After Dark: Transformations

Thursday, September 5, 2013 | 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15

$15 General; $10 Members; Free for Lab Members

Note: A ticket to Thursday evening adult-only hours does not guarantee admission to special programs with limited seating. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Explore the power of change and the elegant ways our world grows and evolves at After Dark: Transformations.

Many of nature’s transformations, such as caterpillars turning into butterflies, are easy to see. But taking a closer look reveals that myriad processes are constantly at work transforming matter from one state to another in ways you might not notice.

Transform your own reality with Light Orchestra where every move you make is reflected in 1,250 lighting pixels. Watch special effects make-up artist, Jordan Plath, transform a face, or watch Bernie Peyton, wildlife biologist and origami artist, transform flat paper into polar bears or foxes. Staff physicist extraordinaire Paul Doherty will demonstrate Fourier Transforms, and there will be films and talks about evolution as well as a special screening of A Trip Down Market Street (1906 & 2005) showing how our own city has changed in 100 years.

Transform your Thursday into a night like no other at After Dark: Transformations.

Schedule of Events:


GMOs: Micro-Transformations, Macro Changes with the ucsf iGem team
East Gallery
6:30–9:30 p.m.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in the news. Synthetic biology as a technology is growing in importance, transforming biology, technology, medicine, energy production, and agriculture.

Tonight, join some young scientists who are part of this revolution. instead of reading a mystery novel at the beach, these students spent the summer in the uCSF lab of Wendell lim, ph.D., learning about synthetic biology and building GMOs. Before they run off to college, they’ll show us how biologists use the machinery within individual cells to engineer tiny solutions to big problems.


Transformation of the Face with Jordan Plath, Special Effects Make-Up Artist
West Gallery
6:00–9:00 p.m.

Ever wonder how films transform actors and actresses into monsters, fairies, and other phantasmagorical beings? Join special-effects make-up artist Jordan plath as he works his craft, transforming a volunteer over the course of the evening from his natural human state into an entirely different beast.


Paper-Folding with Bernie Peyton, Origami Artist
Central Gallery
6:30–9:30 p.m.

Origami is a transformative art. Starting with flat paper, doing nothing more than folding, you transform it into magical creations. The origami animals that artist Bernie peyton creates look ready to jump off the table. Tonight he’ll show you how to bring your own square of colored paper to life in just 15 minutes.


Light Orchestra by Ka-Ping Yee (Ping) and Benjamin James
Central Gallery
6:00–10:00 p.m.

The Light Orchestra is a visual instrument you command with your body. As you wave, gesture, or dance, a 20-foot wall of more than 1,000 full-color lights responds to your motion. A small movement creates a flickering change; a sweeping motion throws a brilliant fountain of color.


Discover Your Inner Fishy-Ness! with Charlie Carlson
Kanbar Forum
7:30 p.m.

Your body holds many fishy features, evidence of a connection to our species’ distant past. Over the course of 375 million years, time and error transformed ancient fish into the human beings of today. Our familiar body parts—teeth, senses, limbs—retain surprising traces of their origins. This talk will trace their development back to their beginnings in the piscine body, or even earlier. it's a story of genes, cells, and the environment operating in concert, mutating and changing to give life its marvelous complexity.


Metamorphosis! with Karen Kalumuck
Kanbar Forum
9:00 p.m.

How does an earthbound, black-and-yellow striped caterpillar transform into the regal Monarch butterfly? in this presentation, we'll look at the hidden cellular processes that occur inside the chrysalis and discover how metamorphosis informs our knowledge of human development. Special surprise guests will illuminate the process first-hand!


Regelation—Cutting Ice into One
Outdoor Gallery
6:00–10:00 p.m.

The magic of this enigmatic sculpture, inspired by a similar installation by local artist Peter Richards, is revealed over the course of the evening. A block of ice, suspended in the air, is encircled by a single strand of wire. From the wire hangs a motorcycle. As the weight of the motorcycle pulls on the wire, the wire slowly cuts through the ice, sinking down through the block. But as it goes, bear witness—the wire’s passage leaves no slice behind! When the wire finally cuts entirely through the ice and the motorcycle drops to the floor, the ice block will remain in one solid piece.


Fourier Transforms: Music, Earthquakes, and Quantum Mechanics with Paul Doherty
Bay Observatory Gallery
8:00 p.m.

Joseph Fourier transformed time into frequency: he found out how to extract the frequency components from any signal that changes over time. using the Fourier transform, the sound of a musical instrument or a human voice can be transformed into its frequency spectrum, illuminating the nature of the music.

Earthquakes, too, can be transformed into frequency spectrums, which can be used to predict the effects of earthquakes on buildings. Finally, we may find out how the Fourier transform in quantum mechanics relates to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.



Explorable Activities
Bay Observatory Terrace
6:30–9:30 p.m.

Ooobleck—Ooobleck, also called “ooze,” is a kitchen-table example of a non-newtonian fluid. Such fluids don’t flow like you’d expect. Ooobleck, is a suspension of cornstarch in water, takes its name from the Dr. Seuss book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Winogradsky column—A Winogradsky column, a simple device for culturing a large diversity of microorganisms, was invented in the 1880s by Sergei Winogradsky. See how a mix of unlikely materials—pond mud and water along with such sources of carbon and sulfur as newspaper, blackened marshmallows, eggshells, and egg yolk—give rise to a bloom of colorful life.



A Trip Down Market Street 1906/2005
(1906/2005 10 min.)
South Corner Windows of Pier 15
6:00–9:00 p.m

Just weeks before the 1906 earthquake, the Miles Brothers filmed a trolley ride down Market Street. The architecture, transportation, and residents of San Francisco's main drag are all documented in this time capsule of history. Almost 100 years later, Melinda Stone recorded the same journey in full color and HD video. Over that time, what's changed in the landscape is almost as breathtaking as what remains.


A Trip Down Market Street 1906/2005, interactive version
Bay Observatory Gallery
6:00–8:00 p.m. and 9:00–10:00 p.m.

In this interactive presentation, viewers can jump to any of four time periods on Market Street.


Cosmic Clock (1985, 2 min.)
New Media Window
6:00–10:00 p.m.

Animator Al Jarnow takes us into the future of the Earth and all its transformations as each second on a clock ticks through millions of years.


Video shorts
West Gallery, Mind Cinema
6:00–10:00 p.m.

Love & Theft (2010, 7 min.)
This Andreas Hykade video is an ever-morphing parade of cartoon faces—some familiar, all grotesque.

Glass (1958, 10 min.)
This video by Bert haanstra is an Academy–Award-winning short that captures the tensions and humor between factory-made glass bottles and the artistry of blown-glass vessels.

Looney Lens Series (1924, 4 min.)
Al Brick uses a fish-eye lens to play with the distortions of the body created in its reflection.