Archive for the ‘Nerd Nite lineups’ Category

Last Nerd Nite of 2018!

Nerd Nite is an evening of empirical entertainment, back from the dead. Three nerds give short talks… in a bar. History. Science. Linguistics. Japanese astrodendrochronology. Unlike that time at your thesis defense, drinking and good-natured outbursts are encouraged!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Half Sour at 755 S Clark St, Chicago

Doors at 7pm, Presentations begin at 7:30

Tickets (only $5!) are limited by the awesome, intimate space. Grab yours early!

We have a wonderfully varied mix of topics this month! Join us for a drink (or drinks) as we learn about what happens when your brain freaks out, why your grandmother told you not to leave out potato salad, and how protecting the children from movie influences morphed into mass murder being less scary than a penis.


What Happens in Vagus Does Not Stay in Vagus – Michael Maloney

I’ll be talking about your Vagus Nerve, in public! Does that make you nervous? I hope it does because otherwise it isn’t doing it’s job properly. The Vagus Nerve manages your cardiovascular system and your flight or fight responses, but there is so much more. We’ll be talking about how we find antidepressant medications, voodoo deaths, our reptile mode, and that your gut instincts might be caused by bacteria. So have a drink, take a deep breath and relax as we explore some biology behind our psychology.

Michael is a Therapist and former Research Counselor. He also has a history of anxiety disorders and panic attacks, particularly involving public speaking. Will he have a panic attack at Nerd Nite? He is anxious to find out!

SPOILT! The Science of Food Preservation – Laura Lanford

The CDC recommended avoiding California lettuce last month due to an outbreak of e-coli O157:H7, one of the nastier varieties! There are plenty of nasties that also like to munch on the same foods humans do, and over the years we’ve learned tips and techniques for stockpiling fresh food to eat later while avoiding unpleasant, and sometimes deadly, consequences. Fermentation is one of them, so grab a beer and settle in to learn what, and how, we keep kept food from killing us.

Laura Lanford is a regular Nerd Nite speaker and a fan of experimenting with food preservation. Results have varied.

This Talk is Not Yet Rated – Tom Rammer

The film rating system seems innocuous; just a helpful guide to assess the age-appropriateness of a given movie. As you may guess from this being a whole talk on the topic, the Motion Picture Association of America shapes the breadth of our country’s cinemagraphic art more than you may realize. From the Hayes Code of the 1930s to this month’s controversy over Lars von Trier’s new movie, you’ll learn about the historical arc of the shaping of American movie censorship.

Nerd Nite’s program and A/V coordinator moves to the front of the house for the first time to talk about one of the (many) topics he loves: cinema!

Pirates! Aliens! Death!

Nerd Nite is an evening of empirical entertainment, back from the dead. Three nerds give short talks… in a bar. History. Science. Linguistics. Japanese astrodendrochronology. Unlike that time at your thesis defense, drinking and good-natured outbursts are encouraged!

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018
Half Sour (755 S Clark St)
Doors at 7pm, Presentations begin at 7:30

Tickets (only $5) are limited by the awesome, intimate space.  Grab yours early!
In honor of Halloween, three veteran nerd nite speakers take the stage this proto-Halloween to set the tone for the coming year of Nerd Nite drinking, friends, and good, old-fashioned weirdness.  Geekiest costume (as judged by audience applause) wins a free drink on us.

Pirates: Scurvy! (Lost & Found & Found (& Found Again)) – 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 is a veteran Nerd Nite presenter and the co-Boss of Nerd Nite Chicago. She talks a lot about a lot of things, including medical esoterica.

Aliens: Astronomy with Gamma Rays & Gravitational Waves – Michael Kirby

Did you hear the one where a pair of multi-Solar-mass black holes do-si-do’ed into a single, giant object? Well you would have if you had Laser-Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatories for ears. When alien life gives us a call, there are at three ways their text messages can now be seen (with telescopes), heard (with distortions of space-time), and even felt (with massive neutrino detectors). Grab a drink and we’ll watch the universe do something it can’t undo.
Kirby is a three four-time Nerd Nite presenter and can often be seen around Chicago smashing atoms and racing bikes. Not necessarily at the same time, but also not mutually exclusive.

Death: The End of the Universe as We Know It – Jason St. John

Starting from the destruction of the Earth (yes, this one is pretty much guaranteed), find out just what science tells us will happen to the Universe (this one that we’re in). Is it complete heat death? Nothing but clumps of iron floating around in space? Or a place you can round off a day with breakfast after doing six impossible things in the morning?
When Jason isn’t nerding out over drinks with friends and strangers, he’s probably revving up a particle accelerator at the lab or falling down a research wormhole… which will mean more excited explanations of obscurata very soon thereafter. (Can we talk about the ancient symbolism of the ouroboros and the punctuated rise in the use of this word in English?…)

Nerd Nite Chicago joins forces with the Lincoln Park Zoo!

This month Nerd Nite is partnering with the Lincoln Park Zoo for Adults Night Out!

To showcase Nerd Nite for this new audience, NN Chicago has lured/coerced/tricked some of our favorite veteran speakers in from New York, Toronto, and Chicago’s own Printer’s Row. Please join us Thursday, July 21st at the Lincoln Park Zoo to see this rockstar lineup!

Note: tickets are required for this event.

Alien Minds: Food for thought or thoughtful food?

cephlapods doing it


Octopus, squid, and cuttlefish are much more than seafood. These short-lived, anti-social, and occasionally cannibalistic invertebrates are making a name for themselves as highly intelligent beings, and we’ve only just scratched the surface of what they can do.

Lauren Shorser is a writer and co-boss of Nerd Nite Toronto. She is also a scuba diver with a deep love of cephalopods. She finds it unsettling to write about herself in the third person.



Anteaters are shady.

How to Cheat at Bikes.

No details about this talk will be available before assembling at the starting line. That would be cheating.

Michael H. Kirby is a scientist who sciences. On the regular.


godzilla warning

The flight ban over Monster Island remains in effect

Godzilla: History, Biology and Behavior of Hyper-Evolved Theropod Kaiju. 

Tsunami, earthquake,hurricane, and typhoon all rolled in one, Godzilla, “King of the Monsters,” has both plagued and benefited humanity for over half a century. By examining the origins and zoology of this force of nature, people and nations will be better equipped to deal with the awesome destructive power of our radioactive visitor from the Cretaceous.

Shyaporn Theerakulstit is an actor, writer, director and D-List YouTuber, where he posts videos about drug addicted Easter bunnies, unemployed Superfriends, and flying kittens. You can see examples of his internet hackery at



Urban Studies Nerd Nite

Dearest Nerds!

We’re pleased as a gaggle of mad scientists with a new time-travel scheme!

Pleased-er, in fact, because we have a impressive line-up of themed “lightning talks” for you this month!

Please welcome a cadre of Urban Studies fellows from U Chicago to talk (quickly!) on a fantastically diverse set of topics about the world we live in.city_by_celinemeisser

This different format consists of two sessions of 3 or 4 ultra-dense, 5- to 8-minute presentations back-to-back. (Don’t worry, you can still ask questions at the end of each session and there will be a break for more beer. )

Though the format has changed, the rest stays the same:

You know the moves, NerdNiters!

Thursday, May 26th at the Bottom Lounge

Doors open at 7pm
First speaker at 8pm
Done and drunk by 11pm.



Sticky Schools for a Sticky Situationold_school_by_avotius

Civil Rights and Chicago’s Hidden History of School Choice

Ever wonder where magnet schools came from? Part of the answer is buried right here in Chicago, where fifty years ago, a collision of civil rights activists, urban planners, and educational theorists launched a cautious experiment with integrated education in a segregated city.

My talk sketches an origin story for Chicago’s magnet schools, one of the nation’s first experiments in choice-based school desegregation.

Nick Kryczka is a lifelong Chicagoan and currently a PhD candidate in history at the University of Chicago. He used to have a real job as a history teacher in the Chicago Public Schools. His time away from gargoyles and quadrangles is spent on the Northwest Side where he raises a family and bugs his neighbors and his alderman with fancy talk about community and democracy.

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving Feast Play

Little Indians Growing Up in the Big City


After two years of “deep hanging out” in a city in middle-of-nowhere Michigan with lots of cool American Indian folks, I learned about education and urban issues from an oft-forgotten angle. By the power of anthropology, this, of course, qualifies me to speak – as an expert – on anything even vaguely Indigenous, educational, or related to cities.

Consequently, I’ll begin this talk with “Things That Smell Strange for 200, Alex!” Yes, Chicago, I mean you. As for the rest? Blah blah identity blah blah cooking blah blah success. Want to learn more? Come and see!

Andrea “Dréa” Jenkins, almost-PhD, is a rising nerd from the planet Anthropology who regularly visits the realms of Education, Public Policy, and Race & Ethnic Studies. In addition to her fine UChicago education, she draws her nerd heritage from hours spent escaping banal reality with the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle, Gene Roddenberry, Anne Bishop, Joss Whedon, and Octavia Butler, boldly geeking out across the universe in a transnational, multicultural theory-mobile of her own making.    

What About Sex Worker as Worker?

Sex Worker as Gentrifier/Sex Worker as Nuisance

Remember when New York’s Times Square and Chicago’s Rush Street were all dirty and seedy and there were grungy adult stores everywhere? Well, I was born in the 80s, so I don’t either. What I do know is that there is this constant debate about whether adult establishments like these are “good” or “bad” and I think that’s the wrong debate we should be having. I talked to a bunch of people, and read a lot of news articles, and looked at a lot of boring (to you) zoning laws to check to see what some of the issues around adult businesses are. Anyway, some people that think burlesque clubs are awesome and cool (i.e., are popular among hipsters and might lead to gentrification) consider strip clubs to be bad and gross, which I think is weird, and maybe a little hypocritical and classist.GML-metal-heels

Come and find out more and ask me a bunch of questions I probably don’t have the answer to!

Theresa Anasti is a PhD Candidate in the field of professional do-gooding (social work), where she is interested broadly in the realm of community organizing and political activism on behalf of marginalized populations. She likes running throughout the city and sometimes has tried to run away from her dissertation but it always manages to catch up with her.

Making Lemonade

The National Council of Negro Women and Black Women’s ActivismAfro-Girl-Vector-psd76844

As recorded so memorably on Beyonce’s lastest work, Black women have taken life’s lemons of sexism, racism and classim and turned it into a delicious intersectional feminism. My work builds on this theme of Black social activism by focusing on the history of the National Council of Negro Women. This Black women’s club was founded in 1935 by famed activist Mary McLeod Bethune as an outcropping of the social and civic groups of the late nineteenth century. The NCNW was founded to harness the organizing power of Black women to gain access to better jobs and to seek social and political equity for African Americans.

My project will allow you to make historical connections to some of the themes Bey sang about in her album Lemonade, and learn a bit about the joy of Black women’s organizing power across the diaspora.

Ashley J. Finigan is a Brooklyn expat currently pursuing her PhD in American History at the University of Chicago, with a focus on African America and women’s history. Along with her scholarly pursuits she is a self-styled TV critic, watching copious hours of TV across all platforms. She also enjoys letter writing and listening to comedy podcasts. Be in touch with new pod cast recommendations!

How to Build a Megalopolis

Mexico City in the Twentieth Cent0dae6136ce356119180122e093d57941ury

A quiet, parochial town at the beginning of the twentieth-century, by the 1980s Mexico City had become the largest city in the world. Mexico City was not developed by urban planners but by migrants, squatters, and corrupt politicians. It became the epitome of urban dynamics gone wrong: poverty, inequality, pollution, crime, and overpopulation.

In this talk I will evaluate Mexico City’s demographic explosion, asking who built the city, who benefitted from its growth, and what does all this tell us about how cities work? Perhaps Mexico City was not a planning disaster but a place that developed in its own way, and, in some crazy way, it worked.

Emilio de Antunano Villarreal’s love affair with cities and architecture began as a child, building Lego houses while living in what was considered at the time—the 1980s—the world’s largest urban disaster: Mexico City. He is now a historian, living in Chicago and trying to make sense of another disaster: his dissertation! He enjoys running along the lake, riding the L-train, and grabbing a beer in one of Chicago’s many fine establishments—even if that requires talking about this dissertation.

The Government Just Wants Our District to Go Crazy!

Numbers and the Development of Community Mental Health in China

In recent years, community health workers across China have received a curious task: to find a certain percent of persons with serious mental illnesses at a given community and to manage them. As part of a new state-run community mental health program, this use of numbers has aroused a lot of controversies, sSoc-Sec-logouch as the critique that it is not scientific and the concern that it may force health workers to fabricate data.

In this talk, I draw on my ongoing fieldwork with program workers and interviews with policymakers, in order to understand why the construction of a community mental health infrastructure hinges upon the assignment, collection, and monitoring of numbers. I argue that the seemingly objective and simple numbers contain within them multiple historically situated values, such as the old idea of socialist central planning and the new aspiration for global science. I also track the numbers’ traveling across urban space, in order to show how these values might unravel in practice. In general, I hope to discuss with you the promises and perils of relying on numbers in social service administration, a phenomenon that we encounter almost everywhere in the world.

Zhiying Ma is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago. So far her life has constantly been in between places: raised in a small town (by the Chinese standard) and then went to big cities; traveling between China and the United States; always studying multiple disciplines (hence perhaps not quite a nerd in any) at school… It’s probably this in-betweenness and out-of-placeness that makes her interested in when and how one counts for something.


August Nerd Nite: Psychopaths, Little House on the Prairie, and Chicago Nerds

August 26th at the Bottom Lounge
Doors open at 7pm
First speaker at 8pm
Done and drunk by 11pm.
We’re obscenely, inappropriately happy to present these talks! Just like Pa here:
Everything You Never Knew About Little House on the Prairie
Wendy McClure
The beloved Little House on the Prairie book series was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s real-life family, but what did she leave out along the way? What really happened to Jack, the brindled bulldog? Did Ma and Pa live down the road from serial killers? And were the books all just a bunch of proto-Libertarian propaganda? From 19th-century medical mysteries to weather statistics, I’ll separate fact from fiction like home-churned butter from cream. Disclaimer: may ruin your childhood.
[Wendy McClure is a writer and children’s book editor in Chicago. Her most recent book for grown-ups is The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie. (She’ll have a few copies on hand: bring cash or fresh-trapped muskrat hides to trade!)]
Behaving Badly
Michael Maloney
Psychopaths, Sociopaths, Terrorists, Trolls, those people on the opposing political party of which you identify: They are all EVIL and do HORRIBLE things!  Can’t we all just get along?  Well maybe we can’t.  Why do we do not very nice things to each other?  Are some people more evil than others?  Are you evil?  Are you brave enough to explore a presentation about the dark side?  You might enjoy it (the presentation not the dark side, or maybe you’ll enjoy both).
[Michael is probably not a psychopath and you should believe him on that, even though a psychopath would totally lie about that.   He is also a Research Counselor, lover of board games, and frequently seen making a fool of himself.  You should totally believe those things too!]
and finally

Speed Friending with fellow awesome nerds

We are trying something new at this month’s Nerd Nite!  Following the presentations above, we’ll be running a light-hearted “speed friending” event. Think of it as the platonic sibling of speed dating.

This event is optional (we are all free nerds after all!), and it’s a fun way to get to know other people who also love to learn about nerdy things!  This is our first time, so there might be some tweaks at game time, but here’s the plan:

  1. If you would like to participate, sign the registration sheet and pick up name tag on arrival. Please note your participant number on your name tag.
  2. When we announce the event, we’ll direct everyone to the seating formation.
  3. At each switch, we’ll show a bit of friend-related nerdy trivia and suggest a question for discussion.
  4. Each pair will have two minutes to chat, either about the question or whatever other topic you like!
  5. Keep note of the registration numbers (or names) of the people you’d like to hang out with again. After the event please turn them in to a NN boss and later in the week we’ll email participants with the contact information for their ‘friend matches’.

Bring your friends, smart-ass mothers, and favorite librarians!


Nerd Nite: Evidence-Based Entertainment

July Nerd Nite: DIY Plutonium, How To Music, and The Booty (Coconut)

We have another fantastic trio of speakers and an awesomely wide range of topics for Nerd Nite July!
The Facebooks here

Please welcome Darryl Suskin, Nick Gibson, and Seth Harper to the stage!

It's a glowing rod of plutonium.

You know the moves, NiteNerders:
July 1st at the Bottom Lounge
Doors open at 7pm
First speaker at 8pm
Done and drunk by 11pm.

Check out these awesome talks:

DIY Plutonium

Watching the cult classic UHF as a 13-year-old, I found one scene in particular hilarious: making plutonium out of common household items. My interest was rekindled recently by a book about David “The Radioactive Boy Scout” Hahn, who was obsessed with nuclear power, came really close to building a nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard from materials around his neighborhood.

Putting these two things together, I thought I would see if I could theoretically make some plutonium for no good reason other than to see if it’s possible — and then tell you all about how that worked out.

[Darryl Suskin is a food scientist who gets obsessed with different science topics unrelated to his job. Right now his wife is just hoping the NSA hasn’t put him on any sort of watch list based on his internet search history. After his presentation, he will probably spend his time figuring out how to beat rigged carny games. His chili is better than yours and he can beat you at Tetris.]


Are you listening to your amazing collection of songs using crappy headphones and fuzzy MP3s? Or are you old school, still listening to physical media like CDs… or vinyl? Hey Grandpa. Get with the program. In this interactive multi-media buzzword-filled presentation, you’ll find out how your music gets digitized to perfection then, with the unlikely help of an 80’s alt-folk singer, compromised with compression through MP3 encoding. You’ll get the chance to hear the difference between “good” and “bad” compression for yourself, all the way to the very limits of human perception. Plus, I’ll tell you which buttons to push next time you use iTunes to convert a CD.

[Nick Gibson is an actual Sound Guy, although he does not have a ponytail. Yes, he knows what all those knobs do. If you’re not careful, he’ll tell you.]


The botanical world is a realm of beauty, wonder, mystery, and giant coconuts that look like butts. Come learn a thing or two about the weird and sometimes amusing ways plants use fruits to distribute their progeny.

[Seth Harper is a Horticulturist at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, with fifteen years in the plant biz. Though his career has taken him from rainforests to prairies, he has spent an inexplicable amount of brainpower on virtually useless plant-based trivia.]

What? Why would you say this looks like anything but a big, succulent coconut?


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.]

Nerd Nite Joins Forces with Lion VS Gorilla!

Friday, January 30
8pm first presentation 

Hairpin Arts Center 
2810 N Milwaukee Ave 2nd Fl, Chicago, Illinois 60618

Nerd Nite at a Gallery! Lion vs Gorilla hosts Nerd Nite at their utopias mini-expo


Bonus Nerd Nite this month!

Nerd Nite is excited to team up with local art gallery concept Lion Vs Gorilla for their weeklong mini-expo on utopias, Crystal Palaces in Cockaigne!  It has all the things Nerd Nite loves best:  Booze, Truth, and Booty. (BYOBooty).


a donation bar, with gin or absinthe cocktails and two styles of beer available, courtesy of Letherbee Distillery and Finch’s Beer.  Donations accepted in hard currency, and, transistors willing, Square. (Songs can no longer be accepted in exchange for goods and services. Grow up, you hippy.)

Truth! (or some matter for debate, at least)

The Bosses of Chicago Nerd Nite step out of their usual roles as curators, coaches, and emcees of Chicago’s nerdiest drunken experts to bring you presentations on some actual attempts at utopias.  As the name implies, things fall apart, the center cannot hold… But what a great time we’ll have along the way! Here are the deets:

From Here to Utopia

from a surprise presenter

From Yogaville, VA to Galt’s Gulch, Chile, groups of overly optimistic people decide that they’ve figured what a perfect society looks like and made it themselves.  Join us for a dissection of what can make a utopian ideal become a reality, and the many ways things can so spectacularly wrong.

Pullman, Chicago: It’s 1880 and Your Boss Just Elected Himself as Your Mayor

by Jason St. John

The Pullman neighborhood of Chicago got its start late in the 1880s as a company town, among the most complete of many in this country.  Beautifully designed and poorly conceived, some of the original architecture remains, as it was when the workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company were contractually obligated to make their homes there.

Nerd Nite: Evidence-Based Entertainment
naked people hanging out in the 12th C

Nerd Nite at the Lion Vs Gorilla mini-expo on utopias, “Crystal Palaces in Cockaigne”

Nerd Nite January: Emotions, Utopias, and the Taxonomy Tango

Wednesday, January 21
7pm doors
8pm first presentation 

Bottom Lounge (Upstairs)
1375 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607


MadAndSillyWe’re bringing you extra excellence with our next Nerd Nite!

We’ve got a low, prime number of presenters ready to edutain you, and we’re stoked to be putting them onstage at the large, excellent UPSTAIRS space at Bottom Lounge. In additions to sweet, sweet knowledge, you can get great beers and good food at this joint!

Dry T-Shirt Contest

We’re doing another of our DRY TSHIRT CONTESTs!  Wear your nerdiest T and compete for the validation of our admittedly rather arbitrary panel of judges! Woooo! Arbitrary!

Experimental Nerd Quickies!

Got a fascinating factoid?  Filled with a mini-rant on an obscure topic?  We’d like to hear about it, and we’d like to hand you the mic for a quickie, 2-minute pitch.  If the audience likes it, or, hell, if the Bosses do, you might get to become a nerd nite presenter at the next nerd nite!

Finally, the milkshake that brings all the nerds to the yard:

Did the eyes give me away?
Effective Affect

by Michael Maloney

Emotions are messy, disorganized and don’t help us make rational decisions.  Right?  Then why do we have them?  Scientists have gone through great lengths to study emotions including electrical shocks to the face, torturing dogs, botox injections, conversations with cannibals, use of the postal service, and inappropriate use of a No.2 pencil.   What are the findings of all this research?   Presentation may even include an adorable picture of a baby gorilla taking a bath, but that is just to get an emotional reaction from the audience.

Michael is a research counselor (yes that is a thing).  He is a recovering comic book collector with a superhero complex. While he does not know if he has a super power (YET), he does know his arch-nemeses are chandeliers.

From Here to Utopia

by Nate Noonen

From Yogaville, VA to Galt’s Gulch, Chile, groups of overly optimistic people decide that they’ve figured what a perfect society looks like and made it themselves.  Join us for a a dissection of what can make a utopian ideal become a reality, and the many ways things can so spectacularly wrong.

Nate Noonen is a Christian, a husband to Kimmy and a father to Charlotte.  He has been arguing Calvinistic vs Wesleyan theology with his dad since he was a child and loves a good debate, preferably over as many beers as it takes for him to tell you how much he loves you. He has a few nuanced loves: the oxford comma, hip-hop, and cooking.

Taxonomic Tanglz: How to Spend a Nice, Quiet Evening with a Tomato

by Matthew Knisley

Matthew’s talk, which is about this, that, and the other, is a kind of presentation. Sometimes a tomato is a fruit… or is it a vegetable? Depends on whether you’re a bureaucrat or a Supreme Court Justice, a botanist or a cook. Pay attention; there will be a quiz.

Having been named the Illinois State Champion in Vegetable Display at the age of 13, it’s no coincidence that Matthew will be talking to us about incredible edibles.


Nerd Nite: Evidence-Based Entertainment


November Nerd Nite: Bees, Stinkeye, & Conmen!

We hope to see you at our upcoming Chicago Nerd Nite! Please join us at the Bottom Lounge on November 19th for our next round of tipsy, nerdy goodness!

Wednesday, November 19th, 7PM

Bottom Lounge, upstairs

We have a great combo lined up: a veteran, a first timer, and our first visiting Nerd Niter from Madison, Wisconsin!


First up, Ben from Madison will be presenting the Life of Bees, with a twist:

Using the beloved and timeless characters of Sex in the City as our guide, we will explore the beautiful evolutionary journey from single egg-laying sawflies to honey bee orgies. But it’s not all sex and nectar drinking in our honeycomb city, and just as Samantha had her breast cancer (SPOILER!), so too must the honey bee deal with her Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s a story of sex, drugs, deception, exploding males, and zombies. Just like any other episode of Sex and the City, only with three times the shoes.

Ben is the Assistant Director of Education for the UW Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in entomology from the UW-Madison, Ben worked on a nine-month research project focusing on native bee pollination in Wisconsin’s apple orchards. Yes, he has been stung in the face. No, it was not a pleasant experience.


Next up, welcome Nerd Nite audience member turned Nerd Nite presenter, Bardia Noohi, who will be presenting An Eye on the Politics of Envy.

Stinkeye. Mal de ojo. Disti. عين الحسود. Buri nazar. Malocchio. The belief in the envious gaze — the evil eye — is nearly ubiquitous in older cultures. The details of the proscribed cures, symptoms, and protections are varied, but the underlying idea that being an object of envy puts one in danger is a common thread. Bardia will explore why this particular superstition is so pervasive through the anthropological lens of the purpose of envy in a culture.

Bardia Noohi is the guy at your game night who has memorized the instruction book.


And finally, veteran Chicago NN presenter Laura Lanford returns with more about how we all fool ourselves with Rainbow Ruses and Russian Dolls

She’s getting a distinct vibe, something about, numbers, and spectacles, and barley…. She’s feeling community, a common interest, a science-y vibe…. Does this mean anything to you?

Join Laura for a discussion of the cognitive biases and mental heuristics that make us all susceptible to the techniques used by psychics, con artists, mentalists, and fortune tellers.

Laura has presented at Nerd Nite before and is generally a fan of things nerdy and beer themed.

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