Blog Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Proof debuts at The Interval
Photo by Adam Rogers

The earliest evidence of a deliberately made alcoholic drink comes from a 10,000 year old piece of Chinese pottery. Lab tests revealed traces of a fermented mixture of rice honey and fruit. It would have been hard to mix those ingredients and keep it from fermenting.

Adam Rogers has held that shard of pottery in his hand and made an eminent archaeologist nervous in the process. He tells that story and many more in his new book Proof: The Science of Booze which tells the ten-millennia story of alcohol history from Yeast to Hangover.

Adam Rogers Speaks at The Interval
Photo by Alexander Rose

Long Now was honored to host the launch of Proof this week for the first salon talk at The Interval, our new bar and cafe. We are not yet open to the public, but we knew this was the perfect way to debut The Interval as a venue for smaller talks to complement our ongoing Seminar series.

If you missed his talk here, Bay Area folks can see him speak tonight (Thursday, May 29) at California Academy of Sciences’ “Chemical Reactions” NightLife event. Adam will also be talking about Proof in a few cities around the country including June 4th in Washington DC, on June 5th in New York City, and in Los Angeles (TBA).

Adam Rogers, author of Proof: The Science of Booze
Photo by Celine Mikahala Grouard

An experienced science journalist and great storyteller, Adam is the articles editor at Wired, and he also knows his booze. In fact his knowledge of the local spirits and bar scene have been invaluable to Long Now as we planned and built The Interval.

It was Adam’s recommendation that led us to Jennifer Colliau who designed and runs The Interval’s bar. And Adam connected us with St George Spirits who helped us make some very special whiskey and gin which have helped us raise construction funds for The Interval.

You’ll find the full story of Long Now’s Bristlecone Gin in Proof, learn about an alternate reality where Americans drink saki rather than whiskey, and learn more science than you knew existed about hangovers. Adam first began this line of boozy writing in 02011 when he wrote an award-winning story about a whisky fungus.

Reception for the book so far has been very positive:

Adam Rogers writes masterfully and gracefully about all the sciences that swirl around spirits, from the biology of a hangover to the paleontology of microbes that transform plant juices into alcohol. A book to be savored and revisited.
— Carl Zimmer, author of A Planet of Viruses former Long Now speaker

Reading Proof feels just like you’re having a drink with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic friend. —Adam Savage, host of MythBusters

Congratulations to Adam and here’s to the continued success of Proof. It was wonderful to celebrate it and The Interval’s debut together.

Adam Rogers launches Proof at The Interval
Photo by Alexander Rose

The Interval at Long Now is an intimate event venue that serves coffee, tea, beer, wine, and sensational cocktails in a time-themed menu. The Interval opens for regular hours in June, and will host a few salon talks each month, more events will be announced soon.

Explore Urban Infrastructure at the MacroCity Conference, May 30-31

Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
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We rarely see in full the cities that we live in. Focused on our daily lives, urban dwellers are often only dimly aware of the numerous, enmeshed layers of critical infrastructure that quietly hum in the background to make modern life possible.

Come and explore the amazing stories and surprising histories to be found lurking just below the surface of our cities at MacroCity, a two-day, whirlwind tour of this bigger picture of urban life. The event brings together a diverse set of panelists, speakers, and participants to explore the vast, often overlooked networks of infrastructure that surround us. The line-up includes rogue archivist and Lost Landscapes creator Rick Prelinger, as well as Laci Videmsky of the New California Water Atlas.

The schedule also includes a variety of field trips, offering an opportunity to explore first-hand some of the vast networks of infrastructure that sustain the Bay Area.

Organized by the Bay Area Infrastructure Observatory, the conference will take place on May 30-31 at SPUR and the Brava Theater in San Francisco. The Long Now Foundation is partnering with BAIO on the event, and Long Now members receive a 25% discount on tickets – please check your email for your discount code.

Field trips will take place on May 30th, with most of the speakers scheduled for May 31st. A basic pass to the talks can be reserved for $100; the deluxe pass for $150 includes access to a field trip, as well. Half-price tickets are available for members of the nonprofit community; please see the event registration page for more information.

Brian Eno & Danny Hillis Seminar Primer

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 02014 by Austin Brown
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“The Long Now, now”

Tuesday January 21, 02014 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, San Francisco

Brian and Danny in the Clock assembly space-1

Brian Eno and Danny Hillis are long time friends and collaborators. Eno is an influential British musician, producer and artist known both for his work with some of the biggest names in rock as well as his identification and popularization of ambient music. Hillis is an American inventor, scientist, author, and engineer known for his work as one of the key inventors of parallel computing.

It was at MIT that Hillis developed The Connection Machine, the first massively parallel computer, with the help of physicist Richard Feynman. It made use of over 60,000 microprocessors and helped lay the foundation for modern supercomputer architecture. He’s since worked as an Imagineer at Disney, co-founded a research and development company called Applied Minds and spoken at multiple TED events on cancer research and the need for a backup internet.

As the creator of some of the world’s fastest computers, Danny Hillis has helped “enforce” Moore’s law but also to question its effects. Faster and faster computers may help us with certain problems, but they can’t tell us which problems to focus on; instantly available information gives us new insight into the present, but can’t necessarily help us see where we’re going. In mulling over these problems, Hillis sought a way to encourage long-term thinking beyond the newest technological developments and earnings reports.

Danny Hillis first publicly proposed his idea for a clock that could last 10,000 years in 01995, in Wired Magazine. Describing some of the conversations he’d already had about the idea, he mentioned what had come from discussing it with Eno:

“Artist Brian Eno felt it should have a name, so he gave it one: The Clock of the Long Now.”

It was only a year later, in 01996, that Danny Hillis and Brian Eno, along with Stewart Brand and others, turned these conversations into action by forming The Long Now Foundation. In a few more years, Stewart Brand’s book The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility outlined the guiding philosophy that had been developed in those conversations. It includes an anecdote from Eno about how he came to coin the Clock’s (and the Foundation’s) name: Eno was astonished by the contrast between an acquaintance’s opulent loft and run-down neighborhood.

During dinner I asked the hostess, “Do you like living here?” “Oh sure,” she replied, “this is the loveliest place I’ve ever lived.”

I realized that the “here” she lived in stopped at her front door. This was a very strange thought to me. My “here” includes the neighborhood at least. After that, I noticed that young arty New Yorkers were just as local in their sense of “now.” “Now” meant “this week.” Everyone had just got there, and was just going somewhere else. No one had any investment in any kind of future except their own, conceived in the narrowest terms.

I wrote in my notebook that December, “More and more I find I want to be living in a Big Here and a Long Now.”

Eno recounted this story and expanded on his thoughts around “The Long Now” in the first of the monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking. He later appeared with SIM City creator Will Wright to discuss the fun and aesthetic potential of generative systems.

That love for generative systems influenced Eno’s involvement in the design of the Clock of the Long Now. He has guided the clock’s sonic component – its chimes. Bells and chimes, in fact, were central to an early form of generative music called change ringing. In that spirit, Eno collaborated with Danny Hillis to ensure that visitors to the Clock will have the opportunity to hear it chime 10 bells in a unique sequence each day at noon.

The story of how this came to be is told by Mr. Eno himself in the liner notes of January 07003: Bell Studies for The Clock of the Long Now, a collection of musical experiments he synthesized and recorded in 02003:

I wrote to Danny Hillis asking whether he could come up with an algorithm for the job. Yes, he wrote back, and in fact he could come up with an algorithm for generating all the possible algorithms for that job. Not having the storage space for a lot of extra algorithms in my studio, I decided to settle for just the one.

A physical prototype of this collaboration, The Chime Generator, lived in the now-closed Long Now Museum & Store and will be viewable again once the Museum re-opens as the Long Now Salon:

10,000-Year Clock: Chime Generator Prototype from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

At the Palace of Fine Arts on January 21st, Eno and Hillis collaborate once more to celebrate the first decade of Long Now’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking, and to usher in the second.

Subscribe to the Seminars About Long-term Thinking podcast for more thought-provoking programs.

“Climate Change and Us” Event Video Now Live

Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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Rarely do we get to hear directly from the scientists who compile, analyze, and synthesize the most recent climate change data. On December 13th, swissnex San Francisco, in partnership with The Long Now Foundation, hosted an event that explained the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report, and what types of solutions would be needed to avoid pervasive climate shifts.

The evening started with a video highlighting the process of creating an IPCC report, and then a presentation from IPCC scientist Thomas Stocker on the conclusions of the report. The report divided the future into four possible scenarios, 2.0, 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 degree shifts in mean global temperatures, allowing each country and policy maker to see the relative effects of each level of climate change. The news for even a 2.0 degree shift isn’t good, but the speakers did a great job of balancing the stark news with fruitful discussion of different avenues for addressing the causes.

The rest of the evening featured a diverse panel of experts on the report’s key takeaways for the scientist, the citizen, and the entrepreneur. Participants included former SALT speakers Saul Griffith and Paul Hawken, IPCC scientists Gian-Kasper Plattner and Thomas Stocker, and Susan Burns of the Global Footprint Network. After the event, swissnex hosted a reception in the venue to allow the audience to continue the conversation started on stage.

This embedded video is a 10 minute preview. The full video is available at Fora.TV

Internet Archive Fundraiser – Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8 – 2nd Showing

Posted on Tuesday, November 26th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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Now in its eighth year, Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes of San Francisco is almost always the largest of our Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Pre-sale tickets have sold out again at the Castro Theater and a few tickets will be released to the walk up line on the day of the show.

Those who didn’t get tickets to the December 17th event, though, have another chance to catch this great show. Rick is screening it again at the Internet Archive the following night, Wednesday December 18th and this show is a fundraiser for the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive recently lost a lot of equipment and many books to a fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the expenses incurred to replace and repair what was damaged will be significant. Rick Prelinger has generously offered this second screening of Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8  and proceeds will go to the Internet Archive’s efforts to rebuild the scanning facility where the fire took place.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco: Fundraiser Benefitting Internet Archive
December 18, 02013 at 6:30 PM
Detail and Tickets

Taking the longpath

Posted on Monday, November 18th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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Writing for Wired, Ari Wallach contrasts the perspectives that go into building a cathedral that isn’t completed until long after its designer’s death and a McMansion that’s built, foreclosed on and abandoned in less than a generation.

He proposes what he calls the “Longpath,” to encourage more endeavors of the cathedral’s scale:

We need a framework for long-term strategy — one that is visionary yet goal-oriented. Without organising principles, it will be impossible to corral the corporations and capitals of the globe to tackle our significant long-term challenges.

To this end, I suggest “longpath”. It’s a term that connotes long-term and goal-oriented strategies. It can help leaders navigate the balance between short-term gain and long-term ruin.

To further develop this perspective, is hosting and livestreaming a roundtable discussion with Wallach. Long Now’s executive director Alexander Rose will also take part in the discussion, along with Felicia Wong, Nicole Boyer and Peter Leyden.

This roundtable will bring together an eclectic group to consider how Longpath Thinking might really work. How long is long? Are there better methods for thinking in this way? How would we begin to institutionalize this approach in government and business, the economy and society?

Watch the conversation online on Wednesday November 20th, 02013 at 11:00 am PT.

Climate Change and Us: What Does the Future Hold?

Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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Peer beyond the headlines as experts explain what the IPCC report really says about global warming and what it means for our planet and for mankind in a live presentation and discussion on Friday December 13, 02013 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its fifth major assessment report in 02014. The first working group (of three) has already released their findings on the development and growth of global warming. In short: climate change is not slowing down and humans are a major factor in its acceleration.

swissnex San Francisco, in partnership with The Long Now Foundation, invites the public to hear from a diverse panel of experts on the report’s key takeaways for the scientist, the citizen, and the entrepreneur. Be prepared to come with your questions and join the discussion around short- and long-term strategies for a warming planet.  Long Now members receive a discount on tickets, please see your email for instructions on reserving.

The speakers and panelists are:

  • Susan BurnsSenior Vice President, Global Footprint Network
  • Saul GriffithInventor, Co-founder Otherlab
  • Paul HawkenEnvironmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, author, professor
  • Gian-Kasper PlattnerDirector of Science, IPCC WGI Technical Support Unit, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Thomas StockerCo-Chair Working Group I, IPCC

Cost to register is $20, with a $10 discount for Long Now Members
(Check your email for promotional code.)
Friday December 13th, 02013 at the YBCA Forum
A reception for the audience and speakers will follow.
Details and Registration

Richard Kurin Seminar Primer

Posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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“American History in 101 Objects”

Monday November 18, 02013 at the SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco

Richard Kurin, Under-Secretary of History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian, has been looking through all of the Smithsonian’s museums, archives, research centers–even their zoo–to find the objects that best tell the story of America. Inspired by the British Museum’s “History of the World in 100 Objects” (which focuses on ancient history), these objects were selected to bring American history to life.


While the objects are all in some way tied to the landmass on which the United States was founded, many of them pre-date the country and even its European progenitors, referencing time periods we can barely comprehend. The oldest object in the collection is the Burgess Shale, a collection of fossils from more than 500 million years ago that gave us an unprecedented glimpse into the Cambrian Explosion, an evolutionary surge that led to many of the forms of life we know today. From the Burgess Shale, the collection continues through Native American artifacts, Revolutionary War heirlooms, key technological objects, wartime memorabilia, all the way to objects from space exploration.

Kurin weaves a compelling narrative through these objects, explaining their significance, how they came into their collection, and how their meanings have shifted in their afterlife at the museum. These objects show us a new way of looking at history, one that goes beyond words on a page. By embedding history in these objects, Kurin simultaneously makes history immediate and material, while also reminding us of the importance of the institutions that painstakingly preserve these objects.

To learn more about these objects and how the part they played in American History, join us on November 18th at the SFJAZZ Center. You can reserve tickets, get directions and sign up for the podcast on the Seminar page.

Subscribe to the Seminars About Long-term Thinking podcast for more thought-provoking programs.


Time for Everyone Symposium in Pasadena

Posted on Monday, November 4th, 02013 by Charlotte Hajer
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From November 7 to 9 of this year, the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors will hold a symposium and special exhibition at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. Entitled “Time for Everyone: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Public Time,” the event will examine the myriad ways in which we experience, measure, and use time:

“From its natural cycles in astronomy, to its biological evolution, to how the brain processes it differently at various stages of life and under different circumstances, to how we find it, how we measure it, and how we keep it, this symposium will explore many facets of this fascinating subject of unfathomable depth.”

Speakers include author Dava Sobel, as well as Long Now Board member David Eagleman, who will discuss the way our brains perceive and process time.

Coupled with a special exhibit of mechanical clocks, watches, and sundials built by 17th century clock maker Thomas Tompion, the symposium is sure to offer a rich perspective on the way our civilization has engaged with time throughout history. For more information about the program, speakers, and clock exhibit, please visit the symposium website.

The Long Now, now: Celebrate a Decade of SALT with Brian Eno & Danny Hillis

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 02013 by Austin Brown
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The Seminars About Long-term Thinking began in 02003 with a talk by one of our founding board members, Brian Eno. In that inaugural SALT talk, simply titled “The Long Now,” Eno described the way he came to the name for our organization.

Instant world news and the internet has led to increased empathy worldwide. But empathy in space has not been matched by empathy in time.

He reckoned that if we can’t help but live in the moment of the “now,” why not make that moment longer – a “Long Now.”

We’re very pleased to announce that Brian Eno will be returning to San Francisco to talk again, with Long Now co-founder and 10,000 Year Clock inventor Danny Hillis, to celebrate the beginning of the second decade of SALT talks this January 02014.  Together, they’ll present “The Long Now, now” on January 21st, 02014 at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Members of Long Now will be able to reserve one complimentary ticket for this special evening, and purchase one additional ticket for a guest.

Members will also get advance notice of ticket availability; please note that the venue holds about 900 people. This event may sell out just through member tickets, so if you are considering membership, now is a great time to join and support Long Now and our mission to foster long-term thinking.