Nerd Nite SF #54: Cancer’s Metabolism, Whale Disentaglement, and the Midwinter Fair!Wednesday, 11/19/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here

The UNKNOWN. We haz it. No, not the fear of the UNKNOWN – we are not afraid of it. We embrace it. We make the UNKNOWN, or at least the unfamiliar, known. (Wait, doesn’t that word look really weird now?) For now, our third talk is, yes, UNKNOWN. But we know that that UNKNOWN will soon be known. As to what we do know: We know that we’re going to drink some known intoxicants; nod our heads to some known, but mostly UNKNOWN, vinyl recordings; eat some comfortingly well known grilled cheese; and get to know about the metabolism of cancer and how to get all WET with a marine mammal disentanglement expert. Be there and be square!

UPDATE: Our third talk is now KNOWN! Woody LaBounty will regale us with strange and wonderful tales of the 1894 Midwinter Fair!


“Metabolism and Cancer: You Aren’t What You Eat” by Roman Camarda

We’ve all heard it before: “You are what you eat!” But it turns out that, in cancer, this isn’t really true. Research over the past century has shown that cancer has a different metabolism than the rest of our body. This altered metabolic state is a hallmark of the disease, and allows it to take advantage of nutrients meant for good (like those in pizza and ice cream). Luckily for us, this altered state may be the Achilles heel of cancer! The question is: How do we selectively disrupt the metabolism of this devious disease while leaving the rest of our bodies free to enjoy the pizza and ice cream?

Roman is a PhD student at UCSF. His dissertation research is on altered metabolism in breast cancer.


“Whale Disentanglement: You Don’t Need a Bigger Boat” by Kathi Koontz

Rescuing a 40-ton sea monster entangled in fishing gear is dangerous, difficult work. An errant fin can stun or even kill a person and a collision can capsize a boat. The rough waters and sheer vastness of the ocean are daunting. But there is a rescue team up to the challenge: WET, the Whale Entanglement Team. Why do whales get caught? What can be done to prevent it? And how exactly does WET save whales, one at a time?

Kathi Koontz is a primary responder with WET (under the auspices of NOAA Fisheries), a supervisor for the Marine Mammal Center’s special rescue operation team, a co-investigator with Marine Life Studies, and a project manager at the California Academy of Sciences. She has participated in numerous marine mammal rescue operations.


“Man-Eating Lions and Stucco Igloos: The Weird Midwinter Fair of 1894” by Woody LaBounty

The California Midwinter International Exposition, better known as the Midwinter Fair, drew over two million visitors to Golden Gate Park from January to June 1894. Originally billed as the “Commercial World’s Fair,” the five-month production featured fairytale architecture, deadly animal acts, dark rides, and exhibits of foreign culture that included a Cairo Street, a Chinese Theatre, and an Eskimo village (with stucco igloos). Strange, comically ethnocentric, and boosterish to modern sensibilities, the fair helped pull San Francisco out of an economic depression and acted as the progenitor of today’s Music Concourse, de Young Museum, and Japanese Tea Garden.

Woody LaBounty is the founder of the Western Neighborhoods Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the history of western San Francisco ( He is the author of “Ingleside Terraces: San Francisco Racetrack to Residence Park” and “Carville-by-the-Sea: San Francisco’s Streetcar Suburb,” and is recognized as the leading authority on the city’s western neighborhoods.


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

And: Our scientist of the cheese, the bread, and the brick, Grilled Cheese Guy!