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Latest Smithsonian Institution Stories

130 Year Old Recordings By Alexander Graham Bell Restored
2011-12-27 12:42:09

Scientists, journalists and curators have all had to opportunity to listen to audio-recordings made by Alexander Graham Bell 130 years ago. A man's voice in the recording can be heard reading "to be or not to be“¦" from William Shakespeare's Hamlet on a green wax disc. The early audio recordings had been packed away and considered obsolete at the Smithsonian Institution for over a century.  However, new technology has allowed the recordings to be recovered so they...

Discovery Powered Down One Last Time
2011-12-19 12:57:33

NASA powered down its space shuttle Discovery for the final time last Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle was "unplugged" inside Orbiter Processing Facility-1 (OPF-1) in Florida.  The shutdown came soon after technicians closed the shuttle's twin 60-foot long payload bay doors. Discovery is going to be set on display next spring at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Steve F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. The shuttle's three...

Alien Hunters Should Look For 'City Lights'
2011-11-04 03:42:51

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. "Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn't require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe," said Loeb. As with...

History, Not Ecology, Makes Rainforests Unique
2011-09-23 08:39:48

  History and geology, not current ecology, are likely what has made tropical forests so variable from site to site, according to a new study published in the journal Science, co-authored by Liza Comita, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. "The same ecological processes seem to be working worldwide. The difference is that tropical organisms have been accumulating for vast periods of time," said Nathan J.B. Kraft, post-doctoral fellow at the...


Word of the Day
call-note
  • The call or cry of a bird or other animal to its mate or its young.
'Call-note' is newer than 'bird-call,' which originally referred to 'an instrument for imitating the note of birds' but now also refers to 'the song or cry of a bird.'
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