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Free for After Dark Members
Adults Only (18+)
Note: The Tactile Dome and some programs have limited capacity and are available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lose yourself in over 650 interactive exhibits exploring perception, art, and science at our adults-only After Dark. Grab your friends and a drink and get immersed in mind-bending experiences and unique, thought-provoking programs.
Everyone knows that Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation puts on a good show, but what else can it do? This 60-year-old technology started out as “a solution looking for a problem,” but it continues to enable scientific breakthroughs in communication, medicine, and observations of events light-years away. Focus on the history of LASERs along with live demonstrations of their potential and power to wow. Plus, aim your LASER focus on the cultivation and delicious uses of one of California's key crops at Pairings: Grapes.
Full-Spectrum Science: Lasers
With Ron Hipschman
7:00 and 8:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
In 1960, the laser was known as “a solution looking for a problem.” Now we can hardly imagine life without them. Learn what’s special about laser light, how it’s made, and how it’s used in everything from DVD players to eye surgery to fusion energy research. Join Exploratorium scientist Ron Hipschman for colorful explorations of the physical world at Full-Spectrum Science.
With Jerrel KeyAuthor, Anita Oberholster, and Clay Reynolds
7:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Note: To reserve a seat and something to eat, pick up free tickets onsite at the Observatory starting at 6:00 p.m. Seating is limited to 120.
From lunchboxes to fine wines, grapes offer practically endless variations of flavor, texture, and use potential. Discover the wide world of grape varietals and unusual ways to prepare them—carbonated, pickled, and dried into raisins—with Exploratorium chef Jerrel KeyAuthor. Join Dr. Anita Oberholster for the latest research on increased wildfires and their impact on the West Coast’s wine grape-growing regions. And follow beverage guru Clay Reynolds back to the Gold Rush for a history (and a taste) of Pisco Punch, the San Francisco cocktail that “tastes like lemonade, but comes back with the kick of a roped steer.”
With Cinema Arts
7:00 and 9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
LaserImage, by Ivan Dryer (1972, 11 min.)
You may know Ivan Dryer as the originator of commercial laser light shows, but before that fateful time, he was an aspiring filmmaker. In the early 1970s, Dryer partnered with Dr. Elsa Garmire, a California Institute of Technology physicist, to create an hour-long show for the Griffith Observatory Planetarium in Los Angeles. As a pitch, Dryer shot LaserImage, an 11-minute 16mm film that attempted to capture the beauty and fluidity of laser lights. Shooting against a black background, he filmed colorful laser lights and synchronized their movement to instrumental music, and gave us the laser light show we know today. Don’t miss this groundbreaking moment in film.
Laser Image: The Origin Story of Laserium
With Kathleen Maguire
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Arts programmer and archivist Kathleen Maguire shines a light on the groovy history of the seminal laser light show, Laserium. Beginning with an experimental collaboration between filmmaker Ivan Dryer and physicist Dr. Elsa Garmire on a short film, the laser light show leapt from the movie screen to a large-scale, visual-musical spectacle that revolutionized planetarium attractions in the 1970s. Learn the history of the laser light show though its colorful ephemera and the first-hand experiences of the staff who helped support it.
Laser Lights and Metamaterials
With Jay Lofy
9:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Cloaking and bending the speed of light isn’t science fiction—it’s possible here and now. Learn about photonics and metamaterials that can reverse the speed of light and offer insight into the nature of time. Explore this new world of solid-state physics and laser light with Exploratorium Explainer Jay Lofy.
Laser Table Demo
With the Explainers
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3 Demo Station
Unlike other light sources, lasers emit light of exactly one color, or wavelength. Take aim at the singular science of lasers through an interactive demonstration involving prisms, plexiglass, mirrors, and fog.
Pulsed Laser Holograms
By Eric Leiser
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
Pulsed holography is a rare yet hallowed form of holography that allows the capture of movement that is higher-resolution than the eye can see. Join artist Eric Leiser to experience a selection of his evocative ruby pulsed emission holograms.
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Light Lab
Croon a tune, croak like a frog, hum, hoot, or holler—you don't need to be Pavarotti to transform laser light into dazzling shapes and patterns with the power of your voice. Let Exploratorium educators introduce you to the Vocal Visualizer and teach you how to make your own concert of shapes and colors.
Osher Gallery 1
Journey through total darkness in this twisting, turning, tactile sculpture. Walk, crawl, climb, and slide your way through a wonderland of textures using only your sense of touch as a guide.
Please Note: Due to the nature of this experience, certain restrictions apply. Guests who are afraid of the dark; claustrophobic; have back, neck, or knee injuries; or are in their third trimester of pregnancy should not participate. Guests wearing casts are prohibited. Also, please wear comfortable clothes.
You can reserve tickets for our 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. sessions. We also operate drop-in, first-come, first-served sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.; tickets can be purchased at the Information Desk.
Learn more about the Tactile Dome.
6:00–9:45 unless noted
Various locations throughout the museum
Ticketing at 6:00 p.m., first come, first served
Osher Gallery 1
Draw hypnotically flowing patterns with a swinging table, and watch friction cause the patterns to slowly shrink along a spiral path. Pick up a ticket to reserve your spot in line for this popular activity.
Bechtel Gallery 3
Tune in to surrounding sounds by experimenting with strings and vibrations, and use electromagnets to build a basic speaker. Learn how to listen with your bones, and explore the workings of the inner ear.
Van de Graaff Generator
With the Explainers
Bechtel Gallery 3
Get ready to have your hair stand on end (literally). Experience our electrostatic generator firsthand—with high-voltage direct-current electricity turned down to low current levels, our Van de Graaff generator both will, and won’t, shock you. Please keep your hands on the sphere until our Explainers tell you to let go!
Cow Eye or Flower Dissection (alternating)
Do cows see color? How does a lens work? Examine the intricate structure of a cow eye to learn about similar structures in our own eyes, as well as some key differences.
Stigma, stamen, pistil, anther, style: Uncover the beautiful architecture of flower anatomy, and gather some surprising strategies that plants use to reproduce.
Osher Gallery 1
Everything is not as it seems—at first. Pick a card, any card, and watch the Explainers reveal some surprising aspects of human perception.