Nerd Nite SF #74: “Game of Thrones Geology, Flute-Making, and Epigenetics”Wednesday, 7/20/16
Doors at 7pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

On the 20th day of Quintilis, the Stop of the Rickshaw will unbar its gates and receive throngs of imbibing smarty pants come to worship at its PowerPoint altar. Will you be among the faithful? If so, remove your health-tracking wristband (a doctor will tell us how our “Fitbits” come factory-installed), pipe down (while we’re schooled on our favorite edge-blown aerophone), and “hodor” for your fellow Game of Thrones aficionados (as we traverse fantasy landscapes with a geologist). In other words: Be there and be square!


“The Geology of Game of Thrones: Real Science in Fantasy” by Miles Traer

From towering peaks to candlelit crypts, vast seas to vertiginous canyons, the worlds of fantasy stories entice and entrance. But just how realistic is that mountain range? Or that river crossing? Or that wall? Yes, THAT Wall? Using what we know from Earth, we can reconstruct the geological history of mythical places, like Game of Thrones’ Westeros. And when we do, we see that the geological forces that shape our world are just as awesome and terrifying as anything beyond The Wall.

Miles is a geologist and educator at Stanford University and creator of the award-winning Generation Anthropocene podcast. He studies landscape evolution on Earth, Mars, and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. Explore Miles’s research and pop-sci articles at


“Piping Up: The Secret World of Flute-Making” by Linda Watkins

Ever wonder how flutes are made? Which is correct: flutist or flautist? (Or fluter? Or flutenist?) And how did these metal tubes end up flouting the “wood” part of “woodwind”? Come learn about the history, science, and art of flute-making in America, including the man who started it all and why all the great American flute makers are in Boston. Not to toot our own flute or anything, but the stories will surprise you! This presentation includes a live performance.

Linda is a flute nerd: She’s played it for over 30 years, has a Masters in Music Performance from Arizona State University, and worked for four years at a flute manufacturing company. Though now in marketing at a startup, she performs regularly with community orchestras and chamber groups.


“Epigenetic Fitbits: How Genes Can Keep Track of Your Body Weight” by Dr. Lucia Aronica

Our genes are smarter than wearables when it comes to tracking health data. Biological “Fitbits” within our DNA — epigenetic modifications — store information about our lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, and stress. But how do these modifications work? How do they track our weight? And how might they help us know which diet works best for us?

Lucia is a research associate at Stanford University and an award-winning science communicator (Ed: Including winner of the 2009 FameLab Germany competition, and third in the final FameLab International competition. Shout-out to the Rickshaw Stop for hosting FameLab heats the past two years in SF, too!).


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

Food: Delicious pork belly-bao and other bun goodness from Cross Hatch Eatery.

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