The Lamontdoherty Earth Observatory

Columbia was already one of the leaders in the field when, in 1949, the widow of New York banker Thomas W. Lamont (1870-1948) announced she would give his estate, located on the banks of the Hudson River in Palisades, New York, to Columbia. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was then president of Columbia, accepted the gift, and the Lamont Earth Observatory was founded in 1950. The Columbia Geologist, a school publication, heralded the event and proudly proclaimed on its masthead one of the guiding motifs of the Columbia geology program, "Speak to the Earth and it will teach Thee."

The observatory's first director was Professor Maurice "Doc" Ewing (1906-74). Born and raised in Texas, and the veteran of a number of summer building projects, he was the antithesis of the absent-minded professor. Keenly interested in the details of administration, he was also a hands-on leader, taking a three-masted schooner purchased by Columbia on a number of fact-finding missions. Ewing's principal contribution to science was his part in finding answers about plate tectonics, a theory that was accepted only in the latter part of his time at Lamont, but he also played a role in training hundreds of young scientists, many of whom went on to become department chairs around the country. By 1972, the year Ewing retired, Columbia was the leader in almost every aspect of studies of the Earth; he died in 1974.

In 1969, three years before Ewing's retirement, the Lamont Observatory was renamed the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in honor of a major bequest made by Thomas Doherty. This change, and Ewing's retirement, brought about a change at Lamont-Doherty, which soon found itself in the forefront of concern about the environment. The U.S. space program accelerated concerns about the environment (with the Apollo VIII photographs of the earth from space, for example). There was a growing connection between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA's) Goddard research center and the Lamont-Doherty Observatory, both located at Columbia.

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Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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