Nerd Nite SF #72: Submarines, DNA Nanotech, and Affordable SF Housing!Wednesday, 5/18/2016
Doors at 7pm, Show at 8pm
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

This month we’re dealing in the UNBELIEVABLE: wonderful weirdos of the ocean, nano-building blocks of DNA, and–the farthest of the fetched–affordable housing in San Francisco. So, take a deep breath and a big sip of your drink as our expert presenters, bartenders, deejay, librarians, and the Grilled Cheese Guy help us come to terms with it all. But only if you do this in the first place: Be there and be square!


“Submarine in the Abyss: Exploring the Ocean from a Tiny Metal Tube” by Erika Bergman

We hope you are wearing clean socks, because you are about to kick off your boat shoes and climb into a deep-sea submersible! Explore an underwater world dominated by giant tube worms, heat-tolerant shrimpies, vast bioluminescent networks, shipwrecks, and…beer bottles? The ocean makes up 90% of the living space on the planet, and we’re not the only weirdos down there.

Erika is a mechanic, tech enthusiast, and explorer for National Geographic. She founded, whose first program is Girls Underwater Robot Camps, and hopes to hire all the little girls who don’t yet realize they are destined to be engineers and explorers.


“Tiny Tools: A 40-year Quest to Build with DNA” by Shawn Douglas

Nearly four decades ago, a young scientist named Ned Seeman had a Eureka moment. He realized that DNA molecules might be repurposed as nano-sized “Lego” blocks in order to build tools to solve one of the most fundamental challenges in molecular biology: determining atomic structures of proteins. Ned went on to pioneer an entirely new area of research: DNA nanotechnology. I’ll share an update from the field, including how we may be tantalizingly close to realizing Ned’s vision, albeit with a new spin on his original approach.

Shawn Douglas earned a B.S. in Computer Science at Yale in 2003, and then a Ph.D. in Biophysics at Harvard in 2009, working in the laboratories of William Shih and George Church. He continued at Harvard as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and recently started his own lab as an Assistant Professor at UCSF. He was named as one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in 2012, and has presented for Google Solve for X and Bloomberg BusinessWeek Design conferences.


“Hidden Histories of Affordability in San Francisco” by Michael Epstein

Remember when a housing upgrade was as simple as physically moving your house from one part of San Francisco to another? Or when you could just plop a house on a barge and pay a modest slip fee? Or when foraging tribes would spend their winters in the hills and summers by the Bay creating huge shell mounds from the remainders of seafood feasts? Affordable living has a rich history in San Francisco, and, if you know where to look, some vestiges still remain. This presentation will reveal several hidden landmarks of SF affordable housing and speculate on how they may inform current efforts to keep the city economically diverse.

Michael teaches location-based media courses at the California College of Art and produces apps for urban exploration with Walking Cinema.


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

Food: Delicious hot goop between crispy slices of bread, brought to you by the scientist of the sammie, Grilled Cheese Guy.

Plus: The San Francisco Public Library will be on hand to dole out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.