Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Nerd Nite SF #110: Radioactive Elements, Lager, and Cable Cars!

Nerd Nite SF #110: Radioactive Elements, Lager, and Cable Cars!Drinking unusual beer, riding in cable cars and ridding oneself of dangerous levels of radioactive elements–three things that are absolutely wonderful. (Well, if you hate the taste of beer and think cable cars are overrated, at least we can agree on the third one!) So, pause your binge-watching of Chernobyl and come learn with us, drink up, get some reading recs from the SFPL, snarf gooey grilled cheese from the GCG, and listen to vinyl tunes from DJAB. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 7/17/2019
Doors at 7pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets here

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“Radioactive and Heavy Metals – The Good, the Bad, or the Ugly?” by Rebecca Abergel

Exposure to heavily radioactive elements after a nuclear accident is a terrifying thought. But radioactive elements – including some that were created and added to the periodic table by scientists here in the Bay Area – can be used in beneficial medical treatments that work like “nuclear bullets” to target diseased tissue and cancer cells. We’ve also developed chemical tools to remove unwanted radioactive contaminants from our bodies and our environment.

Learn about these from Rebecca, an Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley and Heavy Element Chemistry Group Leader at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Her research focuses on investigating the fundamental coordination chemistry and biochemistry of heavy and f-elements.

(This talk brought to you by the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements!)

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“Pale Lager: How Innovation and Politics Enabled Its Domination, and How They Will Lead to Its Fall” by Daniel Gadala-Maria

In the last century, American beer has been dominated by pale lager and often been likened to sex in a canoe…fucking close to water. Yet pale lagers also dominate globally: 92% of all beer fits into this narrow category. Beer has existed since prehistory, but pale lagers are younger than the U.S.A. So how the hell did we get here??? We’ll discuss the innovations and politics–some brilliant and some abhorrent–that have played a key role, starting with beer riots in the Czech Republic. But take heart! We’ll also cover how these same forces are now helping create a world that embraces and supports more diversity in beer!

Daniel Gadala-Maria was a biologist who, after a decade of study and beer-related side-gigs, turned his hobby into his profession; he’s now a brewer at Marin Brewing Co. and a beertender at The Monk’s Kettle.

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“The Tenacious Life of San Francisco’s Cable Cars” by Strephon Taylor

Before our modern transportation systems, U.S. cities were about as big as a person could easily walk. As technology advanced after the Civil War, the horse-drawn omnibus became the preferred method of mass transit and cities began growing. But after witnessing a horse-drawn streetcar accident, Andrew Smith Hallidie, a San Francisco resident, put his knowledge of Gold Rush ore mining using steel rope into action: On Clay Street in 1873, the first successful cable car gripped popular imagination and thus began our ride through history.

Since 2010, Strephon has been producing his own movies and music through November Fire Recordings. Most of the projects are celebrations of Halloween, sci-fi, and horror… and San Francisco: “Remembering Playland,” “Sutro’s: The Palace at Lands End,” “The Cliff House and Sutro Heights,” and now “San Francisco Cable Cars.” He has also shared wacky, spooky tales of San Francisco as the character Slob on “Creepy KOFY Movie Time.”

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

Food: 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.

Nerd Nite SF #109: Shaping SF, Otherworldly Geometry, and Cell Biology!

Nerd Nite SF #109: Shaping SF, Otherworldly Geometry, and Cell Biology!June gloom increasing your sense of doom? Follow our nerdy beacon to the Rickshaw, where we’ll dig down through decades of fill to SF’s foundations, confound the flat-earthers by imagining a donut-shaped world, and watch cells do the splits. Just add music, alcoholic beverages, and Miss Arepita and boom–the gloom has left the room. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 6/19/2019
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets

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“How Did We Get HERE?!?” by Chris Carlsson

Leveling sand dunes, blasting hills, and filling in the bay began a century-long city building project that literally expanded San Francisco’s presence on the Pacific Rim. Workers and employers battled through decades of economic booms and busts, culminating in an epic 1934 waterfront strike that deeply altered class relations before World War II. Bicycling erupted here at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries to alter urban lives everywhere. Countless thousands came here to reinvent themselves and to push the boundaries of politics, art, music, literature, sexuality, gender, technology, and more. Shaping San Francisco’s Chris Carlsson unpacks the city’s forgotten and flushed histories to illuminate the complicated and contested foundations that undergird our lives.

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“Out-of-This-World Geometry” by Emily Clader

We lead a three-dimensional life on the surface of a massive sphere, but with the help of mathematics, we can imagine an infinitude of other possible worlds. How would life be different if we existed in four dimensions? If rulers measured distance differently? If the Earth were a donut? We’ll shore up our imagination with a little topology to find out.

Emily is a professor of mathematics at San Francisco State University. Her research focuses on problems in algebraic geometry motivated by theoretical physics.

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“Cells Making Cells: How Cells do the Devil’s Dance” by Blake Riggs

The lights are low, the mood is set, the time is right. Slowly, cells start a ritualistic movement that indicates it is ready, time to divide. What does that moment, when cells make new cells, look like? We will explore how cells divide, what goes into making new cells and how the deed gets done. We will focus on some of the kinkier and bizarre aspects of cell division including some of the unanswered questions about the different bits and bobs involved in division and the generation of cell diversity.

Blake is an associate professor of biology at San Francisco State University and has been nationally recognized for his mentoring, including receiving the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER award for excellence in teaching and research.

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

Food: Miss Arepita – delicious Venezuelan street fare.

Nerd Nite SF #108: Lyme, Mimes, and Peopling of the New World!

NNSF108-May-2019-w1100An anthropological archaeologist, a disease ecologist, and a mime walk into a bar, and after a few drinks—wait, sorry, we’ve definitely done this joke before, and the mime does NOT like to talk about it. Ba-dum-bump tss! But seriously, folks, you really need to walk into the Rickshaw on the third Wednesday of May for drinks, music, momos, and an incredible line-up of experts on Lyme disease, miming, and the Americas’ first settlers—plus more bad jokes natch. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 5/15/2019
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets here

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“A Bloody Meal with a Twist of Lyme (Disease, That Is!)” by Andrea Swei

There are many things to be worried about in today’s world: climate change, parking tickets, an ebola outbreak…but a disease that can be transmitted only by a small, non-flying bug shouldn’t be one of them. And yet Lyme disease, caused by a tick-transmitted bacteria, is one of the biggest and most rapidly emerging threats to Americans. How can this be? Dr. Andrea Swei is a vector and disease ecologist at San Francisco State University who has been studying this complex and interesting disease for over two decades. She will share how Lyme has emerged and how studying lizards and bobcats in the wild can help us understand where and when this disease can come out of the woods to bite us.

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“How to Get Stuck in a Box: A Former Mime Speaks” by Mark Schaeffer

How does a silent performer make audiences laugh and cry? Where did mimes come from, why do they wear white makeup, and why does everybody hate them? What are the secrets to making walls, ropes, and mantelpieces invisibly appear? In addition to learning a bit about the history and culture of this oft-maligned art form, you’ll get a demonstration (with audience participation!) of how the classic illusions are done.

Mark founded and directed the Princeton Mime Company as an undergrad in the 1970s. He has worked variously as a writer, editor, producer, animator, designer, web developer, therapeutic bodyworker, and community college professor. Now retired, he volunteers his time supporting the arts and retouching animal photos for the East Bay SPCA.

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“Finding the First Americans” by Todd Braje

Two decades ago, most archaeologists believed they knew when and how the Americas were first settled. But discoveries in Chile and the American West have fundamentally changed everything we thought we understood. Today, there are more questions than answers, which has stimulated new ideas and reinvigorated once-marginal theories. Find out about the researchers at the Cal Academy who are looking under the sea—at kelp forests and marine resources—as part of the largest scientific effort ever undertaken to identify submerged archaeological sites along California’s Pacific coast.

Todd is an archaeologist and Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences. His research includes fieldwork at some of the Pacific coast’s oldest sites, occupied by Pleistocene maritime voyagers, and at some of the youngest, occupied by Chinese immigrants during the California Gold Rush. His most recent book is Shellfish for the Celestial Empire: The Rise and Fall of Commercial Abalone Fishing in California.

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

Food: Delicious Himalayan grub from new-to-us Cafe Zambala!

Nerd Nite SF #107: AI Bias, Swarm Robots, and Fungi!

Nerd Nite SF #107: AI Bias, Swarm Robots, and Fungi!This month features AIs learning from people, robots learning from insects, and people learning from fungi! You get to learn all that from a computer scientist, a roboticist, and a mycologist. And you can learn the art of award-winning sammies from GrilledCheezGuy, a new drink from the Rickshaw Stop bartenders, and a new song from DJ Alpha Bravo while you’re at it. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 4/17/2019
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets here

“Do as I Say, Not as I Do: Can We Avoid Imparting Human Biases to Computers?” by Cynthia Lee

As the AI revolution is poised to impact nearly every facet of life, concerns are mounting about how training computers to think like us can amplify some of the worst parts of ourselves. Is our training data teaching machines to adopt human biases on race, gender, age, and more? We’ll look at concrete examples of these issues, as well as consider how we got here, starting with basic questions of who decides who gets to see themselves as “a computer person,” and how early experiences shape our perceptions of our relationship to technology.

Cynthia is a Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at Stanford. She has a PhD in high-performance computing from UC San Diego and also taught there before moving to Stanford. Her industry work experience includes NASA Ames and startups.

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“Swarm Robotics: How to Build an Ant Farm” by Iain Brookshaw

Robots, those complex autonomous machines, are just not all that exciting. Thousands of them? Better, but still insufficiently terrifying. But what if we make them *swarm* like insects in vast hives of robotic bugs? Now we’re talking!

We’ll learn how to mimic ants, bees and termites in autonomous machines. See why building robotic insects is a good idea, how artificial swarms work, and how a giant, terrifying ball of ants can be used as the basis for solving some of the hard problems in robotics. So let’s build an ant farm (some assembly required)!

Iain earned his PhD in Robotic Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia in 2016, and is very proud of the swarm of four robot ants he built so long ago. After a stint as a postdoc at UMD and USC, he now builds robots in SF for a living, which is so much more interesting than academic papers.

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“Fungal in the Jungle” by Jessie Uehling

More details on Jessie’s talk is coming, but we can tell you she’s traveled across two continents exploring the diversity and beauty of the fungal denizens of the tropical rainforest. Jessie is a mycologist and evolutionary geneticist captivated by how symbioses – mutually benefical relationships between different organisms – are established, maintained, and evolve over time. By studying fungus and their plant hosts from rainforests in South America and Africa, she looks for patterns to better understand the evolutionary history of the fungus among us.

Jessie is currently a postdoc at UC Berkeley but is off to an Associate Professorship in the Botany and Plant Pathology Dept at Oregon State University soon.

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

Food: Glorious grilled cheese from the one and only GrilledCheezGuy.

Nerd Nite SF #106: Daring Debutantes, Giant Insects, & Gaming Mice!

Nerd Nite SF #106: Daring Debutantes, Giant Insects, and Gaming Mice!“Heiress adventurers, battling giant insects, and video games” might sound like the pitch for a new Tomb Raider game, but it’s actually what awaits you beyond the Rickshaw Stop’s doors. A local history sleuth weaves the tale of the Bay Area’s own Lara Croft, an evolutionary ecologist will send us back in time to when giant insects ruled the world, and a neuroscientist shares game design tips–for birds and mice! Plus: drinks galore, delicious arepitas, and DJ’d intermissions. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 3/20/2019
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets here

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“Champagne and Polar Bears and Spies, Oh My!”  by Reigh Robitaille

How did a debutante from Marin County end up hunting polar bears and gathering military intelligence? When she wasn’t hosting lavish parties at her grand estate in San Rafael, Louise Boyd found a home in the Arctic. She was the first woman to fly over the North Pole, and she even discovered a new part of Greenland–now named Louise Boyd Land. Oh, and there was that time she was a spy for the U.S. government…

Reigh started I Spy Tours to explore the lesser-known tales of the San Francisco’s past. Her “Wonder Women of SF” walking tour series shares the stories of women who have shaped Bay Area history.

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“You’re Going to Need a Bigger Net: The Evolution of Giant Insects” by Christopher Beatty

A mainstay of bad science fiction cinema is the giant bug movie, in which oversized insects and spiders face off with scientists and soldiers in a battle for domination of the planet. Cult classics such as “Earth versus the Spider” and “Them” showed us the terror (or sometimes, hilarity) of interacting with giant, many-legged foes. But in eras past, giant insects did exist, the likes of which rival the creations of Hollywood prop designers. In this talk, we will explore some of those amazing prehistoric insects and consider some of the current theories on how they came to be, how they lived, and why they now inhabit only our dreams.

Chris is an evolutionary ecologist who studies behavior, speciation, and biogeography, mostly with dragonflies. His work has taken him to Spain, Peru, Kenya, and the Fiji Islands. For more info, visit his website, christopherbeattyphd.com.

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“Building Video Games for Mice and Birds” by Justin Kiggins

Humans aren’t the only esports stars out there–neuroscientists and behavioral psychologists have been designing games for mice and birds for years. Using basic principles of animal behavior to design computer interfaces, scientists have opened up our understanding of the origins of speech and language. It’s only a matter of time before you’re slain by a mouse in Fortnite!

Justin Kiggins is a product manager at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, working on open-source software for single-cell biology and microscopy. Before joining CZI, he was a neuroscientist, writing software to perform machine learning on brain activity, create video games for mice, and build web applications for storing scientific data. You can find him on Twitter at @neuromusic

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

Food: Those of you who go to Nerd Nite East Bay know the delicious dishes of Miss Arepita, now venturing across the pond to NNSF!

Nerd Nite SF #105: Hidden Programmers, Breaking Materials, and the Science of Sex!

Nerd Nite SF #105: Hidden Programmers, Breaking Materials, and the Science of Sex!This month everything gets turned around as we learn about bringing women programmers to the front, the science of things falling down, and how various organisms get it up! All this thanks to two population geneticists (and several undergrads), a materials scientist, and a biologist, respectively. Plus, we’ll have streetfood inside, glasses lifted, and beats dropped. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 2/20/2019
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$10, all ages
Tickets here

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“Illuminating Women’s Hidden Contributions to Science” by Emilia Huerta-Sánchez and Rori Rohlfs

“Hidden Figures” told the story of three black female mathematicians at NASA in the 1960s. Inspired by the movie, a group of scientists and undergraduates pored through their own field’s journals to see if there were more overlooked female scientists. On paper, the 1970s was a period of dramatic innovation in population genetics driven by independent male scientists with sole authorships. But by going back and looking at paper acknowledgments, a new study uncovered the unsung women programmers whose work should have earned them a co-author credit. We’ll learn about some of those women’s stories, how they were found, and how author credits subtly distort the scientific record.

Emilia and Rori, along with Samantha Kristin Dung, Andrea Lopez, Ezequiel López Barragan, Rochelle-Jan Reyes, Ricky Thu, Edgar Castellanos, and Francisca Catalan (credit is due where credit is due!), just published “Illuminating Women’s Hidden Contribution to Historical Theoretical Population Genetics” in this month’s issue of GENETICS.

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“How Materials Science Finds Answers in Failures” by Mingxi Zheng

Much of modern society is based on the unique properties of complex new materials. But to understand new materials and to ensure their resiliency and safety, scientists must try to break them! In this talk, we’ll learn about breaking things like highways, airplanes, and spacecrafts, and how materials scientists put these things to the test. And we’ll find out about the critical race to discover what went wrong when something does fail, so future disasters can be avoided.

Mingxi is a materials engineer at Carbon specializing in fracture mechanics and new materials development and received her MS degree in materials science and engineering from UC Berkeley. She was recognized with a UCB Grad Slam Award, built rockets at SpaceX and Virgin Orbit as a metallurgist, and spent years convincing people that majoring in breaking things is useful. Now she spends time thinking of new applications for Carbon’s custom polymers and 3D printer.

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“The Lengths We Go to for Sex” by Veronica Johnson

Ever wonder how far a sperm travels before it exits the body? Or the lengths organisms will go to in order to reproduce? Go down the path *well* traveled and take an intimate dive into the anatomy of a familiar member that’s found across the animal kingdom. Not all creatures are made alike, but many share a commonality in just how far they will go to share that Y chromosome. Through different modes and methods, all animals do what they have to do to get the job done, and at the end of the day, sometimes size really DOES matter.

Veronica is a biologist at The Exploratorium whose days are filled with myriad organisms. Her all-encompassing fascination with biology started at a very early age, and is continuously fostered by working with a variety of lab organisms, volunteering at The Marine Mammal Center, and researching strange and fascinating topics for public programs.

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

Food: Binge on bao and other Asian fusion streetfood goodness from Cross Hatch Eatery.

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