We ring in the the 90th day of the year and the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower with three fantastic talks. First, Michael Schiess and Larry Zartarian from the Pacific Pinball Museum will touch on the technology, aesthetics, and historical context of the best coin-operated games ever. Then, Robert Kolasinski is back to deliver the talk we rescheduled during Nerd Nite #14 on missed on the largest and most promising international effort at producing fusion energy in the future. Finally, Shivani Garg Patel will tell us about surgery in the field.

DJ Ion the Prize, Rick, and Rebecca will Launch Those Geese.

Monday 3/31
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
The New Parkway, 474 24th St, Oakland
(less than half-a-mile from the 19th St BART)
All Ages

EARLY PINBALL ART by Michael Schiess and Larry Zartarian (Pacific Pinball Museum)

Our discussion will focus on the development of art used on pinball machines from the 1930s through the late 40s. The evolution of the games technology and the purpose of the art in attracting players. The differences between the styles of the 2 main artists and their roles in defining the genre. We will highlight pinball art as reflections of popular culture during the times they were introduced and enjoyed by the public. We will be discussing the role of the museum in presenting and preserving the art of pinball and lastly, the museum’s goals for establishing a permanent institution for pinball.

Michael Schiessis the Founder of Lucky Ju Ju Pinball and the Founder and current Executive Director of the Pacific Pinball Museum. He invented and built the Visible Pinball Machine, Pinbowl, Lil Ju Ju and other pinball accessories and art projects. He does freelance work for the Exploratorium.

Larry Zartarian is President and Treasurer of the Board of Directors, a collector of ’40s, ’50s and ’60s rare pinball machines. He has worked with PPM for the past 8 years, and served as Board President for 6 years. He leads the board in its drive to improve all the museum’s programs. As an ambassador of pinball, who loves to introduce new people to the game, he has loaned his entire collection of rare pinball games — among the most significant in the world — to PPM. His professional background in investing and unparalleled understanding of the games complements the museum leadership. During his copious amounts of spare time, Larry is an investment adviser at Rand and Associates in San Francisco.


ITER is a physics experiment under construction at the Cadarache facility in southern France. With seven contributing international partners including the U.S., its overall goal is to demonstrate many aspects of magnetic fusion energy for the first time after it becomes operational in 2020. The ITER reactor will use a 78-ft diameter toroid-shaped vacuum chamber known as a tokamak to generate an intense plasma of deuterium and tritium ions. Using superconducting electromagnetic coils, researchers will attempt to confine the plasma for long enough to exceed breakeven, the point where the energy released by fusion reactions equals the input heating. If successful, ITER will generate over 400 MW of fusion power and could serve as a pathway toward a future large-scale energy source. As one might expect, developing reactor materials that withstand such intense plasmas is enormously difficult, but researchers from around the world are working to develop innovative new technologies to address these unique challenges. In the meantime, Iron Man enthusiasts hoping for a reactor design that can power their home-built exoskeleton armor may have to wait until a more compact version of ITER can be developed.

Rob Kolasinski is a surface scientist in the Hydrogen and Metallurgical Science Department at Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore. His interest in plasmas began during grad student at Caltech, when a friend who convinced him to take a class on space propulsion. Seduced by the glamorous world of plasmas, Rob decided to collaborate with the nearby Jet Propulsion Laboratory to study plasma-surface effects in ion thrusters for his thesis. He would eventually receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, but not before the hard-living celebrity culture of JPL and southern CA had taken its toll. Needing a place to recuperate and “disappear” from the public eye for a while, Rob then took a position at Sandia. Here he continued his study of plasma science, but now related to magnetic fusion energy. His research interests also include a variety of other topics, including fundamental surface science and hydrogen in materials.


Dr. Paul Farmer calls global surgery “the neglected step child of global health.” In our discussion we will examine the impact of global surgery that is all too often not discussed in the broader global health dialogue. Millions are suffering from treatable conditions but lack the funds to seek treatment. We will dive into the types of essential surgeries and their impact on the global burden of disease and individual suffering. There are hundreds of organizations working to bridge the gap of access to basic surgical care for those who cannot afford treatment. We’ll discuss these organizations, review emerging efforts to shine a light on the field and highlight the resources required to enable people to receive treatment to treatable conditions.

Shivani Garg Patel is Co-founder of Samahope, a crowdfunding site for doctors providing critical medical treatments for the world’s poorest. She is a former Microsoft product manager, McKinsey consultant turned social entrepreneur. Her technology-driven social innovation work spans the Grameen Foundation, World Bank and World Health Organization. Her work with Samahope is inspired partly by her time in college leading a non-profit that provided free medical and social services to the low-income population of Berkeley. Shivani has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a B.A. in Cognitive Science from U.C. Berkeley and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management. She also spent 3 months studying Shakespeare at Oxford University.