Nerd Nite SF #55: B-Movie Shark Science, Neutrinos, and Monarch the Bear!Wednesday, 12/17/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here

Sham science inspiring real inquiry, really weird science so hard to measure it seems fake, and an only-in-California tale of one of the most famous taxidermy victims to grace a flagpole. Just a typical month of nerdery around here! Come get your think on AND your drink on. Vinyl grooves will be explored. Grilled cheese will be inhaled. Librarians will be consulted. Be there and be square!

“Big Brains in the Deep Blue Sea” by Drew Halley

Between the devil and the Deep Blue Sea you’ll find: hyperintelligent super-sharks, Renny Harlin, bioethical disaster, a cure for Alzheimer’s, Stellan Skarsgård slumming it, and a heckuva lot of pseudoscientific blather. An anthropologist takes a late-‘90s B-movie as the perfect diving-off point for a discussion of shark neuroanatomy, allometric scaling in brain evolution, interspecies cognition, and, of course, what any aspiring genetic engineer might need to before setting up their own offshore experimental lab. Thank you, Hollywood!

Drew is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, researching evolutionary alterations to embryonic brain development across a variety of primate species. He is also a collaborator in a multi-year investigation of shark films.


“Ernie and Bert at the South Pole” by Dr. Anna Franckowiak

Neutrinos are weird subatomic particles. Sixty billion of them pass unnoticed through your thumbnail every second! They can travel without being absorbed or deflected, escaping from dense environments around black holes or the heart of a star and thus carrying unique information about the most violent processes in the universe. But they’re really hard to detect. So a cubic kilometer of ice at the South Pole was instrumented to measure traces of their rare interactions. And lo, Ernie and Bert—-two very high-energy neutrinos—-were detected. Grab your rubber duckie and come learn about the beginning of high-energy neutrino astronomy!

Anna spent some time at the IceCube while getting her PhD in neutrino astronomy. Now she’s a postdoc at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.


“Monarch the Bear: A Tale of Tycoons, Taxidermy, and the California Flag” by Kelly Jensen

You know the bear on the California flag, right? That’s Monarch. Captured at the behest of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, Monarch was the last California grizzly in captivity before they went extinct. That’s just the beginning. The rest of the story involves bear-hunting journalists, kangaroos and druids in Golden Gate Park, a Victorian amusement park in the heart of The Mission, and LOTS of bad taxidermy.

Kelly Jensen is a nerd-about-town. She is the photographer/co-author of Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas, a fellow of Odd Salon, and a librarian/archivist at the California Academy of Sciences. Never lend her the keys to your walk-in taxidermy freezer.


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!

Plus: The librarians will be here! SFPL’s finest will dole out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.