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Science Bulletins: The Roots of Human Language

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The landscape of human language is complex, and tracing the origins of the 7,000 known modern languages has been a significant challenge for scientists. An analysis by a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand points to a familiar place: Africa, the birthplace of our species.

This fall, examine the biology of language in a five-part adult course, the Sackler Brain Bench program "Is Your Brain Wired For Language?" 


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Science Bulletins: Language in the Brain

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Why is it that humans can speak but chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, cannot? The human brain is uniquely wired to produce language. Untangling this wiring is a major frontier of brain research. Peer into the mental machinery behind language with this Science Bulletins feature, which visits a brain-scanning laboratory, Columbia University's Program for Imaging and Cognitive Sciences (PICS). Columbia neuroscientist Joy Hirsch and New York University psychologist Gary Marcus explain what researchers have learned about how our brain tackles language—and what's left to learn.

This fall, examine the biology of language in a five-part adult course, the Sackler Brain Bench program "Is Your Brain Wired For Language?" 


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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Reopens October 27

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On October 27, Theodore Roosevelt’s 154th birthday, the Museum will officially reopen the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and the Hall of North American Mammals, launching a year-long celebration of Roosevelt’s love of nature and his instrumental role in the American conservation movement, both inspired by his lifelong association with the Museum. 


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New Ocean Health Index Accounts for Benefits to People

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Scientists have developed a new comprehensive index designed to assess humanity’s benefit from healthy oceans. The Ocean Health Index, developed by collaborators from nearly 20 institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History, was used to evaluate the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. The findings, published in the journalNature, show that the global ocean overall scores 60 out of 100 on the Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. The highest-scoring locations included both densely populated, highly developed nations such as Germany (73), as well as uninhabited islands, such as Jarvis Island in the Pacific (86).

The Index, the development of which was led by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and Conservation International, is the first broad, quantitative assessment that includes people as part of the ocean ecosystem. It scientifically compares and combines key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health so that decision-makers can promote an increasingly beneficial future for all ocean life, including humans.

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Curiosity Rover Heads for Mars

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The biggest and most technically advanced rover to date is scheduled to land on Mars this Sunday, August 5, at approximately 10:30 pm PDT. The Astro Bulletin below, from the Museum's Science Bulletins program, follows Curiosity as it leaves the launching pad on Cape Canaveral and begins its journey to the red planet. Equipped with more gear than the two previous rovers combined, Curiosity is designed to collect and process samples and then distribute them to testing chambers inside scientific instruments carried onboard. Test results and images of Mars's surface will be transmitted to NASA through radio relays via Mars orbiters. 


To see a model of the Curiosity rover, visit Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration before it closes on August 12.

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