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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.
Drop, cover, and hold on . . . to After Dark: Earthquakes, where we’ll commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake and look ahead to the latest in earthquake preparation, safety research, and building practices. And don’t miss the return of Everything Matters, which picks up with element 41: niobium.
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.
What Past Earthquakes Tell Us About Future Earthquake Hazard: Facts & Fake Facts
With Dr. Susan Hough
7:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Earthquakes have been taking place long before the invention of the modern seismometer—but modern scientists draw on all kinds of sleuthing skills to explore available data sources and study past quakes. Let US Geological Survey seismologist Dr. Susan Hough fill you in on their work to understand past earthquakes and what they can teach us about present-day earthquake hazard, including the history of earthquakes caused by humans (spoiler: it’s not just about fracking).
Will Your Building Be Usable After an Earthquake?
With Thomas Fuller in conversation with Peggy Hellweg and Keith Porter
7:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
In a place where major earthquakes are always a threat, are the buildings we live, work, and play in...disposable? Listen in on a conversation between UC Berkeley Seismology Laboratory’s Peggy Hellweg and structural engineer and professor Keith Porter, moderated by New York Times San Francisco Bureau Chief Thomas Fuller, considering our building practices and ways in which our buildings might respond to heavy shaking—and how we might prepare for a resilient future.
Forecasting Ground Shaking from Earthquakes Using Supercomputers
With Dr. Arthur Rodgers
8:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
It’s not possible for scientists to see the future, but with advances in numerical methods and ever-improving supercomputers, scientists can discover a lot about the possible effects of major earthquakes. Join Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory seismologist Dr. Arthur Rodgers to learn about computer modeling and what it tells us about hazard and risk—particularly for the statistically imminent large quake in the East Bay.
Everything Matters: Niobium
With Ron Hipschman
8:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Iridescent, super-conductive, and historically fraught with confusion, the metal niobium is both useful and beautiful...if you can figure out what to call it. Take a shine to element 41 at Everything Matters: Niobium.
How the Gold Rush and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Enabled us to Divine our Seismic Future
With Ross Stein
8:30 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Many in the Bay Area view seismic faults with anxiety—but living in a seismically active place means taking the good with the troubling. So many things that make the Bay Area distinctive, from the Bay itself to its Gold Rush surge of growth to the signature fog, are the direct or indirect results of those very faults! Experience the history and geography of California through a seismic lens, and and see how you fit in by learning to assess your own seismic risk.
“Imminent Shaking”: What Kind of Earthquake Warning is Possible?
With Sarah Minson
9:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Many Californians are awaiting the release of ShakeAlert, an earthquake early-warning system that will provide California, Oregon, and Washington with advanced warning of potentially damaging shaking. Hopes for early warning systems are high, but the reality of what can be expected from earthquake early warning is nuanced. Get the details from United States Geological Survey research geophysicist Sarah Minson and find out how earthquake early warning systems work, how warnings are issued, and how much warning you can expect to get.
Exploratorium Earthquake Exhibits: Quake!, Soup to Solid, Tectonic Squeeze, and Earthquake Simulator
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Gallery 2
Come be a part of the Exploratorium’s exhibit development process—help us test out these earthquake-themed exhibit prototypes. We’re studying things like whether we can improve basic exhibit function, how visitors interact with the exhibits, and how effective our labels are. By using these exhibits-in progress, you can help us iterate and make them the best they can be. Thanks for your participation!
MyShake App Demonstration
With the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
What would you do if you had even a few seconds of warning before an earthquake? Test out the MyShake smartphone app, currently under development, and learn more about this early warning system from one of the teams contributing to its development.
San Francisco Fire Department NERT Program
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
How ready are you for the next big earthquake—and how ready is your community? The San Francisco Fire Department’s Neighborhood Emergency Response Team program trains civilians in emergency preparedness and response using a neighbors-helping-neighbors approach. Meet the NERT team, learn basic earthquake preparedness, and find out how you can get involved.
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
Shake Table: Design earthquake-proof structures with toothpicks, gumdrops, and uncooked spaghetti, then test them on skateboards to simulate an earthquake.
Brace Your Building: Demonstrate building sway with everyday materials. Since Loma Prieta, many buildings in the Bay Area have embraced the bracing principle to strengthen structures during an earthquake. See how it works, try different strengthening approaches, and build a building of your own.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Celebrate the recent release of writer, journalist, teacher, and cultural explorer Lawrence Weschler’s latest biographical memoir, And How Are You Dr. Sacks? A result of four years of intimate reporting on famed neurologist Oliver Sacks in the early 1980s, Weschler was granted permission to release the book shortly after Sacks’ death in 2015.
The book offers the definitive portrait of Sacks as a preeminent romantic scientist, a self-described “clinical ontologist” whose entire practice revolved around the single fundamental question he effectively asked each of his patients: How are you? Which is to say, “How do you be?”
Both author and subject shared curiosity, wit, and a brilliant ability to communicate the wonder of phenomena. Weschler and Sacks are both Exploratorium Osher Fellow Emeriti, and we are thrilled to welcome Weschler back to share his latest work.
Weschler will be available to sign copies of his book following the presentation. Copies may be purchased at the Exploratorium Store the night of the event.
Lawrence Weschler, a longtime veteran of the New Yorker magazine and a regular contributor to NPR, is the director emeritus of the New York Institute of the Humanities at NYU, and the author of nearly twenty books, including Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder, Everything That Rises, and Vermeer in Bosnia. He is an Exploratorium Osher Fellow Emeritus and gave a keynote address at the Art As a Way of Knowing conference at the Exploratorium in 2011.
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.