Sit back and sip on a some tasty beverages.  Nerd Nite East Bay warms you up for Thanksgiving and begins our third year with a particularly salacious night: Erin Brandt will show what happens when you aim a laser Doppler vibrometer at a male spider dancing on pantyhose to woo the corpse of a female spider; Zarinah Agnew will show mappings from regions of the brain to genitals; and Chris Noessel plots the design lessons science fiction provides in the realm of sex interfaces.

DJ Citizen Zain, Rick, and Rebecca will brine their turkeys. The Oakland Public Library will be there with a reading list and to issue cards. Be there and be square.

Monday 11/24/2014
Doors at 7 pm, show starts at 8 pm, show ends at 10:30 pm
The New Parkway, 474 24th St, Oakland
(less than half-a-mile from the 19th St BART)
All Ages


Like many animals, there are many aspects that go into jumping spider seduction. Males in the genus Habronattus must coordinate elaborate vibratory songs and flashy dances in just the right ways to attract females. To further complicate matters, these spiders live in dynamic and unpredictable habitats. Environmental factors also influence how courtship signals are produced by males and perceived by females. Erin Brandt, a Ph.D. Candidate at UC Berkeley, will tell – and show – with interactive demonstrations – how to win a lady spider’s love.

Erin Brandt is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Elias lab at UC Berkeley.  Her main project involves understanding how jumping spider courtship behavior (songs and dances) are affected by changing temperature.  She hopes to understand both short and long-term consequences of changing temperature on different species of jumping spiders.  Erin is also broadly interested in many aspects of biology, from locomotion (how jumping spiders jump), to large-scale questions in evolution.   When not in the lab, Erin is often found conveying her fascination with spiders and other arthropods to broad audiences, from classrooms to public talks.


What does that pinkish greyish mass in side your head doing? And how is it doing it? Zarinah will introduce basic concepts about neuroanatomy, what that has and has not taught us about how the brain functions and where we might aim to go next. As we go through the brain, we’ll look at what we know about each region of this complex mass, how these regions differ from those in other primates and what happens to people who sustain damage to those regions. We’ll cover some of the strange disorders that occur as part of localized brain damage, you’ll learn where your penis is in your brain (vaginas are still somewhat up for debate..) and by the end you should hopefully have some idea of the complexities that we are facing in neuroscience, and perhaps even be inspired to join in the quest for understanding.

Zarinah Agnew is a neuroscientist at UCSF where she works on how the brain controls complex voluntary movement. In humans, this generally refers to movements of the hands and articulators, our most dextrous bits. She uses a combination of different forms of neuroimaging and brain stimulation techniques to probe motor function in humans, both in healthy people and in patients with brain damage. A recent migrant from the UK, Zarinah received her PhD at Imperial College, where she worked on human mirror neurons, and went on to UCL to work on sensory motor aspects of speech. In London, she was heavily involved in science outreach, which led her to work with Guerilla Science, create a giant brain sand sculpture and let her into the murky world of science stand up comedy, which she can safely say, is the most terrifying thing she has ever done. Nerd Nite is her first foray into public engagement of science in the US.


The last chapter in the book Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction (Rosenfeld Media, 2012) is simply titled “Sex.” In this tour de force review of sex-related interfaces in sci-fi (and there are more than you probably think) Christopher Noessel discusses matchmaking interfaces, augmented coupling, mediated coupling, and yes, even sex with technology. Along the way he shares practical lessons that the sometimes surprising, sometimes hilarious interfaces inspire for those of us designing for the real world.

Bio to come.