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$15 General; $10 Members; Free for Lab Members; $10 Add-On Ticket for the Tactile Dome Available for Purchase Onsite
Adults Only (18+)
Note: Some programs have limited seating and will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Come be in your elements with Exploratorium host and scientific raconteur Ron Hipschman. Follow tales of intrigue and invention, join in dynamic demonstrations, and uncover fascinating connections between individual elements and our collective human experience.
Learn more about the series, Everything Matters: Tales from the Periodic Table.
All flash and no fire, noble neon lights up streets at night with its distinctive red glow. Hear the story of its discovery, and learn its unique place among the elements. See how glass artist Ed Kirshner creates his elegant and mesmerizing plasma sculptures, and meet photographers Randall Ann Homan and Al Barna, creators of San Francisco Neon, who will sign copies of their new book in conjunction with the event. In addition, learn about four new elements recently confirmed by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAC) from your inimitable host, Ron Hipschman.
“The blaze of crimson light from the tube told its own story and was a sight to dwell upon and never forget… For the moment, the actual spectrum of the gas did not matter in the least, for nothing in the world gave a glow such as we had seen.” —Morris Travers
Neon is normally odorless and colorless, reacting with no one, not even itself. Abundant in the universe, uncommon on Earth, it drifts aloof from any bond. When isolated by Sir William Ramsay and Morris Travers inside a vacuum tube in 1898, the noble gas betrayed its excitement in brilliant red. That excitement, glowing within Georges Claude’s ingeniously curved lamps since 1923, has captured our imaginations ever since.
As cities filled with letters of “liquid fire,” neon gained a glamorous aura. Handcrafted glass tubes were painstakingly bent, coated with phosphor, and filled with mixtures of neon, argon, and mercury to provide a palette beyond that signature red. Named new (fr. Greek, néos), neon seemed to confer its luster to the ads it illuminated. Nonetheless, neon signs fell behind the times, and grew synonymous with tawdry entertainments and urban neglect. Yet in today’s age of LEDs, neon’s reputation is renewed—as vintage vamp.
Take an excursion through total darkness in our Tactile Dome. Crawl, slide, and bump your way through the pitch-dark Dome using your sense of touch as your only guide through its chambers and mazes.
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.
Learn more about the Tactile Dome.