Photo of Dumetella carolinensis courtesy Justin Benttinen

We live in a fascinating world, and sometimes you just need to sit back for a second and admire it. Even better, do it with a beer in hand at the monthly lecture-in-a-bar series, Nerd Nite SF! This month, bask in the inventions, the nitrogen, and the opportunities for DIY science that surround us every day.

Wednesday, 7/18
Doors at 7pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
All ages

NEW! Buy your ticket in advance!
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“The pleasure pit, ancient iPods, and other San Francisco inventions” by Robin Marks

San Francisco was a hotbed of innovation way before Sili Valley put us on the patent map. What else would you expect from a city built on impossible hills and dreams of gold dust? Some SF tinkerers put their can-do spirit into practical inventions, but thankfully plenty of other idea-generators sought to improve life’s more entertaining pursuits. Enjoy an Invented-in-SF cocktail and let these surprising stories of innovation inspire your own DIY greatness!

Robin Marks is a recovering-biochemist-turned-science-writer and owner of Discovery Street Tours, a walking tour company offering science-themed strolls of San Francisco.


“Et tu, N2?” by Nick Bouskill

Our lives are completely at the mercy of an unseen, silent majority of microorganisms that wield the Mighty Power of Nitrogen! In this talk we’ll explore how they capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and use it up or share it with other living organisms before returning it to the atmosphere in the same form, ready to be used again. We’ll also look at how mankind’s use of nitrogen has saved billions of lives, contributed to chemical warfare, fueled the Nazis, poisoned rivers and coastlines and may even be destroying the planet.

Nick Bouskill is a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Typical for a scientist, he only has two topics of dinner table conversation: nitrogen and rugby. He doesn’t get invited to dinner parties very often.


“Birds, Wasps, and How to Get Published in a Peer Reviewed Journal Without Really Trying” by Justin Benttinen

Sometimes a lazy summer day by the pool can turn into a…peer reviewed journal article? This talk tells the story of how a hookah and a couple of casual observations of the birds and the bees went from summer idyll to “Avian kleptoparasitism of the digger wasp Sphex pensylvanicus”. It turns out that there really are things left in this world to discover as long as you take the time to look.

Justin Benttinen is a photographer, dreamer, nerd, and badass dancer now located in Oakland, CA. This paper helped inspire him to pursue photography, and his portfolio can be seen at (Ed: The catbird photo on this month’s poster is courtesy Justin. Thank you!)