Nerd Nite SF #53: Undead Philosophy, Math, and Space Man!Wednesday, 10/15/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here

For all the meteorological, celestial, and sporting delights this San Francisco October has offered, there is nothing more delightful than an autumnal Nerd Nite at the Rickshaw Stop! It’s getting dark out there, so come early, gulp an intoxicating beverage, let Alpha Bravo’s vinyl vibrate your eardrums, and hear tell of: What happens when philosophers and biologists think about zombies, the forefront of mathematical knowledge, and Walt Disney and the rocket scientist. Be there and be square!


“Life, Death, and Undeath: Philosophical Notes” by Diego Nieto and Manuel Vargas

Everyone is familiar with the undead (cue zombie moaning and shambling). But what makes something undead as opposed to alive or simply dead? Philosophers have puzzled over this question and what (if anything) undeath suggests about our categories of life and death. If the philosophers are right–that lots of things are indeed quasi-living–contemporary biology suggests that the undead are extraordinarily common. It turns out that life and death aren’t binary conditions but complicated “cluster” states that can be had in greater and lesser degrees. Not so scary after all, huh, George Romero?

Diego is a research entomologist at UC Santa Cruz. Manuel is a professor of philosophy and law at the University of San Francisco.


“Can You Hear the Shape of a Drum?” by Otis Chodosh

With a BANG, a math scholar will take you to the forefront of mathematical knowledge, focusing on the hard-hitting questions: Just what is the forefront of mathematical knowledge? Does anyone care? Can you hear the shape of a drum? How will any of this help fight cancer?

Otis is a PhD candidate at Stanford. In his research life, he likes to think about where to put up a fence if you live near a black hole. In his private life, he tries to avoid both fences and black holes. He can’t play the drums.


“Climbing Space Mountain: Walt Disney and the Space Race” by Lauren Marie Taylor and Eric Toldi

After WWII, all the engineers left alive in Germany (if you catch our drift) were divided between the US and the USSR, and obviously we got most of them because, well, post-WWII Soviet Union wasn’t exactly Malibu. Wernher von Braun–the engineer behind the V-2 rocket–was the most important of them all. But don’t take our word for it: NASA calls him “without doubt, the greatest rocket scientist in history.” Walt Disney thought he was pretty special too, and these two visionaries teamed up to create a TV show about man in space, aptly titled “Man in Space.” Its imagery and utopic philosophy remain embedded in the American imagination.

Lauren is a conceptual artist and Director of Educator Associates at the AIAA, San Francisco. She was the first artist in residence at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory. Eric is a space historian and vice-chair of AIAA San Francisco. He is working on several space history books.


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

And: The Grilled Cheez Guy, who’ll be slinging those oozy sandwiches we love so much!