Nerd Nite SF #83: Scientist Senators, Forensics, and the Interwebs!

Nerd Nite SF #83: Scientist Senators, Forensics, and the Interwebs!Wednesday, 4/19/17
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

If your brain is feeling a bit taxed (wocka wocka), we’ll happily grant you an extension—or you may file early for 2017, to the Rickshaw Stop bar, where experts will be on hand to guide you through Schedule V(odka) and Form B(eer). Don’t forget to take a deduction on the entrance fee you paid, which this month covers edu-tainment on a biologist’s run for the US Senate, the investigation of death in all its grisliness, and how those interweb pipes get plumbed. With DJ Alpha Bravo spinning, Cross Hatch Eatery serving, and SFPL librarians getting you checked in so you can check stuff out: Be there and be square!

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“A Scientist in the Senate?” by Michael Eisen

In early 2017, Dr. Eisen announced his intention to run to represent the state of California in the US Senate elections of 2018 under the slogan “Liberty, Equality, Reality.” But what really happens when a scientist decides to leave behind grad students, hard-won grants, a labful of fruit flies, and academic independence at a top university? Let’s just say that the laboratory of politics will be chock full of confounding variables! Come hear what it takes to march the March for Science all the way from UC Berkeley to a seat on Capitol Hill.

Michael Eisen is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on understanding how the DNA in an animal embryo creates a complex organism by switching genes on and off in a choreographed pattern during embryonic development. Outside the lab, Dr. Eisen has fought for decades to liberate the results of scientific research from behind paywalls.

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“The Body Never Lies: Autopsy and the Working Stiff” by Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Dr. Judy Melinek performs autopsies for a living. Her husband, T.J. Mitchell, is a writer. Together they will answer everything you dare ask a medical examiner, give you a tour of the morgue, take you through a scene investigation and autopsy, and explore the science of gunshot wounds in a real-life, true-death case study. Drink up and gird yourselves for graphic photos! (They will also have signed and dedicated paperbacks for sale and will answer your questions about forensics, writing narrative nonfiction, dumb ways to die, and anything else!)

Judy and T.J. are co-authors of the New York Times bestseller Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, which recounts Judy’s training in death investigation and explores death by knife, gun, train, drunk boyfriend, crazy girlfriend, flammable perfume, bad diet, bad medicine, bad luck, and gravity—among other things.

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“World Wide WHOA: How the Internet Actually Gets to Your Door” by Luke Mazza

Learn the history of telecommunications, from Alexander Graham Bell to today’s modern (and not-so-modern) internet. How do Internet Service Providers (ISPs) really work, anyway? Let’s take a virtual tour through data centers, down manholes, and up telephone poles to explore the internet infrastructure as it exists today—and the fiber future being built!

Luke is the support development trainer at Sonic. He’s also really, really good at ping pong.

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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.

Nerd Nite SF #82: ET Eavesdropping, Cyborg Senses, and Aging!

Nerd Nite SF #82: ET Eavesdropping, Cyborg Senses, and Aging!Wednesday, 3/15/17
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

This month we have a feast for your super-senses! First, we’ll turn our mightiest eyes and ears skyward in search of alien communications. Then we’ll learn how close we all are to becoming cyborgs, although it’s taken a lot more than six million dollars to get there. Lastly, we’ll zoom in on our cells, and what tells our bodies to age. Tantalize your tastebuds with tamales and cocktails, delight your eyes with library goodness, and please your ears with DJ Alpha Bravo. Be there and square!

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“Listening for Extraterrestrial Civilizations” by Danny Price

Breakthrough Listen eavesdrops on the universe, searching for radio signals and optical laser transmissions. While there have been previous searches for alien communications, this is by far the most comprehensive: Covering 10x the sky and 5x the radio spectrum, at 100x the speed. All this data presents an extraordinary software and data analysis challenge. We’ll hear from Danny Price, whose focus is on processing this data in real-time.

Danny Price is a research fellow working in Berkeley’s Breakthrough Listen lab on instrumentation and data analysis. Originally from Western Australia, Danny received his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Oxford in 2013, after which he moved to Harvard to work on digital signal processing (DSP) for a 21-cm cosmology experiment called LEDA, before joining the Breakthrough Listen lab.

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“Perception Hacking for Cyborgs (That Means You)” by Kara Platoni

Humanity has never been closer to machine than we are now — and it’s only about to get weirder as we increasingly bring technologies onto, and into, our bodies in our eternal quest to alter our perceptual experiences, give ourselves superpowers and (maybe) hack ourselves a sixth sense. From the bionic eye to the thought-controlled robotic limb; from augmented and virtual reality gadgets to biohacker implants, it’s time to consider what comes next in human evolution, and whether we can do it ourselves.

Kara is a science reporter who works the Nancy Drew beat, going anywhere there is a possibility of a weird adventure involving pirates, old clocks or (ideally) ghosts. For her book, We Have the Technology, she sofa-surfed through four countries and eight US states, visiting any lab, military base or biohacker basement that would let her get in on an experiment on the cutting edge of sensory science. She teaches narrative writing at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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“Dispatches from the Mitochondria: Mutations, Aging, and Death” by Gregory Tranah, PhD

Dr. Tranah studies the genetics of aging and age-related traits, and is attempting to identify the genes associated with longevity. He’s also examining the role of mitochondrial DNA mutations in both pancreatic cancer and human energetics.

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

Food: Delicious eats from Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas.

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 #81: Memorization, Lock-picking, and Ancient Yeast!

Wednesday, 2/15/17
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

This month we have a Trump regime-survival troika! First, yuck it up with a memory champ and a bunch of comedians. Then learn how to get out of the handcuffs you may find yourself in when your post-brunch protest turns riotous. Finally, make yourself nice and numb with some beers brewed with ancient yeast strains. It’s the least we could do for you fine eureka-staters. Oh, and SFPL, DJAB, and GCG will be there and square, too!

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Eureka! Science Comedy presents
“Memory of Champions” with Chester Santos

We’re giving you a special mini-version of one of our favorite local shows, Eureka!, an interactive science comedy show where scientists talk, comedians crack jokes, and audience members win prizes. “The International Man of Memory” Chester Santos, 2008 U.S. Memory Champion, will be in the house! Chester has helped thousands of people realize the benefits of an improved memory and sharper mind. And also joining hosts Allen Saakyan and Kevin Whittinghill will be some of the Bay Area’s funniest comedians. Expect to learn and laugh your ass off!

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“Handcuffs & Ravens” by Bob Hermes and Christine Bachman

Erotic game gone awry? Kidnapped by a crooked cop? Don’t fret – find out just how easy it is to bypass the inner workings of the modern-day handcuff! Bob and Christine will lock on to the history of handcuffs, unlock their inherent weaknesses, and show us how to escape them with nothing more than a bobby pin. Oh, and they’ll also crow about teaching some neighborhood ravens how to open locked boxes.

Bob is a network security engineer and Christine is a California-licensed locksmith. Through their business, Lockpick Extreme, they have taught thousands of people the art of lock-picking and handcuff escape.

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Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. and Schubros Brewing present
“Brewing With 45-Million-Year-Old Yeast” by Chip Lambert

While modern beer advertising suggests that its flavor comes from mountain spring water, golden fields of grain, and the freshest hops, in reality it’s the microbes that are the real heroes. Yeast cells slave away converting glucose to ethanol and carbon dioxide, and we beer-goggled consumers have next to no appreciation for the minute amounts of ester, aldehydes, and amyl-alcohols that make a beer eminently drinkable – or turn it into fertilizer. Fossil Fuels Brewing eschews the inbred strains most brewers use, instead isolating ancient yeast from the gut of a prehistoric bee trapped in 45-million-year-old amber. Drink up ancient times!

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

Food: Delicious eats from the scientist of the sammie, Grilled Cheez 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 #80: Queer History, Gene Editing, and Gravitational Waves!

Nerd Nite SF #80: Queer History, Gene Editing, and Gravitational Waves!Wednesday, 1/18/17
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

With Auld Lang Syne still reverberating in our ears, the first Nerd Nite SF of 2017 draws nigh. If your New Year’s resolution was to learn new things, meet interesting people, or kill more brain cells with beer then we have the event for you! A historian weaves a queer biography, a scientist (to the best of our knowledge, of the sane variety) manipulates genomes, and a physicist demonstrates how to listen to gravity waves. Come out for three fascinating talks, plus music, drinks, food, and your fellow nerds. Be there and be square!

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“Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi” by Amy Sueyoshi

In the 1890s Japanese Immigrant poet Yone Noguchi – better known today as the father of acclaimed artist Isamu Noguchi – wrote torrid letters of love to Bohemian Club founder Charles Warren Stoddard, as he impregnated Leonie Gilmour and proposed marriage to Alabama’s first historian Ethel Armes who was likely a lesbian. How could same-sex sexuality, infidelity, and interracial love exist openly and acceptably at the turn of the century in the midst of anti-miscegenation and sodomy laws?

Amy is the Associate Dean of College of Ethnic Studies and teaches at the intersection of race and sexuality. She’s founding co-curator of the GLBT History Museum and has a second book forthcoming titled, The Price of Leisure: White Pleasure and the Making of the American “Oriental.”

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“Gene Editing: Approaching the Age of GATTACA” by Ashley Libby

Our DNA controls our lives more than we realize. It not only influences our appearance and how our bodies function, but it can also cause things to go wrong. Many diseases are genetically linked to your DNA. Now imagine being able to change that. Envision a doctor telling you that they can simply “cut out” the gene that causes a disease. While this might seems like a scene out of a science fiction novel, it is closer to reality with the discovery of a gene-editing tool called CRISPR. What is CRISPR? Why are scientists so excited about it? How would we use it? Is it really safe? Come learn about the rapidly developing field of gene editing, what genes scientists want to delete, and what we should watch out for.

Ashley is a PhD student at UCSF and manipulates stem cell genomes on the daily.

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“Gravity Waves, Interference, and Quantum Mechanics: Opening up new windows to the large and small world” by Holger Müller

We can actually “hear” cosmic gravitational waves – ripples in spacetime created by neutron star binary systems, black holes, and echoes from the birth of the universe, and more – with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Holger will show with a live demo how we can use a modified laser pointer to generate audio and visualizations using laser interferometry, and will play audio from the real LIGO, while explaining what it all means.

Holger is Associate Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, and his group develops experimental technology for incredibly precise measurements.

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

Food: Delicious bao by 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.

Nerd Nite SF #79: Prehistoric Ecology, Metadata, and Vibrators!

Nerd Nite SF #79: Prehistoric Ecology, Metadata, and Vibrators!

Sauropod courtesy of Brian Engh — dontmesswithdinosaurs.com

Wednesday, 12/21/16
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages

Tickets here

As is our hallowed nerdy tradition, our December show has NOTHING to do with the holidays and EVERYTHING to do with learning something new about something you never knew you should know. Got it? So come get it! Dude, we’ll get so meta about metadata with a software engineer and kick it with one of our audience faves (and nephew of DJ Alpha Bravo) rapping (maybe literally) about dinosaurs. With booze from our beloved Rickshaw ‘tenders, books from the SFPL, and bites from Alicia’s Tamales, be there and be square!

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“STOMPIN’ THROUGH TIME!!!” by Brian Engh

Explore a dinosaur-infested prehistoric ecology through the evidence left on a squishy, nasty old lakeshore! You may remember Brian from his 2015 talk, “Extreme Dinosaur Makeover,” in which he took us through the process of accurately reconstructing dinosaurs from bones on up. Well, this professional paleo artist and creature designer is back to edify and entertain you!

Brian is also a filmmaker, animator and rapper/beat-maker steeped in a lifelong fascination with natural history. His paleo illustrations can be seen in scientific papers, books, museum displays, and several outdoor interpretive fossil sites around Moab Utah, one of which is the focus of this talk. His various and assorted creative efforts are collected on his website http://www.DontMessWithDinosaurs.com.

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“Getting Meta with Your Data: How to see and be more than the sum of our parts” by Simon Bayangos

“Metadata” has entered the mainstream, but much of its meaning and value has been mislaid in the process. Metadata is just that—data that tells us about data. But most of our attempts to capture, comprehend, and control this information have tried to do it as if it were analog information. What if we could experience data the way we hear an orchestra or smell an amazing meal? What if we could interpret millions or even billions of pieces of information not as individual isolated stories but as a collective whole? And what if this information were not scientifically accumulated data on the physical world but rather the intertwined threads of our lives? Tonight we will see and hear metadata in ways few people have perceived it and learn about all the big and small, public and secret ways and places it is accumulated. Whoa, meta.

Simon’s never met a piece of data he couldn’t dig something interesting out of (a.k.a. Head of Engineering at Nuix – a forensic software company).

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“Hysterical Paroxysms: The Amazing History of the Vibrator” by Carol Queen, PhD

Your great-great-grandmother might have owned a vibrator, and the fascinating story of our favorite household helper is truly stranger than fiction. Learn all about their history with Good Vibrations’ Antique Vibrator Museum curator Carol Queen, PhD!

Carol is Good Vibrations‘ staff sexologist, curator of the Antique Vibrator Museum, and runs the Center for Sex & Culture.

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

Food: Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas will be upstairs serving hot plates of yum.

Nerd Nite SF #78: Impractical Materials, Black Holes, and Suggestibility!

Nerd Nite SF #78: Impractical Materials, Black Holes, and Suggestibility!Wednesday, 11/16/16
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @ Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

You know what sounds really good right now? A good stiff drink, and a reminder that despite all the ups and downs, the world is still an amazing and wonderful place. We’ll experience the glorious highs of seeing supermassive black holes in a new light, so to speak, and the crushing lows of a new satellite spinning into oblivion. We’ll admire the marvels of amazing materials, and then ponder what the hell we can actually do with them. And we’ll learn not just how our minds are remarkably gullible, but why that is actually a good thing.

All that, plus our local friendly librarians, tunes by DJ Alpha Bravo, libations by the Rickshaw Stop bartenders, and a crowd of awesome nerds. Be there and be square!

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“Good for Nothin’: The Beautiful and Impractical Side of Materials Science” by Becky Belisle

New semiconductors for solar power, biocompatible transistors to map your brain – scientists are hard at work coming up with new materials to make your world better, faster, stronger. But what about discoveries that are more dope than disruptive? Tonight, let’s hear it for the underdogs of solid-state chemistry, and celebrate the science behind some amazing materials whose applications are more than a little far afield. We’re talking light-sensitive lights, semiconductors that move like plants, how to grow your own nano-garden, and more! So come rejoice in some materials that just might not be good for anything (yet!).

We are living in a materials world, and Becky is a materials girl (a.k.a. PhD student at Stanford University).

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“Hitomi: A Tale of Black Holes and Broken Satellites” by Norbert Werner

On Feb 17th, 2016, the Hitomi satellite was launched into space. It was meant to be the most sensitive X-ray eye in space, and designed to answer some deeply puzzling questions in astrophysics. It immediately made a truly groundbreaking observation, but then a system failure sent the satellite into a death spiral, literally spinning itself apart. This talk is about the science that was gathered in the first observation and a personal story of the ups and downs in studies of supermassive black holes.

Norbert is an astrophysicist and one of the scientists who analyzed the Hitomi data.

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“Suggestible You” by Erik Vance

Explore the world of placebos, hypnosis, false memories, and neurology with science writer Erik Vance to reveal the science of our suggestible minds. We are all suggestible, gullible, malleable by nature – and this is actually a good thing. Our expectations change our reality: If you give an athlete colored water, but call it “Gatorade”, they perform better. Students test better with “MIT” pens. And fancy labels will genuinely make wine taste better. Can we use this to make ourselves fitter, smarter, and even happier?

Erik is science writer whose work has been featured in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, National Geographic, and many others, and contributing editor at Discover magazine. He is the author of “Suggestible You“.

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

Food: Delicious bites from a pop-up food purveyor.

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