Get Ready for Thursday Night Fun at the California Academy of Sciences, Starting Feb 12, 2009

Just as Golden Gate Park‘s de Young Museum has a Friday night program, next-door-neighbor California Academy of Sciences will soon have a Thursday night program. It’s called “nightlife,” get it?

Now, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum‘s approach to after-hours is wide-ranging, with some parts being very family/kid friendly. But evenings at the CAS will be for adults 18 and up only. Rather more Stolichnaya, Banco de Gaia, with a DJ here and a DJ there. As they say on their website:

No strollers!”

Well, O.K. then. The whole shebang starts off on February 12th, 2009, so mark your calendars. Read more about it below and, after the jump, learn about EVOLVE 2009 and the celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. It’s going to be mega.

You’ve seen the rolling hills up on the roof of the world-famous California Academy of Sciences. Click to expand:

Now here they are in the not-so-serious moonlight:

See you there!

Every Thursday night, beginning on February 12, the Academywill transform into a lively venue filled with provocative science, music, mingling, and cocktails, as visitors get a chance to explore the museum at night.  NightLife events run from 6-10pm, and are open to adults ages 18 and up.
Entertainment and a bar stocked with food and drinks available for purchase will be set up in a given area of the museum each week.  The location of the bar and entertainment will rotate on a regular basis, placing the pulse of the party in different locations throughout the year. Visitors will be able to explore the rest of the Academy’s exhibits as well – from the fish, snakes and other creatures in the aquarium, to the dioramas and live penguins in African Hall. 
Engaging science programming and activities at each event will introduce visitors to cutting edge research in an informal, social environment.  The focus of that content will rotate quarterly– the themes in 2009 are Evolution, Sustainability, Climate Change & Space, and Explorers.  Activities will vary week to week and include informal talks by scientists, stargazing, screenings, opportunities to meet aquarium animals, and more.  Event-specific details are available at
NightLife Basics
What:   NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences
Featuring music, cutting-edge science, and food and cocktails available for purchase
NightLife is for adults ages 18 and over
When:  Every Thursday 6-10 pm
February 12 – October 29, 2009
Where: California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
Cost:    $10 per person ($8 for Academy members)
            Tickets available at the door or online at 
Details: Visit for a schedule of upcoming events, and to subscribe to the
NightLife email list.
February’s NightLife Events
February 12
NightLife Celebrates Darwin with Om Records, plus a conversation withKeith Thomson
Come to NightLife’s premier on Thursday, February 12th in celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200thbirthday, and the launch of EVOLVE 2009 – San Francisco’s celebration of the Darwin anniversaries.   DJ Fluid and J-Boogie from Om records are on the turntables, snakes are circulating for you to meet, and Darwin’s Carnival presents an adult spin on evolution.  Get the insidescoop on the young Charles Darwin during an informal talk by renowned natural history professor Keith Thomson. Details and tickets at
Keith Thompson conversation is at 7:30.  Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
February 19
DJ Aaron Pope, plus a conversation with author John Frederick Walker
NightLife’ssecond installment features the Academy’s own DJ Aaron Pope – environmentalist by day, DJ by night.  Come enjoy a cocktail and befriend a leafy sea dragon, or soar through the Universe in the world’s largest all-digital planetarium.   The featured speaker for the evening is John Fredrick Walker, presenting his book Ivory Ghosts, an examination of how elephants are threatened by the ivory trade. Details and tickets at
John Fredrick Walker conversation is at 7:30.  Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
February 26
DJ Smiley, plus a screening and conversation with Dave Kavanaugh and Sean Schoville
This week, the fun continues with the sounds of DJ Smiley–resident at Levende Lounge, Supperclub, and other San Francisco favorites.  Along with the music and libations, KQED’s cutting-edge QUEST series will show clips exploring science, the environment, and nature in Northern California.  World traveler and Academy scientist Dave Kavanaugh and QUEST expert Sean Schoville will discuss the search for the elusive ice beetle. Details and tickets at
Ice beetle conversation is at 7:30.  Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
The California Academy of Sciences is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, and world-class research and education programs—all under one living roof. Admission to the Academy is: $24.95 for adults; $19.95 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students withvalid ID; $14.95 for children ages 7 to 11; and free for children ages six and younger. The Academy is free to the public on the third Wednesday of each month. Admission fees include all exhibits and shows. Hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pmon Sunday. The Academy is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  (415) 379-8000.


“EVOLVE 2009” Events at the California Academy of Sciences
In addition to the scheduled programs below, visitors to the Academy will have the opportunity to take a special cell-phone-based audio tour beginning February 12 that highlights examples of evolution in action. Featuring more than a dozen stops throughout the museum, the tour will include classic evidence of evolution as well as new discoveries.


    “EVOLVE 2009” Kick-Off Party
    Thursday, February 12
    6:00 – 10:00 pm

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth by exploring the Academy’s Islands of Evolution exhibit while sipping cocktails and grooving to the beat of an Om Records DJ. Academy scientists will be on hand to show off research specimens that illustrate evolutionary concepts, and biologists will offer party-goers the chance to touch a snake or learn more about the Academy’s African penguins. At 7:00 pm, Keith Thomson of the University of Oxford will present an informal talk, “Who was Charles Darwin?”
Tickets are $8 for Academy members, $10 for the public.


Applications and Influence of Evolution: A Wide Spectrum
Lecture by Dr. David Mindell, Dean of Science and Research, California Academy of Sciences
Tuesday, February 10
12:15 and 6:30 pm

Dr. Mindell will discuss the broad applications of evolutionary science, from public health to forensics to conservation, based in part on his recent book, The Evolving World. Learn how evolution has grown from an unpopular curiosity to a set of concepts that are useful to society.
Free for Academy members, $10 for non-member adults, $8 for non-member seniors. To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


The Young Charles Darwin: Where Did He Get His Ideas?
Lecture by Keith Thomson, Professor Emeritus of Natural History, University of Oxford
Thursday, February 12
12:15 pm

How and when did Darwin actually form his revolutionary ideas? How did a quiet 27-year-old, who had been isolated for five years on a voyage around the world, develop the most provocative idea of the past 200 years? The concept of natural selection did not suddenly come to him one day in the bath (the way Archimedes supposedly discovered the phenomenon of specific gravity). In this lecture, find out how Darwin created his theory during a period of intellectual and social turmoil.
Free for Academy members, $10 for non-member adults, $8 for non-member seniors. To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


Patagonia and the Pampas: Darwin in Southern South America
Lecture by Dr. Gary Williams, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, California Academy of Sciences
Tuesday, February 17
12:15 pm

More than half of Charles Darwin’s book, The Voyage of the Beagle, refers to southern South America. From 1832 to 1835, Darwin traveled extensively in the Pampas and Patagonia. Williams will present a natural history of the region based on his own excursions over two decades, which follow Darwin’s historic travels.
Free with Academy admission. To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


Leaping Lizards! Charles Darwin Explores the Galápagos
Lecture by Dr. Terry Gosliner, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, California Academy of Sciences
Tuesday, February 24
12:15 pm

During this talk, Gosliner will provide an accurate portrayal of how Darwin’s visit to the Galápagos shaped his ideas on evolution by means of natural selection. Popular mythology has distorted Darwin’s immediate impressions of the Galápagos and their role in shaping his ideas about evolution. The Galápagos were an important influence, but not in the way depicted in most biology textbooks and popular culture.
Free with Academy admission. To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


Charles Darwin and the Heyday of Natural History
Lecture by John Dillon, History of Science Lecturer, University Extensions at Berkeley, SF State, and Stanford University
Tuesday, March 3
12:15 pm

Never has the status of science and scientists been held in higher esteem and never has the public taken a greater personal interest in natural history than in the mid-19th century when Charles Darwin was developing his revolutionary insights. During this heyday, no middle-class home was without its display of sea shells, butterflies, or stuffed birds—the home aquarium became fashionable, nature guides were bestsellers, and the first dinosaur theme park was built. Most of today’s great public science museums, including the California Academy of Sciences, were founded amid this enchantment with natural history. Dillon will examine the irony of how Darwin’s work was nurtured by this heyday, yet hastened its demise.
Free with Academy admission.  To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


Collecting Evolution: The Untold Story of Darwin’s Vindication by the 1905-06 Galapagos Expedition of the California Academy of Sciences
Lecture by Dr. Matthew James, Professor of Paleontology, Sonoma State University
Tuesday, March 10
12:15 pm

The 89-foot schooner Academy set sail in June 1905 and collected some 75,000 biological specimens from the Galapagos over 17 months. James will examine the historical background of the expedition, the lives of the scientists on board, why Darwin went to the Galapagos in 1835 on board the HMS Beagle, and the lasting significance of the 1905-06 expedition today with regards to species conservation and DNA studies.
Free with Academy admission.  To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000.


Darwin, Dover and Intelligent Design
Lecture by Dr. Kevin Padian, Professor and Curator, UC Berkeley
Tuesday, March 31
12:15 and 6:30 pm

During this lecture, Padian will discuss his appearance as an expert witness in the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover case, in which the court ruled that intelligent design could not be taught in public school science classes.
Free for Academy members, $10 for non-member adults, $8 for non-member seniors. To reserve a seat, call 415-379-8000

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