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Touch Me: The Science of Touch Sensation

October 27, 2013 @ 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

| $5

Explore the science of touch sensation, including:

  • the molecular basis of touch sensation
  • engineering touch sensation for robotics
  • communicating emotion through touch

Doors open at 6:00 PM

6:30-8:00 PM – Late night show style interviews with our host Kirsten (Dr. Kiki) Sanford


1) Lydia Thé on the molecular basis of touch sensation.
We know the molecular basis of temperature, pain, and chemical sensation, but touch sensation remains a mystery. The Bautista Lab at UC Berkeley has been using the star nosed mole, the snout of which is the most touch-sensitive organ known, to try to determine how touch is detected by the nerves in our skin.


2) Benjamin Tee on engineering touch sensation for robotics and prosthetics.
Touch and motion must provide constant feedback to each other in order for us to perform intricate movements or delicate tasks. The Bao Lab at Stanford have created flexible touch and pressure sensitive electronic skin that will allow robotics and prosthetics to detect surfaces and textures.


3) Daniel Cordaro on communicating emotion through touch.
Touch can elicit powerful emotional responses, but did you know that touch can also communicateemotions as clearly as spoken language? The Keltner Lab at UC Berkeley has found that humans can communicate emotions such as gratitude and compassion with one-second touches to a stranger’s forearm.


8:00-10:00 PM – Reception and exhibits:

  • Enjoy snacks and open bar including: 8.8% ABV Belgian Golden Strong Ale ”Yeast Meets West” brewed by scientist turned brewer Bryan Hermannson of Pacific Brewing Laboratory andtingling spice infused cocktails.
  • Build a microscope out of LEGOs and view mutant worms that are unresponsive to touch -LegoScope
  • Interact with giant touch sensitive robots – Kal Spelletich (about and blog)
    From Kal’s bio: “For 25 years he has been experimenting with interfacing humans and robots…Kal’s work is always interactive, requiring a participant to enter or operate the piece, often against their instincts of self-preservation.”
  • Test your ability to communicate emotion through touch.


The Berkeley Science Review is a graduate student-run magazine and blog featuring the groundbreaking scientific research happening at UC Berkeley. Our mission is to train scientists and nonscientists alike to communicate scientific research to the public in an accessible and interesting way.


Follow Berkeley Science Review on Facebook and Twitter for updates including a series of blog posts introducing each of the three categories of touch-related research that will be presented at the event.


BAASICS (Bay Area Art & Science Interdisciplinary Collaborative Sessions) is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together regional visual artists, scientists, choreographers, composers, and interdisciplinary thinkers to foment interdisciplinary exchange and to encourage experimentation that will move beyond what one of these disciplines can achieve on its own. (For “Touch Me,” BAASICS has helped put together the exhibition portion of the program.)


Sponsored by the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.


October 27, 2013 6:00 pm
October 27, 2013 10:00 pm
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Berkeley Science Review


David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94704 United States
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