Extra Credit: Ghost Signs, Skull Evolution, and Talking Computers!

Nerd Nite SF #49: Ghost Signs, Skull Evolution, and Talking Computers!Thanks to everyone who came out last night, our partners the California Academy of Sciences and Grilled Cheese Guy, and especially our speakers Kasey Smith, Rich Schneider, and Amit Dubey.

For your delectation and continued education, here are a whole bunch of suggested links and reading materials related to last night’s talks:

“Google Maps, Ghost Signs, and the Incomplete City: An Archaeology of Post-Earthquake Development in San Francisco’s Tenderloin” by Kasey Smith

* Ghost Sign Google Map of San Francisco
* Perception Filter – the project blog
* FoundSF – an excellent archive of SF history and media
* Flickr albums of ghost signs

 

“What the Quck? Stem Cells, Skulls, and Evolution” by Rich Schneider

* Evans and Christensen (1979)
* Coppinger and Coppinger (1982)
* Coppinger and Schneider (1995)
* Eames and Schneider (2005)
* Tokita and Schneider (2009)
* Larsen (1993)
* Kulesa, Paul M. and Fraser, Scott E. (2000) In ovo time-lapse analysis of chick hindbrain neural crest cell migration shows cell interactions during migration to the branchial arches. Development, 127 (6).
* Evans and Noden (2006)
* Jiang et al. (2002)
* Schneider and Helms (2003)

 

“What Inarticulate Computers Tell Us About Human Eloquence” by Amit Dubey

Eugene Goostman
XKCD on computational linguistics
* Pearl (1988)
* van Berkum et al. (2004)
* Dubey et al (2013). Probabilistic Modeling of Discourse-Aware Sentence Processing. Topics in Cognitive Science 5:3, 425-451.

 

Miscellany

* DJ Alpha Bravo
* Grilled Cheez Guy
* The Cal Academy of Sciences Brilliant!Science festival
* Steve Blum’s myriad video game voice acting appearances
* The Oracle of Bacon
* B.F. Skinner’s Project Pigeon and the amazing clip of the pigeon-guided missile training program:
YouTube Preview Image
See you at the next event on 7/16/2014!

Nerd Nite SF #49: Ghost Signs, Skull Evolution, and Talking Computers!

Nerd Nite SF #49: Ghost Signs, Skull Evolution, and Talking Computers!Mysterious messages in fading paint, chimerical quests in skull research, and computers providing talk therapy to human language: A veritable panoply of nerdiness will be emanating from our presenters and their laptops this month. No June Gloom here, what with cocktails, music, grilled cheese, and firing synapses to warm us up. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 6/18/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

Co-curated with our friends at the Brilliant!Science Festival at the California Academy of Sciences.

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“Google Maps, Ghost Signs, and the Incomplete City: An Archaeology of Post-Earthquake Development in San Francisco’s Tenderloin” by Kasey Smith

After the 1906 earthquake, SF’s redevelopment was swift but uneven, with redevelopment of the Tenderloin taking many years. During this period, ads were painted on buildings only to be covered by new construction. The resulting “ghost signs,” which have emerged over the years as the city changes, can often be viewed on foot or with satellite images to see onto rooftops and behind buildings. What stories of yesteryear can we learn from studying these mysterious ads and signs?

Kasey is an artist focusing on the history of Bay Area urban space. For the past three years she’s been working on a project to document, research, and map all of San Francisco’s ghost signs.

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“What the Quck? Stem Cells, Skulls, and Evolution” by Rich Schneider

In the science-fiction tradition of H.G. Wells and The Island of Doctor Moreau, Rich Schneider’s fascination with the origins of animal form runs deep. He will explain how his efforts to understand the way dog skulls get shaped ultimately led him to create a stem cell transplant system whereby duck embryos grow quail-like beaks in chimeric creatures he calls quck. Not only do quck walk like duck, quack like quail, and taste like chicken, they also teach us much about how our own faces get patterned.

Now a faculty member in UCSF’s department of orthopedic surgery, Rich published his first paper on the skulls of dogs and wolves when he was still an undergraduate. Over the past 20 years, he has focused on molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying skull development and evolution.

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“What Inarticulate Computers Tell Us About Human Eloquence” by Amit Dubey

In 2011, IBM’s Watson and Apple’s Siri brought the science fiction of talking computers to the real world–but no one has thrown away their keyboards or touch screens yet! And today Shit Siri Says lambasts egregious failures as much as it hails the wit of “her” engineers. It might be surprising, then, that computers are helping psychologists better understand how we use language. This talk’ll explain how, uncovering a dirty little secret kept by psycholinguists, the awkward sentences that make their hearts flutter, and the computer programs that bring both together.

This talk describes (in part) work done by Amit while a postdoc at the University of Edinburgh. He currently works at Google.

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With: Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And: Come hungry for the Grilled Cheese Guy, who’ll be upstairs slinging sammies!

Extra Credit: Cross-Cultural Social Media, HIV Treatment Failures, & Bioelectricity

Thanks to our speakers Lydia Laurenson, Pleuni Pennings, and Daniel Cohen for three excellent talks. If you want to learn more, you’re in luck! Here are all the links and citations mentioned in their talks, and a list of materials that riff on the presenters’ themes provided by our friends at the San Francisco Public Library. Enjoy!

“Censorship, Colors, Collectivism, & Salesmanship: How Culture Affects Social Media” by Lydia Laurenson

  • Twitter: @lydialaurenson, Blog: journalismforbrands.com
  • Lydia’s O’Reilly Strata article “Measuring culture” with much more info about the topics in her talk
  • And TechCrunch article “The Censorship Effect
  • Products mentioned: LINE, Kik, Bubbly, WeChat,
  • Wan-Hsiu (Sunny) Tsai, Linjuan Rita Men, (2012) “Cultural values reflected in corporate pages on popular social network sites in China and the United States”, Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing, Vol. 6 Iss: 1, pp.42 – 58 (Abstract)
  • Hochman, Nadav, and Raz Schwartz. “Visualizing Instagram: Tracing cultural visual rhythms.” Proceedings of the Workshop on Social Media Visualization (SocMedVis) in conjunction with the Sixth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM–12). 2012. (Full text)
  • Usunier, Jean-Claude, and Nicolas Roulin. “The influence of high-and low-context communication styles on the design, content, and language of business-to-business web sites.” Journal of Business Communication 47.2 (2010): 189-227. (Abstract)

From the SFPL:

“Learning from Stupid Ideas & HIV Treatment Gone Wrong” by Pleuni Pennings

  • Twitter: @pleunipennings, Blog: http://pleunipennings.wordpress.com/
  • HIV Statistics: San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and the CDC
  • Reiss, Peter, et al. “Resumption of HIV antigen production during continuous zidovudine treatment.” The Lancet 331.8582 (1988): 421. (Subscription/Paywall)
  • Pennings, Pleuni Simone. “Standing genetic variation and the evolution of drug resistance in HIV.” PLoS computational biology 8.6 (2012): e1002527. (Full text)
  • Margot, N. A., et al. “Resistance development over 144 weeks in treatment‐naive patients receiving tenofovir disoproxil fumarate or stavudine with lamivudine and efavirenz in Study 903*.” HIV medicine 7.7 (2006): 442-450. (Full text)

From the SFPL:

“Walk This Way: The Strange Story of Bioelectricity” by Daniel J. Cohen

From the SFPL:

See you on June 18th for NNSF #49. Until then, happy nerding!

Nerd Nite SF #48: Cross-Cultural Social Media, HIV Treatment Failures, & Bioelectricity!

Nerd Nite SF #48: Cross-Cultural Social Media, HIV Treatment Failures, & Bioelectricity!Wednesday, 5/21/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here

Shall we put some stupid, bizarre, and even foreign ideas into your heads? Yes, yes, and yes! Make the merriest month the smartest one with an evolutionary biologist turning dumb ideas into smart research, an engineer teaching us the steps to the bioelectric slide, and a communications pro delving into how cultural differences disrupt the social media-scape. Be there and be square!

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“Censorship, Colors, Collectivism, & Salesmanship: How Culture Affects Social Media” by Lydia Laurenson

Did you know people use Instagram to sell sacrificial goats in Kuwait? That censorship is a business risk for Weibo (aka “Chinese Twitter”)? Or that untrained Australians and Israelis may have more instincts for building Google-optimized sites than Russians and Egyptians? Find out what recent research reveals about the subtle–and not-so-subtle–ways that cultural differences affect social media communication.

Lydia is a writer, researcher, and communications professional fascinated by social media and community dynamics. She has spoken at venues ranging from SXSW to U.C. Berkeley, and her writing has appeared in publications from The Guardian to SFWeekly. Lydia also served in the U.S. Peace Corps HIV program in Swaziland.

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“Learning from Stupid Ideas & HIV Treatment Gone Wrong” by Pleuni Pennings

The 30-year history of HIV treatment is one of medical triumph: HIV was a death sentence and is now a manageable and preventable disease. But the road to triumph is littered with some pretty stupid ideas. “Drug holidays,” for example, were once fashionable, but now are considered the worst thing a patient can do. Intrigued by these stupid ideas, this evolutionary biologist decided to use them for research on drug resistance in HIV. She’ll also talk about inadequate treatment for pregnant women and a prevention pill that works but isn’t used.

Pleuni is an evolutionary biologist and works at Stanford. She prefers programming to fieldwork and viruses to dinosaurs.

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“Walk This Way: The Strange Story of Bioelectricity” by Daniel J. Cohen

Oh, the things we’ll discuss! The philosophical implications of sex in garbage? Of course. The unholy bond linking pasta with Frankenstein? Most definitely. Machines made of frogs? Why not? Shirtless scientists, Benedict Cumberbatch, and sheepherding will also make appearances. Shocks (literally) and awe (hopefully) will abound as we explore both the origins of one of the most bizarre areas of science and why bioelectricity matters today.

Daniel recently escaped graduate school with most of his fingers intact and a PhD in Frankenstein-related science. He is now a post-doc at Stanford where he is applying his questionable skills to building cell-scale sheepdogs.

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With: Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And: Oakland’s finest fiveten burger, purveyor of artisan burgers and sandwiches made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients! (www.fivetenburger.com)

Nerd Nite SF #47: Emergency Management, Native Oysters, and the Placebo Effect!

Nerd Nite SF #47: Emergency Management, Native Oysters, and the Placebo Effect!Wednesday, 4/16/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets SOLD OUT, but a few may be available at the door…

Worrying about The Big One? Wondering about native bivalves? Wary of the battle between mind & body? Well, quake no more, ’cause we have three disaster experts ready for any catastrophe, an aw-shucks oyster authority dropping some pearls of wisdom, and a physician assistant first doing no harm and then playing with our heads a little. Tip your barkeep, grab a tamale, don’t hang the DJ. Oh, and be there and be square!

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“Emergency Management, or WWTLJD? (What Would Tommy Lee Jones Do?)” by Alicia Johnson, Sean O’Mara, and Tom Chin

Shit happens. But what might happen when said shit–say, an earthquake like the tsunami-spawning, magnitude 9-er of 2011–happens to a city like ours? Unlike in the 1997 Tommy Lee Jones classic Volcano (the quintessential emergency management film), it won’t include a K-Rail and red-hot lava. Come hang out with three of SF’s Emergency Management staff to get a taste of our city’s incident command and disaster preparedness, and learn how YOU’d respond under the pressure of a cataclysm. We promise you won’t need a helmet…for now!

Alicia, Sean, and Tom have seen their share of emergency ops centers. As staffers at SF Emergency Management, they and their colleagues prepare and protect the people and places we love.

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“More Than Just a $1 Happy-Hour Special: The Olympia Oyster in SF Bay” by Christopher Lim

The Olympia oyster is a Bay Area native and yet it is not as well known as its larger, faster-growing cousin, the typical $1-happy-hour oyster. But oh man, does it taste better! The Watershed Project is working to restore Olympia oysters to SF Bay–but please, don’t eat our science experiment! Not every creature in the water should be first thought of as “food.” That’s old-school. We’re doing it because oysters are part of a healthy ecosystem. And that’s good for me, you, water, fish, and birds–oh my! Find out why.

Christopher is the Living Shoreline program manager at The Watershed Project. He’s always impressed by the inherent connection people have to an animal that most closely resembles a rock and lacks fur, feathers, or flukes.

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“The Doctor Will Fool You Now: Placebos and Nocebos” by Lisa Spitalewitz

Most people think of a placebo as a sugar pill used in studies as the inactive alternative to a drug, but the placebo effect–when the dummy pill actually works–is also a part of routine health care. And in an age of informed consent, the unwelcome nocebo effect shows up every time you read that long list of side effects and you suddenly start itching. Hear about some surprising studies on these powerful effects and the ways they can change our lives–and probably already have.

Lisa is a physician assistant practicing in urgent care and occupational medicine. She won’t write that antibiotics Rx for your cold symptoms, even if that makes you like her a little less.

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With: Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And: Get yer fill of tamales from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas!

Nerd Nite SF #46: Jug Band Music, Quackery, and the Manual for Civilization!

NNSF#46Wednesday, 3/19/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Get tickets here

If on the third Wednesday of this month, one finds oneself desirous of getting jugged up and hearing a person of authority quack on about creating a library of books one would like to have around when restarting civilization, WELL, then do come to the Nite of the Nerds, at which musical groups wielding homemade instruments and fraudulent pretenders to medical skill will also be considered, all whilst alcoholic drinks and amplified music flow mellifluously down our throats and ears, respectively, and sandwiches, grilled and with much cheese, are munched upon. Friends: Run on over, be there and be square!
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“Music in a Jugular Vein” by Bebo White

All American roots music–bluegrass, country, blues, Americana, even rock and roll–has been influenced by jug band music. (Everyone, blow into your beer bottle!) But what exactly IS this joyous cacophony? Originating in the 1920s or earlier, jug band music is characterized by non-electric, often homemade instruments. A jug, of course, is typically included, with the player blowing into the jug to generate bass sounds. But a washboard, comb and tissue paper, washtub bass (gutbucket), and other ordinary objects also join in. Take a toe-tapping stroll through the world of jug band music!

Bebo is a computational physicist at SLAC , and in his spare time makes beer and wine, keeps bees, and plays the banjo and jug.

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“This Won’t Hurt a Bit: The Truth About Quack Medicine” by Jenny Benjamin

In 19th-century America, going to the doctor was only for the brave, what with anesthesia in its infancy. (Here, bite down on this leather belt!) But what if you could purchase a medicine or device that promised a miracle cure–with no pain at all–and you didn’t have to visit the doctor? Enter: quackery! In this talk, we’ll learn some ophthalmological history and how eye medicine in particular was plagued with charlatans who promised everything from getting the red out to curing blindness with treatments that were ludicrous and, occasionally, dangerous.

Jenny has been the director of the Museum of Vision for the past 13 years–you know, that museum in SF about eyes that no one has ever heard of? Yeah, that one. See what you’ve been missing at www.museumofvision.org!

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“Building a Library at the End of the World: Long Now’s Manual for Civilization” by Andrew Warner

If there were a rupture in the continuity of civilization, what books would you need to bootstrap it back into motion? This question informs the curatorial process of The Long Now Foundation’s new member-curated library project, the Manual for Civilization. In this talk, we’ll give a whirlwind tour of Long Now’s ongoing projects, explain our new salon/bar/cafe/museum/library space, The Interval, and then discuss the inevitable issues that arise when one tries to distill civilization down to 3,000 volumes. Highlights include book lists from Stewart Brand, Neil Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, and Brian Eno, as well as an opportunity to submit your own selections to the library.

Andrew is the programs associate at Long Now, where he works on seminars, the Long Now blog, social media, and anything else that needs attention. When not at Long Now, he enjoys whirlwind weekend adventures, cooking, and DJing house parties.

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With Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And come hungry for the Grilled Cheese Guy, who’ll be upstairs slinging sammies!

Nerd Nite SF #45: eSports, S. aureus, and Mid-Century Culture Jamming!

Nerd Nite SF #45: eSports, S. aureus, and Mid-Century Culture Jamming! Wednesday, 2/19/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages – Get tickets here

eSports, Staph, and Shep: Aren’t you at least a little intrigued by this month’s grab-bag, and not just for the alluring alliteration? We heart a motley crew of topics here at NNSF, especially if they’re muddled with the Rickshaw Stop’s stiff quaffs, mixed with interludes of ditties on vinyl, and put forth by experts and amateurs (in the purest sense of the word) alike. So, come, be educated about professional gaming by a games user researcher, grab the Staph of life with a microbial mentor, and relive a classic détournement with a Night Person. Be there and be square!

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“Let’s Get Ready to Microooooooo (Why I Love eSports and You Should, Too)” by Omid Farivar

Did you know people are playing video games for money and fans watched an average of 12 billion minutes of content every month in 2013? How about the international tournament where the prize purse exceeded $2.8 million? And viewership, prize money, and mainstream attention are steadily increasing as more professional gamers emerge. Come join the f(o)ray, as a games user researcher explores the professional competitive gaming scene and its fans. Gamers expected and non-gamers oh-so-encouraged to attend.

Omid is a games user researcher at KIXEYE, graduated from U. Michigan with his MA in Information/HCI in 2012, and will crush you at any rhythm game ever.

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“Staphylococcus aureus: Making a Living (And Sometimes a Killing) in the Skin” by Lauren Popov

Have you or someone you know ever had a Staph infection? S. aureus is both a common, peaceful member of the bacterial community living in your skin and a dangerous, disease-causing pathogen. So how does Staph decide to up the ante and turn into an infection? And why is that infection sometimes so alarmingly intractable? In this talk, we’ll take the viewpoint of the bacteria and explore the challenges it faces in its quest to call your body its home.

Lauren is a PhD candidate at the Stanford School of Medicine in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. When she’s not experimenting in lab, she can be found at parties, preaching the tipsy gospel of our astounding microbial world.

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“Revenge of the Night People! Culture-Jamming at 3 a.m.” by David Grosof

In 1955 a 30-something white guy from the “howling darkness of the great American Midwest” came to New York City to work in entertainment. Within three years he had found an audience for improv radio storytelling, created flash mobs, helped crowd-source Cassavetes’s first film, and pulled off a magnificent literary hoax with his loyal audience who listened, in bed, late at night, and wondered What It All Meant. Before Negativland, This American Life, Indiegogo, and @Horse_ebooks, there was Shep. Find out about culture jamming, 1950s-style.

David is one of the Night People, second-gen. He listens to waaay too much radio.

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With: Alpha Bravo, who’ll be spinning tunes specially selected for the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And: Kevin & Gail’s Chili Palace, who’ll be serving delicious hot chili upstairs.

 

Nerd Nite SF #44: Privatized Space Exploration, the Science League of America, and Neuro-optimization!

Privatized Space Exploration, the Science League of America, and Neuro-optimization!SOLD OUT!  Limited tickets will be available at the door.

Wednesday, 1/15/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Advance tix here

We hope you like your sciences hard–and on the rocks–because we’re getting all rigorous this month. So take a firm grip of your lowball glass; push up your specs; and blast off into private space exploration, summon the superhero anti-creationist alliance, and optimize the bejeezus outta your brain. Be there and be square!

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“Private Space Ventures Take Off” by Sheraz Sadiq and Julian Mann

A new wave of commercialization is shaking up the $300-billion global space industry. The producer of Silicon Valley Goes to Space and the co-founder of Skybox Imaging, one of the start-ups featured in the film, talk about how the big, bold ideas down south are helping launch a new era of private space exploration. Skybox’s satellites can capture high-res, rapidly updated views of the world’s streets, waterways, and farmlands. See some of the images captured from their first satellite, which launched in late November, and find out how Silicon Valley is innovating the space industry like never before.

Sheraz is an Emmy Award-winning producer at KQED and writes on subjects ranging from astronomy to synthetic biology. Julian is an aerospace engineer and entrepreneur who can often be found racing sailboats, SCUBA diving, and snowboarding.

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“The Science League of America” by Joshua Rosenau

When evolution education is in danger, who you gonna call? Today it would be the National Center for Science Education, but in the 1920s, you’d call the Science League of America. In 1924, Maynard Shipley–a science communicator and former shoe salesman, music teacher, and criminologist–feared a creationist onslaught. He saw anti-evolutionists attacking the theory of evolution “with the avowed intent of putting in the place of science the Book of Genesis.” Sound familiar? Learn how Shipley and his Science League of America dealt with many of the same issues that confront us today.

Joshua is the programs and policy director of the National Center for Science Education. He has also researched the evolutionary relationships between Philippine rodent species based on phallic morphology. So you can ask him about rat dicks, too.

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“Harnessing Brain Plasticity: The Future of Neuro-optimization” by Dr. Adam Gazzaley

A fundamental challenge of modern society is how to enhance everyone’s brain function. For the healthy, this problem is a core mission of our educational system, and for the cognitively impaired it’s a critical goal of medicine. But will schools and hospitals be able to do it? One of our favorite NNSF alumni will describe a novel approach to achieving neuro-optimization. Integrating recent innovations in software (e.g., video game mechanics) and hardware (e.g., mobile EEG), he’s creating a targeted and personalized intervention that may change the ways we teach and heal.

Adam is director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at UCSF, an associate professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, and principal investigator of a cognitive neuroscience lab studying the neural mechanisms of perception, attention, and memory.

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NNSF t-shirts are still here! Designed by Alpha Bravo, who’ll also be spinning tunes specially selected for the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And come hungry for the Grilled Cheese Guy, who’ll be upstairs slinging sammies!

Nerd Nite SF #43: Accounting, Meyer Lemons, and Libraries and Librarians!

Nerd Nite SF #43: Accounting, Meyer Lemons, and Libraries and Librarians!From the sweetest of lemons to the sweetest of information scientists and the sweetest of… accounting?, we have a delightful cocktail of non-holiday-related talks that will make you glad you skipped that one Christmas party. So head over to the Rickshaw Stop and join us for fruity drinks and fruitful discussions with a plant-loving theorist, the Librarian in Black, and an accountant with a PhD. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 12/18/2013
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages

Get tickets here!

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“Debits and Credits and Fraud… Oh My!” by Nick Ross

Over the last two decades we’ve seen an explosion of accounting fraud. From WorldCom to Tyco, Enron to Kmart, it sometimes feels like more companies are engaging in fraudulent behavior than being honest. And despite the fact that these are often multi-billion-dollar crimes, involve mysterious suicide (Clifford Baxter at Enron), and help push our economy to collapse (Lehman Brothers), accounting somehow still isn’t sexy and is considered boring. During this talk, we’ll do a bit of demystification, a bit of history, and a bit of forensics to show how we’ve gotten here and why this keeps happening. Hopefully, you won’t fall asleep.

Nick Ross, PhD, actually, no lie, holds a PhD in accounting from UCLA and finds it fascinating. He currently ruins video games at TinyCo and teaches Accounting and Analytics at USF.

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“When Life Gives You Lemons: Frank Meyer’s Hunt for Pomological Perfection” by Xan Chacko

In the early 20th century, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded agricultural explorations with the aim of retrieving fruit specimens for hybridization projects. One such agricultural explorer, noted for his eponymous lemon, was Frank Nicholas Meyer (1875-1919), an immigrant from the Netherlands whose expeditions in Asia brought us celebrated fruit, toxic weeds, and possibly even Chestnut blight. Writing to his patrons, Meyer is hopeful for a future for his fruit trees, laden with promise and productivity in their projected American environments.

Xan Chacko is a grad student in cultural studies at UC Davis who thinks about the intersection between plants and our ways of knowing them.

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“Where’d the Card Catalog Go? Today’s Ass-Kicking Libraries and Librarians” by Sarah Houghton

Contrary to the pundits’ predictions of their demise, libraries are now more vital to the knowledge economy than ever. They have 3D printers, home brewing and butchering classes, battles of the bands, downloadable books and magazines, torrent tutorials, and some of the world’s strongest information privacy systems and policies. And what about the librarians? You’ll find a scary-smart group of tech-nerd radicals dedicated to fighting government surveillance, campaigning against digital rights management, and above all protecting your freedom to access the information you want. As the library of yesteryear fades away, what
is emerging in its place?

Sarah Houghton is the director for the San Rafael Public Library. She’s blogged and consulted about technology and the future of libraries for ten years as the Librarian in Black. You can find out more at http://librarianinblack.net.

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NNSF t-shirts are still here! $20. Designed by our Über-talented DJ, poster artist, and now t-shirt maker, Alpha Bravo. He’ll also be spinning tunes specially selected for the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

And Kevin & Gail’s Chili Palace will be serving delicious hot chili upstairs.

Nerd Nite SF #42: Genomes, Vibrators, and Your Brain!

NN-Nov-2013-Y-h700

Nerd Nite SF #42: Genomes, Vibrators, and Your Brain!Welcome back to dry land after the splendors of the ship-bound edutainment of Nerd Nite at Sea! It turns out there IS such a thing as the opposite of sea legs: mal de débarquement. But the dizziness will be swiftly allayed if you follow our Rx: alcoholic beverages by the Rickshaw Stop; music by Alpha Bravo; and a consultation with our three PhDs on the power of genomes, the saga of the vibrator, and the history of the original personal computer, your brain. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 11/20/2013
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Get tickets here!

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“Unleashing the Power of Genomes” by Moisés Bernal

Love, God, end, universe, genome–these words have something in common: Their definitions can be unclear, and discussions on these matters can quickly spin off into knotty philosophical debates. What is a genome, anyway? And why is its study so important in evolutionary biology? This talk will address these questions, describe the main techniques that scientists use to unleash the genome’s power, and reveal some exciting findings of the past couple of years. Unfortunately, this talk will not alleviate your existential and spiritual fuzziness, but, hey, that’s what beer is for!

Moisés is a PhD Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin currently conducting his research from the California Academy of Sciences. He is also a mediocre bassist; terrible guitarist; and bike-riding, beer-imbibing, and live-music enthusiast.

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“Hysterical Paroxysms: The Amazing History of the Vibrator” by Carol Queen, PhD

Learn the history of our favorite “socially camouflaged” technology: the vibrator! From doctor’s office implement, where it was used starting in the 1880s to treat the “female trouble” called hysteria, to common household appliance promising “health, vigor, and beauty”–not to mention star turns in early-20th-century stag movies and the late-20th-century women’s sex toy revolution–the vibrator has had one of the most fascinating careers of any consumer product.

Carol is Good Vibrations‘ staff sexologist, curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum, and runs the Center for Sex & Culture.

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“The History of Your Brain” by Erica Warp, PhD

Congratulations! You made it from one fertilized cell to trillions of cells that work together to make a body that breathes, digests, and goes to lectures in bars. If you’re not already amazed by this, I hope you will be by the end of this talk, especially when it comes to the development of your super-complicated brain. How the heck did you build a computer inside your head?! Learn the steps your brain made, the roles genes and non-genes played, and how you are still developing today.

Erica is a developmental neuroscientist and artist turned educator and entrepreneur. She is the founder of the brain education company Kizoom and mom to Ned the Neuron.

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NNSF t-shirts are still here! $20. Designed by our über-talented DJ, poster artist, and now t-shirt maker, Alpha Bravo. He’ll also be spinning tunes specially selected for the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

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