Nerd Nite SF #96: Singing Science, Star Wars Law, & Bicycle Politics!

Nerd Nite SF #96: Singing Science, Star Wars Law, & Bicycle Politics!Wednesday, 5/16/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

Dodge those un-prettily parked sidewalk scooters and don’t trip on the way over to this month’s nerdering, where a singing scientist talks Bell’s palsy; a certified Legal Geek reviews the rules of a galaxy far, far away; and a transport expert tells us if it’s maybe okay to toss aforementioned scooters into the Bay or not. Grilled cheese, terrific tunes, and no bar maximum: Be there and be square!

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“About Face: How a Disability Turned a Singing Scientist into a Scientific Singer” with Heidi Moss Erickson

Face it – the face is important. We all use ours to express emotion and connect with others. But for singers the face is a vital part of the vocal instrument. After suffering cranial nerve damage, opera singer Heidi-on the cusp of a promising international career-lost control of her facial muscles, and neurologists doubted she’d ever be able to perform again. But this award-winning singer had a hidden talent: science! Through reductionist experimentation and diving into literature on the neuroscience of vocal learning, she has returned to the art she loves and the science she adores.

Heidi received a double degree in vocal performance and biology from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, studied biochemistry at Penn and singing at Juilliard, and was covered by the New York Times for her research and her singing in the same year.

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“Star Wars Law!” with Joshua Gilliland

Could Darth Vader argue the insanity defense for following the Dark Side? Was it discrimination not to serve R2-D2 and C-3PO at the Mos Eisley Cantina? Was Han right to shoot first? Find out these answers and more from Joshua Gilliland, one of the attorney bloggers from The Legal Geeks at Star Wars Law.

Josh focuses his law practice on e-discovery and co-created the multi-award-winning blog The Legal Geeks. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.

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“Street Fights! Bicycle Politics in San Francisco & Copenhagen” with Jason Henderson

Jason is a professor of geography and environment at SF State, where he teaches courses in transportation and land use. He is currently writing a book about the politics of the bicycle and car in Copenhagen, where he spent a research sabbatical in 2016. Jason is also writing about the politics of “tech mobility,” including Uber/Lyft, driverless cars, and private bus systems.

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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 master of the sammie, Grilled Cheese Guy, who now has his own physical restaurant at 529 Stevenson St. in SF!

Nerd Nite SF #95: Parallel Worlds, Elderly Sex, Privacy!

Nerd Nite SF #95: Parallel Worlds, Elderly Sex, Privacy!In an infinite universe there are infinite speaker lineups, but in this one we like to think you’re getting the best of them all. An astrophysicist will collapse the many-worlds theory of Hugh Everett down to a single tale, a geriatrician talks about our grayer and flappier but hopefully awesome future sex lives, and a computational psychologist shares what our digital footprints reveal about ourselves. All this plus DJ Alpha Bravo, drinks, bao, and lots of friendly nerds. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 4/18/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here ->

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“It Came from a Parallel World!” by Adam Becker

In 1957, the drunken prankster physicist Hugh Everett found good evidence for parallel universes buried in the mathematics of quantum physics. Learn the real science behind this bizarre idea — and the real history of how Everett’s idea was developed in the 1950s, almost immediately forgotten, and revived again over a decade later.

Adam is an astrophysicist, science writer, public speaker, and author of the book What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (http://whatisre.al, and we’ll have copies available at Nerd Nite). He’s also a visiting scholar in the Office for the History of Science and Technology at UC Berkeley. Adam once fought off a horde of feral geocentrists, but he still sometimes forgets that not everything revolves around him.

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“Granny Still Gets It On: Aging and Sexual Health” by Laura Perry

Why are we as Americans so terrified and grossed out by the idea of older adults having sexual lives? We’re just being prejudiced against our future selves. Dr. Laura Perry, a double board-certified geriatrician and primary care doctor, will talk about the many ways in which sexual lives change as time marches on. The good news: it’s not all bad news! The even better news: no one’s going to ask you to think about your grandparents going at it.

Dr. Perry is a clinical associate professor at UC San Francisco in the division of geriatrics and the associate medical director of adult primary care at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

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“The End of Privacy” by Michal Kosinski

A growing proportion of human activities such as social interactions, entertainment, shopping, and gathering information are now mediated by digital devices and services. Such digitally mediated activities produce an unprecedented amount of digital footprints that can be used to reveal our intimate traits, emotions, and predict future behavior. Given the progress in Artificial Intelligence and computing, we should get ready for the future where privacy is a privilege reserved for the few.

Dr. Kosinski is the Assistant Professor in Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. He is a psychologist and data scientist. His research focuses on studying humans through the lenses of digital footprints left behind while using digital platforms and devices. Previously, Michal was the Deputy Director of the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, a researcher at Microsoft Research, and a post-doc at Stanford’s Computer Science Department.

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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.

Nerd Nite #94: Missing Neutrons, Saving Corals, & the EM Spectrum!

Nerd Nite SF #94: Missing Neutrons, Saving Corals, & the EM Spectrum!With nuclear physicist and comedian Kevin Peter Hickerson, Cal Academy of Sciences reef expert Rebecca Albright, and telecommunications policy lawyer Preston Thomas. Food by Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas and music by DJ Alpha Bravo. Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite SF #94: Saving Corals, Missing Neutrons, and more!
Wednesday, 3/21/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

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“Who the Hell Stole My Frozen Neutrons?” by Kevin Peter Hickerson

Neutrons are normally stowed safely in the dense nuclei of atoms. But when we knock a neutron loose like a break in billiards, it is unstable and only hangs around for about 15 minutes before turning into just another boring hydrogen atom. Measuring this exact length of time, however, is very tricky. One new way is to freeze them to insanely low temperatures, but these ultracold neutrons disappear faster than expected! Did we count wrong? Do they become dark matter or enter the mirror world? Where the hell do they go?

Kevin is a nuclear physicist, inventor and comedian. He has worked with ultracold neutrons for over a decade. He hosts the science and comedy podcast Surely You’re Joking.

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“Can We Save the Corals?!” by Rebecca Albright

Driven by urgency, scientists are trying increasingly bold and creative ways to conserve and restore reef ecosystems. They’re rapidly transplanting, fertilizing, and enhancing corals to help them adapt to warmer oceans, and they’re searching for techniques that are scalable and won’t break the bank. Rebecca will introduce us to some of the main challenges facing reefs today and the innovative ways scientists are trying to address these threats head-on. Join us for a peek into the future of coral reefs, and discover how you can be part of the solution.

Rebecca is a coral biologist, curator, and co-leader of the Hope for Reefs initiative at the California Academy of Sciences. She focuses on understanding how coral reef ecosystems cope with changing environmental conditions.

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“Running Out of Light” by Preston Thomas

Yes, Dorothy, there is an end to the rainbow, and we’re getting there far faster than we realize. When every wireless device needs a slice of the electromagnetic spectrum and seven–no, eight, no, nine–billion people want a wireless device (or two), we find ourselves in the middle of a most unusual land rush. From satphones to SETI, pirate radio to thermonuclear war, we’ll trip the light fantastic as we examine how spectrum gets used and used up, and discover the clever engineering and policy that goes into squeezing the most out of this strange intangible natural resource.

Preston is a lawyer, lockpicker, and amateur radio operator. He has worked in telecommunications policy for a decade.

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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: Tantalizing tamales from Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas.

Nerd Nite SF #93: Lost Venues, Folkpocalypse, and Hybrid Instruments!

Nerd Nite SF #93: Lost Venues, Folkpocalypse, and Hybrid Instruments!Nerd Nite goes musical this month, with toe-tapping talks on missing music venues, a performance about the apocalypse, and making a Faustian bargain for a golden iFiddle! Plus cocktails, grilled cheese sandwiches, and DJ’d tunes to keep things humming. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 2/21/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

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“Bring The Noise, Bring Defunct: A Personal History of SF’s Deceased Music Venues” by Dan Strachota

You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: The San Francisco music scene is dead! All the cool venues are getting shut down! Everything used to be so much better here! Is it all really true? Dan will attempt to answer these questions by taking a walk down memory lane, uncovering the amazing and wild music venues of the past – and finding out just what happened to them.

Dan has written about music for SF Weekly, San Francisco magazine, SPIN.com, and the East Bay Express. He’s also the Talent Buyer at Rickshaw Stop and Phono Del Sol.

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“The End of The World As We Know It” by The Ten Thousand Ways

The Ten Thousand Ways, AKA Trisha Stan, Ph.D. and Gregory Bentsen, Up.G.* explore the probability of the world ending in various disasters, including death by asteroid, death by black hole, and various other apocalyptically delightful scenarios. We can’t promise that this will be a particularly uplifting presentation but we CAN promise you a super mario-themed explanation of black hole physics and GIFs of Justin Timberlake in space.

The Ten Thousand Ways is an americana-folk duo with a not-so-secret nerdy side. Trisha Stan and Gregory Bentsen met on the science podcast Goggles Optional, for which they regularly improved the lyrics to popular songs by making them about science.

*[Under-paid Graduate Student]

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“The Hybrid Mobile Instrument: Shredding on Smart-Devices” by Romain Michon

Digital music modules (controllers, synthesizers, etc.), smartphone-based instruments, and “traditional” acoustic instruments all have strengths and trade-offs. By blending these platforms into a hybrid instrument based on mobile devices and augmented with sensors and 3D-printed acoustic elements, we can create new instruments that go to eleven.

Romain Michon is a Ph.D. candidate at the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. His research focuses on physical modeling, 3D printing, musical interfaces development and the programming language FAUST (Functional AUdio STream).

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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: Glorious grilled cheese from the master of the sammie, Grilled Cheese Guy, who now has his own physical restaurant at 529 Stevenson St. in SF!

Nerd Nite SF #92: Trans Sanfrisco, Math Mysteries, and Slow Science!

Wednesday, 1/17/2018
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

A gender scholar, a mathematician, and a physicist walk into a bar… that can mean only one thing: It’s a new year of Nerd Nite! That bar is the Rickshaw Stop–located at the intersection of trans history, surreal math, and “artisanal” physics–and we have three stable geniuses ready to guide you. Add some music and cocktails and pork belly bao, and presto! You’re there and you’re square!

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“Trans Sanfrisco” by Susan Stryker

A renowned gender scholar looks at the history behind the city’s recent designation of parts of the Tenderloin neighborhood as the “Compton’s Transgender Cultural District.”

Susan is a theorist, filmmaker, author of several books about LGBT history and culture, and professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, director of the Institute for LGBT Studies, and founder of the Transgender Studies Initiative at the University of Arizona.

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“20 Mathematical Mysteries in 20 Minutes” by Roger Antonsen

We explore that world of strange, quirky, and beautiful mathematics you never learned about in school: paradoxes, puzzles, games, infinities, chaos, fractals, surreals, automata, art, and more.

Roger is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Oslo, Norway, and currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, California. He enjoys all things at the intersection of mathematics, philosophy, and computer science.

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“Slow Atoms, Slow Science” by Eric Copenhaver

Each morning, Eric saunters into a lab brimming with lasers enrobed in a bramble of criss-crossed cables and optical fibers. His lasers slow atoms from their supersonic, room-temperature speeds and turn them into an exotic sensor. He flips some switches to illuminate the lasers. Fiat lux. Even still, he’s in the dark. Something that worked yesterday doesn’t work today. This exposé will shed light on why science can move so slowly.

Eric was born on the day the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, but dreamed of being a rockstar. After a freshman year at Ohio’s University of Akron as a jazz guitar major, he hung up the axe and switched to physics. Now, as a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, he shoots lasers at atoms to exploit their quantum properties.

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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.

Nerd Nite SF #91: Brainhacking, Holiday Comics, and WWII Botany!

Nerd Nite SF #91: Brainhacking, Holiday Comics, and WWII Botany!Wednesday, 12/20/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

Screw stockings–stuff your brain instead! An artist-hacker will teach us how to build our way to brain manipulation (great gift ideas), comics experts from the Cartoon Art Museum will bring a sleigh-full of holiday classics and clunkers, and our own co-boss Bart will transport us to an obscure battle fought on the plant science front of World War II. Tamales, tunes, and toddies of the hot variety round out the nite. Be there and be square!

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“Cyborg Your Mind” by Alex Glow

Explore electronics projects that you can build to manipulate your brain in strange, new, debatably useful ways!

Alex creates projects, tutorials, and video content for Hackster.io. She has been a FIRST Robotics kid, a director of the AHA and Noisebridge hackerspaces, and an artist-in-residence at Autodesk’s Pier 9. See also: music, language, bikes.

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“O Holy Night, Batman! The Cartoon Art Museum’s Best and Worst Holiday Comics” by Nina Taylor Kester and Andrew Farago

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at…Iron Man? Join San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum for a festive look at a century’s worth of holiday cartoons and comics, from timeless favorites like Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts and How the Grinch Stole Christmas to forgotten classics including Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol and a stocking full of bizarre holiday comics starring everyone from ALF to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Cartoon Art Museum staff will share the secret stories behind some of the best–and worst–children’s books, comics, and animation the holidays have to offer.

With comic book colorist and Cartoon Art Museum Program Coordinator Nina Taylor Kester and award-winning author and Cartoon Art Museum Curator Andrew Farago.

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“The Botanists’ War” by Bart Bernhardt

Commando raids, political intrigue, heroic sacrifice and… plant science? This is the tale of two scientists on opposing sides–one Nazi, one Soviet–whose lives and research became strangely intertwined during World War II.

Bart is a co-organizer of Nerd Nite SF and is fascinated by great assholes in science history.

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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: Tantalizing tamales from Alicia’s Tamales los Mayas.

Nerd Nite SF #90: Neurogenesis, Snakebites, & Scurvy!

Nerd Nite SF #90: Scurvy, Neurogenesis, and Snakebites!Feelings of malaise? Lethargy? Whether it’s scurvy or just boredom, we have the cure for you! Have your mind blown with a tale of atomic testing and neuroscience, recoil at the scope of the snakebite epidemic, and add a slice of lemon to your beer for the convoluted saga of scurvy. All this plus the musical stylings of DJ Alpha Bravo, grilled cheese sammies, and awesome people like you.

Wednesday, 11/15/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here

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“Nuclear Testing and Other Things That May or May Not Damage Your Brain” by Whitney Heavner

Prior to the 1960’s, scientists believed that the adult brain has no capacity for regeneration. A few classical experiments in 1965 changed everything. Yet, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America continues to link drugs, your brain, and fried eggs. Just how resilient is the human brain? Learn how above-ground nuclear arms testing helped us answer this question through carbon dating, and see how radioactive tracers in rodents show when a baby neuron has sealed its fate.

Whitney Heavner is a postdoctoral fellow in the Stanford biology department deciphering the genome’s blueprint for building the 100 billion neurons that make up your brain.

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“The Snakebite Epidemic” by Dr. Matthew Lewin

Worldwide, there are more than 5 million snakebites each year, killing as many as 100,000 people. An additional 400,000 suffer snakebite-related disability and disfigurement. This year, the WHO listed snakebite as one of the most significant—and neglected—medical crises facing the globe. Dr. Lewin has identified sPLA2 inhibitors as a potential treatment for a broad spectrum of snake venoms. His group has demonstrated potency against 28 snake venom sPLA2s from six continents and has conducted pre-clinical studies showing excellent survival prospects, which were recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Toxins.

An emergency physician, neuroscientist, expedition doctor, and California Academy of Sciences Fellow, Dr. Matthew Lewin co-founded Ophirex, Inc. (“Ophi” is Greek for “snake”) with Mr. Jerry Harrison (of the Talking Heads) to focus on developing field treatments for snakebite. Ophirex (www.ophirex.com) is committed to providing sustainably-priced antidotes so that treatment for any snakebite can begin anywhere, anytime, by anyone.

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“Scurvy: Lost and Found. And Found. And… Found (Again)” by Laura Lanford

Do you think pirate talk was all “Avast, ye miserable scallywags!” and “Shiver me timbers!”? Likely you’d also hear mutters along the lines of “Ow, me teeth hurt!” and “Argh, me aching bones!” Life on the sea was more scurvy than it was swagger, in no small part because we kept losing the ubiquitous yet elusive cure for this dreaded vitamin deficiency. From the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn, from Greenland to Antarctica, come and hear tell of the convoluted tale of the Scourge of the Seas!

Laura Lanford is on loan from Nerd Nite Chicago. She talks a lot about a lot of things, mostly Extinction Level Events but sometimes medical esoterica as well.

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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 grilled cheese from the master of the sammie, Grilled Cheese Guy.

Nerd Nite SF #89: Brain Science, Neon Signs, and Dark Matter!

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.

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“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.

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“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 http://neonbook.xyz

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“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 http://darkmatterday.com

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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 #88: Shark Die-Offs, Clever Animal Adaptations, and Bots!

Nerd Nite SF #88: Shark Die-Offs, Clever Animal Adaptations, and Bots!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Rickshaw Stop...Wednesday, 9/20/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets

We’re late, but we’re great…white sharks, that is! Plus, lots and lots of weird animals and bots. Sean Van Sommeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation will talk tagging, tracking, and stranding of great white sharks in the Bay Area. Wired magazine science writer Matt Simon will guide us through the many clever animal adaptations that evolution has produced over the millennia, from the horrifying to the downright hilarious: think flatworms fencing with their penises, ants being mind-controlled by a fungus, pearlfish swimming up sea cucumber butts, and axolotls mating! And Mark Stephen Meadows will chat you up about bots and avatars. Add stiff drinks, themed tunes, and you. Voilà, a nerd cocktail! Be there and be square!

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Wednesday, 9/20/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets here: https://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1526483?utm_medium=bks
We’re late, but we’re great…white sharks, that is! Plus, lots and lots of weird animals. Sean van Sommeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation will talk about mass die-offs of sharks (and other creatures) in the Bay. Wired magazine science writer Matt Simon will guide us through the many clever animal adaptations that evolution has produced over the millennia, from the horrifying to the downright hilarious: think flatworms fencing with their penises, ants being mind-controlled by a fungus, pearlfish swimming up sea cucumber butts, and axolotls mating! And Mark Stephen Meadows will chat you up about bots and avatars. Add stiff drinks, themed tunes, and you. Voilà, a nerd cocktail! Be there and be square!
“Bad Bot. Good Bot.” by Mark Stephen Meadows
You’re authenticated on Facebook but chatbots aren’t. Bots can spam, scam, phish, spoof, and abuse more effectively than people. What we need are license plates for these things. If we bolt a voice onto a bot we make an assistant, so let’s look at what assistants (Siri, Alexa, Cortana) collect, what’s done with that data, and how they can share it in ML dialogue markets. Then let’s bolt a face onto the assistant and look at the future of multi-modal avatars for video chat, VR, and AR. Oh, and ethics.
Mark Stephen Meadows is an author, inventor, artist, and CEO of Botanic Technologies. With 20 years experience in real-time 3D (VR/AR/etc), 15 years experience in NLP/AI, and 5 in robotics he’s designed and developed artificial intelligence applications with companies as diverse as Microsoft, Sony, Xerox-PARC, Stanford Research Institute, LucasArts, Oracle, and others. He leads the vision of Botanic by inventing new methods of computer-human interaction, developing the hearts and minds of highly social avatars and graphical bots.
“Zombie Ants, Penis Fencing, and Fish That Swim Up Sea Cucumber Butts: The Animal Kingdom Is Legit” by Matt Simon
At this very moment, two flatworms in the sea have extended their needle-like penises and started fencing with them, each worm trying to stab the other and inject sperm through the skin. Meanwhile, in South America, a fungus has invaded an ant’s mind and driven it out of the colony to a precise spot in the rainforest. Oh, and the eel-like pearlfish has swum up a sea cucumber’s butt and eaten its internal organs, including the gonads.
Believe it or not, these are all clever adaptations to the everyday problems of life. Join Wired magazine science writer Matt Simon as he guides you through the many solutions that evolution has produced over the millennia, from the horrifying to the downright hilarious, and sometimes both at the same time.
Matt Simon is a science writer at Wired magazine, where he focuses on robotics and biology. He’s the author of The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar (Penguin, 2016) and of a forthcoming book about parasites that mind-control their hosts, out next fall. He’s one of the few people on the planet to witness the fabled mating ritual of the axolotl salamander, a tale he’ll tell at Nerd Nite SF.
“Sharks & Epizootic Mass Die-Off Update” by Sean Van Sommeran
Sean Van Sommeran established the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in 1990 to kick off the ‘shark conservation, education and research’ movement.
Based in Monterey Bay, the PSRF has a stranding rescue and collecting unit that coordinates response to toxic spills, injured and trapped sharks and rays and mass stranding events and epizootic die offs and combating poachers throughout the state of California and Bay Areas.
Currently focused on white shark, basking shark and mass stranding response projects, there is much to tell and talk about and question and answer discussions are always informative and from primary sources and well documented.
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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.

Nerd Nite SF #87: Ticks + Bacteria, Apocalypse Ethics, & Climate Change!

Nerd Nite SF #87: Climate Data, Ticks + Bacteria, Apocalypse EthicsWednesday, 8/16/2017
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets

We need you now Wednesday night. We need you more than ever. And if you only hold your beer tight, we’ll never be dumb together. A total eclipse…of the smart! Yes, folks, we have arthropods and their bacterial friends, as explained by a microbiologist. We have a genuine philosopher waxing twisted about environmental ethics. And we’ll also play the climate change blame game, along with Grilled Cheese Guy, DJ Alpha Bravo, and maybe the library, too! As Bonnie Tyler would say: Forever’s gonna start Wednesday night, so be there and be square!

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“Climate Change and Data-Driven Blame/Solutions” by Saul Griffith

Take a brutally honest look at our climate change hypocrisies with a surprisingly optimistic outcome. Blaming yourself, blaming the government, blaming big business, blaming your neighbours, blaming wall street. No matter who the target of your ire is, get the right data to be angry—and the most accurate prognosis yet for actually just solving climate change. You might call it “Ode to the Planet Fucking Hypocrite,” if you want to be edgy.

Saul has multiple degrees in materials science and mechanical engineering, and is an inventor, columnist, children’s book author, technical advisor to Make and Popular Mechanics magazines, and co-founder of several companies. Coincidentally, this year he contracted Lyme disease.

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“Blood and Guts: Ticks and Their Bacterial Friends” by Dr. Seemay Chou

Microbes inhabiting the guts of blood-sucking arthropods can be passed from animal to animal during feeding, at times resulting in bubonic plague (fleas), malaria (mosquitoes), and Lyme disease (ticks). Although generally unwelcome, only a few arthropod species are actually capable of transmitting dangerous microbes to humans. For example, the Lyme disease bacterium is spread through the bite of a single tick species, despite dozens of other ticks encountering it in the wild. Seemay will talk about different ecological and molecular factors that underlie these tick-bacteria relationships and how her research group is trying to use this information to break the cycle of infection.

Seemay is a microbiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at UCSF.

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“Ethics After the End of the World” by Sam Mickey

Climate change, pollution, mass extinction—an ecological emergency is upon us. People have heard the facts, but the emergency continues to intensify. This is an ethical problem: What should be done? Typical answers like “protect nature” and “save the world” clearly haven’t been working. Could our ideas of “nature” and “the world” be part of the problem? Presenting a twisted ethics for coexisting in an ecological emergency, Sam suggests that the world ended, there is no nature, and the best guide for knowing how to respond to things is the profound anxiety that comes with not knowing how to respond to things.

Sam teaches at the University of San Francisco. He has a PhD in philosophy and religion and has authored and edited several books on environmental ethics, including On the Verge of a Planetary Civilization: A Philosophy of Integral Ecology.

 

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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 hot goop between crispy slices of bread, brought to you by the scientist of the sammie, 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.