NerdNite returns: August 6 at the Bottom Lounge!

Cheating/Not Cheating, Helping/Not Helping, and Landing on the Moon

Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Doors 7pm, talks start 8pm

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

Dear nerds, we miss you. We miss your smart-ass wise cracks and your endearing way with alcohol. So we’re laying a nerd-trap for you, then telling you about it, because that’s what villains do. Please attend!

We have a great lineup for this Wednesday, and we want you to see it! We have a particle physicist sharing how to cheat at bike racing, a film maker expounding on morally iffy tourism fads, and a food scientist enthusing about the Apollo moon landing.

 


Voluntourism – You’ve Probably Done it, and it’s Maybe Bad” – Jack Newell

You know that friend you have that did Peace Corps, or visited an orphanage in rural India, or tutored some disenfranchised kids in a low income area? Of course you know, because they posted a photo of themselves doing it on Facebook.

Voluntourism seems like a new phenomenon with the social media tools of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter but it actually has roots stretching back to the Victorian era and for those who are actually hoping to enact some type of effective change for the almost 3 billion people who live below the poverty line it is not helping.

In fact, that friend who posted a photo of themselves helping others is doing more to harm the war on poverty than help it.

See also, this Onion article to make you laugh after reading those two depressing paragraphs.

Jack Newell is a filmmaker and teacher who is currently in production on his first feature length documentary, How to Build a School in Haiti about the challenges surrounding International Economic Development.

 


How to Fail at Cheating at Bicycle Racing” – Michael Kirby

No details. That would be cheating.

Dr. Kirby is Some Kind of Scientist

 


The Apollo Moon Missions — How NASA and Their 36,000 Employees and 376,000 Contractors Got Humans to the Moon and Back.” – Darryl Suskin

45 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon. Yet nobody remembers Michael Collins, who had to stay in lunar orbit, or the 300,000+ NASA employees and contractors that helped make it happen. I’m going to cut out the hours worth of details and explain how it was done, in 20 minutes or so. If I have time, I may even show you a big explosion because my wife says that all good presentations have explosions.

Darryl Suskin is a food scientist who gets obsessed with different science topics unrelated to his job. Right now he is going through his moon phase and probably has no business giving this talk. He will probably transition towards a nuclear phase after his presentation. His chili is better than yours and he can beat you at Tetris.

 


 

Winter is Resurgent, and so is Nerd Nite

Wednesday, May 28
7:30pm until 10:30pm localtime

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

WELL HAI THERE, CHICAGO!

HAI THERE
We’ve been staying extra hours at the lab, but now it’s time to get back on the Nerd-Horse!

We’ve got totally rad* talks from three of our own, 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 food at this joint!

Here’s the lineup:

 

The Urban Jungle

by Seth Harper

Have you ever looked at a weed growing out of a sidewalk crack and thought to yourself, gee, I wonder what this weed can teach me about life? No, of course not. Nobody thinks dumb stuff like that. But smart folk like you may have at least wondered what that weed is called, where it’s from, and why it’s so ding-dang good at growing out of sidewalks. Or maybe just you want to know how to kill it. That’s okay, I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to dispense a healthy dose of sweet, sweet botanical knowledge about the flora of the urban cosmopolis.

Seth Harper is a Horticulturist at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. He also writes books, smokes cigars, and is an all around swell guy, allegedly.

Goldilocks and the Extrasolar Planets

by Bo Jayatilaka

Sometimes a planet’s orbit is just right. Find out what the goldilocks zone (or, more boringly, the circumstellar habitable zone) is and why it’s the key to all life as we know it (hint: it’s not just the porridge). While we’re at it, we explore whether the entire universe was once a habitable zone. And, as an added bonus: a tally of the known (habitable?) planets in our galactic neighborhood!

Bo Jayatilaka is not the kind of doctor who can fix broken bones. He’s the other kind. The science kind.

Leeches, maggots, and ants – Oh my!

by Monica Metzler

Sometimes the wide gap between torture and therapeutic medicine is a narrow crack, or missing altogether. We’ll gawk at the gory horrors of ancient medical practice, and talk about why some are making a comeback today. Monica, founder of Illinois Science Council, is a huge proponent of science here in Chicago, and supremely grateful to be be alive in the Post-Anesthesia Age. You should be, too.

Nerd Nite: Evidence-Based Entertainment

* Slang gets/will-had-gotten a little dated, from all the work on my time projection chamber. Sorriness.

Even Gianter Nerd Nite, with Special Guest Emily Graslie

Tuesday, February 11
7:00pm until 10:00pm in the CST
American Junkie

15 W Illinois St, Chicago, IL 60654

Nerds of Chicago, we miss you!

PolarVortex
Maybe it’s all the instabilities of the jet stream, but this pre-climate-change, traditional Holocene winter makes us all nostalgic and excited.

We also have friends in from out of town, attendees of IPSEC 2014, the International Public Science Events Conference.

It’s high time we hold the Nerd Nite Dry T-Shirt Contest, too! Come in your dorktastic best; the nerdiest T-shirt wins!

And finally, most excellently, we’re stoked to announce that Emily Graslie, host and writer of The Brain Scoop, as our featured Special Guest.

All of this nerdery means we’re gonna need an Even Gianter Nerd Nite this month. (Hence the change of location to American Junkie.) To keep things manageable, we’re using EventBrite to sell tickets, which is a total first for us. (Nominal ticket fee, payable at the door if we haven’t sold out.)

But what will the substance of the night be? Read on, dear horn-rimmed ones:

Christ on a Cracker!

by Laura Lanford

(Pareidolia, Apophenia and Reality)

The human brain has a remarkable ability to attribute consequence to non-meaningful data patterns. While Nerd Niters are generally a skeptical bunch and not prone to over-attribution bias, understanding pareidolia — the brain phenomenon that finds these patterns — is valuable information for understanding our survival as a species and, quite possibly, our individual quality of life.

Laura Lanford is a preparedness hobbyist highly skilled in making Type I errors. Ask her about the Post-Apocalyptic World after her second drink!

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language

by Kathryn Jepsen

In the south of Israel, in the small village of Al-Sayyid, it doesn’t matter if you can hear; you’d better know how to sign. That’s because Al-Sayyid has the highest concentration of hereditary deafness of any community in the world. The sign language there is homemade, from scratch, with a different grammatical structure from the spoken language, Arabic. As far as languages go, ABSL is just a baby—about 80 years old. But its story has helped illuminate how languages form and change over time.

Nerd Nite presenter Katie Jepsen is a lover of linguistics. She knows at least the basic curse words in a variety of tongues.

…And finally, our Special Guest Lecturer from the Field Museum:

What Lies Beneath: The Secrets of the Field Museum

by Emily Graslie

In the short time Emily has been at the Field Museum, she’s found secret doors, fossils hidden in the floor, and curious figures in dioramas. Emily will take you on a virtual Easter Egg hunt through the museum to showcase the special objects without tags or plaques, hiding in plain sight within exhibits and beneath your feet.

Emily Graslie is Chief Curiosity Correspondent of The Field Museum, host/writer of The Brain Scoop (an educational YouTube series that explores the behind-the-scenes world of natural history museums), and has the most awesome beetle earrings you have ever seen.

Can’t wait to see you there!

I can hear you, Nerd Nite! – a Nerd Nite of the senses

Monday, October 14, 2013
8:00pm until 11:00pm in CST
Cole’s Bar

Giant-Ear Girl has one giant ear.

We’re like, nearly all ears. (90% +- 10%).

2338 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60647

All Audio, All Night!

Join us at Cole’s on Milwaukee for an evening of audio nerdery!

Owl Mixed Up

by Alana Kirby

You know how disoriented you feel when you put on your fellow nerds’ glasses for fun? Ever wonder if barn owls feel the same way? Barn owls have astonishing hearing, which allows them to hunt rodents in pitch blackness. We’ll talk about what makes the ears of these magnificent birds special and if they’re enough to overcome wearing the thickest of glasses.

Alana Kirby is among the world’s leading mad scientists in the highly popular field of cyborg guinea pigs. She is among them, but not wholly of them.

Your Feedback is NOT Desired, Please

by Nick Gibson

The Beatles introduced it to the world… Hendrix made it into art… And it’s exactly what you don’t want in your next Nerd Nite presentation. Acoustic feedback is a musician’s tool, but a public speaker’s deadliest enemy. And if you know a few key facts about how a sound system works, whether you’re an astrophysicist, cultural anthropologist or medieval art historian, you’ll benefit from knowing the Proper Use of Audio Technology. I’ll use plenty of illustrations, demonstrations, and amplification to show the basic elements of a sound system and the interaction that causes acoustic feedback, with an emphasis on the most essential tool in your AwesomeTalk (TM) or other public address… The Microphone. And you’ll see how YOU can help stamp out feedback in your own public address.

Nick Gibson is an audio technician and sound designer. As a professional stagehand, he has been dealing with folks speaking or playing music into microphones for 20 years.

Nerd Nite with Zooniverse: Doing It Yourself, with Pro Results

Monday, July 8, 2013
8:00pm until 11:00pm in CST
Cole’s Bar
Duct Tape Neck Tie
2338 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60647

Dearest nerds,

It has been too long! Join us again at Cole’s Bar as Nerd Nite teams up with Zooniverse https://www.zooniverse.org/ to bring you an evening in the style of the City That Works. There’s doing it yourself, and then there’s doing it yourself the way the professionals do!

The Big Winds of the Windy City

by Mike Renkosiak

Quasi-Linear Convective Systems — Line Echo Wave Patterns — Meso-scale Convective Vortex– or just plain old Derechos. They all knock out your power and take limbs off your tree. Why not enjoy the atmospheric science and be the weather geek of your social circle? Weather gadgets, apps and arm chair forecasting that can keep you ahead of even Tom Skilling.

Film Editing – The Invisible Art

by Jack C. Newell

Film is a tug-of-war between the rules that make it intelligible and the creativity that makes it worthwhile. Part philosophical and part technological, this talk will explore the thought process that goes into good film editing and why it is considered the invisible art. Alternate, more in-your-face title for this talk is, “how to edit film without sucking”. Jack makes independent films for the masses and
lives in Chicago.

And introducing…

Zooniverse + Space Warps

starring Amit Kapadia

Zooniverse is a citizen science platform used to crowdsource scientific tasks to the general public. It has a community of more than 800,000 volunteers that have helped classify hundreds of thousands of galaxies, comb through tens of thousands of archived weather documents, and even discover a planet! The most recent Zooniverse project, Space Warps, hopes to discover rare astronomical objects known as gravitational lenses. New discoveries could help astronomers understands cosmological mysterious such as dark matter.

Be there AND be square.

Nerd Nite 0xE: The Survival of the following: Worms in Compost, Scurvy-Prone Explorers, and Appalachian Hikers

Monday, February 25, 2013
8:00pm until 11:00pm in CST

Earthworm-Clitellum-Attribution-Mike-Jeffords

Beer and worms!

Join us for drinks and celebration of the final week of Chicago’s favorite month with talks from three excellent, enthusnerdtastic presenters:

‘Worms and Compost’ by Amber Gribben of Chicago’s own Urban Worm Girl

One phylum’s trash is another phylum’s essential nutrient mix, and sometimes it goes both ways. Earthworms (which themselves go both ways) and humans have such a happy arrangement. Amber will guide us through the highlights of that subterranean, soil-producing world. She’s not only a local composting expert; she’s also a client!

‘Scourge of the Seas!’ by Laura Lanford

Laura’s a veteran nn presenter and experimental sparger who will regale us with the surprisingly variable history of scurvy (with a close look at specific Antarctic voyages). Scurvy is the answer to the riddle: “What do pirates, Antarctic adventurers, and guinea pigs have in common?”

Invariably fatal if untreated (yet trivially simple to cure), scurvy has plagued mankind since long before it was first described by Hippocrates. It’s the reason the British Navy took over Europe and the subject of the first known scientific clinical trial. The actual cure was found – and lost – multiple times over the last 500 years while the disease continued to ravage sailors on the seven seas as well as adventurers to both poles. The theories of its cause and the recommendations for cures ranged from laughable to downright disgusting.

Scurvy: so much more interesting* than you’d think! For those joining us at Cole’s on Monday night, Laura recommends ordering a Sidecar, a Tom Collins or (her personal favourite) an Aviation.

‘How to Survive the Appalachian Trail’ by Amanda Jepsen

Neophyte nn presenter and part-time (insert positive descriptor here) will detail the differential insanity of long-distance hiking equipment philosophies.

Your 9-5 routine got you feeling a little cooped up? Feel like abandoning society and walking for six months in the mountains? Do you want to smell like a rotting goat? Then, friends, it’s time to load up your pack, lace up your boots and head down to Georgia for 2,172 miles of good, smelly, tiring fun. But, you say, what should I take on this epic adventure? Have no fear NN friends, Amanda will do her best to give you some un-sober advice so that you don’t end up with raging shin splints, a Giardia infection or get eaten by bears.

Amanda recommends sipping from a Nalgene flask filled with cheap whiskey.


Be there and be square.

Monday, Feb. 25, 8pm – 11pm
Cole’s Bar
2338 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60647

Nerd Nite XIII – Scurvy on Antarctic Voyages, Japanese Astrodendrochronolgy, and NerdFest

Monday, January 28

Cole’s Bar
8:30pm


I fucking LOVE nerd nite!


Dear, Dear, Very Dear Nerds,

Two Thousand Thirteen is about to get a lot smarter, more entertaining, and drunker!

Join us this Monday night for drinks at Cole’s. We want to hear how you’ve been, what you did for New Year’s, and whether you have any ideas about an obscure integral we’re try to evaluate, encoded in these Hittite manuscripts which were stuffed in the bottom drawer of a Dutch hutch, filled with the bodies of bees. And then:

Laura Lanford,

veteran nn presenter and experimental sparger, will regale us with the surprisingly variable history of scurvy (with a close look at specific Antarctic voyages).

Scourge of the Seas!

Scurvy is the answer to the riddle: “What do pirates, Antarctic
adventurers, and guinea pigs have in common?”

Invariably fatal if untreated (yet trivially simple to cure), scurvy
has plagued mankind since long before it was first described by
Hippocrates. It’s the reason the British Navy took over Europe and
the subject of the first known scientific clinical trial.

The actual cure was found – and lost – multiple times over the last
500 years while the disease continued to ravage sailors on the seven
seas as well as adventurers to both poles. The theories of its cause and
the recommendations for cures ranged from laughable to downright
disgusting.

Scurvy: so much more interesting* than you’d think! For those joining
us at Cole’s on Monday night, Laura recommends ordering a Sidecar, a
Tom Collins or (her personal favourite) an Aviation.

Alex Radovic,

who is so apologetically English it’s almost in-your-face English, brings the true story of ancient Japanese tree rings, and the amazingly rare astronomical cataclysms they evidentiate.

Few scientists publish a paper in Nature. Fewer still publish one which jointly touches on the fields of astronomy, earth sciences, physics, and archeology.

This is the inspiring cross-discipline story of a group of scientists in Japan who used local fauna to peer into the history of our corner of the cosmos. Using a combination of dendrochronology, C14 dating, detailed models of the Earth’s atmosphere, and a comprehensive understanding of astronomy, they turned a pair of trees in the Japanese Isles into a living telescope. And damn me if that isn’t awesome!

Alex recommends cane and ebel for beer, or a gin and tonic for something light, to accompany his talk.

Then

there’s so very much to tell you about the future. Yes, yes, the spandex wardrobes, but even more thrilling will be this: The Global Nerd Nite Fest 2013, one August weekend in the Brooklyn Lyceum! More details here

.

Be there AND be square,
-jmsj

*For those familiar with Laura’s NN talks, “interesting” often
translates into “disturbing”, but in this case interesting is actually
interesting. Except maybe the bit about raw polar bear meat.

Nerd Nite XII: Beehives, Ryan “Hey Girl” Gosling, and some Little-Known History of the White City Event

Monday, September 17th

Cole’s Bar
8:30pm

Once again we are descending on Cole’s Bar to hear funny things and fascinating things from smart people while drinking together.

Speaking of be’s… here’s the nerdastic lecture lineup:


So A Queen Bee Walks Into a Sports Bar: Honeybee Colony Reproduction


Jana Kinsman

The honeybee is a tiny creature with an endless amount fascinating facts surrounding its colonial structure, products, and communication. Jana will be talking about how honeybee colonies reproduce, along with some basic bee knowledge. If there’s time, she’ll also answer any bee questions anyone has!

Jana’s a beekeeper who tends 10 honeybee hives throughout Chicago on her bicycle. Insects are a lifelong interest of hers, but honeybees especially have captured her as an adult.


Ryan Gosling is a Real Boy. Or, Why Ryan Gosling: Hey girl, a cultural analysis.


Kat Zwick

A subject-contextualized and group-analytic theory of the phenomenon surrounding Ryan Gosling, most notably the Hey Girl memes that have positioned Gosling as every woman’s (and man’s) most desirable boyfriend. Zwick will look at everything from Richard Dawkins to Melanie Klein to Charlya Hayden to Sigmund Freud to Huffington Post to Perez Hilton to New York City easter egg hunts to real-life heroics to feminists to Seinfeld – and she will reveal the secret behind the boy-man we all love to not know.

K. M. Zwick, MA is a psychotherapist, a gender theorist, and a lover of popular culture. In her spare time, she knits scarves, reads weighty clinical texts, and was recently published in Gaga Stigmata, a peer-reviewed web publication devoted to academic inquiry into the phenomenon that is Lady Gaga. She also has cats.


The Book of the Fair & ULC’s connection to the White City


Anita Mechler

Take a trip back to the gay 1890s with Union League Club librarian and archivist Anita Mechler as she unearths rarely seen archives on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the “Book of the Fair,” a 20-volume set of books from their rare book collection. Learn about the mysterious and slightly scandalous donor of these volumes as well as the Club’s connection to some of the biggest names on the Chicago scene (at that time). Additional research made possible through collaborations with the Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library’s Special Collections and Preservation Division, and the Ryerson & Burnham Library at the Art Institute.

San Antonio native and UIC Masters Graduate Anita Mechler is best known for her roles as “Glasses Wearing Librarian”, “Cyclist in a Skirt” and “Knee Sock Aficionado.” She loves romantic bike rides through the city and sushi dinner dates, but hates anyone who can’t execute the proper use of a semicolon.

Exploding Eremetic Bananas! – Nerd Nite Chicago XI – The Resurgence

Monday, July 30th

Cole’s Bar
8:30pm

We’re stepping out of the heat, our of your fond memories related to friends at dinner parties, and into Cole’s bar!

Talks on the heat death of the universe (no, that isn’t the best explanation for the weather this summer), the commercial and natural history of the banana, and the ornamental hermits of Europe.

Details of the evening:

A Natural & Commercial History of the Banana


Jason St. John

“The banana is worthy of high rank among those plant products which have had a powerful influence in shaping the destiny of mankind,” as Philip Keep Reynolds tells us in his 1927 classic _The Banana: Its History, Cultivation, and Place Among Staple Foods_. Banana biology (Musoidology?) embraces parthenocarpy (seedless fruit production), a tree which is not a tree, and an ancient journey across the world. Whether you like them greenish, brown-spotted, fried or not at all, bananas have appeal which is not to be stepped on.

Jason St. John the Musiodologist has no relationship to the boss of Nerd Nite Chicago, although they share the same name and address. The two also happen to consume the same number of bananas each day.

The Life and Times of Ornamental Hermits”


Amy Cavanaugh

You decorate your lawn with plastic flamingos and garden gnomes, but 18th century Britain favored ornamental hermits. Legend had it that you would throw successful parties and be considered a great host if you had a silent, unkempt person living on your property. Learn about the people hired to portray hermits, discover why the practice was so appealing, and find out how hermits coped with the strange life they signed up for.

Amy Cavanaugh, a food and travel writer, only knew about hermit cookies until a trip to Ireland found her inside a hermit’s grotto. She still likes the chewy cookies, but now prefers to talk about the hired variety.

“The end of the Universe, as we know it


Bo Jayatilaka

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?

Bo Jayatilaka is not the kind of doctor who can fix broken bones, he’s the other kind. The science kind.

Talks will start pretty close to 8:30. Unless of course, that doesn’t happen.

Hope to see you there!

-jmsj (the other one)

Weather Wonkiness, Nature’s Nuclear Option & Relativity Pants!

(Gravity puts its pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else.)

Storm gathering above a frame-dragging diagram with nuclear symbol substituted for Earth

NerdNiteChicago2011October

Thursday, October 20th, 201
Villains Bar and Grill
8pm get yer beer & food & another beer
9pm the talks start

We have missed you! Your obsessive interests, your geeky charm, your problem drinking. Come back to us. Come to Mama Nerd Nite, she’ll treat you right.

Here’s how she’ll treat you:

The Ghost of Ted Fujita!

Mike Renkosiak

When Skilling gets giddy predicting nasty weather, do you feel his excitement? Does distant thunder draw your eyes skyward? Do you set your DVR for the Discovery Channel on Sunday nights at 9? If any of these things describe you or if you wonder why there are now so many weather weenies out there, come check out the world of storm chasing.

Mike Renkosiak is a member of Chicago’s Community Emergency Response Team and a meteorological hobbyist. His interest in weather goes back almost 40 years when a funnel cloud chased his family from a picnic. Then there was the science fair project on devising homemade weather instruments using simple things like empty white gas cans, conduit, and hair (which he wishes he had back) When it was a first place winner he knew he was on to something. Now a professional and a seasoned storm chaser, you can follow him @WindyCityWxMan.

Hot Rocks: Naturally Occurring Nuclear Piles

Bo Jayatilaka

The first artificial nuclear reactor, Chicago Pile-1, was constructed at the University of Chicago, by a team led by Enrico Fermi, in late 1942. The first sustained nuclear fission chain reaction on Earth was about 1.7 billion years ago, in what is now the nation of Gabon. Neutron-multiplying critical masses of Uranium-235 catalyzing their own nuclear fission? Yep, nature had already thought of that one. (Suck it, Leó Szilárd.)

Bo Jayatilaka is not the kind of doctor who can fix broken bones, he’s the other kind. The science kind.

Warped Space-Time and Pants

Jim Pivarski

Years before I studied it in college and grad school, General Relativity was high on the list of things that I had to know about before I die. Somehow, space and time are curved, which just sounds trippy and seems to open the door to wormholes and warp drive. I got a working understanding of it from three semesters of classwork, but I didn’t really have the “Aha!” moment until I learned to sew. Sewing (as well as knitting/crocheting) demands an intuitive understanding of intrinsic curvature; it should be a prerequisite for Riemannian Geometry 101.

This talk addresses the question, “What does it mean to say that space-time is curved?” I’ll present the picture that I wish I had in mind before learning the subject formally. We’ll use hand-sewn cloth models of space-time manifolds to help us visualize how curvature and gravitation are related, as well as some morphologically correct pictures of the time-evolution of the universe.

Jim Pivarski is sometimes a particle physicist at Fermilab, sometimes a statistical programmer, and sometimes a science writer for Fermilab Today and his own website, Coffeeshop Physics.

Be there AND be square!

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