Get Smart Traffic jams be damned: The California Academy of Sciences is offering a post-work downtown lecture series on the ethics and practice of natural science. It begins with Dr. Harry Green's presentation "The Secret Life of Rattlesnakes," a look at blacktailed rattler behavior, based on Green's own research. The series continues with "Creation/Evolution/Religion/Science," Dr. Eugenie Scott's discussion of the heated, long-standing scholastic debate (March 14); "Amber Up Close," Dr. George Poinar's overview of the origin, discovery, and uses of the resin, in conjunction with the Academy's amber exhibit (March 28); and "The Ecology of the Hawaiian Islands," Dr. Peter Vitousek's lecture on the effects of volcanic activity on that area's ecosystems (April 4). All talks begin at 5:45 p.m. at the SFSU Downtown Extension Center, 425 Market, S.F. Admission is $10-12 for each lecture, $35-40 for the whole series; call 750-7100.
Celt of Personality Folk accordionist Sharon Shannon, a former member of the Waterboys and a sometime collaborator with U2's Adam Clayton, is principal among many musical attractions at the Sixth San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival, billed as the largest festival of its kind outside Ireland. In addition to two days' worth of music, the fest also includes workshops and master classes on Celtic music and dance, artisans and vendors, and the Historical Research Center, which helps festivalgoers of Celtic descent trace their genealogy through computer printouts showing a family's history and crest. The first day, which coincides with International Women's Day, includes performances by Shannon, Scottish folk duo the Wrigley Twins, and Canadian Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond (For a complete listing of International Women's Day events, see Page 28). Accordionist Joe Burke, fiddler Martin Hayes, the Kennelly Dancers, traditional music sextet Dervish, and Begley & Cooney (whose way with traditional Celtic music has earned them the moniker "the Irish Guns N' Roses") perform tomorrow. It all begins at noon (also Sunday) at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is free-$20; call 392-4400.
Girl Talk Whether biology is or isn't destiny, a woman's bodily functions still are influenced to varying degrees by perceptions of her social function. With that in mind, the film program "Woman/Body/Function" explores the cultural and political implications of women's physical experiences over time, from Period Piece, a documentary about menstruation in which Jay Rosenblatt and Jennifer Frame weave together '50s health films and mother-daughter interviews, to Cathy Cook's The Match That Started My Fire, a comedy about women's sexual experiences told through candid stories, to Wendy Levy's recent Sundance entry "swim, swim ...": Talking to Sperm and Other Desperate Acts, a short film on infertility and donor insemination. The screenings begin at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Admission is $7; call 558-8129.
From the Ashes The Loma Prieta earthquake wasn't enough to ruin the Ebony Museum, although it did cause thousands of dollars' worth of damage; it was a chimney fire a year later that caused the most harm to the historic building and the collection of African and African-American pieces stored within. Although a second site opened at Jack London Village in 1991, six months after the fire, the museum has now returned to its original three-story Victorian home. As part of the rededication, an exhibit dedicated to the late abstract painter Elaine S. Crossley will present work by six California artists, including museum founder Aissatoui Ayola Vernita's Chittlin' Suite. Masks, beaded figures, statues, and other art and artifacts from Mali, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Senegal will also be shown as part of the Ebony Museum's permanent collection. It reopens at 2 p.m. at 1034 14th St., Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 763-0745.
Banding Together Dance defies physics at a benefit for aerial and rock-climbing dance company Project Bandaloop, who perform alongside such adventuresome peers as the Fellow Travelers Performance Group, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Scott Wells, Jo Kreiter, and others. If it doesn't bounce off the walls, fly through the air, or vault off someone's back, you're in the wrong building. The show begins at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 621-7797.
Attack of the Lard-Eating Robot With carnitas, tamales, menudo, and other fatty food staples of his childhood in mind, artist Chico MacMurtrie examines the relationships among Chicano cultural identity, body, and mind with his robotics installation "Growing Into Your Cultural Skin." A highlight of the exhibit is a robotic figure -- made of metal, latex, and wood -- eating lard out of a bucket; as Mayan-style images projected onto a nearby wall reflect the robot's thoughts, the robot's skin begins to expand and threatens to explode unless something gives. (Kids: Try it at home!) The exhibit, the first of its kind at the gallery, opens at noon (and runs through April 26) at Galeria de la Raza/Studio 24, 2857 24th St., S.F. Admission is free; call 826-8009.