Nerd Nite SF #7: Distracted Brains, Menacing Gulls, Hacking the Kinect

Nerd Nite SF #7: Distracted Brains, Menacing Gulls, Hacking the Kinect
Ah, December—holiday time! With Pretend To Be a Time Traveler Day (8th), Festivus (23rd), and National Clean Up Your Computer Month (January) looming, take a little time out from your seasonal stress and enjoy our drunken, nerdy delights. Learn about your poor, multi-tasked brains (but put away the iPhones first!); discuss those scavenging scamps, seagulls; and find out how to hack the Kinect for uses that were almost certainly not imagined by Microsoft. Be there and be square!
Wednesday, 12/15
Doors @ 7:30pm, show @ 8pm
Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8
Facebook Event
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Nerd Nite SF #6: Mars, Penguins, and Gonorrhea

We’re back from our little October vacation!  After all the partying we’ve done, from Halloween to the World Series, we could probably use another vacation, but instead we’ll persevere to bring you the best in drunken nerdy entertainment.  This month we have presentations on the quirks of Mars’s magnetosphere, the peculiarities of those adorable penguins, and a history of the not-so-adorable gonorrhea.  “Ooohs,” “Awwws,” and “Ewwws” will abound.  Be there and be square! Sponsored by Science Channel!

Weds. 11/17
Doors @ 7:30pm, show @ 8pm
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8

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“Mars’s Lumpy Bumpy Neato Magneto(sphero)” by Dave Brain

Imagine that you are a boy or girl scout wandering around Mars using your trusty compass to navigate.  Congratulations—you’re lost!  As your air slowly runs out and you lie wondering where it all went wrong, I’ll explain what happened, the connection between your useless compass and the cold, thin, toxic Martian atmosphere, and what those faint lights in the sky are.  Maybe you can get a merit badge as consolation.

Dave Brain (yes…`Dr. Brain’…it is very embarrassing) is a planetary space physicist from UC Berkeley who studies the connections between magnetic fields and atmospheres at Mars and other planets.  He can’t believe that people are willing to pay him to think about planets all day. And he never made it past Webelos.

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“Penguins: The True Chicken of the Sea” by Brooke Weinstein

Despite being almost universally loved, penguins are easy to parody.  They walk funny, and we laugh at them when they trip.  They look like they’re wearing tuxedos, so we dismiss them as all being the same.  They’re birds, but they’re fundamentally different from all other birds.  Biologist Brooke Weinstein will take us beyond the caricatures and explain the basic peculiarities of these fascinating creatures.

Brooke Weinstein is an aquarium nerd and aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences.  At work, Brooke is responsible for a portion of the freshwater collection, including the freshwater stingrays and the 110,000-gallon Amazon Flooded Forest Display, which she likes to dive in as much as possible.  She also spends a good bit of time caring for the Academy’s African penguin colony while trying, sometimes successfully, to be the biggest penguin.

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“The Perilous Infirmity of Burning: The History of Neisseria Gonorrhea” by D Muthulingam

Described in Leviticus and named by the Greeks, gonorrhea has faithfully followed the loins of lovers through Roman conquests, Parisian whorehouses, and American college dorms.  Shadowed by the more glamorous syphilis and that upstart chlamydia, “The Clap” has persisted, overcoming the Roman Catholic Church, mercury, penicillin, and fluoroquinolones.  This is a story of a gram-negative diplococci committed to love—and oh, how it burns!

D Muthulingam is a fourth-year medical student passionate about health education, self-knowledge, and preventive care.  She has studied the molecular epidemiology of Chlamydia trachamotis in Ecuadorian sex workers, and helped folks at the Berkeley Free Clinic understand what to do when “omg i have a rash!!!”  Currently she is studying the effects of HIV infection in the central nervous system.  She loves good coffee, mucus membranes, and the basal ganglia.

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Plus:

Pumpkins. Good for carving, making pies, baking seeds and a flurry of other fall favorites. But a catapulting pumpkin competition? Now that’s an unusual use for this orange gourd-like squash! For 25 years, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin competition has been launching pumpkins high into the skies above Delaware. Science Channel will be there again this year to catch every far-flingin, high-flyin moment. The show will air on Science Channel Thanksgiving Night at 8pm.

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DJ Alpha Bravo will spin an eclectic array of nerdy tunes themed around our presenters’ topics.  Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label Radio Khartoum and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop club nights Anisette and Schokolade.

Nerd Nite SF #5: Penguins, Fishy Politics, and the Art of the Pickup

UPDATE! Penguin presentation postponed to a later date. Instead, geomorphologist J. Toby Minear will tell us about how he gets to shoot lasers at the earth—and may even shoot some at us—in his talk “Lasers! Pew Pew! Trees, rocks, lasers, and Radiohead in the weird weird world of point clouds.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010, at 7:30pm
The Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St. @ Van Ness, SF
Cover charge $8
All ages, though parental discretion is most definitely advised.

From the cute to the slippery to the predatory, this month’s Nerd Nite is pretty wild! (Also: get some hackable swag, courtesy of the Emmy Award-winning “The Big Bang Theory,” which is moving to Thursday nights, 8 pm on CBS. New night, new time, same theory!)

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“Penguins: The True Chicken of the Sea” by Brooke Weinstein

Despite being almost universally loved, penguins are easy to parody. They walk funny and we laugh at them when they trip. They look like they’re wearing tuxedos, so we dismiss them as all being the same. They’re birds, but they’re fundamentally different from all other birds. Biologist Brooke Weinstein will take us beyond the caricatures and explain the basic peculiarities of these fascinating creatures

Bio: Brooke Weinstein is an aquarium nerd and aquatic biologist at the California Academy of Sciences. At work Brooke is responsible for a portion of the freshwater collection, including the freshwater stingrays and the 110,000 gallon Amazon Flooded Forest Display, which she likes to dive in as much as possible. She also spends a good bit of time caring for the Academy’s African penguin colony while trying, sometimes successfully, to be the biggest penguin.

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“One Fish, Two Fish, Eat Fish, Sue Fish” by Kate Wing

In the beginning, there was an ocean full of fish. Tasty, tasty fish. Where have they gone? Watch as a Pacific red snapper is transformed into mathematical equations, travels to Capitol Hill, and ultimately ends up in your fish taco. Learn about density dependence, the importance of big females, and judges who read Superman comics. Our guide tonight is a special breed of wonk-nerd hybrid, who takes science across enemy lines and onto the political battlefield.

Bio: Kate Wing started her career as a phycologist (that’s algae) before moving up the food chain to work in the U.S. Senate. She holds a master’s degree in marine affairs and serves as an advisor to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. After nine years of working on California fisheries she joined a foundation so she could fly back to DC a lot. She likes window seats.

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“PUAs, HBs and AMOGs, Oh My!: An Introduction to Pickup Artistry” by GK

Pimpin’ ain’t easy, which is why an Internet subculture of very nerdy dudes developed a set of methods and terminology aimed at seducing the fairer sex. And no, they don’t all revolve around canned lines and furry hats. We bring in a former San Francisco social coach—one of the aforementioned “very nerdy dudes”—to reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of picking up women, from the first hello to getting her number. By the way, do you come here often?

Bio: Women didn’t come easily to GK, but sports did. San Francisco-born and Los Angeles-raised, he has spent most of his career as a sports journalist. After finally getting his groove on with the ladies in his late twenties, GK (just call him Greg) spent the last few years as the San Francisco-based instructor for Charisma Arts, teaching shy guys like him how to meet attractive girls and improve their social lives. He’s mostly retired from coaching now, but still enjoys sharing his thoughts on his blog, www.gkdating.com. He is currently married to his guitar, Joan.

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Plus: DJ Alpha Bravo returns, spinning an eclectic array of nerdy tunes. Some of you clever kids noticed Alpha Bravo’s sets are tightly-themed around our presenters’ topics. We now display a real-time playlist on the stage to loop the rest of you in on the fun. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label Radio Khartoum and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop club nights Anisette and Schokolade.

Nerd Nite – “It’s like the Discovery Channel… with beer!”

Nerd Nite SF #4: Old SF, Synthetic Biology, Sexual Mishaps

Nerd Nite SF #4: Old SF, Synthetic Biology, Sexual MishapsWednesday, August 11th, 2010, at 7:30pm
The Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St. @ Van Ness, San Francisco
Cover charge $8
All ages, though parental discretion is most definitely advised.

Note new day of the week – we’re on a Wednesday this time. Also, note the new lower price! Why? Because we love you. Also: because 150+ people keep turning out for Nerd Nite! So have another beer, you’re going to need it because this Nerd Nite is a doozy…

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“Tales of Old San Francisco” by Laureano Faedi

Local designer & history enthusiast Laureano Faedi takes us on a tour of old San Francisco in all its sinful and spectacular glory, back when a giant water slide bestrode Haight St, there was a neighborhood called “Beer Town,” lifeguards patrolled the largest swimming pool in the US by boat, and teenagers could fly over the city in homemade biplanes. Wow, what happened to you, San Francisco? You used to be cool!

A Buenos Aires transplant, Laureano Faedi fell in love with San Francisco thirty years ago. He now draws inspiration from San Francisco history to create graphic designs for his clothing line at gangsofsanfrancisco.com. He also wears matching outfits with his cat, but the cat doesn’t really seem to care.

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“Biofuel, Medicine, and Colored Poo: The Potential of Synthetic Biology” by Felix Moser

As genome sequencing and DNA synthesis get cheaper, genetic engineering continues to be redefined. Now bioengineers are creating microorganisms that can produce fuels, medicine, and other wonders–like colored poo! Researcher Felix Moser will explain the potential of this scaled-up genetic manipulation termed “synthetic biology,” and how scientists hope to be able to control complex biochemical frameworks to rework, re-engineer, and rebuild life from the bottom up. Is it only a matter of time before lab-grown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a reality? Sadly, no.

Felix Moser is a graduate student in the UCSF/UCB Joint Graduate Group in Bioengineering, where he spends most of his time moving small amounts of fluid between plastic tubes.

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“The Worst Case Scenario Guide to Sex” by Dani Behonick, Ph.D

Sex is a normal, natural human activity – what could possibly go wrong? According to the medical literature, plenty. Physiology professor and sex educator Dr. Dani will be your tour guide through the wild world of sexual mishaps – including ways to tell whether you are in the middle of an actual sexual emergency (and how to avoid one in the first place) – on a romp that leaves the phrase “safe sex” with a whole new meaning. Aftercare not included.

After earning her Ph.D from UCSF, Dani Behonick ran like hell from basic research and began her teaching career. She currently spends half of her time teaching pre-health students how the human body works and how to talk to their future health care patients, and the other half teaching non-science majors how the human body works and how to talk to their health care providers. She is also a giant sexnerd and teaches for San Francisco Sex Information. Glitter, data and zombie movies are a few of her favorite things.

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And DJ Alpha Bravo returns, spinning an eclectic array of nerdy tunes. Some of you clever kids noticed Alpha Bravo’s sets are tightly-themed around our presenters’ topics. We now display a real-time playlist on the stage to loop the rest of you in on the fun. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label Radio Khartoum and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop club nights Anisette and Schokolade.

Nerd Nite – “It’s like the Discovery Channel… with beer!”

Nerd Nite SF #3: Spacecraft, Beards, and Robots!

Thursday, July 8th, 2010, at 7:30pm
The Rickshaw Stop 155 Fell St. @ Van Ness, San Francisco
Cover charge $10, tickets at the door
All ages

Welcome to Nerd Nite SF, 3rd Wed. of every month!

Last month’s nerdtacular was so successful, we’re doing it again! For some reason, the crowd was curious about the Nerd Nite co-host’s luscious full beard, so we are bringing in the two-time world beard champion to answer all your pogonological questions! We’re also discussing the perils of spacecraft navigation (but don’t call it rocket science!) and how to build your own robotic bartender.

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“Beards and Bearding: A Pogonology Primer” by Jack Passion

Competitive bearding. Yea, gentle reader, such a thing exists and it is as awesome as you think it is. With a two-time world championship beard ambassador as our guide, we will find out what it takes to cultivate award-winning whiskers, from the basics of protein synthesis to grooming gadgets galore. Also learn why facial hair plays an important role in human evolution and mating, and why great nerds throughout history have embraced hirsuteness.

Jack Passion is a two-time world champion of beards, having taken the Natural Full Beard category of the World Beard and Moustache Championships both in Brighton, England, in 2007 and Anchorage, Alaska, in 2009. Passion is the author of The Facial Hair Handbook, and tours the world as America’s beard ambassador. Most recently, he hosted the US National Beard and Mustache Championships in Bend, Oregon.

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“Spacecraft Navigation: It Isn’t Rocket Science, It’s Flight Dynamics!” by Dan Cosgrove

There’s no dashboard navigation in the final frontier. So how do you know where you are? And how do you know where you’re going? Where is the nearest rest stop? Are we there yet? Why didn’t you pee before we left? OK, maybe not that last one. But a spacecraft navigation expert will answer all of our other celestial-roadtrip questions, and more, based on his experiences with ARTEMIS, the lunar extension of the NASA-funded THEMIS mission. And no, it’s not as simple as saying ‘engage!’

Dan Cosgrove is a physics nerd who joined the Mission Operations group at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab in 2004. He initially provided orbit and altitude determination analysis and support for the THEMIS mission. In 2006 he became the THEMIS and ARTEMIS navigation lead and currently spends his time flinging washing machine-sized objects at the moon.

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“Build Robots and See the World” by Jonathan Foote

Computing and electronics parts are inexpensive enough these days to allow amateurs to build surprisingly sophisticated machines on a budget. Jon will talk about his experiences building kinetic artworks like “Chassis the Drink-Serving Robot” and SWARM, the collection of six spherical orbs that roll without wheels. He’ll cover how he started, how the robots work, and how knowing what you are doing is not always the best approach. Jon and his collaborators have exhibited robots at the Coachella Music Festival, the International Festival of Cocktail Robotics in Vienna, Austria as well as the Techkriti Festival in Kanpur, India. And for aspiring evil overlords contemplating making their own robotic minions, Jon will have tips and sources for getting started in robotics.

Jonathan Foote comes to the aesthetic sphere from a technical background. A “recovering” scientist with a Ph.D., Jonathan holds 34 US patents and has over 60 scientific publications. A San Francisco resident, he is a frequent hanger-on at the Noisebridge hacker space and a recent Awesome Foundation grant recipient. He is a co-founder of the SWARM robotics collective, and his artwork has been shown at various Bay Area venues as well as internationally. More information on his work can be found at http://www.rotorbrain.com/jtfdesign

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DJ Alpha Bravo returns, spinning an eclectic array of nerdy tunes, encompassing William Shatner-narrated sea expeditions, post-punk paeans to the usefulness of bricks, commercial jingles, synth-jazz-disco explorations of cloud structure, music for librarians, and thick slices of less frequently heard über-80s pop. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label Radio Khartoum and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop club nights Anisette and Schokolade.

Nerd Nite SF Returns: Thursday, June 3, 8pm, Rickshaw Stop

Nerd Nite SF Returns!

Nerd Nite SF
The Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell St. @ Van Ness, San Francisco
Thursday June 3rd, 2010
Doors at 8:00pm, show at 8:30pm
All ages, $10

After last year’s jam-packed nerdtacular event, Nerd Nite has returned to San Francisco! Nerd Nite is an informal gathering at which nerds get together for nerdery of all sorts (well, mostly presentations and drinking). An institution in Boston, New York, Austin, Washington DC, Munich, and now San Francisco. Come welcome Nerd Nite SF and see why dead fish in stinky jars matter, how scientists are using your lipoproteins to create medicine nano-taxis, and how World of Warcraft gold can be exchanged for real sex.

We could sell out again, so advance tix are recommended:
http://www.rickshawstop.com/calendar/event_details/?tfly_event_id=8833

  • “I Was a Teenage Ichthyologist” by Bart Bernhardt
    Our esteemed SF Nerd Nite co-boss recounts a misspent youth measuring dead fish and storing them in jars of alcohol while volunteering at the California Academy of Sciences. It turns out these specimens were crucial to challenging the resumption of logging in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Also: how not to get laid as a teenager.
  • “It’s Not Its Size, But How You Work It” by Brady Burgess
    Fungal infections can be lethal, but sometimes the medicine is almost as bad as the cure – one of the most effective anti-fungal medicines (besides a miniaturized Dennis Quaid) has some truly horrific side-effects (so does Dennis Quaid). Brady is working on a way to deliver this medicine packaged in custom nanoparticles and thereby making it safer.
  • “Is It Fake Money If You Can Buy Real Hookers With It?” by Jennifer Russell
    You’d think corporate governance consulting would be pretty boring, but Jennifer has seen some pretty freaky things. She recently had to look into the seedy world of online virtual currencies. While the digital economies of Eve Online, World of Warcraft, and other virtual worlds are the dream laboratories of some economists, they are also sometimes their nightmares. Market manipulation, ponzi schemes, speculation, and, of course, sex. Some of it even real. Which begs the question, is it really fake money if you can buy real hookers with it?
  • And musical entertainment provided by DJ Alpha Bravo, spinning records selected not merely for their rhythmic aptitude but also for their subject matter, encompassing William Shatner-narrated sea expeditions, post-punk paeans to the usefulness of bricks, commercial jingles, synth-jazz-disco explorations of cloud structure, music for librarians, and thick slices of less frequently heard über-80s pop. Alpha Bravo is VP of left-field pop label Radio Khartoum and was one of the forces behind legendary SF pop club nights Anisette and Schokolade.