We have an amazing guest line-up for you this month for special THEMED Nerd Nite: a trio of speakers from Global Plasma Month! (

Please welcome Andrew Seltzman, Vladimir Zhdankin, and Ryan Norval, plasma researchers from University of Wisconsin – Madison. Join us for a night of tipsy learning from the people at the forefront of this fascinating topic!

You know the moves, NiteNerders:
March 18th at the Bottom Lounge
Doors open at 7pm
First speaker at 8pm
Done and drunk by 11pm.

Check out these awesome talks:

Pretty Plasmas Produce Perfect Products

Plasma research has been going on for some 60 years now, mostly in the quest for fusion energy, but what do we as researchers have to show? Well a ton of spin off products and technology! A crash course in the wondrous ways plasma works itself into the world, from textiles and TVs to force fields and ion engines.

[Ryan Norval is currently a graduate student in plasma physics at UW-Madison. What this really means he is a sorcerer in training, specializing in fire and lightning.]

Nuclear Fusion

Plasma makes up stars, galaxies and over 99% of the visible universe. On earth, they have many practical applications such as fluorescent lights, and manufacturing computer chips, however no application is more exciting then the promise of fusion power. Scientists have been overcoming numerous trials and tribulations in the quest to harness the almost unlimited potential of fusion power since the 1950s for the clean, radioactive waste free, production of electricity. An overview of the history and future of fusion power research will be presented.

[Andrew Seltzman went to Georgia Tech as an undergrad majoring in physics and electrical engineering and spent most of his time building robots and fusors. After graduating, he came to UW Madison where he is now a PhD candidate in the physics department focusing on microwave heating of plasmas in the Madison Symmetric Torus.]

The Plasma Universe in a Solid Nutshell

Scientists estimate that plasma constitutes over 99% of the observable matter in the Universe, making up stars and most of the interstellar medium. However, it is not naturally present on Earth’s surface and therefore remains mysterious to most humans and other known lifeforms. Plasma is a very exotic state of matter due to its high temperature and high electrical conductivity, leading to complex dynamics including the spontaneous generation of magnetic fields and violent instabilities. It may seem that plasma is hazardous to life and should be avoided at all costs; however, it actually plays an essential role by mediating nuclear fusion in the Sun (and potentially in future nuclear fusion reactors), thereby producing the energy required for our existence. I will give a visual tour of the Universe to describe the various ways in which plasmas shape the Universe as we think we know it.

[Vladimir Zhdankin is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in stubborn pursuit of a Ph.D. in physics. He specializes in theoretical plasma physics, asking the question of how to best describe turbulence in space plasmas and having no real answer in turn. He sometimes considers the more tangible problem of turbulence in his cup of tea as it is being poured or stirred.]

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