Author: Rick Karnesky

I am a prinicpal materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories and study hydrogen isotopes in metals.

I occasionally evangelize on the radio and in bars.

Nerd Nite East Bay #46: Liar, Liar, Hair & Drones on Fire

Poster via Jeanette Yu.

Poster via Jeanette Yu.


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We’re not gonna lie: September’s Nerd Nite East Bay lineup allows a pretty awesome opportunity for you to grab a drink and learn about some pretty fascinating topics. Audience-favorite Patrick House will review the neuroscience basis…and legal consequences…of lies; Sarah Gold McBride will discuss the science…and historical pseudoscience…of hair; and Eric Cheng will discuss flying…and landing…drones on active volcanoes.

Starting at 7PM, We’ll have food from ToliverWorks, beats by DJ Citizen Zain, and Detention by Ann-Marie.

Rick, Rebecca, and the Oakland Public Library will be hanging from telephone wires.

NOTE: October’s Nerd Nite East Bay will be a week early, on 10/24, in honor of both the Bay Area Science Festival and Halloween.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+.

Monday 9/26/2016
Doors (+food,drink,"Detention" preshow) at 7 pm, talks start at 8 pm and end by 10:30 pm
Club 21, 2111 Franklin St, Oakland (two blocks from the 19th St BART)

Advance tickets are $8.
Your CC statement will denote these come from Drinkified Learning, LLC.
We will strive to allow some purchases at the door for $10 (cash or card), but we sometimes sell out.

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The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Everything But the Truth: The Legal and Scientific Implications of a Lie by Patrick House

People must constantly create, separate, manage, and keep track of fictional and non-fictional worlds, partly to avoid collisions between the two. A famous psychology study—“What Does Batman Think About Spongebob?”—revealed that kids only slowly understand that fictional worlds are branches of non-fictional ones. But the rules of how to create fictional worlds, even for adults, are messy and complicated. Why are we so bad at counterfactuals? What happens when the legal system is put in charge of telling non-fiction from fiction? (I.e. The totally bizarre legal complications when memoirs are found to be false.) What does it mean that many bookstores around the world don’t even have different categories for fiction and non-fiction? Does it, ultimately, matter?

Patrick House has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and a postdoc in genetics from Stanford. He studied that one cat parasite—you know the one—that makes mice less afraid of cats. He writes for The New Yorker and Slate and hopes, one day, to remake the 1982 horror film “Cat People”, on which he based all of his graduate research.

“Of A Perfect Hair”: A Cultural History of Science, Race, and Human Hair by Sarah Gold McBride

In the nineteenth century, Americans from different regions, racial groups, class backgrounds, and political inclinations shared a surprising belief: that hair exposed the truth about the person from whose body it grew. A careful examination of the color, texture, length, or shape of a person’s hair had the power to reliably reveal character and identity—whether, for example, that person was ambitious, courageous, or criminally inclined. One important way that Americans elaborated the meaning of hair was through scientific investigations of its structure and function. Yet the science of hair was never purely academic or objective. Like other contemporary pseudosciences, hair science had a social motive: to naturalize social hierarchies and power differentials. And in no realm of nineteenth-century life were the stakes higher than when it came to race, where the shape of a single strand of hair might mean the difference between enslavement and freedom.

Sarah Gold McBride is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at UC Berkeley. She specializes in the social and cultural history of the United States. Her dissertation examines the meaning of hair in nineteenth century America, and its relationship to science, popular culture, identity, and power.

Flying Drones into Volcanoes by Eric Cheng

A couple years ago on a whim, Eric organized an exploratory trip to capture low-altitude drone footage of a volcano eruption in Iceland. Less than half a year later, the technology had improved so much that he and his team were able to live stream from the volcano on Good Morning America. In this talk, Eric will share how drones have unlocked a totally new perspective for everyday creators. Once the domain of innovators and makers, drone photography has become mainstream. Eric will share how to take advantage of the rapid pace of technological advances and show how these days anyone can live broadcast from a drone.

Eric Cheng is an award-winning photographer, technologist, drone expert, and author. He publishes Wetpixel.com, the leading underwater-photography community on the web, and writes about his aerial-imaging pursuits at skypixel.org. In October 2015, Peachpit published Eric’s first book, Aerial Photography and Videography Using Drones. He is currently at Facebook as Head of Immersive Media.

Nerd Nite East Bay #44: Probability, Science Songs, and Juvenile Justice

NNEB 2016-07

Poster designed by Jeanette Yu.


Grab tix to our July 25th show! Last month’s sold out show, sponsorship by the always incredible East Bay Express, and a fantastic lineup featuring everyday probability, the history of juvenile justice, and the amazing band The Ten Thousand Ways all point to why you should snatch up your tix in advance. Or, as The Ten Thousand Ways put it:

We’re glad you’re here and learning stuff while getting drunk
And we hope you’ll do it all again next month
You’ll get a drink or two
We’ll talk nerdy to you
About when one plus one is more than two (synergy! Buzzwords!)

Doors/bar/food are at 7. We’re pleased to feature Chickpea Chick and Shades of Sugar. Ann-Marie Benz’s Detention (our social program before the talks) starts then too. This month: Games of Chance.

As always: Rick, Rebecca, DJ Citizen Zain, and the Oakland Public Library will ensure the good are odd.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+.

Monday 7/25/2016
Doors (+food,drink,"Detention" preshow) at 7 pm, talks start at 8 pm and end by 10:30 pm
Club 21, 2111 Franklin St, Oakland
(two blocks from the 19th St BART)

Advance tickets are $8. Any left for the door will be $10.
Your CC statement will denote these come from Drinkified Learning, LLC.
We will allow an extremely limited number of people to enter after we can estimate no shows for $10 (cash or card).

tix

Probability, Outside the Textbook by David Aldous

Can probability contribute to “science fiction” style issues like the Fermi paradox?
Were there improbably many candidates for the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2012 and 2016? How can I give an exam which can be graded objectively, even though no-one will ever know the correct answer to any of the questions? How many topics like this, from my UC Berkeley course, can I cover in 20 minutes?
David Aldous likes the description “aging gentleman scholar” rather than “math nerd”. Aside from research, teaching and advising the 400 UCB Statistic majors, he reads The Economist and science fiction, putters around the garden, and plays killer volleyball with people half his age.

Songs About Science: Emergence and Getting By With a Little Help From Your Friends by The Ten Thousand Ways [Trisha Stan and Greg Bentsen]

We’re glad you’re here and learning stuff while getting drunk
And we hope you’ll do it all again next month
You’ll get a drink or two
We’ll talk nerdy to you
About when one plus one is more than two (synergy! Buzzwords!)

Then we’ll sing a song
It’ll be about science
We’ll take a Beiber hit
And we’ll science that shit

It might get weird (real weird)
We hope that you’ll join us
Don’t disappoint us
Bring your friends (or your tinder date)

It’s July 25 yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

The Ten Thousand Ways writes original folk/americana songs and performs creative covers. Ridiculous music in the style of pop songs based on recent papers? Miley Cyrus + reproducibility? Yes!

Trisha and Greg are also two of the co-hosts of the podcast Gogggles Optional and are both passionate about science and science communication.

The United States Government is a Shitty Parent:A Brief Amateur History of the Juvenile Justice System by Cat Willett

How did a program meant to keep American children from an Oliver-Twist-like existence evolve into the juvenile justice system we know today? Have teenagers ALWAYS existed?Are superpredators real? Can a court raise a kid? Come learn how a program meant to protect youth spawned the foster care system, juvenile jails, and the concept of adolescence from a professional do-gooder with absolutely no background in law.

Cat Willett is definitely not a lawyer. She is, however, a nerd for all things youth justice and works in the Richmond community, offering restorative practice and mental health first aid trainings. In her spare time, she spends more time in public libraries than may actually be reasonable, and is perfecting her breakfast taco recipe. It has been recommended, on more than one occasion, that she talk less about prisons in her OK Cupid profile.

With thanks to:
The East Bay Express

Nerd Nite East Bay #35: Dams, Tiki, and Weed Botany

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

October’s Nerd Nite East Bay is one week early. We’re taking over Alcatraz as part of the Bay Area Science Festival, but we wanted to ring in our third anniversary with a regular event at Club 21. See how dams burst, enjoy a tour through Tiki Culture, and learn about how cannabis is grown.

There will be a contest for the best Aloha shirt and for the best Tiki mug. All participants will get a discount code to use at our November event. The winners will get prizes from Otto von Stroheim.

Doors will open promptly at 7. The bar opens then and we’ll have eats for sale from the Grilled Cheese Guy.

Rick, Rebecca, DJ Citizen Zain, and the Oakland Public Library will be lighting the Jack-O-Lanterns.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+. Any door tickets will be $10.

Monday 10/19/2015
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)
Advance tickets are $8 and are available until 3PM the day of the show or until they sell out.
Your CC statement will denote these come from Drinkified Learning, LLC.
Any door tickets will be $10 (cash or card).
21+
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Dam-nation: The fascinating end life of dams by Ann-Marie Benz

We have all seen pictures of mighty dams, the symbols of America’s (and its engineers’) great prowess and progress. The photos show big walls holding back huge amounts of water, supplying the arid West, generating power, and providing irrigation for farmers. Dams play an important part in our history, and the development of America, especially the West. However, it’s not just the stuff of pretty postcards. What eventually happens to dams? How do they end their life cycle? Usually it’s dramatic. Let’s talk about the exciting parts of this dam life.
Ann-Marie is a river-person who attended a hippie, liberal-art college where she studied “Watershed Management and Sustainable Community Development” (where else would have such a degree?). She then spent a decade in riparian restoration in Arizona, where the rivers don’t have water and the national forests don’t have trees. She moved to Northern California to work in drought, and now runs a local environmental non-profit that may, or may not, want to be associated with this talk. Although not an expert in dams as much as rivers, she enjoys most anything that falls down or blows up, and dams can fit that description.

American Tiki: A lost and found art movement by Otto von Stroheim

Once a mainstream vernacular for everything from Soap-on-a-rope to the corner bar or liquor store, Tiki Style’s sudden disappearance from America’s landscape was a mystery akin to the demise of an ancient culture in a faraway land. Tiki Style’s fall from grace left scattered matchbooks and menus to be discovered later and pieced back together like pottery shards. Once sacred soundtracks and signature souvenir drinking vessels collected dust on thrift shop shelves.

Learn how this once-grand and pervasive, American art movement was resurrected as a subculture and then became popular again!

Author/Disc Jockey/Publisher/Promoter Otto von Stroheim got his Exotica start when struck on the head with a coconut in 1994 during one of his annual backyard luaus in Venice, CA. The blow made him determined to publish his tiki (bar) travel memoirs resulting in the award­winning ‘zine Tiki News. After launching Tiki News Otto set out to publicize it by DJing and hosting Exotica­-related events. Since arriving in San Francisco Otto has curated and published catalogs for three “Tiki Art Now” group shows, booked live­music shows for a few years, made over 500 DJ appearances, hosted film nights, penned magazine articles, appeared on TV, MCed for events, and (with his wife Baby Doe) produced and hosted the first and largest Tiki convention­ “Tiki Oasis.”

Everything I leaned about botany, I learned from growing cannabis by Julie Soller

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A non-scientist nerds out on botany from the point of view of a backyard cannabis grower. Now that the state of California considers growing and using cannabis to be legal with a medical marijuana recommendation, any adult can try it. But misinformation and bad advice abound. In this funny and insightful presentation, Julie Soller will tell how she went from a “Just Say No” kid in the 80’s to a medical cannabis advocate and backyard grower today. She’ll share what she’s learned about botany and caring for the amazing and hardy plant in our unique Oakland microclimate. From soil to sun to nutrients to pests, challenges abound. Growing cannabis is akin to caring for exotic pets or playing a really slow video game: to succeed all the way through harvest, you need the right information, plenty of careful attention, practice, and a little luck. If you are someone who regularly kills houseplants, this talk is for you. (Legal limits vary by jurisdiction, check local laws before growing.)

Julie Soller is not a scientist. But she is no stranger to the joys of nerding out on diverse passions, from flamenco guitar to weight loss to cannabis horticulture. A Bay Area native, Julie is the creator of StorySlam Oaklanda live, monthly open-mic and curated storytelling show. She also produces the popular Spontaneous Storytelling event at the Layover lounge in Oakland. Previously a filmmaker, she has directed dozens of short films and TV segments, and sports a Masters in Film Directing from UCLA’s School of Film, TV and Digital Media. She’s currently a video consultant with Red Clip Video.

Nerd Nite East Bay #34: Spiders, Marbling, and Gushing

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

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September’s Nerd Nite gives you the opportunity to drink and learn about drugs, sex, and arachnids; how paper and cloth are marbled, and the basics of female ejaculation. Be there and be square!

Doors will open promptly at 7. The bar opens then and you can grab some grub from The Pie Shop and Shades of Sugar.

Rick, Rebecca, DJ Ion the Prize, and the Oakland Public Library will be chillin’ the Coronas.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+. Any door tickets will be $10.

Monday 9/28/2015
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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Drugs, Sex, and Arachnids by Lauren Esposito

Arachnids (scorpions, spiders, and their kin) are an enigmatic group of animals: though recognized and feared by all, there are many aspects of their basic biology that remain a mystery. These unique creatures are found worldwide from the highest massifs to deserts to deep cenote caves 600 meters below sea level. Arachnids exhibit complex courtship rituals, and their bizarre reproductive strategies include traumatic insemination and autotomy (self-amputation) of reproductive organs. They produce materials stronger than steel and more tensile than Kevlar, and some species may even hold they key to curing some forms of cancer. Nonetheless, there are still dozens of new species discovered each year and the natural history of these secretive animals is still in many ways unknown to us. We will enter the fascinating world of arachnids, the discoveries that have been made, and some of the mysteries that remain to be explored.

Dr. Lauren Esposito is the Curator(ess) of Arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences, and the co-founder of the science and education non-profit, Islands & Seas. Lauren has travelled extensively in the Caribbean region as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellow (University of California at Berkeley), studying biogeography of arachnids in one of the greatest biodiversity hotspots in the world. Her doctoral dissertation was completed at the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the City University of New York, and focused on the medically important North American scorpion genus Centruroides. Lauren’s current research focuses on trying to understand the patterns and processes of evolution in spiders, scorpions, and their venoms. When she’s not sailing around the Caribbean islands or trekking through forests of the Darien Gap, she can be found basking in the fog at Ocean Beach.

Ancient Marbling Secrets Revealed and Exploited by Alex Preston

Marbling is an ancient technique that was once only passed down within specialized guilds who closely guarded their trade secrets. Marbling had a wide variety of uses in ancient times from counterfeit prevention to being used inside the covers of fine books. The mass manufacture of books led to a greatly reduced role for marblers in the bookbinding industry. In the late 1800’s some master marblers who feared the extinction of their craft began revealing their methods to the world and now we have a record of what was once only oral history. Today, marbling is used for decorative papers, fine artwork, and wearable art. Some of the materials have changed, but the overall method is the same as it was hundreds of years ago. In this talk we will explore marbling with an emphasis on the materials, techniques, and modern uses. We explain the science behind marbling and show how to make both traditional and more modern designs in a live demonstration.

Alex Preston is an artist living in Somoma county who has been making custom T-shirts since 1992. Alex has a Master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and has a unique view of art and science and how the two relate. Alex gives talks and performs demonstrations to artists all over the country in guilds, universities and art supply stores. Alex works for Jacquard, maker of fabric paints and dyes, as a product developer and teacher.

Gushing with Information: The Basics of Female Ejaculation by Dani Behonick, Ph.D

Yes, it’s a real thing.
No, not just on the internet.
In this informational romp, Professor Dani Behonick shines the light of research on the process of female ejaculation. Raingear not required.

After earning her Ph.D from UCSF, Dani Behonick ran like hell from basic research and began her teaching career. She currently spends half of her time teaching pre-health students how the human body works and how to talk to their future health care patients, and the other half teaching non-science majors how the human body works and how to talk to their health care providers. When she’s not teaching she’s reading educational code or lifting heavy things on purpose.

Nerd Nite East Bay #33: Illusions, Lake Merritt, and Cummings

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

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Nerd Nite in August! Cool off the dog days of summer with a refreshing beverage and some crisp education. We’ll teach you about your cognitive biases through cool optical illusions, all about the controversial beauty of Lake Merritt, and give huge depth around one of the briefest poems by a great. Be there and be square!

Doors will open promptly at 7. The bar opens then and you can grab some grub from Miss Arepita and from Natty Cakes.

Rick, Rebecca, DJ Citizen Zain, and the Oakland Public Library will be chillin’ the Coronas.

Be there and be square.

This event is 21+. Any door tickets will be $10.

Monday 8/31/2015
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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Don’t Believe Everything You See (or Think): Optical Illusions as a window on Intuitive Biases by Paul Sas

Psychologists now have enough evidence to prove what your grandma always claimed: People’s actions aren’t consistently rational. This research program was recognized when D. Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics
We all experience optical illusions, where an item might appear larger or smaller depending upon context.
By analogy, a change in framing often triggers cognitive biases, causing the same outcome to appear as either a loss or a gain.
Paul has collected a set of trippy optical illusions. Each illusion can help illuminate a similar ‘cortical’ illusion. ‘Cortical’ illusion is a term coined here to focus on ways our brain often delivers snap judgments about complex statistical inferences with the same immediacy that we perceive an object’s size or color.

Paul began his psych PhD at Stanford in 1994 (the year Netscape IPO’d). Ever since, he’s been combining the twin waves of the ‘heuristics & biases’ research with Steve Jobs’ vision of building a bicycle for the mind.

Lake Merritt…where people are exposed to the seedy under belly of life among wild critters, such as floaters, hangings, killings and homelessness Or simply put “What Impression do you want to leave behind” by Stephanie Benavidez

What entered your mind when I printed those above words, well it’s not what you think. Come and be entertained by the trials and tribulation of a Urban Naturalist in the City of Oakland. It is not for the faint hearted so beware.

Lake Merritt Wildlife Refuge: Where We Bring People and Nature Together or is it Where We Bring Urban Sprawl and a Wildlife Refuge Together.

What is the point of historically being the very first concept of a safe place for wildlife in the Nation if 145 years later were turning this legacy for generations to come as just another Watering Hole? And what do folks take with them after visiting this rare gem.

Stephanie Benavidez is a professional Raconteur, Native of Oakland, a City of Oakland Employee for over 40 years. Featured in several books: “Blues City” by Ishmeal Reed or “I Can Hear The Sun” by Patricia Pollacco, Radio and T.V. and part of the DuPont Oral History Project housed at Mills College library, Stephanie understood the importance of the Nature Deficit Syndrome way back When Prop 13 reared its ugly repercussions.

Cummings and Goings: Super-States of Language by Daniel Ari

A mere 23 typewritten characters combine to contain and convey a charged image and a complex emotional state. The words and letters unpack through the mechanics of their placement into meditations on:

  • the nature of language
  • the methods and purposes of poetry and Art as a whole
  • mathematics
  • life
  • death

For those willing to look closely, to dive in, to invest time, and to go as far as they can—for nerds, that is—one poem emerges as the likely candidate for the most linguistically dense and dynamic poem ever written in English.

Ready? Let’s dive.

Daniel Ari married poetry in 1987 after a passionate, rocky and brief engagement. Though he’s grown accustomed to many of poetry’s idiosyncrasies—how it leaves every door, drawer and lid open and sings tunelessly for hours before belting out a supremely harmonic aria—Daniel is still constantly surprised at the new and unexpected things poetry does even in the most familiar of contexts. Daniel also likes that it’s an open marriage. His new book of poetry isOne Way To Ask, forthcoming this September in print and digital formats from Zoetic Press. The book pairs poems in an original form called queron with artwork by 67 artists including Roz Chast, Tony Millionaire, Bill Griffith and R. Crumb. Daniel leads monthly creative writing groups at his home in Richmond and blogs. When it comes out, buy his book.

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.

Nerd Nite East Bay #31: Nudibranchs, NEOs, and Microbes

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

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Please join us for June’s Nerd Nite East Bay. Vanessa Knutson will discuss sex, slugs, and rock & roll. Chabot’s Gerald McKeegan will tell us why relatively small asteroids may pose a threat to us. Finally, JGI’s Esther Singer will share what we know about the microbes that surround us.

There will be food that you can purchase from The Lumpia Company and Shades of Sugar.

As usual: Rick, Rebecca, DJ Citizen Zain, and the Oakland Public Library will taste the moon rocks (that are a little meteor than the earth rocks).

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 6/29/2015
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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Sex, Slugs and Rock & Roll by Vanessa Knutson

Once you discover what a nudibranch is, it’s difficult not to love these beautiful, crafty creatures. Come learn about these naked snails and their relatives. We’ll cover a bit about their sex life and eating habits (which may overlap a bit), how they hijack defenses from their food to protect themselves, and how biologists find and study these enigmatic creatures.

A self-proclaimed nerdibranch, Vanessa Knutson is broadly interested in the evolution and diversity of invertebrates. For her master’s degree, she studied diversity and diet in the notorious nudibranch genus Gymnodoris, at SFSU and the California Academy of Sciences. She will begin a PhD program this fall in the Organismic and Evolutionary biology program at Harvard University.

Finding NEO: The Challenge of Defending Earth from Killer Asteroids by Gerald McKeegan

The Earth orbits in a shooting gallery of millions of asteroids and occasional comets. In 1998, Congress directed NASA to find all near-Earth objects (NEO) larger than 1-kilometer, and in 2005 Congress amended that mandate to all objects larger than 140 meters. To date we have found more than 90% of the kilometer sized asteroids, but there are still thousands of undiscovered near-Earth objects larger than 140 meters. And we now realize that asteroids in the 15 – 140 meter size range pose a significant local threat, and their numbers could be in the millions. But finding smaller asteroids is a major challenge, especially since we currently rely almost exclusively on a few ground-based survey telescopes. This talk will explore how near-Earth objects are found, and why finding smaller — yet still deadly — asteroids is becoming increasingly difficult.

Gerald McKeegan is an astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. Gerald holds a M.S. degree in Space Studies, and has worked in the aerospace industry for more than 30 years. In addition to hosting public telescope observing nights at Chabot, Gerald leads Chabot’s asteroid observing program, confirming and following up on new NEO discoveries, and contributing hundreds of observations each year to the IAU Minor Planet Center.

Living in a Microbial World. And I am a Microbial Girl. by Esther Singer

During two thirds of Earth’s history, microorganisms dominated our planet. Evolving from the oceans to the inland waters over an estimated 3.8 billion years, prokaryotes – Bacteria and Archaea – have developed a complexity in metabolic diversity that has allowed for vast population sizes, extensive migration and dynamic lifestyle adaptation to diverse niches. Attempts to describe bacterial diversity and abundance often yield impressive numbers: for example, there are estimates that there is one billion times more individual bacterial on Earth than there are stars in the universe, that the number of prokaryotic species exceeds that of all other species, that prokaryotic cells comprise the majority of all biomass, and that even the most hostile habitats are inhabited by bacteria. I will provide little impressions of how microbes affect us anywhere anytime and show you that the world, we are living in, is a microbial world.

Just like the microorganisms she has been studying for 10 years, Esther uses functional diversity and adaptation strategies to conduct research projects. She obtained her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences and currently works as a Postdoc in Bioinformatics at the Joint Genome Institute. Her search for interesting microbial life forms has taken her from hydrothermal vents, oil-polluted seawater, Arctic lakes, Mediterranean grassland, all the way to switchgrass plants. At the JGI, she mainly studies the role of microbes in soil carbon sequestration and biofuel crop productivity.

Nerd Nite East Bay #30: Mars, Robot Sage Grouse, and Juggling

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.


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Nerd Nite East Bay has moved to a newer, larger venue this month and our pre-sale tickets will have no transaction fees! Club 21 is a fantastic space that is close to BART that has a full bar, lots of screens, and a lot of seating (first come/first serve). Our line-up for the first event at Club 21 is incredible. Pascal Lee, chairman of the Mars Institute and Senior Research Scientist at SETI will discuss human missions to Mars, Gail Patricelli from UC Davis will bring a robotic sage grouse, and Jono will discuss the mathematics of juggling.

There will be food that you can purchase from Kyoto Cafe and Natty Cakes and we’ll be giving away Nerd Nite East Bay shot glasses!

And bar flies Rick, Rebecca, DJ Ion the Prize, and the Oakland Public Library will guide you through the rest of the night.

Be there and be square.

Monday 5/25/2015
Doors at 7 pm, show starts at 8 pm, show 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+
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MISSION: MARS (Steps Toward the First Human Mission to the Red Planet) by Pascal Lee

The first human mission to Mars will be humanity’s greatest undertaking in space exploration in the 21st century. As with all expeditions, its success will depend on planning. The first steps towards a human journey to the Red Planet are already under way, as we achieve longer spaceflight missions, plan for deep space journeys to Near-Earth Asteroids, and explore extreme environments on Earth viewed as Mars “analogs”. Dr Lee will discuss progress being made around the world, from the Arctic to Antarctica, from basement labs to the International Space Station, to achieve the first human voyage to Mars. He will examine in turn the what, why, how, when, and who of the first human mission to Mars.

Dr Pascal Lee is co-founder and chairman of the Mars Institute, a senior planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, and the director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. Dr Lee has worked extensively in the Arctic and Antarctica viewed as stand-ins for Mars. In 1988, he wintered over in Antarctica for 402 days. In his spare time, Pascal likes to play with his dogs and paint space art, especially scenes of humans exploring Mars and its moons. Pascal also just became an author. His first book, titled Mission: Mars, is a children’s book on the human exploration of Mars.

Tools of the Pornithologist: Using Robots to Spy on the Sex Lives of Birds by Gail Patricelli

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Animals use a dizzying array of sounds, smells, colors, dances, electrical fields and seismic vibrations to convince each other to mate. These elaborate courtship signals were a mystery until Darwin’s time—after proposing his theory of natural selection, Darwin was left with the question of how the flamboyant peacock could be shaped by the same process that makes the peahen so perfectly camouflaged. There is now strong support for Darwin’s answer to this question, the process he termed sexual selection, proposing that the courting sex (often, but not always the males) must be elaborate because the courted sex (often, but not always the females) demands it. But how do scientists study the conversations males and females in non-human animals have about mating? One way to do this is to participate, controlling one side of the conversation with a robot. Gail Patricelli will talk about using robotic females to study courtship behaviors in two spectacular species of birds, the satin bowerbird and the greater sage-grouse.

Gail Patricelli is a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on the evolution of elaborate mating behaviors in birds and the impacts of noise pollution on breeding behaviors and populations.

How to Entertain a Juggler by Jono Finger

Next time you go to a juggling festival, you might be surprised that it’s not all circus clowns and fire torches. Instead there will be a plethora different techniques, objects, group patterns, and games. I am going to talk about nerdy juggling, which is more akin to a technical sport or solving a puzzle. There will be patterns, theorems, algorithms, causal diagrams… oh, and maybe some juggling too.

Jono has been juggling for 20+ years. He participates and teaches at festivals and camps throughout the country. When he is not juggling you might find him at his day job programming for PLOS, an open access science publisher.

Nerd Nite East Bay #29: Seahorses, USS Potomac, and Mathematical Beauty

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.


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Join us for Nerd Nite East Bay’s last monthly show at the incredible New Parkway Theater! Two-time Nerd Nite San Francisco alum Rich Ross kicks off the night with a talk about the tiny, fascinating pygmy seahorses that hide on coral in the Philippines. Nerd Nite fans know we have a thing for boats. Olaf Elander will walk us through how a ship that was once owned by President Roosevelt was bought by Elvis Presley, sold and used to smuggle drugs, and finally found a home in Oakland. Then Stanford’s Margot Gerritsen will share how linear algebra is both useful and beautiful.

Your hosts Rick and Rebecca, DJ Citizen Zain, and the Oakland Public Library will make sure you’re entertained and educated.

“To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift!”

Monday 4/27/2015
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)
$8
All Ages
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Collecting and Breeding the Pygmy Seahorse by Rich Ross

Pygmy seahorses live their entire adult lives attached to a type of coral called a Gorgonian sea fan. The seahorses use their long tails to grab on to the delicately branched sea fans. But what’s really amazing is their ability to match the coral’s bright color and knobby texture. They blend in so perfectly that they are barely visible, even to a trained eye. They’re nearly impossible to raise in captivity. More people have walked on the moon than have seen a juvenile land on a sea fan. Until recently, there was no record of the seahorses ever living long enough to breed in an aquarium. Hear how the California Academyof Science is learning more about this mysterious species.

Richard Ross works as an aquatic biologist at the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences, maintaining many exhibits – including the 212,000-gallon Philippine Coral Reef. An avid underwater videographer who has scuba dived all over the world, he enjoys spending time with his patient wife, his incredible daughter, and their menagerie of animals, both wet and dry.

Franklin Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht – How Did It Get Here? by Olaf Elander

Take a virtual tour of the USS Potomac and hear about its journey from rum chaser, to Presidential Yacht, to drug smuggler, to historic vessel docked at Jack London Square!

Presented by Olaf Elander, resident of Oakland, computer professional during the week, USS Potomac Docent during the weekend, and 10 year veteran of the USS Potomac.

The Beauty I See In Algebra by Margot Gerritsen

When I was first introduced to algebra I believed, with many of my friends, that it was a dry and abstract field. If someone had told me then that 30 years later I would be raving about the subfield of linear algebra, I would probably have despaired. But the topic of this talk is indeed about the beauty of linear algebra and its critical role in engineering and physics applications. Although I will use a little bit of algebra in this talk, it’s OK to be rusty in algebra or calculus. And for those looking for pretty pictures, I will share some of those also.

Margot Gerritsen is a professor of energy resources engineering and the director of the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. After receiving her master’s degree in applied mathematics in the Netherlands, Gerritsen moved to the United States in search of “hillier and sunnier places.” She received her doctorate in scientific computing and computational mathematics at Stanford, and later became a faculty member at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Gerritsen specializes in renewable and fossil energy production and in computational mathematics. She is also active in coastal ocean dynamics and yacht design.

Nerd Nite East Bay #28: A’s Baseball, Charcuterie, and Dynamite

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.

Poster designed by Cindy Wang.


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Holy Toledo! Snag a ticket for this month’s Nerd Nite East Bay so that you can hear past speaker Mitch Anstey glow about our Oakland A’s, savor Zak Wardle’s treatise on cured meats, and learn about the history of dynamite in the bay area from NNSF alum Robin Marks. DJ Ion the Prize, Rick, Rebecca, and the Oakland Public Library will throw out the first pitch.

Monday 3/30/2015
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)
$8
All Ages
tickets
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The Little Team That Does by Mitch Anstey

You’ve seen the movie. It stars Brad Pitt. He makes baseball sexy. You want to know what else makes baseball sexy? Data! No, not Star Trek… Statistics! But in this post-BradPittMoneyball era, every team uses statistics in one form or another drive decisions in the front office and on the field. Come see how our hometown Oakland A’s have kept pace with the big money juggernauts to give us the most exciting* team in baseball!

Mitch is not a baseball analyst, statistician, or insider. He is only a fan! But fans are irrational and do what they want. Boo a famous player! Call balls and strikes from 400 feet away! As such, he has no authority to talk about the “Moneyball” tactics that have made his hometown team famous, but he will anyway! His analytical science mind has been attracted to the A’s because they embraced statistics as a way to stay competitive with a limited budget. It’s the great underdog story that science helped to write!


* Your results may vary.↩

Salt: the Cure for the Common Meat! by Zak Wardle

Have you ever eaten Prosciutto? Landjaeger? Saucisson Sec? Salami? Pate? Sujuk? or Carne de Sol? These are examples of cured meat foods where the meat has been treated with salts in order to preserve it and to develop flavor. Cured meats of one form or another are a wonderful culinary tradition across many parts of the world and the ability to preserve and store a reliable source of protein was a vital technology for life within burgeoning human civilizations before the advent of refrigeration.

Zak Wardle is an Oakland cook, butcher, ‘charcuteer’ and independent academic currently working at Clove and Hoof restaurant. He is passionate about sharing his meat with the world. He is fascinated by the history and science of food and the role it has played in human ecology.

More Bang for the Buck: Dynamite’s Explosive Impact on the Bay Area

In 1868, Alfred Nobel plopped the world’s first dynamite plant right smack in the middle of SF’s Glen Canyon. Others followed, first in SF, then in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The Bay Area became a global hotspot for TNT. Local miners celebrated. Local residents lived in fear. The SF Chronicle reported on what it called the “semi-annual explosions” that, over time, killed hundreds of people and blew out countless Bay Area windows. Eventually, the Knights of Nitro got the hang of the safety idea. Learn about where you can go to see the artifacts of a whole different kind of Bay Area economic explosion.

Robin Marks is a professional nerd who writes high school curricula and runs Discovery Street Tours, which offers walking tours that explore science and history. She is fond of obscure factoids about the Bay Area.