Nerd Nite is Off in March and April

Per Alameda County Public Health Department’s COVID19 guidance, we have cancelled our March 30th and Apr 27th events. We will keep in touch regarding May and June.
Early ticket buyers have been both refunded and comped a ticket to our next event (whenever the virus has abated). We look forward to hosting the very cool talks by Hillery ShayNeem Patel, and Julia DeMarines at future events (along with our April presenters).
We encourage you to:
  1. Donate to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
  2. Enjoy any of Miss Arepita’s pop-ups and hitup Grilled Cheez Guy on UberEats or at his restaurant.
  3. Catch DJ Rubberband Girl on KALX [90.7FM, Fri 6-9PM]
  4. Checkout the virtual resources the Oakland Public Library has available
  5. Learn more about COVID19 and why events are being cancelled
  6. Catch-up on Nerd Nite videos at home [beer still encouraged]
We hope to see you soon,
Rick, Scott, Ann-Marie, and Rebecca
Nerd Nite East Bay

Nerd Nite 2/24: Smart Fonts, Animal Toxin Evolution, Zoonotic Viruses

New location! Nerd Nite is now at one of the coolest places in all of Oakland, The UPTOWN Nightclub!


Join Nerd Nite East Bay in Uptown Oakland with our new hosts The UPTOWN Nightclub on Monday Feb 24 for Your Brain On FontsAnimal Toxin Evolution, and How Viruses Jump Species!


Fortune Favors the (Britannic) Bold: How Different Fonts Interact With The Human Brain

I just read you, and this is crazy, a weird font choice, better recall maybe? Learn how a change from familiar fonts breaks your brain out of automatic System 1 cognition and activates a brain state that evolved only in humans. Examine the data that demonstrates how everyday reality makes brains a bit flabby, and see how novelty tunes up tired neurons. Finally, consider how the tragedy of Comic Sans may yet turn into a uniquely human triumph.

Connor Diemand-Yauman researches improvements in learning outcomes and lectures at Stanford University Business School. He received Princeton’s Pyne Prize and is the Cofounder of Philanthropy University (, which trains and funds local social impact organizations in under-resourced communities. In his spare time, Connor enjoys boxing, cycling, teaching inmates and eating massive salads.

Their Chemical Romance: How Animals Create, Escape and Steal the Most Potent Poisons on Earth

Why don’t poisonous animals poison themselves? Learn how poisonous frogs evolved genetic resistance to their own toxins, and why you should never, ever touch a Phyllobates terribilis. See the clever ways that insects deal with man made poisons, watch how animals co-opt toxins from the environment for their own uses, and see how humans use animal toxins to create otherwise unobtainable pharmaceuticals and beetles defend themselves with exploding butts.

Rebecca Tarvin studies the evolution of animals that acquire chemical defenses as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology and and Assistant Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley. As a young girl she was known to collect garbage bags full of frogs, and to fill kiddie pools with frogs so she could learn how to swim like them.

How Viruses Jump Species and then (Literally) Go Viral

Once obscure, zoonotic viruses like Ebola, Zika, and now coronaviruses that jump from animals to humans are under intense study. Learn what unique genetic changes allow viruses to jump species, and discover why bats are often implicated as a key vector. Study the surface protein changes that bind viruses to human cells, and see how this explains the host range, tissue tropism, transmission routes and pathogenicity. See how science from the SARS outbreak is guiding coronavirus research and how it’s providing new strategies for life saving therapeutic intervention.

Oscar Negrete’s work as a virologist and principal member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratory, has kept him focused on emerging viruses and molecular viral-host interaction. His research uses a broad spectrum of cellular, molecular biology, functional genomics, and nanoscience techniques to understand virus replication. He is currently working on a multi-year study to develop antiviral countermeasures that can be tailored to emerging virus strains and rapidly deployed.


Music from DJ Rubberband Girl, amazing drinks from The UPTOWN, eats available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy, and info from the great Oakland Public Library!


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Nerd Nite 1/27: Dadbot, West Oakland Archive, Synthetic Cells

New location! Nerd Nite is now at one of the coolest places in all of Oakland, The UPTOWN Nightclub!

Tix: $8 online until 3:30PM 1/27, then $10 door.

Join Nerd Nite East Bay with our new hosts The UPTOWN on Monday January 27 for Digital Immortality, West Oakland Redevelopment History, and New Synthetic Biology!


From DAD to DADBOT: How Virtual Immortality Preserves People and Personality

Can technology save the voices of people you love after they pass away, and create new conversations? Hear how the Dadbot was created and preserved the conversation style and stories of James Vlahos’ father, and how near future voice computing and memory-sharing services will allow departed human personalities to live inside computers. Then consider the technical potential, key hurdles, ethical questions and social benefits of virtual immortality that will exist beyond the human body.

James Vlahos invented the Dadbot, a conversational avatar created when his father was dying of cancer. He is the cofounder of HereAfter (, which uses data and conversational AI to share and preserve life stories. James is also the author of TALK TO ME: How Voice Computing Will Transform the Way that We Live, Work, and Think. He plays bass in the soul jazz group Seven Way Split and has done ski mountaineering in Iran.

Oakland’s Postwar Redevelopment Projects in Archival Photographs

Urban renewal programs in West Oakland built highways and infrastructure, and also forced nine thousand West Oakland residents from their homes and destroyed the architecture of a thriving community of color. Recently 40,000 Oakland Redevelopment Agency photographs documenting the city’s transformation from 1964-2000 were rediscovered, and they provide a counter narrative to the modern focus on ruin porn declension narratives. Instead, they remind us that many contemporary communities organized against West Oakland urban renewal, with responses that continue to have a lasting grassroots impact. See photographs of Oakland redevelopment, and learn how photography archives can point the way towards historical truth.

Moriah Ulinskas is an audiovisual archivist PhD candidate in Public History at UC Santa Barbara and founding member of the Community Archiving Workshop, a collective of film and video archivists working to help communities maintain intellectual control over their recordings. She has been organizing the photographs left by the Oakland Redevelopment Agency since 2016 and has lived in West Oakland —the neighborhood most impacted by the ORA— for over 20 years. Moriah has two small dogs, two rather large teenagers, and still shoots, develops and prints her own photographs.

Using Synthetic Biology and Artificial Intelligence to Design Novel Cells

See how new synthetic biology is designing life to unique specifications, and how breakthrough artificial intelligence is crucial to the next generation of this technology. From the creation of coats made of spider silk that didn’t come from spiders to renewable biofuels using plants as the only input, new products rely on the ability of AI to combine, tweak, design and create new, living, and supremely functional cells. Learn how machine learning is enhancing novel synthetic biology, and consider how this will impact the modern world.

Hector Garcia Martin founded the Quantitative Metabolic Modeling Group at Berkeley Lab, where he has been using math and computers to engineer novel cells for over a decade. He also loves cooking, as befits someone born in the Basque Country.

With music from DJ Rubberband Girl, drinks from The UPTOWN, eats available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy, and info from the great Oakland Public Library.


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Nerd Nite at The Uptown starting Jan 2020!

BIG Nerd Nite East Bay news!

We are moving to a great new venue in Oakland, The UPTOWN Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph Avenue!

As you may know, Club 21 is closing in mid-January. They have been an AWESOME partner with Nerd Nite, and we are so grateful for all the efforts of Roberto, Frankie, and the rest of the gang!

Starting Jan 27, 2020, Nerd Nite is moving to one of the coolest venues in all of Oakland, The UPTOWN Night Club! Across the street from The Fox! Just 1.5 blocks from Club 21 (keep your favorite secret parking spot!), and a block from 19th St. BART.

Still on the last Monday of each month! January show details coming soon!

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the uptown

club 21 to uptown

FREE Nerd Nite Party 12/16: Trivia, Prizes and Fun!

RSVP for the FREE Nerd Nite party on Facebook

We’re taking December off from our regular show format and will return in 2020.

But Nerd Nite had a good 2019, with great crowds and excellent speakers. And we want to say thank you!

On Monday, Dec 16th (7PM-9PM), Nerd Nite is hosting a FREE special event at Club 21 (2111 Franklin St, Oakland, CA) to say thanks for all your support this year. We’ll have three riveting rounds of trivia:

  • Star Wars

  • Presidents

  • Nerdy Things in 2019 co-hosted by the Oakland Public Library

… and entertaining videos, with prizes including movie tickets, drink tickets, Nerd Nite and Oakland Public Library swag, and other nerdy things. Come out for a fun night with your fellow Oakland nerds! FREE ENTRY! Invite your friends!

Please RSVP on Facebook so we can plan around expected attendance!


Please RSVP so we can plan! 21+. Two Blocks from 19th Street BART.

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Nerd Nite 11/25: Toy Safety, Tectonic Ice Ages and Treason


Join Nerd Nite East Bay on Monday Nov 25 for the Treason of Aaron Burr, How Tropical Plate Tectonics Can Create Ice Ages, and the History of Extremely Dangerous Toys!


Aaron Burr after Hamilton: Conspiracy and Treason in the pre-America West

Nerd Nite brings you a live performance of Hamilton 2! (But sorry, no singing). After Aaron Burr was indicted for the murder of Alexander Hamilton, he left the Vice Presidency and made his way to the wild Western frontier, where he joined with the Governor of the Louisiana Territory in a conspiracy to gain control over land and begin their own new country west of the United States. With thrilling cameos from Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and the highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army, follow this true Trial of the Century as Burr is tried for treason against the United States of America, and see how this moment in history established how our society still thinks about treason, executive power, and the role of the U.S. judiciary in the modern world.

Pooja Nair presented at Nerd Nite LA and is a Los Angeles-based litigator and partner at TroyGould. In her spare time, she dives into her passion for U.S. legal history and has spoken about Alexander Hamilton’s legal career at venues including Hamilton Grange, Federal Hall, the Alexander Hamilton US Customs House, Morris-Jumel Mansion, and the Museum of American Finance. She’s the California Chapter President of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society and a graduate of Harvard Law School and UC San Diego.
How Tropical Tectonic Collisions Create Catastrophic Ice Ages

Could wet rocks in Indonesia save us from global warming? Earth’s current hospitable climate is defined by a mix of large temperate land areas and some parts of earth covered by ice sheets. But earth’s history has also had periods with no substantial land ice, contrasting with other periods known as “Snowball Earth” when our entire planet was covered in ice! Learn how the geological carbon cycle regulates Earth’s climate, see why a plate tectonic collision in the balmy tropics can lead to weird wet chemistry and planet-wide cooling, and learn how lucky we are to live on a self-regulating planet that has remained habitable by life in some form for over 3 billion years.

Nick Swanson-Hysell studies Earth’s past climate and reconstructs the ancient positions of the continents as an Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. His geological field work has had him studying rocks on all seven continents, while his office work has him moving entire continents (on a computer, which is a bit of a power trip).
How Toys Became (Too) Safe: Burned Fingers, Atomic Water, Exploding Sweaters and the FDA

With the holidays ho ho holmost here, get a brief and occasionally frightening history of American toy safety law from 1902 to 1973, with an emphasis on the sudden shift from the 1960s, when it was perfectly acceptable for companies to sell toys that sometimes injured children, to the 1970s, when Americans began to think about children and danger in a much different way. Learn how the inventor of the Erector Set irradiated a generation of children, see how popular deadly exploding sweaters were in the 1950s, discover how moms briefly triumphed over toy guys, and learn how the erratic progression of regulation by the FDA shows the evolving concept of childhood in America– and how it all went too far.

Danny Horn is a Product Director at the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization behind Wikipedia. He started the Muppet fansite Tough Pigs, followed by Muppet Wiki after receiving his Masters in sexuality education and spending ten years in non-profit education at an LGBT health center. Danny started working with the Wikimedia Foundation in 2014 and writes the blog Dark Shadows Every Day, about the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows. Danny thinks none of this adds up to any expertise about toy safety, except that he has a history of writing smart things about dumb things.
With music from DJ Rubberband Girl, drinks from Club 21, eats available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy, and info from the great Oakland Public Library.


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Nerd Nite Fear Factor 10/31 at Exploratorium


More Info


What are you scared of—fear itself, or something more specific?  Come witness volunteers facing intensely frightening situations and learn some of the science behind our fears (and what it takes to confront them) with Nerd Nite and Exploratorium biologist/alumnerd Alex Pinigis.

Nerd Nite 10/28: Fossil Whale Barnacles, Chevron Richmond, Mars Atmosphere


Join Nerd Nite East Bay to see how humans can manipulate the Martian atmosphere, learn how Chevron shaped modern Richmond, and discover how to track ancient whale migration with fossil barnacles!

NNEB 2019 October Poster



Shaped By Chevron: How Oil, WWII and Migration Created Richmond

In an echo of the corporate towns of America’s past, learn why Chevron was built in Richmond or, more accurately, how Chevron built Richmond around the massive oil refinery. See how World War II and the second Great Migration bifurcated Richmond, and learn how Chevron Richmond’s control over city development and media amplified the division between Richmond and North Richmond and moved the center of Richmond city life from downtown to a 1970s mall overlooking the Bay.

Mia Renauld completed her thesis on the development of Richmond and received her PhD in Sociology. At the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute she collaborated with community organizations to develop low-cost do-it-yourself scientific monitoring tools. Mia has worked as an environmental justice advocate for organizations including Education For A Sustainable Living Program, ran a half marathon on a broken foot, and has over thirty plants, all with names like Fernie Sanders and Minerva.

Resurrecting the Martian Atmosphere for Human Life

Mars is humanity’s most obvious and viable escape from a future inhospitable Earth, but the leap from our world to the Red Planet will require a nearly inconceivable amount of work on the Martian atmosphere. Learn why Mars was once warm and wet, with majestic flowing river and beautiful lakes, and what happened to make modern Mars so cold, dry, and incompatible with human life. Then hear about current projects that are preparing Mars for human colonization, why terraforming is crucial to the reformation of Mars’ atmosphere, and why human life on Mars will require digging a channel one billion times the size of the tunnel between England and France.

Rob Lillis has worked on four Mars mission science teams and is the Associate Director for Planetary Science at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory. He is interested in why the atmosphere leaks away from Mars and how that has changed the Martian climate. Robert loves rugby, politics, sci-fi, horror movies, and terrible cheesy European techno music.

Using Fossil Barnacles to Track Ancient Whale Migration

Learn how fossil barnacles can be used to track the migration of prehistoric whales and answer questions about ancient and modern whale behavior. See how barnacles give us crucial insight into the morphological evolution of whales and how they can identify hot spots of productivity in the ancient oceans. Learn how fossils suggest Pleistocene Panama was once party central for ancient leviathans, discover how whales change behavior in response to changes in Earth’s climate, and see how modern barnacles accurately map whale migration.

Larry Taylor is a PhD Candidate in Paleobiology at UC Berkeley focusing on the use of barnacle isotopes to track prehistoric whale migration. Outside of academic life, Larry is a mountain junkie and is frequently found scampering up high peaks in the Sierra Nevada or Rocky Mountains.

With music from DJ Rubberband Girl, drinks from Club 21, eats available for purchase, and info from the great Oakland Public Library.


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Nerd Nite #79: Ecomimicry, Transcontinental Railroad, and Godzilla


Join Nerd Nite East Bay on 9/30 to learn how human systems borrow from nature, how and why the Transcontinental Railroad arrived in the East Bay, and the bonkers biology of our favorite Kaiju.

triptychs are nerdy

Ecomimicry: How Human Systems Benefit By Copying Nature

Human activities have greatly modified natural ecosystems, sometimes to our own detriment. Ecomimicry flips this approach and tries to solve problems by recreating the structure and function of natural ecosystems within our own artificial systems. Learn about the “goal” of natural ecosystems as they evolve toward a certain state, and consider what ecosystems can teach us about more efficient and resilient agriculture, and how industries, economies, and societies can benefit from thoughtful ecomimicry.

Amber Kerr is a lecturer in biology and ecology at UC Berkeley and Evergreen Valley College. She studied agroforestry in Malawi for her PhD at UC Berkeley, followed by a postdoc at UC Davis on climate impacts on California agriculture. When not teaching or doing research, she can be found running, gardening, attending protest marches, and dodging her kids’ LEGOs.

The Myth of the Golden Spike: How the East Bay Gained (and San Francisco Lost) the Transcontinental Railroad

When the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads celebrated the hammering of the Golden Spike that “completed” the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, the true story (and construction!) of the first nation-spanning railway was hardly finished. Discover why the first trains to the West Coast didn’t arrive until September, and learn about the many doomed efforts to connect the railway to San Francisco. Then see how politics, geology and dead cows all led to the mighty Transcontinental Railroad terminating in Alameda and Oakland, tantalizingly short of the Pacific Ocean.

Dennis Evanosky and Eric J. Kos are historians and co-publishers of the Alameda Sun, Alameda’s successful independent hometown newspaper. Their careers as published authors began in 2003 with East Bay Then & Now, and they are currently working on their 14th and 15th history books together. Proud history nerds, Eric and Dennis get into the minutiae of history, finding the stories that are hilarious, heartbreaking or simply worth hearing. They are raising money for a documentary on this topic.

The History, Biology and Behavior of the Hyper-Evolved Modern Theropod Godzilla

Tsunami, earthquake, hurricane and typhoon all rolled in one, Godzilla, the “King of the Monsters,” has both plagued and benefited humanity for over half a century. By examining the origins and zoology of this force of transgenic nature, people and nations will be better equipped to deal with the awesome destructive power of our radioactive visitor from the Cretaceous.

Shyaporn Theerakulstit is an actor, writer, YouTuber, cosplayer and general “nerd about town.” He has given talks on subjects such as how to become Batman and the technology of Star Trek vs Star Wars at Nerd Nite, TEDx and the Smithsonian Institution. He has written and produced for Dark Horse Comics and is also the host of the science lecture series “Real/Fake Science.” His YouTube channel has over 5 million views.


music from DJ Rubberband Girl, drinks from Club 21, eats available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy, and info from the great Oakland Public Library. We’re pleased to be joined by guest MC Danna Staaf, a favorite alumnerd and the author of the fantastic Squid Empire.

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Club 21 doors and drinks at 7PM, TALKS BEGIN AT 7:30PM! 21+.


Nerd Nite #78: Algorithmic Art, Punishment, Gravity Waves


At Nerd Nite East Bay see how art is created from math, learn what really works when punishing humans, and prospect the universe for gold using gravitational waves!

The Beautiful World of Algorithmic Art and Mathematical Visualizations

In a rapid fire, nerdy art extravaganza, Roger Antonsen will zip through a world of strange, quirky, and beautiful mathematical visualizations. Enjoy Celtic knots, random walks, trees, bubbles, chaos, cats, automata, and more! Learn about how our understanding of mathematics and algorithms can be used to explore new, exciting artistic forms and structures, which often rely on numbers and relationships hidden just below the surface.

Roger Antonsen is Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oslo, and a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley. He enjoys all things at the intersection of mathematics, philosophy, and computer science. You can find his web page at and his Twitter on

You’ve Been Bad: What Science Says About Punishment and Human Behavior

The last decade has brought a long overdue reexamination of retribution as a criminal deterrent, with a growing acceptance that modern criminal justice policy rooted in ancient morality and religious traditions may not be as relevant in the modern world. Learn about the direct connections between the Bible and policies still in force today. Then see the real statistics that support (or refute) shaming, caning, community service, the death penalty, and incarceration, and learn the lessons this new data holds for crime prevention, parenting and even pet-rearing.

Sara Yousuf was an Assistant Public Defender in Miami for thirteen years, defending indigent clients from charges ranging from cannabis possession to first degree murder. She now works with The Justice Collaborative, a national nonprofit working to reduce incarceration in America through policy, advocacy and media. Sarah enjoys Scrabble, origami, and highly recommends Dolly Parton’s autobiography.

How Einstein’s Gravitational Waves Discovered Gold and Explored the Universe

Scientists have recently developed a new way to explore the universe, using gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein nearly a century ago. See how these waves illuminate some of the most exotic objects in the cosmos, including star corpses and neutron stars. Then learn how these new techniques recently solved one of the enduring mysteries of the universe, identifying the interstellar source of the gold, platinum, uranium, and even Californium that we now have on earth.

Eliot Quataert studies black holes, plasma astrophysics and galaxy formation as a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at UC Berkeley. He received the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy and was named one of the first Simons Investigators.

With music from DJ Rubberband Girl, drinks from Club 21, eats available for purchase from Grilled Cheese Guy, and info from the great Oakland Public Library.

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Easy sign up at or text “Oakland” to 345345.

Club 21 doors and drinks at 7PM, TALKS BEGIN AT 7:30PM! 21+.