California Academy of Sciences
May 2004 Calendar of Events
Exhibits, Courses, Programs, and Lectures

Museum Opening
875 Howard Street Open May 1
Grand Opening Saturday, June 19

The California Academy of Sciences will open to the public Saturday, May 1 for preview days. During preview days visitors may view natural history exhibits including Ants: Hidden Worlds Revealed and Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme. In addition, visitors may view the development of Steinhart Aquarium's new home. One of the assets of the Academy at Howard Street is the inside-out design of the aquarium. This design allows visitors to view the complex life-support systems that are necessary to run an aquarium. Over the course of the preview period, visitors can get those "behind-the-scenes" sneak peeks as Steinhart literally comes to life. Then on Saturday, June 19, all are invited to celebrate the Academy's grand opening at 875 Howard Street.

Exhibit Opening
ANTS: Hidden Worlds Revealed
Open Saturday, May 1
Audiences everywhere are ANTicipating the arrival of the fANTastic new natural history exhibit at 875 Howard Street - ANTS: Hidden Worlds Revealed. Curated by Academy entomologist Brian Fisher, this exciting exhibit will showcase six colonies of live ants, each of which will display distinctive nest building and food collecting behaviors. Four of the species represented - Harvester Ants, Carpenter Ants, Honey Pot Ants, and invasive Argentine Ants - are commonly found in California. The other two species, however, come from further a field. Leaf Cutter ants, (pictured at left) which cultivate gardens of fungus in order to ensure a steady food supply, make their home in the tropical rainforests of South America, while meat eating Army ants migrate through parts of Africa and the Americas in search of prey. Each of the six live ant colonies will offer visitors the chance to look inside the chambers and tunnels of the ants' nests and watch them forage for food.

Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme
Open Saturday, May 1
What is life? How do we study it? Where is it found on Earth? And does it exist elsewhere in the Universe? To identify the types of environments that would be capable of supporting life beyond our own planet, astrobiologists must study the limits of life here on Earth. They do this by researching extreme environments, such as thermal springs and hydrothermal vents (geysers on the ocean floor), that host hardy living organisms. Both of these types of extreme environments will be explored in the Academy's new exhibit Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme. Astrobiology is an exciting new scientific discipline that combines the traditional fields of astronomy, biology, geology, chemistry, and physics to address a vast topic: the study of life in the Universe. The Academy is delving into this compelling new field by creating an exhibit for its 875 Howard Street location titled Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme.

The Evolution of Human Skin Coloration
Special Lecture with Nina Jablonski, Ph.D., Irvine Chair & Curator, Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences
Though human skin is not preserved in the fossil record and we have little direct evidence of its evolution, it has long been recognized that the distribution of skin colors among native peoples is not random. New evidence from the fields of epidemiology and physiology, analyzed in conjunction with remotely-sensed environmental data, clearly indicates that the worldwide pattern of human skin color is a product of natural selection acting to regulate the penetration of ultraviolet radiation into the skin. The level of melanin pigmentation in human skin represents a compromise between the demands of photo protection and vitamin D synthesis, both of which are essential for survival and successful reproduction.

Thursday, April 29, 7:30 pm; $8; For tickets, call the JCCSF Box Office at (415) 292-1233 or e-mail Tickets may be purchased at the door when available.

Empire of the Ants
Brian Fisher, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator, Department of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences
Explore the fascinating world of ants through the scientist's eyes whose work led to the new ANTS exhibit at the Academy's Howard Street facility. ANTS: Hidden Worlds Revealed features a live Army ant colony that is the first of its kind and size to be housed outside of the tropics. In addition to being one of the most aggressive insect species, with the ability to hunt down and devour prey, the Army ant also has a magnificent capacity for social cooperation. Join Fisher as he shares the adventures of procuring the colony from Trinidad and the challenges inherent in housing a colony of 500,000 to 2 million ants that requires an estimated 3,000 crickets a day for food.

Monday, May 17, 2 & 7:30 pm; Zeum Theater; Free to members, $4 Zeum members, $8 non-members; Tickets may be purchased at the door.

Finding Aliens
Seth Shostak, Ph.D., SETI Institute
Efforts to discover other thinking species in the cosmos have not yet succeeded, but novel approaches and new equipment may soon provide proof of such sentient beings. How are researchers planning to broaden reconnaissance for intelligence elsewhere, and what may be the consequences of such a discovery?

Monday, May 10, 7:30-9 pm; Jewish Community Center of San Francisco; $3; Tickets may be purchased by calling (415) 750-7145, or at the door, when available.

City Arts & Lectures, INC. Presents
California Academy of Sciences
Conversations at the Herbst Theatre 2004

Paul Ekman, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, UC San Francisco
In conversation with Nina Jablonski, Ph.D.
Wednesday, April 28, 8 p.m. $18

Diane Ackerman, Naturalist, Poet
An Alchemy of Mind, Cultivating Delight A Natural History of the Senses
In conversation with Angie Coiro
Wednesday, May 26, 8 p.m. $18

The Annual Claire Matzger Lilienthal Distinguished Lecturer
Julie Gerberding, M.D. Director, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
In conversation with Paul Volberding, M.D.
Wednesday, June 2, 8 p.m. $18

To order tickets, please call City Box Office at (415) 392-4400 or visit
California Academy of Sciences does not process ticket orders for these lectures.
This series is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

In collaboration with the Asian Cultural Center in Oakland's Chinatown, the California Academy of Sciences celebrates Asian Pacific Heritage Month with two traditional art presentations. These programs take place at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. For directions and information, call (510) 637-0455 or visit their Web site at Admission to all Oakland Asian Cultural Center programs are free to the public.

Tongan Textiles and Asian Cultures Saturday, May 8, noon-4 pm - Artists from the local Tongan community demonstrate the ancient process of making tapa cloth (ngatu) - a textile created by pounding thin layers of mulberry tree bark with wooden mallets and painting the surface with typical Tongan designs. Other activities scheduled during the afternoon include: Polynesian food; Chinese music and calligraphy; the art of carving vegetables into animal and plant shapes; photographic exhibits on Asian immigration in California; seminars on Asian cultures; and classes on tai chi and feng shui.

Rarotonga Cultural Traditions Saturday, May 15, 4 pm - The Cook Islands Maori Cultural Society performs music and dance from Rarotonga. The program opens with rhythmic chants, followed by a drum dance (ura pau) and an action song (kapa rima). Instruments include wooden drums and slit gongs (pate), bongos (pau mango), bass drum (pau), conch shell (pu), and strings (ukarere). The program ends with audience participation.


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