Posted on Mar 7, 2012

When I was first booking flights to go from San Francisco to London to Cape Town to Dublin and then later to New York before returning to San Francisco, I thought I would be completely exhausted. I packed vitamins being convinced that I would be absolutely demolished. It was exactly the opposite: I became full of energy and insatiable for more adventure. Something about going to sleep and waking up in completely different places is absolutely amazing. I didn’t want it to stop.

Here’s a photo-summary of the adventure (all photos below are from my trip):

I had my first experience flying Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic. All the seats flipped over into a completely horizontal bed. At night, the only illumination were these dim blue controls and every passenger was wrapped up like a mummy. I felt like I was on a starship, like I may have stumbled into one of Stargate Universe‘s (one of my all-time favorite shows) sets at the end where they all enter stasis pods.

Upper Class to Cape Town

It was also a little disorienting for me once I was in South Africa. There were so many wild animals that you’d run into just while doing normal day-to-day activities. It felt like something was off – these animals were clearly only supposed to be found in zoos (in my experience), so I kept feeling like we were just walking through one large zoo – it took a while for me to get used to seeing the silhouette of baboons on the road, penguins hanging out on the beach, polkadot turkeys (guineafowl) in parking lots and rock hyraxes on sidewalks.

Simon's Town baboon on the roadside

bird in the carpark at Boulders Beach

Rock Hyrax

After hanging around the lower tip of South Africa for a bit, I drove 6 hours out of Cape Town into the Karoo to visit Sutherland, the small town that hosts the Southern African Large Telescope. There’s no light pollution in this area, so you can see the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds (dwarf galaxies outside of our own galaxy) with your naked eye! It is absolutely amazing – I can’t stress enough that if you’re reading this and you’ve never seen a sight like this in person before, please, please put “seeing the stars with no light pollution” on your bucket list.

Stargazing in Sutherland

Ariel at the Southern African Large Telescope

I came back to Cape Town for the main event: Science Hack Day Cape Town! The very first Science Hack Day in Africa (the second will be in Nairobi next month, which I plan on attending as well). The event was full of super nice people from all different backgrounds. My favorite outcome of Science Hack Day Cape Town was that a number of attendees decided to start Cape Town’s first Arduino club as a result of meeting at the event.


Then it was off to Ireland to speak at the interaction design conference, Interaction12. I made a new talk around all the weird and awesome ways of interacting with and exploring science.

Talking about creepy awesome science at Interaction12

I met up with my cyborg anthropologist friend, Amber Case, while in Dublin and we checked out the very awesome Science Gallery and very creepy Natural History Museum. While at the Science Gallery, I was able to meet up with some of the organizers for Science Hack Day Dublin which just kicked off this past weekend with a massive success and some pretty cool hacks.

Science Gallery

Before too long, I was off again, this time for just 48 hours in NYC for a shoot – for something I think is really exciting (I’ll say more in my next post). While in NYC, I met DJ Spooky who has done some really awesome work in Antarctica, a place that I am absolutely determined to visit – perhaps someone can help me make a Science Hack Day Antarctica?

Me earlier today

Next on my travel list: Austin, Tucson, Nairobi, Chicago and Reykjavik.