“Touch Me” Postgame Report

TouchMe_robotarm_v2Last night, BAASICS had the pleasure of supporting our friends at The Berkeley Science Review with their terrific “Touch Me” program at the David Brower Center. “Touch Me” was part of the 2013 Bay Area Science Festival (BASF), and the program was provided with logistical and moral support from Kishore Hari and a number of BASF volunteers.

Kirsten Sanford, better known as Dr. Kiki, conducted late-night-show-style interviews with PhD candidates Lydia Thé (UC Berkeley), Benjamin Tee (Stanford), and Daniel Cordaro (UC Berkeley), as well as with Kal Spelletich (independent artist, roboticist, and self-described “crackpot”). Dr. Kiki did a wonderful job, balancing questions about the scientists’ research with good humor and inquiries that personalized the science in a way that made it accessible for all audience members, regardless of one’s scientific grounding.

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Dr. Kiki interviews Lydia Thé

The researchers also provided plenty of color. Thé had collaborated with Georgeann Sack, Berkeley Science Review Outreach Director and the main force behind “Touch Me,” and Kyle Jay, a graduate student at UCSF, to choreograph an interpretive dance demonstrating the molecular workings of touch with good humor and great style. Cordaro enlisted Dr. Kiki and an enthusiastic volunteer from the audience for an onstage experiment demonstrating how touch communicates emotions. Spelletich shared a video he’d recently made using some of Tee’s touch-sensitive electronic skin to set off a flame cannon.

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LegoScope Table

Following the theater portion of the program, the crowd poured out into the Brower Center’s Hazel Wolf Gallery for a reception featuring a host of Spelletich’s inventions (including a hugging machine), a table of LegoScopes with which guests could examine mutant worms that are unresponsive to touch stimulus, a chance to participate in Cordaro’s emotion-through-touch experiment, sichuan-infused cocktails that made your mouth go numb, and “Yeast Meets West” beer (brewed by scientist-cum-brewer Bryan Hermannson of Pacific Brewing Laboratory).

The evening was a blast, and BAASICS is thrilled to have been a part of it. We’ve included a selection of photographs taken during the event just below.

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A volunteer and Dr. Kiki prepare for experiment demonstrating how emotion may be communicated through touch

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Venus flytrap (a touch-responsive plant!) and some education about a tasty beverage

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“Touch Me” guests play with Kal Spelletich’s touch-sensitive inventions

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A robot handshake had by a “Touch Me” guest

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A guest participates in Daniel Cordaro’s emotion-through-touch experiment

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Another guest participates in Cordaro’s emotion-through-touch experiment

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The popular LegoScopes in action

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Sichuan-infused cocktail recipes

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Kal Spelletich’s shot pouring machine

Image credits: BAASICS staff photos

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