Doing the Devil’s Work: Bay Area Satanism and Political Activism
Modern Satanism has a long history in the Bay Area, from Anton LaVey to decades of left wing political work. Far from being baby-eating devil worshippers, modern Satanists act as an adversary against the mainstream, combining occult aesthetics with activism to protect religious pluralism. Learn about the history of Bay Area black masses, Satanism’s non-biblical origins, and see how the Seven Tenets of the Satanic Temple have guided Satanic social outreach.
Simone Chavoor is a member of the Satanic Temple and the local independent group Satanic Bay Area. She co-hosts the podcast “Black Mass Appeal,” which covers modern Satanism. She also hosts a podcast about the 1988 movie Die Hard called Die Hard With a Podcast, and appeared on Jeopardy in 2014.
New Approaches to Conservation on The California Trail
The massive new California Trail project at the Oakland Zoo takes a unique approach to saving the endangered animals of our state. Recently rescued large local wildlife make up most of the fauna, with grizzly bears, black bears and mountain lions roaming through the Trail. Learn how huge California Condors are nursed back to health, and get the details on a critical breeding project that hopes to return heritage bloodline buffalo back to indigenous tribes in Montana. See how the Oakland Zoo’s new approach to conservation is repopulating species throughout California, and giving spectacular sunset views from a gondola high atop the Oakland Hills.
Amy Gotliffe is the Conservation Director at the Oakland Zoo and The Conservation Society of California, collaborating with global partners and the public to take action for endangered wildlife for the past sixteen years. Amy is from Detroit, loves to swim, and also produces musical events that occasionally include belting out tunes on the washboard.
Batteries Included: How Gut Bacteria Use Weird Chemistry to Create Electricity
Strange bacteria in harsh environments have adapted to breathe minerals instead of oxygen, and new research shows that common bacteria like Listeria, Enterococcus and Bacilli have been secretly using a similar pathway with vitamin B2 and heme found in the human gut to generate a shocking amount of electricity. Learn about the bacterial search for easy electron acceptors, and how a single bacterial cell can move up to one million electrons per second. Then consider how these electrogenic bacteria can be used to create living batteries, improve bio-solar energy production, and make more delicious cheese.
Sam Light is a postdoctoral fellow in the Portnoy Lab at the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. He studies biochemical processes in pathogenic bacteria, including the mechanisms by which they generate electricity.
Plus preshow games from 7-8PM, music from DJ Rubberband Girl, food from The Lumpia Company, drinks from Club 21 and info from the Oakland Public Library.
Learn how machines are teaching themselves about atoms, hear why termites are overturning theories of personality and speciation, and hear a bit on the history of the banjo in America and follow its recent worldwide invasion.
A Bit of History on the Banjo in America (and How to Play A Little)
Like a strange invasive species that has finally breached foreign shores and borders, the twangy banjo, a peculiar American creation, is proliferating with frightening speed through the rest of the world. Learn a bit of the history of this confounding instrument, with a backstory as darkly nuanced as that of its origin country, and the different types of string music finding popularity throughout Europe. Plus, get a little dose of live banjo music, and hear about the cultural confusion that happens when banjos start going through customs in France, long known for its passionate love of the accordion.
Erik Yates sings vocals and plays banjo, guitar, woodwind for Hot Buttered Rum. The band’s progressive bluegrass and jam band-based rock and roll has attracted a passionate multi-generational audience for decades. When not on the road with HBR, Erik can be found touring in support of his first solo album Give It Time from Floating Records, www.floatingrecords.com/erik-yates
What Termites Teach Us About Insect Personalities & Gut Bacteria
Millions of tiny termite mouths full of dirt work together to create huge home mounds, but after decades of failed behavior modeling by roboticists, new research shows that termites are not a massive mindless monolithic superorganism. Instead, termites behave as occasionally selfish and sometimes wacky individuals with unique personalities. Learn how the power of insect individuality is harnessed towards the common good, and how the five hundred species of microbes in termite guts have, conversely, given away most of their own autonomy by losing large portions of their DNA and revealed a radical new way of thinking about microbes and species.
Lisa Margonelli is the author of UNDERBUG: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology. She has written for Scientific American, Wired, The Atlantic, and the New York Times. Her previous book Oil On the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to your Tank was a national bestseller. https://lisamargonelli.com
Connecting Atoms to Aircraft Using Machine Learning
The interactions of atoms control the behavior of everyday objects like airplanes, computers and people, but we still don’t know precisely how. Learn how problems like predicting air turbulence that have remained unsolved for centuries are being reevaluated with novel approaches to machine learning. Plus discover how physicists are beginning to understand the small scale atomic motions that give rise to specific large motions. and how machine learning algorithms are being taught the basic laws of physics.
Jeremy Templeton is the deputy program manager for the Advanced Simulation and Computing program at Sandia National Labs. He has developed data-driven approaches for multiscale turbulence modeling and the mechanics of materials during his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford and beyond. He enjoys relaxing with Kilimanjaro beer at the summit of Kilimanjaro.
At the next Nerd Nite East Bay, learn how radioactive contamination is mapped, what ticks teach us about conspiracy theories and the changing California climate, and how KQED’s The Bay Podcast makes modern news.
See you on Monday Aug 27th at Club 21 (2111 Franklin, two blocks from 19th St. BART) in Uptown Oakland.
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After the Disaster
Real Time Imaging of Nuclear Contamination in the Environment
New technology allows us to make the first real-time high fidelity 3D radiation maps, a critical data set to drive the correct, rapid, and life-saving response when nuclear disaster strikes. Learn how the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping “SLAM” technology developed for autonomous navigation and augmented reality were co-opted for radiation mapping, and see a demonstration of how this technology was used in the evacuated towns near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.
Ross Barnowski was a postdoctoral researcher in the Applied Nuclear Physics program at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab after receiving his PhD from the Department of Nuclear Engineering – UC Berkeley/Berkeley Lab, and is currently an assistant research scientist at UC Berkeley. Ross enjoys hiking, drumming, drinking beer, and reading about Roman history and space exploration.
How The Bay Gets Made
Delivering Real News to Modern and Underserved Audiences
Amid false cries of “Fake News!” and turbulence in the newspaper industry, the news ecosystem is struggling to reach new audiences in arguably the most important time in recent history for Californians to be informed. The Bay podcast from KQED takes a different approach to local news, tackling challenging topics like race, identity, homelessness and tech using storytelling, transparency, and deep, detailed dives on individual stories to reach younger audiences and more people of color. Learn how The Bay is produced, and how the important stories they report on are chosen.
Devin Katayama hosts The Bay news podcast at KQED. He has worked in audio storytelling and radio for nearly 10 years. Previously he worked in a law firm, as a teacher’s aide, and drove an ambulance as an EMT. His dream was to become a standup comedian, but he was much funnier off stage. kqed.org/news/tag/the-bay
The Ticks of California
What Ticks Teach Us About Lizards, Climate Change & Conspiracies in CA
Summer is tick season, yet Lyme disease in California remains surprisingly rare. Learn how to avoid the bite of the western black-legged tick and how much we owe our health to the unique blood of California lizards. Plus, discover what ticks teach us about the changing California climate, why conspiracy theorists love ticks, and why a tick might literally transform you into a vegetarian.
Drink and learn at July’s Nerd Nite East Bay with lectures on the history of public transit in the East Bay, incorporating art in medicine, and NASA’s worldwide network of spacecraft communication facilities.
The Key System: East Bay Mass Transit in the 1900s
In the early 1900s, the Borax King consolidated horse cars and electric streetcars to serve Richmond, Albany, Berkeley & Oakland, allowing, in the words of retired radio announcer Fred Krock, “the East Bay to become a bedroom community for San Francisco”. Hear how the Key System provided over 50 years of luxury travel at almost the same rate-of-travel as BART and how it was ulitmately done in by the high costs of deferred maintenanance and a conspiracy of private automobile companies.
Allan Fisher is the curator of the Western Railway Museum Archives in Suisun City and supervises 32 volunteers who work in a 5000 square foot temperature and humidity controlled archives and library that houses corporate papers and images from the Northern California Electric Railroads. For 32 years, he was an Operating Officer and system executive staff member for the Penn Central and Conrail.
Can you hear me now? Communicating with the Deep Space Network
Welcome to the Center of the Universe. Or at least the central place we can communicate from. How do we talk to our fleet of robots that are exploring in and betond our solar system? How did we help confirm plate tectonics, bounce signals off the moon, and protect ourselves from near earth asteroids? NASA’s Deep Space Network is the hidden backbone of the space program. Discover how it works, how it sometimes doesn’t, and how we need to protect it from hackers and funding cuts.
Shannon Stirone is a freelance science writer based in the Bay Area. Her work has appeared in Popular Science, The Atlantic, Wired, The New Republic and others. She covers topics ranging from super-resistance space bacteria to planetary exploration and space policy.
The Art of Healing
Healthcare is broken. Doctors and nurses are burned out and leaving their jobs and the profession for saner waters. We are using risky, expensive medical interventions but not using cheaper and safer interventions (like Expressive Arts Therapy) to help people heal from illness. What are some examples of successfully using art to improve outcomes and how can this become the norm?
Alan Siegel is a Family Doc with over 20 years of practicing medicine with underserved populations in Richmond/San Pablo, teaching residents, and leading medical group visits. He founded and leads Art of Health and Healing, a program to bring the arts into Contra Costa County’s health system. He also leads an R&B/Motown/Blues band: The Rhythm Method.
Mind Over (Dark) Matter: How Scientists Invent New Ways to Detect Dark Matter
Learn why the search for dark matter takes us deep underground to a former gold mine and requires 20% of the world’s entire supply of xenon, and why the “unsuccessful” LUX detector actually taught us a lot about our universe without seeing anything at all. Then follow the path from new hardware to new data to new breakthroughs as the new LZ detector races to identify the elusive dark matter particles that make up 95% of our reality, and why finding them is so important.
Lucie Tvrznikova works on direct dark matter detection at the Berkeley Lab in her PhD studies. Originally from Prague, she is part of the LUX and LZ dark matter collaborations and built a spark-making detector at LBL called XeBrA. She enjoys getting her hands dirty in her work and joined CrossFit so she could tighten all the nuts and bolts.
The Insatiable Alcibiades of Athens
Beautiful geniuses come in many forms, and the legendary Alcibiades of Athens was likely the most absurd. A brilliant tactician in war, a stunning orator, obscenely wealthy, and attractive beyond compare, he carried on with Plato, then heroically led Athens to victory over the Spartans before switching sides and leading Spartan armies back against Athens, all while bedding the King’s wife. Put on your Nerd Nite toga and follow the *quite* circuitous path of one of history’s most ridiculous characters.
Teddy de Groot graduated from the UW Madison’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, but has taken an inexplicable interest in classical studies and the history that was written before all the stories were ruined by Germans and their 19th century socioeconomic explanations for everything.
The Comic Con Origin Story
Delve deep into the prequel-worthy origin stories of sci-fi fandom and Comic Con in America. Find out how Comic Con went from a small gathering of the world’s most passionate comics fans at the Hotel Coronado to the modern behemoth that drove comics, science fiction and cosplay into the cultural mainstream. Plus hear reports from the very first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939, attended by aspiring young writers Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, where the founder of science fiction fandom Forrest J Ackerman introduced the first known cosplay.
Doors, food, drink, and preshow games at 7 pm, talks start at 8 pm and end by 10pm.
Club 21, 2111 Franklin St, Oakland
(two blocks from the 19th St BART)
The Weird Wood and World of Woody Vines
The woody vines known as lianas, long considered merely a garden nuisance that likes to creep along fences and glue themselves to buildings, have started to dominate tropical forests around the world in response to carbon dioxide shifts due to climate change and forest fragmentation. Learn about the evolution and development of novel wood and cellular composition in ilanas that are fundamentally different from the wood in trees and shrubs, and how these structures are responsible for the ability of woody vines to continuously twist, turn and cling as they move towards available sunlight, endangering natural habitats around the world.
Joyce Chery is a PhD candidate in Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley studying the evolution of vascular cambial variants in the ilianas. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and a UC Berkeley Chancellors Fellow.
The California Field Atlas
The #1 best-selling California Field Atlas blends science and art to guide readers outside normal conceptions of California. Learn about the grand scale of natural systems like tectonic plates and watersheds and the small scale details of wildflower gardens that combine to make up the myriad ecologies, topographies, and histories of the interconnected fifty-eight counties in our state. Think about our natural world in a different way through hand-painted maps, spirited wildlife illustrations and trail paintings from the book already celebrated as a quintessential love letter to California.
Obi Kaufmann is the author of the California Field Atlas (Heyday Books), winner of the 2017 Phelan Award for California Literature. A naturalist, painter and systems-thinker by inclination, Obi’s cartography balances ecology and aesthetics as driving and orienting forces across California’s largest living networks. An avid conservationist, Obi Kaufmann speaks on issues of ecological restoration and preservation throughout the state, and through Planet Earth Arts he will be the artist in residence in the Creative Writing program at Stanford University in 2018.
How Materials Science Finds Answers in Failures
Much of modern society is based on the unique properties of complex new materials, and materials scientists break things on purpose in the lab to ensure resiliency and safety in the real world. Learn how famous broken objects like highways, planes and spacecraft tell interesting stories precisely because material science had already put them through tests to ensure that the unexpected would be avoided, and how failures in infrastructure start a critical race to discover what went wrong so future disasters can be avoided.
Mingxi Zheng is a materials engineer at Carbon specializing in fracture mechanics and new materials development and received her MS degree in materials science and engineering from UC-Berkeley. She was recognized with a UCB Grad Slam Award, built rockets at SpaceX and Virgin Orbit as a metallurgist, and spent years convincing people that majoring in breaking things was useful. Now she spend time thinking of new applications for the company’s custom polymers and 3D printer.
Grilled Cheese Guy, DJ Rubberband Girl, and The Oakland Public Library.
White Hills, Black Flats: Black Studies and the Struggle for Community Control of Merritt College
Disappointed with the failures of integration and the racist curricula and hiring practices of the 1960s, Black students took over the administration building at Oakland’s Merritt College on March 15, 1971 to protest the relocation of the campus from the city’s flatlands to the hills. Merritt holds significance for the Black Studies, Black Campus, and Black Power Movements as home to the first Black Studies Department and home of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Learn about Oakland history and education politics in the 1950s and 60s and how protesting students sought complete community control of Merritt College as an independent and reimagined “Huey P. Newton College” that would serve the needs of the adjacent community.
Rasheed Shabazz is a creative cultural communicator working in journalism, education, and public history. He received his Bachelor’s degrees in African American Studies and Political Science from UC Berkeley and minored in City and Regional Planning. He would’ve attended Merritt College, but transportation up the hill was a challenge. Rasheed is currently working on a book project about African American history in Alameda, California, titled Alameda is our Home. While at Cal, he participated in the McNair Scholars Program and developed the manuscript for this presentation.
The Long Looping History of Roller Coaster Design
When the first Gravity Switchback Car drifted down the wooden slopes of Coney Island at a stunning six miles per hour, it began an American obsession with roller coasters that use speed and gravity for our entertainment. Hear how inventions like upstop wheels led to the Golden Age of roller coasters in the 1920s (including the Santa Cruz Giant Dipper), learn how California innovations like the corkscrew and modern inverted loop rescued and reinvigorated iconic amusements parks in the 1970s, and discover how today’s Megacoasters push fun from high speed physics to the not quite breaking point.
Nicholas Laschkewitsch represents American Coaster Enthusiasts, a worldwide roller coaster enthusiast group dedicated to the enjoyment and preservation of roller coasters. He has spent nearly 20 years researching the amusement industry and is currently studying mechanical engineering at San Jose State University with hopes to design roller coasters and themed attractions.
Tamarin Females Make a (Helpful) Monkey Out Of Males
Female tamarin monkeys (probably) got tired of terrible Tinder dates and formed a unique cooperative polyandrous society where females are the undisputed alphas and multiple males are the primary caregivers. Discover how these primates broke the Bateman curve and the unorthodox theories of next generation inheritance that ensure male investment in the care of offspring. See how twinning, group augmentation and genetic chimeras led these tiny monkeys to have weird (and maybe better) sex, and learn about the rare human societies that do it the same way.
Gustav “Tavi” Steinhardt is a behavioral ecologist in biological anthropology at Berkeley, where he studies evolutionary neuroscience and social behavior in small South American monkeys for his PhD project. Tavi chases monkeys in the Peruvian Amazon all summer and spends the rest of the year alone in a room full of pickled brains.
Plus preshow games from 7-8PM with Ann-Marie Benz, beats from DJ Rubberband Girl, craft beer from Uptown’s Club 21, food from The Lumpia Company, and brain-filling info from the Oakland Public Library.
Questioning the Core of Quantum Physics with Communists
Quantum physics attempts to explain reality, but Heisenberg and Bohr’s famous “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum mechanics fails to answer some simple questions and paradoxes about the real world. A revolutionary second theory, encouraged by Einstein, answered many of these questions with faster than light “pilot waves” and instant connections between distant particles, but was weighed down by the Communist associations of the discoverer, David Bohm, and forgotten during Bohm’s exile to Brazil. Learn how Bohm’s theory simultaneously provokes backlash in the physics community and also provided inspiration for Bell’s Theorem and modern quantum information processing, all without killing Schrödinger’s cat.
Adam Becker is the author of What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (http://whatisre.al/). He has appeared on The Story Collider and is an astrophysicist and visiting scholar in the Office for the History of Science and Technology at UC Berkeley (http://cstms.berkeley.edu/research/ohst). Adam once fought off a horde of feral geocentrists but still sometimes forgets that not everything revolves around him.
Turning Up the Thermo-State: Engineering Comfort Into the Built Environment
Creating comfortable spaces once relied on keeping a building’s temperature between 70 and 75 degrees, but modern engineering and architecture has expanded to include design decisions that create the sensation of thermal comfort even outside rigid temperature parameters. Learn about the differences between naturally ventilated vs. air conditioned buildings, and discover the modern engineering tricks that tweak expectations and manipulate mental perception to create comfort in the built environment, even for individuals with very different coziness requirements.
Jared Landsman is a Building Performance Engineer at Integral Group in Oakland, where he works on energy and comfort analysis for the built environment. Previously he researched passive architecture and thermal comfort at UC-Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment (https://www.cbe.berkeley.edu/).
Towering Trees and the Wild West of the East Bay
Before the Oakland Hills were dotted with million dollar homes they were truly part of the Wild West. Yankee bullwhackers, indigenous people of the Bay Area, and Californios of Mexican descent all lived and worked in the shadow of the massive redwoods, with trees taller than the Tribune Tower providing distinct ecological environments, timber, and even navigation aid to ships entering San Francisco Bay. Learn about the early dwellers of the East Bay Hills, the natural history of the Bay Area’s tallest trees, and how modern science reverse-engineered information from old sea captain hazard lines to discover the location of legendary Redwoods found in the early literature of the East Bay.
Amelia Sue Marshall is the author of East Bay Hills: A Brief History published in October by Arcadia/The History Press (http://www.laurelbookstore.com/book/9781467137256). She is an engineering graduate of UC Berkeley and worked in nerdish jobs for the University until 2012. John Nicoles is a licensed forester who spent most of his career with the East Bay Regional Park District. Work on where the Navigation Redwoods once stood led to the designation of a state historical landmark in the Roberts Regional Recreation Area in the East Bay.
The Thirst Is Real(ly an Interesting Question in Fruit Flies)
Why don’t flies get fat, how do they know when to stop drinking, and what can humans learn from the BMI and brains of Drosophila melanogaster? Learn how new transgenic techniques allow us to see the real time activity of neurons in a living brain and manipulate the neural response to hunger and thirst. Discover how specific neurons balance the need for calories vs. the need for water by controlling behavior, and how the control system used by fruit flies functionally overlaps with the same system in humans.
Nick Jourjine uses fruit flies to study neural circuits regulating hunger and thirst in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. He also crafted genes from scratch at the Max Planck Institute to study how cellular identity is determined. Nick thinks Drosophila melanogaster is super fly.
JDs and Jedi: How the Law Works in the Star Wars Universe
Interpreting the law on our own planet is already complicated, but what happens when it expands to a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Is it okay that Han shot first? Does Rey really own Luke’s lightsaber? Was Jedha’s destruction a war crime? And are C-3PO and R2-D2 now a common law couple? Follow along as the Legal Geeks activate the fully operational battle station of the law to bring (legal) order to the Star Wars Galaxy.
Josh Gilliland is the co-creator of the award-winning Legal Geeks blog and a former presenter at Nerd Nite LA and Nerd Nite San Diego. His work focuses on eDiscovery, and he has spoken at legal conferences and Comic-Con. Josh also ties a mean bow tie.
Social and Biological Responses to Trauma
Much of the science of chronic trauma is based on animal studies, but the human emotional and physiological response to difficult conditions is much more complicated. Hear how brain development, epigenetics and the endocrine system can be altered by trauma, how psychological health and late onset physical problems can be tied to early changes in development, and how these biological changes should not be thought of as defects, but as the human body’s resilient way to adapt to a traumatic world. Also learn how a fuller understand of mental well-being as a product of both biology and social context will improve outcomes.
Gabby Falzone is a Doctoral Candidate in Social & Cultural Studies in the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education. She aspires to work as a bridge between academia and marginalized communities by translating academic research into accessible community formats and by prioritizing community knowledge into research.
Plus decorate Wookie Cookies from 7-8PM with Ann-Marie Benz, hear beats from Citizen Zain, get eats from Grilled Cheese Guy, drink delicious craft beer from Club 21 and fill your brain with info from the Oakland Public Library.
Flora Firewall: Fighting Fires With Flowers
Wildfires can burn at a rate of nearly fifteen miles per hour, so human understanding of how different plants respond to fire conditions is crucial. Firescaping looks at how aesthetic concerns interact with safety, and how a deeper knowledge of plant physiology and classification can help prevent plants from becoming tiki torches. Learn how clever combinations of plant cuttings and smart species sequencing may contribute to your own elegant flora firewall.
Jennifer de Graaf is the Director of Education for ReScape California and an instructor at the UC-Berkeley Landscape Architecture Department. She is a landscape architect focused on housing and commercial developments, a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), Bay Friendly Qualified Professional and Rater (BFQP) and a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL).
Optic Nerve Manipulation and Augmented Reality
Ten million years ago our primate ancestors evolved a novel additional “channel” of vision in the optic nerve, with important implications for how humans use and combine both vision pathways to see the world around us. Many of the famous optical illusions are based on the relationship between the two vision channels, and augmented reality products have started to utilize this two path structure to enhance and improve reality with supplementation by computer processing. Manipulate your own vision pathways with on stage demonstrations of optical illusions, and learn how neuroscience and a changing philosophy of language are driving a new way of seeing the world.
Doyle Saylor works for the East Bay Center for the Blind in Berkeley and was part of the working group on web accessibility standards for people with disabilities after receiving his degree in film making from the San Francisco Art Institute. His current interest focuses on how seeing contributes to Augmented Reality in an era where information is available at all times on mobile devices.
The Hidden History of Bay Area Cocktails
The cocktail renaissance that swept along the West Coast in the 1990s and continues today owes much of its genesis to a small bar in the East Bay that brought classic drinks back from the edge of extinction. Shanna Farrell of the Oral History Center at UC Berkeley uncovered the lost history of a cocktail book passed between daring new bartenders throughout the Bay Area, drink evolution driven by one of the world’s first “cocktail blogs”, and how East Bay nightlife become a lot better (and a little drunker) from one man’s push to bring the new cocktail canon to California. Shanna Farrell is the author of Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft. Her audio work has been featured on Gravy, a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance and she is the co-host of the Prix Fixe podcast, a new show about the intersection of food and drink. Get the book at www.arcadiapublishing.com/Products/9781467137539