2012 Annual Science Report

Carnegie Institution of Washington Reporting  |  SEP 2011 – AUG 2012

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 2011/2012 series (8 lectures total) included a joint presentation by Carnegie’s planet hunter, Paul Butler, and Washington Post science writer, Marc Kauffman to discuss ‘Astrobiology, Exoplanets, and the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth’. Another of the lectures featured Dr Brian Schmidt talking about ‘The Universe from Beginning to End’. 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.