific temperature and pressure conditions. Although superconductivity has many practical applications for electronics, medical engineering, power transmission and storage, and transportation, the difficulty of creating superconducting materials prevents it from being used to its full potential.

    Imagine electrons moving in a current through a lattice-like structure built out of toothpicks. In a typical metallic substance some of the electrons would bounce off the toothpicks, making their flow imperfect.  In a superconducting substance, thanks to quantum phenomena, pairs of electrons bound together are able to flow through the toothpick lattice without running into or bouncing off anything.

    Traditionally superconductors were made only in extremely low temperatures—below -400 degrees Fahrenheit. But over time scientists discovered that applying pressure could create superconductors at somewhat higher temperatures. Here at the Geophysical Lab, we have developed very sensitive techniques capable of creating and detecting superconductivity under very high pressures. During this lecture, Viktor Struzhkin will detail our efforts in finding higher-temperature superconductivity. The chances of finding room temperature superconductors are high, but the experimental challenges are tremendous. Watch Viktor's lecture here!

    When: Thursday, 13 November 2014

    Title"What Are You Breathing? Stable Isotopes in the Atmosphere"

    Speaker: Douglas Rumble - Our atmosphere contains only a handful of major gases but many hundreds of minor ones. Each one of these gas species has its own signature stable isotope compostion. Analysis of isotopes makes it possible to trace chemical reactions governing atmospheric chemistry. Isotopic signatures of atmospheric gases are preserved in rocks, under favorable conditions, leaving behind a record of changes in atmospheric chemistry over the past 3 billion years.  Watch Doug's lecture here!

    When: Thursday, 9 October 2014

    Title"The Geology of Diamonds and Why Yours Is Remarkable!"

    Speaker: Steven Shirey - To the geologist, diamonds worn as expensive jewelry are a scientific opportunity of far greater value than just gems. Diamonds are erupted in kimberlite volcanoes and carry within them the deepest, oldest, and most pristine mineral inclusions from the mantle known on Earth. Most of these amazing specimens come from the mantle keels of continents at depths greater than 150km but some derive from greater depths including the mantle transition zone (410-660km) and the top of the lower mantle (>660km).  We will explore how diamonds form and what their inclusions tell us about continent formation, mantle circulation and the water content of the mantle. 


  • Tue, 04/22/2014 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm