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Podcast: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Habitable Planets in Our Galaxy

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Almost every star is now thought to form with a planetary system around it. But just how rare a phenomenon are habitable planets? In this podcast, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Linda Elkins-Tanton discusses what is currently known about planetary formation—and what is needed to encourage the development of life.

Dr. Elkins-Tanton’s talk, “A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Habitable Planets in Our Galaxy,” was recorded at the Museum on April 11, 2011.

Tags: Exoplanets, Podcasts

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Museum’s Earth Bulletin Documents

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In the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti last year, a group of U.S. scientists flew to Port-au-Prince to complete the first technical survey of the city’s geology. A film crew from Science Bulletins, the Museum’s innovative online and exhibition program, joined them to document the fieldwork, producing an Earth Bulletin now on view in the David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth and online on the Museum’s website.

“The earthquake in Haiti was such a momentous event that we felt we had to talk about the science behind it,” says Edmond Mathez, curator in the Museum’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the curator for Earth Bulletins.

Tags: Science Bulletins

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Museum Scientists Tweet From Hearst Mongolian Paleontological Expedition

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Since 1990, scientists from the American Museum of Natural History have traveled to Mongolia’s vast Gobi Desert each summer in search of fossils, continuing a tradition of Museum expeditions to the region that began in the 1920s. In 1993, Museum researchers working with Mongolian scientists uncovered one of the richest fossil beds ever found: Ukhaa Tolgod. The site produced hundreds of dinosaur, lizard, and mammal fossils from the Cretaceous period.

Tags: From the Field

Brain Exhibition Wins Design Award

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Brain: The Inside Story, the Museum’s popular exhibition which gives visitors a new perspective and insight into the human brain using imaginative art, vivid brain scan imaging, and thrilling interactive exhibits, was recognized for outstanding achievement in museum exhibition design. Event Design Magazine recently announced the winners of their Event Design Awards and the Museum’s Exhibitions team won Silver honors for Best Museum Environment for their evocative work on Brain: The Inside Story. Every year the Event Design Awards—the industry’s highest honor—receives hundreds of entries across 13 categories to determine the best of the best in the world of events, exhibits, and environments.

Tags: Brain

What’s in Store For Your 21st Century Brain?

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Mechanical devices now connect to the brain to restore lost senses like hearing and sight. What if similar technologies could end addiction, improve memory, cure a headache, or lift one’s mood? These and other amazing facets of current brain research are explored in the Museum exhibition Brain: The Inside Story in a section called Your 21st Century Brain.

Here, visitors can see a video in which researchers try to decode language directly within the brain through a brain-computer interface that has the potential for manipulating a keyboard to communicate or powering artificial limbs. Another treatment on the horizon uses non-invasive magnetic waves to theoretically treat for everything from schizophrenia to obesity.

In the video below, exhibition co-curator Rob DeSalle discusses these and other cutting-edge developments ahead for our 21st century brains. Brain: The Inside Story is open now through Sunday, August 14.


Tags: Brain

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