Wednesday, 4/20
Doors at 7:30, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness

Facebook event

Combine: equal parts booze, brainpower, brilliant slide presentations, and intellectual banter. Add: a splash of irreverence and a couple ironic twists. Shake for 20 minutes. Serve in the coolest club in town. Discuss. And there you have it: Nerd Nite SF in a nutshell, um, highball glass! This month’s cocktails feature the revival of a spirit, pisco; the (arguably) oldest profession, metallurgy; and the controversial field of political psychology. Be there and be square!


“Pisco: History in a Glass” by Gregory Dicum

Pisco, the white spirit distilled from grapes, has been made in Peru for 400 years, and found a ready audience in late-19th-century San Francisco among sophisticated tipplers at places like the Bank Exchange, a celebrated bar on the site of what is now the Transamerica Pyramid. There, bartender Duncan Nicol treated captains of industry and men of letters (like Twain and Kipling) to his famous Pisco Punch. In recent years, the versatile brandy has enjoyed a resurgence, fueled by the ascendance of Peruvian cuisine and the experimentation of innovative young mixologists. Some hail it as the next tequila, an exotic new artisanal spirit that will soon become a staple. Gregory Dicum, author of The Pisco Book, will give us a taste, literally and figuratively, of pisco’s journey through history.

TASTING: a complimentary pisco tasting will accompany Greg’s talk, and special pisco cocktails will be available for purchase at the bar, thanks to ClearGrape LLC!

Gregory Dicum is a writer and author based in San Francisco. He contributes regularly to the New York Times, The Economist, and other publications, and has written three other books: The Coffee Book: Anatomy of an Industry, Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air, and Window Seat Europe. And because just that would be too easy, he’s also the co-founder of the internet startup,


“Postmodern Alchemy: Metallurgy from Damascus Steel to Atom Probes” by Richard Karnesky

Despite what you might have heard, the oldest profession is metallurgy. (Other old professions needed coinage, of course.) And although everything can be bought with gold, it can be taken with steel. Indian wootz was the first high-quality steel, and the West could neither replicate it nor make something better for 1,000 years. Rick will share his experiences breathing in coke dust, trying to re-make wootz, and creating new materials. These are developed, as always, with magic pixie dust, heating, and beating. But then they are ripped apart, atom by atom, to model their properties.

Richard Karnesky is a senior staff member of the Hydrogen and Metallurgical Science department of Sandia National Labs, where he studies things he can’t tell you about. As a kid, he played at the forge and anvil with his dad. As an adult, he spends too much money to learn blacksmithing. Always mixing things together and heating them up, he dabbles in molecular gastronomy and cervisial studies.


“Political Psychology: Science Tackles the Age-old Question ‘What are they thinking?'” by David Cybulski

“Political science” sounds like an oxymoron, but the controversial field of political psychology gets inside your head and examines why you vote (because your neighbors do), why you like one candidate over another (look at that face…would he lie?), and why we give so much air-time to “experts” who tell us what to think (hint…it isn’t because they are right).

David Cybulski is a native Kentuckian who has been living in San Francisco since 2002. He has recently completed his Master’s thesis in Social Psychology at San Francisco State. David has focused on why people make the political choices they do, which is every bit as challenging as you might expect.


DJ Alpha Bravo will be spinning records, tweeting his set-list, and trying to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label, Radio Khartoum, and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop-club nights, Anisette and Schokolade.