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New York Times Highlights Technology at the Museum

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From tweetups to touring the Museum using AMNH Explorer, The New York Times features the Museum’s digital efforts in a special section out today.

Writing about social media, Jennifer Preston focuses on two recent Museum tweetups that offered participants behind-the-scenes tours of the collections and looks at two exhibitions, Brain: The Inside Story and The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, which opens April 16.

A separate article about smartphone apps praises AMNH Explorer for taking “full advantage of the latest technology” by using the Museum’s wi-fi network to pinpoint a user’s location. “The app’s distinguishing feature is both ingenious and pragmatic,” writes Sam Grobart. “In addition to exhibitions, the app can point visitors toward cafes, gift shops and—an especially valuable feature for those traveling with children—bathrooms.”

And in a story about how a small computer called an Arduino has revolutionized exhibition design, Nick Bilton points to interactive exhibits at the Museum, including one in Brain: The Inside Story that tests a person’s ability to draw a shape while looking only at a reflection.

Tags: Brain, Dinosaurs, Museum Apps

Update to Museum’s Dinosaurs App Adds Nine Species

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There are now nine more dinosaurs to explore using the Museum’s Dinosaurs app for iPhone and iPod touch, which this week added new chapters with detailed species profiles, photos and renderings, stories about specimens’ discoveries, and more.

The new chapters include a look at Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis, the sauropod known for its exceptionally long neck. With an adult length of 60 feet, including a 30-foot-long neck, and height of 11 feet at the shoulder, Mamenchisaurus is the largest dinosaur discovered in China to date. A life-sized model of this colossal animal is at the center of the upcoming exhibition, The World’s Largest Dinosaurs, which opens at the Museum April 16.

The app update also includes links to dinosaur videos on the Museum’s YouTube channel and recent podcasts. Learn more about the app here and download it for free from iTunes.


Tags: Dinosaurs, Museum Apps

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Watch the 2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Theory of Everything

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Can the entire universe be explained with a single, unifying theory? This is perhaps the most fundamental question in all of science, and it may also be the most controversial.

The 2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial debate, moderated by Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, featured a compelling discussion with six of the world’s leading voices on the subject: Dr. Katherine Freese, professor of physics at the University of Michigan; Dr. Jim Gates, professor of physics at the University of Maryland-College Park; Dr. Janna Levin, professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College; Dr. Marcello Gleiser, professor of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College; Dr. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University; and Dr. Lee Smolin, theoretical physicist at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Click below for a video or to download a podcast of the debate, which took place at the Museum on March 7, 2011.

Podcast: Download | RSS | iTunes (1 hour, 45 mins, 127 MB)


Tags: Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Museum Holds Latin American Arts Festival on March 19

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This Saturday, Tahuantinsuyo, a group of traditional Andean musicians, returns to the Museum for the Latin American Arts Festival to lead a pre-Columbian-style procession from the Hall of Mexico and Central America to the Hall of South American Peoples.

Following the procession, Tahuantinsuyo will perform music from the ancient Inca empire, whose territories included modern-day Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Colombia. The group, which plays traditional instruments and wears traditional costumes, uses their performances to share and preserve an important cultural heritage.

Saturday’s family-friendly festival will begin at noon and will feature additional performances highlighting a range of Latin American cultural traditions, from  centuries-old dance of the Aztecs presented by Mexica dance group Alt-Tlachinolli to a spoken word set by acclaimed poets “La Bruja” Caridad de la Luz and “Taina.” The festival will also include storytelling, instrument-making workshops, and opportunities to meet the artists in the Museum’s cultural halls.

The Latin American Arts Festival is free with suggested admission.

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Analyzing Specimens Using Museum's State-of-the-Art CT Scanner

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Delicate, with the eerie beauty of a 19th-century engraving, the gray-and-white cross-section of Nautilus pompilius — an object of ongoing research by Museum paleontologist Neil Landman – is the product of a cutting-edge, high resolution, computed tomography (CT) scanner. Acquired by the Museum last summer with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the GE Phoenix V/tome/x Dual-Tube CT Scanner is one of only four of its kind in the country and allows researchers to look deep inside both small and large specimens without destroying them in the process.

“We can see spatial detail not available in dissection, and some parts are so delicate they would be otherwise missed,” says Dr. Landman, curator in the Division of Paleontology who, with geologist Denton Ebel, associate curator in the Division of Physical Sciences, and Curator Darrel Frost, a herpetologist, wrote the successful grant application for the scanner. “Three-dimensional visualization is such an important part of our thinking now—you can put your arms around the object you are studying.”

For each image, the scanner, as a rule, takes 1,500 to 1,700 x-ray images as the sample is rotated in the x-ray beam, at a level of resolution 100 times that of a typical medical scanner used on humans. These images are then used to create a 3D image of the entire specimen—in essence, a stack of virtual dissection slices—that can be manipulated, rotated, and studied from every angle, revealing unprecedented details of its internal structure. “We can only capture so much of the morphology from the surface,” explains Landman. “You want to get insights into the interior.”

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