> Nerd Nite SF #13: History of Guitars, Science in The Simpsons, and the National Ignition Facility

Nerd Nite SF #13: History of Guitars, Science in The Simpsons, and the National Ignition Facility

Wednesday, 6/15
Doors at 7:30, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8

Facebook event

School may be out for the summer, but we’re not! And what true nerd ever looked forward to summer vacation, anyway? This month’s Nite is a total dork fantasyland: bizarre guitars, 192 giant laser beams, and The Simpsons teaching science. Be there or be square!

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“Strum und Twang: A Brief History of the Guitar and Its Cousins” by Brian Davis

Most Americans have at least picked out a few chords on guitar, and all of us have enjoyed some of its diverse repertoire. But few people know the names of any great balalaika or lute player, so I ask you: “Why guitar?” Surely the guitar is not nearly as easy to play as the ukulele nor as sexy as the theorbo. This talk will attempt to cover the 4,000-year history of the guitar and its cousins, and what the guitar’s dominance means for the future of music.

Brian Davis is a game designer and amateur luthier whose work focuses on the modernization of early musical instruments. His completed instruments include a fretless bass mandola, electric Irish bouzouki, multi-scale firebird mandolin, and many other bizarre creations. If you are plagued by the question, “What would Bach sound like on electric lute?” or “Can you make black metal using only American folk instruments?” you should talk to this guy.

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“Science in The Simpsons by Kishore Hari

“Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention… Science has it all.” – Principal Seymour Skinner. All those hours watching The Simpsons were not in vain! We’ll take a look at all the science those beloved characters have taught us over the past 22 years: genetic engineering, time travel, artificial intelligence, extraterrestrials, quantum physics, and more. And yes, in this talk we will definitely obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Kishore Hari is the director of the first-ever Bay Area Science Festival, led by UCSF. In a former life, he was an environmental chemist, but currently spends a majority of his time researching the combined impact of late-night cartoons and beer on the human brain and his marriage.

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“Building a Star on Earth: The National Ignition Facility” by John Post and Tim Frazier

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) is the world’s largest and highest-energy laser. Like, 192 giant lasers housed in a ten-story building the size of three football fields, capable of delivering 50 times more energy than any previous laser system. Just the sort of thing we need to blow up Alderaan and crush the Rebellion forever, right? But the NIF also has the goal of being the first to achieve laboratory-based, self-sustaining nuclear fusion–the process that powers the sun and the stars! John Post and Tim Frazier will guide us through the NIF’s achievement so far–a major step toward developing inertial fusion energy as a clean, safe and virtually unlimited energy source for the future.

John Post is an assistant principal associate director for the National Ignition Facility (NIF)/Photon Sciences Directorate organization at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California. John’s primary area of responsibility is strategic management systems, with a focus on project management.

Tim Frazier leads the Information Technology (IT) organization for the NIF and Photon Science Principal Associate Directorate (PAD) at LLNL. Prior to leading IT, Tim co-led NIF’s Shot Data Systems (SDS) organization. Both John and Tim seem to suffer from “abbreviate everything syndrome” (AES).

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And, of course: DJ Alpha Bravo turntabling and tweeting away.

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