Like the a bespectacled kid brother of Earthdance, Yuri’s Night has taken off. This year there were well over 100 events around the globe, from Beijing to Prague to Lagos, and though some of them were probably little more than astrogeeks playing Moby records, the Yuri’s Night held in Mountain View, something more unusual happened.
The event took place at the NASA Ames Research Center, which is where they do stuff like build space-faring robots and study microbes on extra-solar planets. The Center is an imposing, vaguely Ballardian environment: enormous hangers, wind tunnels, empty runways and defeated institutional buildings lying on the edge of the Bay. But on the evening of Friday the 13th, the center opened its doors to raw food vendors, Black Rock sculptors, feral half-nude hoopers, and the nasty electronic breakbeats of the Glitch Mob. In other words, Burning Man spilled onto the nerd turf of the military-industrial complex.
Also on hand were robot designers, private astronauts, shills handing out Google schwag, and a handful of rumpled NASA scientists behind demo booths talking to people wearing purple cowboy hats and furry brassieres about earthquake prediction devices and cutting-edge global visualization tools.