2011 Annual Science Report

Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting  |  SEP 2010 – AUG 2011

EPO Activity: Capital Science Lecture Series

Project Progress

To make science more accessible to the general public, the Carnegie Institution of Washington began the Capital Science Lectures in the fall of 1990. These free public talks are designed to help non-scientists understand scientific thinking and to appreciate the importance of basic research in our lives today. Since 1999, many speakers have been chosen to focus on the institution’s interest in astrobiology. For instance, the 2010/2011 series (8 lectures total) included ‘The Three Cosmic Tenors’( James Gates, Larry Gladney and Herman White Jr) with a talk entitled ‘Three Arrangements: Exploring our Grand Universe’. Another special event entitled ‘Glowing Embryos, Genes and Development’ featured Nobel laureates Martin Chalfie and Eric Weischaus as well as Mary Dickenson and Alexandra Joyner whose seminal discoveries have greatly increased our understanding of basic biological principles. Prior to the lectures, these presenters met informally with middle school students from Carnegie’s Saturday science school, First Light, to discuss their research and how it applies to astrobiology and to the students own lives. Students from several area high schools serving a high minority population have been attending the lecture series since its inception. Approximately 450 members of the general public also attended each lecture.