Nerd Nite #66: Hypervelocity, SF Politicking, and Fake Deafness Cures!

Nerd Nite #66: Hypervelocity, SF Politicking, and Fake Deafness Cures!Wednesday, 11/18/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets!

Should you elect to come to Nerd Nite this month, we guarantee – cross our quackish little hearts – that you’ll come away cured of a certain amount of ignorance. Now, isn’t that something to be thankful for? Join a speed obsessive, PR flack, a medical historian, a vinyl-spinner, some bad-ass librarians, the gracious Rickshavians, and your humble co-bosses: Be there and be square!

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“Hypervelocity Launchers: How to Launch a Projectile at 10 Miles/Second? (That’s right, per second!)” by Vincent Tanguay

From bows and arrows to rail guns, man has been perfecting tools to launch projectiles at ever greater speeds for tens of thousands of years. Launching projectiles at hypervelocity is routine today and these launchers are very useful for science. While they have enabled major breakthroughs (think access to space), scientists always need more speed! We’ll discuss what hypervelocity is, its applications, and the various technologies that make it possible. Of course, we’ll talk about their limitations and how to push the frontier of possibilities. Somehow, we’ll manage to include some explosions in there – hopefully we get it right!

Vincent Tanguay, Ph.D., has a background in explosives and detonations and formerly worked as a scientist for a Canadian National Lab. When not busy blowing stuff up, he was developing an explosive-driven hypervelocity launcher.

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“A San Francisco Politicking Primer” by Alex Clemens

As you probably noticed, that election just happened. There’s another one in June, and one more (for President and other stuff!) in November 2016. Our town is undergoing a transformation, which is amazing and wonderful or wretched and incomprehensible, depending on where you stand. Alex will help put San Francisco’s current politics and policies in perspective, take your questions, and probably crash and burn in an overzealous attempt to be funny.

Alex is founder of Barbary Coast Consulting, a media talking head, PR flack, coalition builder, and lobbyist. He also lectures about ethical advocacy at USF, but without a Bulleit Rye in hand (sadly) because accreditation has rules. Ask him to recite “Jabberwocky.”

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“Why be Deaf? The Heyday of Fakes, Frauds, and Fads in Deafness Cures” by Jaipreet Virdi-Dhesi

What’s the difference between a quack with a scheme and a visionary with a theory? A finger in the ear. No, seriously. Finger surgery was one of many unregulated services promising a miraculous cure for hearing loss. Advertisements for galvanic belts or caps, artificial eardrums, vibrating massages, and special diets boasted that even incurable deafness could be corrected. Learn about the colorful history of deafness cures (the holy holies of quackery) and how audacious charlatans thrived by selling worthless courses of treatments or hearing devices, simply because any cure was better than none.

Jai is a historian of medicine based in Toronto who spends nearly all her free time on Twitter sharing images of weird and wacky medical histories.

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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.

Nerd Nite SF #65: Life Beyond Earth, Wild West Science, and Robot Filmmakers!

Nerd Nite SF #65: Life Beyond Earth, Wild West Science, and Robot Filmmakers!Are we alone? You certainly won’t be at Nerd Nite SF, where hundreds of the playfully curious gather every month for lectures, beer, DJ Alpha Bravo, Grilled Cheese Guy, and SFPL librarians! Dr. Som will discuss searching for life in the frontier of space, while Heather Yager tells of scientists of yore in the frontier of the “Wild West”, and Alexander Reben explores the frontier of human robot relations. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 10/21/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

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“Searching for Life Elsewhere: A discovery of Earth and a glimpse into the value of humanity” by Dr. Sanjoy Som

Astronomers are finding thousands of planets orbiting far away stars. Why are we so keen in discovering them? We’ll discuss the interdisciplinary approach of searching for life beyond Earth, and what it may mean to be human. Geologists, atmospheric scientists and astronomers (among others) work hand in hand to answer one of the most exciting question in science: are we alone?

Dr. Som is a scientist, engineer, and social entrepreneur passionate about space exploration and astrobiology, and how these disciplines can increase STEM awareness and excitement among the public. He founded and the non-profit Blue Marble Space and works at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA.

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“Frontier Myths and Rogue Science in the American West” by Heather Yager

From 1849 to 1852 San Francisco’s population sextupled in size, giving rise to the boomtown that housed the people and places we weave into the stories we tell today: The Gold Rush, the Barbary Coast district, the Vigilance Committees, Emperor Norton. In the midst of myth of the “Wild West,” seven men met and started a science club, formally named the California Academy of Sciences. With manuscripts and objects from the Academy’s archives, we’ll take a look at what it was like to be a practicing scientist in the late 19th century – the “nerds of the frontier” if you will.

Heather Yager is the Head Librarian of the California Academy of Sciences. She has spent the past ten years working in a variety of natural history museums, making science into history and making history into bytes. When not at the museum, she plays the piano.

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“The Robot Filmmaker and Our Relationship with Machines” by Alexander Reben

When you put a camera in a tiny cardboard box, and give it wheels, a cute face, and the ability to ask questions in an innocent child-like voice, something surprising happens: People will open up and share remarkably personal stories that would never otherwise be shared with strangers. A fleet of these were dispatched to record a unique documentary that reveals not just a lot about ourselves, but also how we interact with technology and people are becoming ever more integrated. Using this and other examples, we’ll learn about human-machine relationships, human-robot symbiosis and psychological projection onto technology.

Alexander Reben designs robots and novel interfaces to explore our evolving relationship with technology. Robots in Residence – the documentary shot and directed by robots – was showcased at the Tribeca Film Festival. He is currently the director of technology and research at Stochastic Labs, an incubator for sustainable creative design companies, where he is working on machine ethics and next-generation social robotics. He also is Founder and CEO of BlabDroid, a social robotics company.

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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.

Nerd Nite SF #64: Virtual Reality, Invented Languages, and Bra Sizing!

Nerd Nite SF #64: Virtual Reality, Invented Languages, and Bra Sizing!Wednesday, 9/16/15
Doors at 7, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street @Van Ness
$8, all ages
SOLD OUT – a limited number of tickets may be available at the door

When your underwire is pinching, Dothraki hasn’t made it to Duolingo, and reality is getting a little too actual: Don’t despair! Tikh hazze akka tikh square! Guest MC Kishore Hari–director of the Bay Area Science Festival and 3-time NNSF alumnus/pinch-hitter–will preside over a night of untold wonders, unfettered beer taps, undaunted disc jockeyism, and unusually delicious grub.

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“The VR Minute” by Norman Chan and Will Smith of Tested

“Why Klingon, Elvish, and Dothraki Should Be Considered Real Languages” by Trace Dominguez of DNews & TestTube & more

“The Ridiculously Complex World of Bra Sizing” by Sarah Harrison

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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

Plus: You’ll be able to don some headsets and enjoy VR demos by STEAM Carnival!

 

UPDATE in the days after: Whoa, that was a good show! Here are some links for your further delectation:

The VR Minute
Tested’s Flight on Birdly
Tested review of HTV Vive
Tiltbrush from Google
The Verge’s history of VR

Invented Languages from Trace Dominguez
DNews
David Peterson’s Constructed Languages
Learn Dothraki
The Klingon Hamlet

Bra Sizing from Sarah Harrison
Sarah’s UX site
A Revelation in Fit (Oakland Bra Shop)
History of Bras (National Geographic)

Steam Carnival
Event 11/6-8
Two Bit Circus
Tag your clown nose photos @SteamCarnival

Nerd Nite SF #63: Absinthe, Wild West Science, and Male Fertility!

Nerd Nite SF #63: Absinthe, Wild West Science, and Male Fertility!Hangovers and regrets are the things we, your humble Nerd Nite hosts, associate most with absinthe and the conquest of the Western frontier. You won’t have any regrets about these talks, however! No promises about the hangover, though. Join us for these two talks, plus one more TBA, and plenty of beer, music, librarians, and the company of hundreds of other nerds. Be there and be square!

UPDATE: The third talk is no longer TBA!

Wednesday, 8/19/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

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“Absinthe-Minded: Exploring the Science Behind History’s Most Notorious Beverage” by Kat Powell

“Frontier Myths and Rogue Science in the American West” by Heather Yager

“Don’t Cook Your Balls and Other Stuff You Should Have Learned in Sex Ed” by Sara Naab

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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.

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 #62: Seafood Slavery, Borderline Personality, and Sword Canes!

Nerd Nite SF #62: Seafood Slavery, Borderline Personality, and Sword Canes!With transnational bondage, borderline personalities, and banned hybrid weapons, this month’s Nerd Nite deals with some blurred lines. We’ll help bring them into focus with three lectures and plenty of beer, plus music, librarians, food, and nerdery. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 7/15/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

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“Converting Labor Abuse to Sushi” by Brendan Rogers

Nobody signs up to commercial fish for free. It’s dangerous, grueling work, with long stints far from home. Yet many job-seeking migrants are basically tricked or forced into becoming slave fishermen. “Sorry, Charlie”, indeed. We’ll look at how this system works, how this fish ends up on your plate, and what can be done about it.

Brendan Rogers grew up in the Mission District and enlisted in the US Coast Guard at the age of 19. In addition to his continued service in the Reserve, he is the Training Officer for the SF Public Library and serves as a San Francisco Veterans Affairs Commissioner.

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“Borderline Personality Disorder: On the borderline of what?” by Sara Landes

Borderline personality disorder – a mental health problem with such a vague and undescriptive name that even some mental health professionals have difficulty defining it and explaining how it develops. What the heck is it? What are people on the borderline of? How do you even get a personality disorder? And why should you care? Come find out!

Sara is a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating suicidal behavior and severe emotion dysregulation and researches how to implement treatments for these problems.

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“The History and Outlaw Status of Sword Canes” by Erin Simon

Delve into the early history of the dapper gent’s most lethal accessory! Marvel that so many people still try to sneak them on planes! Laugh at the California law that calls them out by name (the wrong one)! By looking at ngrams, silly pictures, and even sillier laws, we’ll learn about sword canes, how a ballistic knife is different from a lipstick case knife, and what California law has to say about boobytraps. The pen may be mightier, but the sword cane is way more fun.

Erin Simon is the product counsel for Google Books, Scholar, and more. When not researching obscure weaponry, she makes pictures and pointless robots.

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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.

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 #61: Internet Archive, Plasma, & Addresses

Nerd Nite SF #61: Internet Archive, Plasma, & AddressesBehold a digital wonder of the world, a modern Library of Alexandria! Marvel at the 4th state of matter (chronologically-speaking, it’s actually the 1st)! And get lost in the intricacies of processing address data! All this plus beers, DJ Alpha Bravo, librarians, tamales, and learned conversation. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 6/17/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

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Starring:

Alexis Rossi and Tracey Jaquith from the Internet Archive

Laura Berzak Hopkins and Luc Peterson, plasma physicists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Brian Seitel, software engineer who thinks an awful lot about addresses

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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.

Plus: San Francisco Public Library‘s finest will dole out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.

And: Deliciousness available from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas.

Nerd Nite SF #60: Swallowing, Puzzles, & Biohacking

Nerd Nite SF #60: Swallowing, Puzzles, & BiohackingWe’ll take a swig of beer and puzzle over the act of swallowing it, then swallow 2200 years of puzzle design. Finally, properly fortified, we’ll bleach pig hearts for DIY science. It’s a night of lectures, drinks, librarians, music, and nerdery. Be there and be square!

Wednesday, 5/20/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

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“Hard to Swallow: Diagnosis and Treatment of Swallowing Disorders” by Rachel Gold

What happened to that pill that got stuck in your throat yesterday? What happens when your drink goes down the wrong pipe? How many pipes are even in there? What does a giraffe have to do with this? Come try to enjoy a beer and some food while we explore what is happening inside of our throats when we eat and drink, when we lose the ability to effectively swallow, and what we can do about it.

Rachel has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 8 years and a nerd her entire life. She currently works at an acute rehabilitation facility helping adults with brain injuries and strokes recover their ability to speak, understand, remember, and swallow.

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“(What the hell is) Metagrobology and You: An Interactive Journey through the Past and Future of Puzzles” by Nate Martin

Over the last 2200 years, puzzles have changed both tremendously and almost not at all. Let’s take a stroll through the history and evolution of puzzles. The conversation will be peppered with interactive puzzles and challenges so that you can prove to your friends/loved ones how smart you are. We’ll also discuss what the next 2200 years might have in store for the world of puzzledom.

After careers in software, poker, and video games, Nate co-founded and became the CEO of Puzzle Break, the first American-based Escape the Room company.

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“Of Mad Scientists, Ghost Hearts, and Bio-Hackerspaces” by Patrik D’haeseleer

Last year for Halloween, we decellularized a pig heart. We got a nice bleeding heart, hooked it up to some plumbing, stripped out all its cells with enzymes and detergents, and then bottled the thing in Everclear. Because every mad scientist’s den deserves to have a Ghost Heart in a jar! This is what we do for fun; you should see what we’re up to when we get serious. Come join the DIY biology revolution at one of your friendly local community labs!

Patrik is a mild-mannered scientist by day, biohacker by night. He is a member of BioCurious and co-founder of Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, where he tinkers with bioprinting, ghost hearts, bioluminescence, real vegan cheese, microbial batteries, urban ecosystem exploration, bio art, and more.

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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.

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 #59: Dino Art, Social Fishes, and Bees!

Nerd Nite SF #59: Dino Art, Social Fishes, and Bees!Wednesday, 4/15/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

First we took away Brontosaurus (and no, dear readers, it is not back. Yet.), and now we’re going to tell you that dinosaurs probably don’t even look the way you think they do. That will go over well, we’re sure. Then we’ll school you on schooling (fishes) and finally give you the buzz on bees! So come enjoy lectures with drinks, music, grilled cheese, librarians, and the company of your fellow nerds. Be(e) there and be(e) square!

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“Extreme Dinosaur Makeover” by Brian Engh

Most of the dinosaurs you see in media are highly speculative and their accuracy and realism is often fiercely debated. Using a newly discovered species of dinosaur called Aquilops americanus as an example, I’ll take you through the painstaking process of reconstructing dinosaurs as accurately as possible, starting from scrappy bone to a complete life restoration of the animal behaving in its environment.

Brian is an artist, animator, filmmaker and monsterologist. His depictions of prehistoric creatures have been published in scientific papers and blogs, and soon to be in several museum exhibits, an interpretive trail in Moab Utah, and in a book on Australia’s ancient inland sea published by the Melbourne Museum.

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“Socializing Through a Fisheye Lens” by Ray Engeszer

Social systems and interactions are central to our lives as human beings, and yet they just won’t let us perform controlled experiments on people! Not even children! Ridiculous, I know. So I tried to use a small fish as a model system to answer questions about how social groups form.

Ray Engeszer knows quite a bit about schooling beyond fish, having a bachelors in Integrative Biology from U.C. Berkeley and a doctorate in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from U.T. Austin, and is now a high school teacher.

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“Sex, Wax, and Pollen: The Honeybee Super-Organism” by Ryan Smith

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Why bees are a (hu)man’s best friend

Bees are highly industrious dance fanatics who have a knack for mathematics and are obsessed with pleasing their queen. These goddesses of the garden have helped humans for thousands of years to make candles, get drunk, sweeten our lives, and most importantly: put food on our plates. But as global populations of honeybees are declining, we are scrambling to find out the roots of the imbalance. We will fly into the hive to understand the big story of this tiny bug and how we can keep the sweetness flowing. Come find out what honeybees mean when they dance and what the world looks like in bee-vision!

Dr. Ryan Smith is a laser physicist, musician, seasoned beekeeper, and physics professor at Cal State East Bay. While his bee-keeping interests began in the Southeastern U.S., he is now an advocate on the sweet west coast.

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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.

Sammies available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy.

Plus: The librarians will be here! The librarians will be here! SFPL’s finest will dole out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.

Nerd Nite SF #58: Diabetes, Global Maritime Trade, and Face Mites!

Nerd Nite SF #58: Diabetes, Global Maritime Trade, and Face Mites!Wednesday, 3/18/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here!

Things you should learn about: The word “pancreas” means “sweetbread.” (Ick.) Dockworkers should not be fucked with. (Fact.) You have tiny arachnids crawling all over your face right. this. very. second. (Noooooooooooo!) More intrigued than alarmed? (And even if you’re not.) Come to the place where the drinks and the music and the learned people–not to mention the grilled cheese and the librarians!–make diabetes, global maritime trade, and face mites intriguing AND alarming in equal measure. Be there and be square!

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“Sweet Nothings from Deep in Your Tummy: A Tale of the Pancreas and Diabetes” by Tommy Hennings

“Diabetes mellitus” literally means sweet, excess urine. Besides requiring a very, ahem, intimate patient-doctor relationship, diabetes has one underlying trait in all of its types: the dysfunction of a certain type of cells within the pancreas. But wait a minute–what is the pancreas, anyway? Come learn about how this organ that looks like a corn cob micromanages blood sugar, why it ends up dropping the ball, and the big changes brewing in diabetes research and treatment.

Tommy is a PhD student at UCSF researching pancreatic beta-cell development and dysfunction, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 8.5 years.

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“Two Billion iPhones Crossing the Ocean” by Daniel Chin

Nearly all our gadgets and toys come to us from massive factories overseas–everything from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive and the phones we use to navigate the world. But how many of us know the incredible journey that our clothes and cars and phones take before they get to our homes? A professional seafarer and marine engineer will share the fascinating story of modern global maritime trade and the people who bring us “90 percent of everything” created around the world. We will also see what happens when this normally smooth-running machine of global commerce is stymied by technological failures, labor disputes, and pirates!

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“Meet Your Face Mites: A Story of Discovery, Evolution, and Intrigue” by Michelle Trautwein

Right now, deep in your pores, eight-legged creatures are happily making your face their home. Our face mites are perhaps our closest companions, yet we know very little about them. But as we learn more, our mites may offer us a glimpse into our own evolutionary past. What do they look like? Where did they come from? Are you sure that I have them? Come get the answers to all your face mite questions!

Michelle is an entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences and focuses on the Earth’s most lovable creatures: flies and face mites.

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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.

Plus: The librarians will be here! The librarians will be here! SFPL’s finest will dole out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.

Nerd Nite SF #57: Viking Gender, Induced Quakes, and Bioinspired Tech!

Nerd Nite SF #57: Viking Gender, Induced Quakes, and Bioinspired Tech!Change! – changing gender norms, changing landscapes, and changing lineups (as soon as we finalize the details of our third talk) – is the accidental theme at this month’s Nerd Nite SF. So change up your Weds routine to come down to the Rickshaw Stop, order a different beer than you usually do, and learn something new!

Wednesday, 2/18/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St @Van Ness
$8, all ages
Tickets available here (recommended!)

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“Odin in Drag: Gender Performance in the Viking Age” by Molly A. Jacobs

Everyone knows the story about Loki giving birth to a horse, right? But did you know that gender-bending behavior really wasn’t that unusual among the Norse gods? The mythology and literature of medieval Scandinavia are full of stories of gods and people cross-dressing, shape-shifting, and playing creatively with concepts of gender, from shield maidens to Odin himself. Come learn what Vikings thought about gender, whether half of all Viking warriors really were women, and what happened when Christianity arrived.

Molly has a PhD in Scandinavian and Medieval Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where she currently teaches courses on Vikings, writing, and medieval literature.

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“Can People Really Cause Earthquakes?” by Justin Rubinstein

In 2014, Oklahoma experienced more magnitude 3 and larger earthquakes than California. Many people believe that hydraulic fracturing is to blame. But can we really cause big enough changes in the earth to trigger earthquakes? The short answer is yes. In fact, humans have been inducing earthquakes for well over a century!

We’ll explore how human activities can cause earthquakes and try to answer some important questions. Do we need to worry about these earthquakes? How big can they get? Now that hydraulic fracturing is coming to California, do we need to be worried?

Justin is a seismologist with the US Geological Survey. Studying earthquakes has taken Justin all across the world, but these days he finds himself in glamorous locations like Kansas and Oklahoma.

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“Science Fiction’s Body Shop: designing robots, prosthetics, and tissues” by Terry D. Johnson

Nature has a lot to tell us about how bodies – and the parts they’re made of – ought to work. If you want to design a robot, prosthetic, or implant, you’ll find solutions to many of your problems courtesy of evolution. We’ll see how new technologies in repair and replacement are inspiring science fictions – or making them less fictional.

Terry is currently teaching bioengineering at UC Berkeley. He is also (with Kyle Kurpinski) co-author of the popular science book How to Defeat Your Own Clone (and other tips for surviving the biotech revolution).

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DJ Alpha Bravo spins tunes specially selected to match the presenters’ themes. Follow the setlist on Twitter @djalphabravo.

Tasty tamales from Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas will be available.

And the San Francisco Public Library will be doling out library cards, reading lists, and the hottest branch gossip.

Be there and be square!