Nerd Nite East Bay #32: Equestrian Sports, Butterflies, and Pepper

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.


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This month’s Nerd Nite brings stories of Olympic horses, hi-jacked butterflies, and the king of all spices. Come eat, drink, learn, and laugh with us.

Doors will open promptly at 7 and drinks and food can be purchased from The Grilled Cheese Guy then.

Guest host Lee Bishop joins Rebecca, DJ Ion the Prize, and the Oakland Public Library.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+. Any door tickets will be $10, though we’ll likely limit the capacity once again.

Monday 7/27/2015
Doors (+food,drink) at 7 pm, show starts at 8 pm and ends at 10:30 pm
Club 21, 2111 Franklin St, Oakland
(two blocks from the 19th St BART)
$8 in advance/$10 at the door
21+
tickets
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Horsing Around: A Gallop Through the Most Dangerous and Expensive Olympic Events by Donnelly Gillen

Equestrian sports made their debut in the 1900 Summer Olympics with five events, including the long jump and the high jump. No equestrian events were held in the next two games but returned in 1912 with dressage, eventing, and show jumping competitions. These are the same three events that are in the modern games.

Dressage, or in the words of Stephen Colbert, “fancy prancing,” is performed in a ring without jumps. Horses perform a series of predetermined movements that test their agility, obedience, flexibility, and quality of movement.

Eventing is a three phase test that was originally designed to test Calvary officers and their horses. The three phases are dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. Cross-country is the hallmark of the sport, where horse and rider gallop at high speeds over imposing natural obstacles.

Lastly, there is show jumping, where horse and rider jump over a predetermined course of fences in a ring. The fences fall down with so much as a nudge so horse and rider must be athletic and accurate.

Presenter, Donnelly Gillen, will provide information about each of the three sports with ample video demonstrations on what these amazing animals and riders can do. Donnelly is a lifelong equestrian with experience in the higher levels of eventing and show jumping. As a child she dreamt of representing the USA at the Olympics on horse back but gave up the dream when she realized she wanted to make a decent living. While currently on a riding hiatus, Donnelly keeps up to date on equestrian news and can frequently be found unwinding from her attorney job watching horsie videos.

Do Butterflies Dream of Genetic Tattoos? by Arnaud Martin

The diversity of butterflies and moths is unique: not only do they form 12% of all animal species, they also display an extraordinary array of shapes and colors on their wings. How was this diversity of forms generated? Until recently, we only knew why butterfly wing patterns have evolved so much (for camouflage, scaring predators, or attracting mates), but had very few ideas on how this happened. How can the caterpillar or chrysalis control the complex drawings that will show up in their wing tissue? Researchers are now hi-jacking the genomes of these insects to directly tinker with butterfly DNA, causing pattern modifications that shed light on how changes in the molecular code underlie a rambunctious evolution of shapes. In the future it might be possible, although bio-ethically questionable, to engineer our own designs onto insect wings like a genetic tattoo. Science gone mad, or the next logical step in biophiliac inspiration?

Arnaud Martin is a butterfly geneticist interested in how DNA codes for shapes and how biodiversity has emerged from the tinkering of genetic information. After a Ph.D. at UC Irvine on butterfly mimicry in the tropics, and a post-doctoral research position at UC Berkeley, he will establish his own lab at the George Washington University in 2016. His secret agenda is to make a GMO butterfly saying “I Love You Mom”.

Pepper, The King of Spices by John Beaver & Sean Beatty

A common table condiment, pepper for most Americans is a shake of black and white flakes with a little heat. But its history is gray. In this presentation, we’ll explore pepper in history and its various incarnations now and at points in the past. We’ll talk about what “pepper” meant and what it means today, looking at the origins of the peppercorn and how it spurred globalization. We’ll also touch on some of the non-pepper varieties of pepper and how they came about. Sean will talk a bit about Szechuan pepper and we’ll do a group peppercorn tasting.

John Beaver, owner of Oaktown Spice Shop, has been working in the “spice industry” since he was a teenager and opened the shop on Grand Ave with his wife in late 2011. Pepper is one of his favorite spices.

Sean Beatty, assistant manager of the shop, has been blending and grinding spices and tea for over 10 years. He has worked for The Spice House in Milwaukee, Rishi Tea and of course Oaktown Spice Shop. Sean also lived in China for several years where he developed his taste for spice.

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