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Adults Only (18+)
Note: The Tactile Dome and some programs have limited capacity. Entry to the Tactile Dome requires separate admission.
Watch science come to light at After Dark. Light brings energy and color to our world, and photonics is the study of how it’s generated and the varied ways it can be modulated, amplified, and detected. Learn about industrial applications through LASER and fiber optics as well as the manipulation of single photons and visual spectacles designed to delight the eyes.
Lose yourself in thought-provoking programs and mind-bending experiences at adults-only After Dark Thursdays—including more than 650 interactive exhibits exploring perception, art, and science. Grab some friends, stash your stuff in our musical lockers, get a drink at one of our pop-up bars or food at Seaglass Restaurant, and start exploring. You may find that things look different after dark.
Full-Spectrum Science: Light
With Ron Hipschman
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Why do things give off light? There are many ways to make light, and all of them involve exciting atoms and molecules in some way. Join Exploratorium physicist Ron Hipschman to investigate some of the more colorful ways to make things glow. Using electricity, heat, and light, he’ll conduct a variety of demonstrations to illuminate the electromagnetic spectrum.
Biofutures: Brain Organoids from the Lab
With Alysson Muotri
8:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Using stem cells—like those found in our earliest embryonic selves—scientists have learned to grow miniature brain-like structures, called brain organoids. How similar are organoids to a real human brain, and what can we do with them? So far, scientists have seen brain organoids send signals in coordinated patterns that look somewhat like the brain waves in a fetus. Join a conversation with leading organoid researcher Alysson Muotri to explore how brain organoids might help us study human brain disorders and the very earliest stages of brain development.
Biofutures is a six-part series of conversations with leading experts in the field exploring how emerging bioscience technologies are changing our world.
With Desiré Whitmore
9:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
You’ve seen LASERs shoot through the air—but what about in water? Come learn about the index of refraction and the speed of light in different materials with Exploratorium senior physics educator Desiré Whitmore.
100 watts, 120 volts
With Cinema Arts
6:00–7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
100 watts, 120 volts (Caron Davidson, 1977, 10 min.) The mechanized production of Duro-Test lightbulbs is filmed as a dance to the tune of the Brandenburg Concertos as choreographed filaments, glass, and metal combine in a dynamic, illuminated ballet.
With the Cubatron Core
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
Our massive seasonal chandelier is back! Test out the calming effects of light stimulation and color therapy underneath this tremendous, torus-shaped sculpture by artist Mark Lottor. Twenty-six feet in diameter and eighteen feet high, Cubatron Core is made of 3,840 individually controllable RGB LEDs. Take this special opportunity to lie underneath it, with an option to explode the optics with special specs.
Light Bulb Demo
With The Explainers
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Demo Station
What makes a light bulb light up? Learn how this 140-year-old invention has illuminated our homes for so many years, and yet is still being updated with new technologies. Put your hands on a variety of bulbs, see the color spectrums they emit, and even try constructing your own.
Phenomenal Photons: A Self-Guided Exhibit Tour
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Various locations
These essential exhibits are highlights of the Exploratorium collection. Take the time to play and discover astounding phenomena—you won’t see light the same way again. Tour handouts are available as you enter the museum.
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Classroom 1606
Light is essential. It grows our food, defines our days and nights, and helps us navigate through the world. But did you know the properties of light can also allow us to measure things? Come use a red laser light to measure the width of your hair.
Osher Gallery 1
$10; not included with museum admission
Buy Tactile Dome Tickets
You can also purchase tickets for these sessions on-site at the Information Desk as well as for later sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.
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 sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.; tickets can be purchased on-site 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.