Nerd Nite SF #89: Grey Matter. Dark Matter. Neon Light!Nerd Nite SF #89: Grey Matter. Dark Matter. Neon Light!Gray brains, bright lights, and dark matter – this Nerd Nite covers the spectrum! We’ll get a handle on comparative brain science from a neuroscientist, and then actually handle real brains. Then, two experts will illuminate the art, craft, and history of neon in the Bay Area. Finally, a physicist will help us see the light on dark matter. All this, plus the colorful DJ stylings of Alpha Bravo, drinks of all stripes, and a crowd of bright people like you. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 10/18/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

NOTE: We’ll have actual brains, including some human ones, for you to examine and even hold. We wanted to let you know in case you were uncomfortable with seeing organs.


“Seeing Eye to I: Traveling the World with Brains in Your Luggage” by Patrick House

Neuroscientist Patrick House will give a neuroanatomy lecture using real brains but no actual anatomy. Anything easily looked up online will not be mentioned. He will also share stories of traveling with and shipping brain specimens around the world, adventures which provided an answer to a question he never knew he would have to answer: I.e. Does FedEx believe in a soul?

Patrick House is a neuroscientist and writer. He got his PhD in neuroscience from Stanford, studying that one parasite that makes mice not afraid of cats. He did a postdoc in ancient DNA searching for the same parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, in mummified cats, a task which he once described as “Like looking for a needle in a haystack oh but also the needle is broken into a thousand pieces and made of hay.” He has written on science and technology for The New Yorker and Slate and is writing a book on the role of elegance in neuroscience. He works at a startup developing brain-machine interfaces for treatment of neurologic disease.


“From Advertising to Art: Survivors and Lost Icons of Neon in NorCal” by Randall Ann Homan and Al Barna

See beautiful pictures of neon survivors, mourn famous lost icons of the neon world, and get a visual tour of the best gas, glass, and electricity that the East Bay and SF has to offer. Learn about the science underlying neon and discover what decades of evolution in California’s neon art and advertising illuminates about our Neon Cities.

Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan are the authors and photographers of the book San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons. They also give four different walking tours in San Francisco featuring the city’s fabulous collection of historic neon signs, with back alleys and back stories included. Details and pictures at


“Looking for the Invisible” by Lucie Tvrznikova

Everything we see around us makes up only 5% of the total mass and energy in the universe. So what’s the rest? The rest is full of dark energy and dark matter, substances that scientists have not been able to detect directly. Still, we are confident they are out there. What exactly is dark matter? And how can we hope to detect it? Lucie will take us a mile underground to a former gold mine where the LUX and LZ detectors found their home looking for the elusive dark matter particles. We’ll learn how LUX taught us a lot about our universe without seeing anything at all, and how its big sister LZ will teach us even more.

Lucie Tvrznikova is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University in Experimental Physics and is currently at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, helping search for WIMPs.

October 31st is a day dedicated to the mysterious and unseen – Dark Matter Day! Wait, is it some other holiday, too? Regardless, the month of October features events around the world discussing research into dark matter. Learn more at


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.