News & Events

Star analysts of Harvard College Observatory inspired new book by Dava Sobel

Star analysts of Harvard College Observatory inspired new book by Dava Sobel

April 11, 2017

Author of “Longitude” and “Galileo’s Daughter,” Dava Sobel in her latest book tells the story of the female “computers” who worked at the Harvard College Observatory from the late 19th through the mid-20th century analyzing stellar data captured on a growing collection of photographic plates. Using complicated calculations, the women classified the stars, determined their brightness, and even discovered new stars, nebulae, and novae. Many of their findings led to important discoveries about the universe, and their work helped clear obstacles for women in science.

Harvard Origins of Life Initiative rings in 10 years with a trip to the stars

Harvard Origins of Life Initiative rings in 10 years with a trip to the stars

April 5, 2017

Ten years ago, Dimitar Sasselov worried that his graduate students studying the origins of life might have trouble finding jobs after leaving Harvard.

The past decade, however, has seen an explosion of exoplanet discoveries, rising excitement about the prospect of finding extraterrestrial life, and advances in understanding of life on Earth. Needless to say, those early worries have mostly vanished.

Harvard researcher creates chemical system that mimics early cell behavior

Harvard researcher creates chemical system that mimics early cell behavior

March 31, 2017

A Harvard researcher seeking a model for the earliest cells has created a system that self-assembles from a chemical soup into cell-like structures that grow, move in response to light, replicate when destroyed, and exhibit signs of rudimentary evolutionary selection.

While the system, developed by senior research fellow Juan Pérez-Mercader, mimics what one might conceive of as early cell behavior, a major caveat is that its main component is a molecule not typically found in living things.

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