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Carnegie Institution for Science: Wikis


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This article is about a scientific institution headquartered in Washington, D.C., and is not to be confused with the Carnegie Institute, the Carnegie Institute of Technology, or the Carnegie Science Center all of which are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Carnegie Institution for Science (also called the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW)) is an organization in the United States established to support scientific research.

Today the CIW directs its efforts in six main areas: plant molecular biology at the Department of Plant Biology (Stanford, California), developmental biology at the Department of Embryology (Baltimore, Maryland), global ecology at the Department of Global Ecology (Stanford, CA), Earth science, materials science, and astrobiology at the Geophysical Laboratory (Washington, DC); Earth and planetary sciences as well as astronomy at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (Washington, DC), and (at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW; Pasadena, CA and Las Campanas, Chile)).



"It is proposed to found in the city of Washington, an institution which...shall in the broadest and most liberal manner encourage investigation, research, and discovery [and] show the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind..." — Andrew Carnegie, January 28, 1902

The Carnegie Institution was founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1902. Its first president was Daniel Coit Gilman, founder of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. One of the first grant recipients was George Hale in 1904.

The guiding doctrine during the institution's history has been to devote its resources to “exceptional” individuals who can explore, in an atmosphere of complete freedom, complex scientific problems . Realizing that the institution’s success depended upon flexibility and freedom, Carnegie and his trustees established that tradition as the foundation of the institution which continues to support Earth, space, and life sciences.


The name

Beginning in 1895, Andrew Carnegie donated his vast fortune to establish 22 organizations around the world that today bear his name and carry on work in fields as diverse as art, education, international affairs, world peace, and scientific research. (See Andrew Carnegie's 23 Organizations). The organizations are independent entities and are related by name only.

In 2007, the institution adopted the name "Carnegie Institution for Science" to better distinguish it from the other organizations established by and named for Andrew Carnegie. The new name closely associates the words “Carnegie” and “science” and thereby reveals the core identity. The institution remains officially and legally the Carnegie Institution of Washington, but now has a public identity that more clearly describes its work.

Observatories of the CIW

The Institution's grant to George Hale was used for the construction of a telescope built around a large mirror blank that he had received as a gift from his father. The OCIW funded the completion of the 60-inch (1,500 mm) Hale Telescope on Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena. Immediately work began on designing the even larger Hooker Telescope (100-inch), completed in 1917. Two solar telescopes were also constructed with Carnegie support and together they form the Mount Wilson Observatory, still chiefly supported by the Carnegie Institution after 100 years. The OCIW went on to help Hale design and build the 200-inch (5,100 mm) telescope of the Palomar Observatory (although construction was mostly paid for by a Rockefeller grant).

The OCIW's chief observatory is now the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, where two identical 6.5 metre Magellan telescopes operate. OCIW is the lead institution in the consortium building the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be made up of seven mirrors each 8.4 meters in diameter for a total telescope diameter of 25.4 metres (83 ft). The telescope is expected to have over four times the light-gathering ability of existing instruments.

Support for genetic research

In 1920 the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York was merged with the Station for Experimental Evolution to become the CIW's Department of Genetics. The CIW funded that laboratory until 1939. It closed in 1944 and its records were retained in a university library. The CIW continues its support for genetic research, and among its notable grantees in that field are Nobel laureates Barbara McClintock, Alfred Hershey and Andrew Fire.

Support for archeological research

The Institution supported archaeology in the Yucatán Peninsula in the 1910s through the 1930s, including extensive excavations (under Carnegie associate and Mayanist scholar Sylvanus G. Morley) of Chichen Itza , Copán, and other sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.

Presidents of the CIW

External links

Social presences



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