Communication

This pay phone, one of the last in New York City, was removed from Times Square at the end of May.

One of the Last Pay Phones in New York City Moves to a Museum

Located in Times Square until last month, the pay phone is now on display at the Museum of the City of New York

Later this summer, people will be able to call, text or online chat the number 988 to connect with mental health counselors.

The Future of Mental Health

Beginning in Mid-July, Dial 988 for the Mental Health Hotline

The three-digit code will be like 911, but for mental health emergencies only

AIM users could log on and instantly ping messages back and forth, remotely chatting with friends, colleagues and loved ones.

In the 25 Years Since Its Launch, AOL Instant Messenger Has Never Been 'Away'

While some aspects of AIM seem like relics of a different version of the internet, others remain deeply embedded in the social media landscape

An image of the original 1970s Arecibo message. 

These Space Scientists Want to Update Earth's Message to Extraterrestrials

The broadcast builds on the 1974 Arecibo message and portrays information about science, math and human life

A female Bornean orangutan carrying her son in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia.

Orangutan's Vocabularies Are Shaped by Socializing With Others, Just Like Humans

A new study reveals apes have distinct and flexible 'vocal personalities,' opposed to a fixed repertoire of calls

Bones communicate in varying ways with other parts of the body.

How Bones Communicate With the Rest of the Body

A new vision of the skeleton as a dynamic organ that sends and receives messages suggests potential therapies for osteoporosis and other problems

Within a few years, NASA’s OSAM-1 mission will launch into space and use a robotic arm to refuel the Landsat 7 Earth-observation satellite, as shown in this animation.

Robots May Soon Fix and Fuel Satellites in Space

Orbiting machines that grip, grapple and maneuver could one day maintain the fleet of small spacecraft that encircle Earth

A great tit sitting on a post in Suffolk, England, calls out.

Do Birds Have Language?

In the cheeps, trills and tweets of birdsong, scientists find some parallels with human speech

Over the span of 15 months, scientists cataloged 76 instances of chimps using insects on their wounds and the wounds of others. 

Chimpanzees Appear to Use Insects to Treat Their Wounds

In a first, chimps in Gabon were seen applying insects to sores on themselves—and others, a possible show of empathy

Hippos may appear inactive, but a recent study shows that they’re listening closely to their surroundings.

A Hippo's Response to an Unknown Caller? A Blast of Poop and a Rowdy Holler

The lumbering animals respond calmly to their grunting and groaning friends, but a stranger's voice often prompted a loud, filthy territorial response

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Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? New Study Offers Clues

The adorable behavior may be a sign of concentration and memory recall

Researchers are hoping to decipher the communications of sperm whales.

Could We Chat With Whales?

An ambitious project is attempting to interpret sperm whale clicks with artificial intelligence, then talk back to them

Mother and pup of the bat species Saccopteryx bilineata. Similar to human infants, pups begin babbling at a young age as they develop language skills.

Baby Bats Babble—Just Like Human Infants

Both species make similar sounds as they develop language skills at an early age

A new study of western diamondback rattlesnakes reveals that they abruptly shift to a high-frequency rattle as danger approaches.

Rattlesnakes Fool Humans Into Thinking They're Nearby With This Sound-Warping Trick

A new study reveals the snakes change the speed of their rattles to appear closer than they are

Head scientist at the Smithsonian Marine Station, Valerie Paul, collects blue-green algae samples to study the chemicals they emit. Those chemicals can endanger coral reefs, but also have biomedical potential.

Smithsonian Voices

How Algae Communicate

Smithsonian scientist Valerie Paul studies the ways marine biochemicals can potentially help restore coral reefs and create new biomedicine

An engineer demonstrates a car phone five months before the historic first call on a competing company’s commercial mobile telephone service in 1946.

The First Mobile Phone Call Was Made 75 Years Ago

The evolution of the cell phone illustrates what it takes for technologies to go from breakthrough to big time

In work and in personal life, virtual communication kept us in touch during Covid — but oh, those endless Zoom meets! There’s psychological and sensory science behind why they wear us down, and much promise to be realized once we iron out the wrinkles.

How the Pandemic Has Revealed the Promise and Perils of Life Lived Online

For good and for bad, Covid has propelled us even faster into immersive communication technologies

Ocean creatures are noisier than scientists first thought.

Women Who Shaped History

Biologist Marie Fish Catalogued the Sounds of the Ocean for the World to Hear

Scientists once thought marine life kept quiet. Then the Navy tapped an aptly named researcher with an open mind

Father Coughlin's bully pulpit.

When Radio Stations Stopped a Public Figure From Spreading Dangerous Lies

When radio was king, many outlets chose to cease broadcasting Father Charles Coughlin's anti-Semitic sermons

Two sequential photos showing a kangaroo alternating its gaze between a box full of food it can't open and a human.

New Research

Kangaroos Communicate With Humans Like Dogs in Experiments

The study suggests people may have previously underestimated the communication abilities of other non-domesticated species

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