Neighborhood Lecture Series

Neighborhood Lecture Series.png
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 

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 begin at 6:30 PM EDT 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.

How to change the freezing point of water and other curiosities from between the anvils

Speaker: Dr. Timothy Strobel (Carnegie Institution for Science, Earth and Planets Laboratory)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | 6:30 p.m. EDT

Ice cubes melt when taken out of the freezer. But what if water could persist in the solid state when left on the kitchen counter?

This unusual water would be called metastable. Long-term metastable persistence is not (yet?) possible for ice on the counter, but it turns out that many other materials can get locked into metastable forms for time periods similar to the age of the universe. More than half of all known materials are in metastable states and it is predicted that hundreds of millions more are possible—but currently unmade. By navigating strategic synthetic pathways of pressure, temperature, and composition, it is possible to access these states and produce new materials with important properties for energy, climate, medicine and other applications.

In this lecture, Dr. Timothy Strobel will discuss future prospects for conquering metastability, provide a live demonstration of high-pressure materials generator technology and highlight some of the cutting-edge metastable materials recently discovered at the Earth and Planets Laboratory.


What makes a planet habitable?

Speaker: Dr. Anat Shahar (Carnegie Institution for Science, Earth and Planets Laboratory)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | 6:30 p.m. EDT

Earth is a dynamic planet: from the surface teeming with life to the deepest interior that maintains the protective magnetic field. For over 4.5 billion years, giant impacts, volcanism, and surface tectonic motions have transformed the surface, oceans, and atmosphere. Despite, or perhaps because of, these extrinsic changes, life has thrived. Why is Earth habitable? Where will life be detected elsewhere? What type of planet is most likely to sustain life? Beyond Earth, what are the characteristics of a habitable planet? In one of the great discoveries of our lifetimes, the Galaxy turns out to be teeming with planets. For the first time in human history, we have a wide range of planets to consider as possible hosts for life. 

We are fundamentally interested in what makes a planet habitable. What features of a planet's several-billion-year history create and maintain an environment that is suitable for life? We postulate that one cannot understand the habitability of Earth or constrain the potential for the habitability of other planets, particularly terrestrial exoplanets, without studying the role that the internal dynamics and bulk composition of the planet play in establishing and maintaining the surface environment. Whether a planet is hot or cold, wet or dry, active or stagnant, or alive or dead depends critically on the interior in crucial ways. This talk will present more questions than answers but will show you how we at Carnegie, along with our international collaborators, are tackling these questions in order to understand the origin of habitable planets.