We’re expanding our monthly show at The New Parkway! We’ll have our usual live show in theater 1 and will be streaming to the comfy retro lounge that is theater 2. So: roll out of bed and listen to Matt Walker tell you why you probably should catch a few more Zs later, hear Guy Branum explain how we had the audacity to think we could take over our neighbors to the north (eh?), and catch a shooting star with Chabot’s Jonathan Braidman.
Be there and be square with beats by DJ Citizen Zain and general grumblings from Rick and Rebecca!
We spend one third of our lives asleep, yet doctors and scientists still have no complete understanding as to why. It is one of the last great scientific mysteries. This talk will describe new discoveries suggesting that, far from being a time when the brain is dormant, sleep is a highly active process critical for a constellation of different functions. These include the importance of sleep for learning, memory and brain plasticity. Furthermore, a role for sleep in intelligently synthesizing new memories together will be examined, the result of which is next-day creative insights. Finally, a new role for sleep in regulating emotional brain networks will be discussed, optimally preparing us for next day social and psychological challenges. Perhaps if you don’t snooze, you lose.
Matthew Walker earned his PhD in neurophysiology from the Medical Research Council in London, UK, and subsequently became an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School in 2004. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of California Berkeley. He is the recipient of funding awards from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. In 2006 he became a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. His research examines the impact of sleep on human brain function in healthy and disease populations. He provided his non-verbal implied consent that Rick can add an amusing remark at the end of the bio to make you less likely to fall asleep if you’ve read this far.
THE TIME WE TRIED TO STEAL CANADA: THE WAR OF 1812 AND YOU by Guy Branum
We all know about America rescuing Europe in World War I, defeating the Nazis in World War II, and saving the Union in the Civil War, but no one ever talks about America’s FIRST war. No, not that one, America’s first war as an independent nation: The War of 1812. It’s the 200th anniversary of America’s stupidest war, and together we’ll re-trace the idiotic steps that led to us declaring war on the greatest power of the age, expecting to be welcomed by Canadians as liberators, and finally learning, once and for all, what the Canadian dream is: to not be American.
Guy Branum is a writer and comedian best known for his work on Chelsea Lately and Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Guy is also the host of the informational comedy series “The Factuary” on Youtube. He has a JD from the University of Minnesota, but that won’t really play into things much.
THE SKY IS FALLING! CRAP FROM OUTER SPACE AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT by Jonathan Braidman
Two meteor impacts and a near miss asteroid; all in one weekend! What’s up with that, Space? Find out if these events are a coincidence or a cosmic warning shot from the universe. We’ll talk about how this crap gets to Earth and if that emergency kit has the tools you need to survive. There will be real meteorite samples for you to handle (no licking). It’s the closest thing to touching space!
Jonathan works at Chabot Space and Science Center (right here in the Oakland hills!) as a planetarium show developer, educator, and news liaison. He also runs the Challenger Learning Center, which is just about the closest thing to a space mission that the average non-astronaut can experience. When not searching the skies, Jonathan likes bicycling, making bagels, and any kind of space video game.
Grab a drink and join us for a journey from the very small and close to the very far and vast. Jessica Richman shares a bit about the microbial cells found in you that out number your own cells 10-to-1 (and may have genes that out number your own genes 100-to-1). Next, Will Fischer talks to us about modern manufacturing. Finally, we go to Mars with Guy Pyrzak. How do we drive something that might be 249 million miles away? S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Be there and be square with DJ Ion the Prize and your maniacal managers Rebecca Cohen and Rick Karnesky!
THERE ARE 100 TRILLION CELLS IN EACH OF OUR BODIES, BUT ONLY 10% OF THEM ARE HUMAN! by Jessica Richman
Who are the 90 percent? What are they doing there? And how do they affect our health? We’ll cover the latest scientific research on how our microbes correlate with obesity, anxiety, heart disease, tooth decay, and sinusitis, or can contribute to our health.
uBiome is a San Francisco-based citizen science project that offers personal microbiome genomics. Jessica Richman is finishing a PhD at Oxford in mathematical sociology and is working with Will Ludington and Zac Apte, two scientists at UCSF.
TAKE YOUR BITS FOR A SPIN: A LOOK AT CONVENTIONAL MACHINING, HOW STUFF IS MADE, AND THE FUTURE OF FABRICATION by Will Fischer
Conventional machining is the basis for all modern fabrication and it’s also really frickin’ cool. Come on an epic trek to take a look at a bit of its history, the physics at work, modern advances, and some advantages over other types of fabrication. We’ll cover milling, turning (lathing), threads, 3D printing, laser cutting, and more! I’d tap that!
Will Fischer started learning about fabrication at an early age by building magnificent Lego contraptions to be painfully stepped on by family members. As a cocksure adolescent, he taught himself to weld, worked summers as a professional Lego roboticist, and rebuilt a 1970 Chevelle. College was a blur of mechanical engineering, breaking and entering, Dungeons and Dragons, and a lot of welding and machining. After completing his Masters in Mechanical Engineering, Will moved from Texas to the Bay Area to take a job as the first employee of a local medical device startup. The daily rigors of being the only mechanical engineer had him regularly cursing, prototyping, and machining components, but after a few years of being the company’s only machinist, he can mill with the finest.
HOW TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO ROVER HAS GONE BEFORE by Guy Pyrzak
Operating a one-ton rover on the surface of Mars requires more than just a joystick and an experiment. With 10 science instruments, 17 cameras, a radioisotope thermoelectric generator and lasers, Curiosity is the largest and most complex rover NASA has sent to Mars. Combined with a 1 way light time of 4 to 20 minutes and a distributed international science and engineering team, it takes a lot of work to operate this mega-rover. The Mars Science Lab’s operations team has developed an organization and process that maximizes science return and safety of the spacecraft. These are the voyages of the rover Curiosity, its 2 year mission, to determine the habitability of Gale Crater, to understand the role of water, to study the climate and geology of Mars.
Guy is a Science Planner for the Curiosity Rover. When he isn’t exploring another planet, Guy is the lead designer for the ground software used to command the rover. In the past Guy has worked on software for the International Space Station, the Phoenix Polar Lander and the Mars Exploration Rovers. In his free time he watches Star Trek, BSG, Firefly and other sci-fi space TV shows on Netflix, you know, research.
We kick off the year with a talk on collective behavior from Daniel Cohen of UC Berkeley/UCSF. Is it just me or are most swarms just creepy. Ants, bees, pirahnas? Ick. Geologist Andrew Pike shares how he is just as interested in scissors and paper as he is in rocks and Cal’s Lina Nilsson tells us about about “cool science and tech work for ‘global good.'”
And if you haven’t yet been back to The New Parkway Theater since our last night before they were officially opened, you should really check it out. They’ve dusted out the last few cobwebs, they’re showing programs on both screens and, most importantly, their kitchen is now up-and-running. You’ll be able to buy a tasty burger or some pizza along with that pitcher of beer for our show.
Be there and be square with DJ Ion the Prize and your humble hosts Rebecca Cohen and Rick Karnesky!
THAT’LL DO, PIG: ADVENTURES IN COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR FROM SHEEP TO CANCER by Daniel Cohen
Should the day come where our civilization is laid waste to by swarms of vengeful nanobots, killer bees, and ambulatory piranha, the secrets of the Swarm discussed in this talk, will give you a competitive advantage. On a less somber note, these same secrets happily pertain to everyday things like the herding of sheep, schooling of fish, swarming of ants, flocking of birds, and decisions taking place inside your body. ‘Collective behavior’, our theme, describes the surprising ability of large groups of simple critters to behave in very complicated ways. If all goes well, you will leave this talk with a nose for these phenomena in everyday life, possessing a secret of bird flocking, and having a better sense of how the trillions of cells inside you work together (most of the time).
Daniel Cohen is eyeing the finish line of a bioengineering PhD at UC Berkeley/UCSF. In addition to swarms and cells, his work touches on dinosaurs, medical devices, and medical devices for dinosaurs (awaiting testing).
GETTING THE UPPER HAND: HOW TO WIN AT ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS by Andrew Pike
Child’s play it’s not! Rock Paper Scissors, or RPS as it’s known among enthusiasts, has gained a cult following over the past decade. Fingersmiths from around the globe compete in local and international tournaments for a shot at thousands of dollars in prize money. Although each athlete comes equipped with all but three humble throws, only the best leave with blood on their hands. But is there truly a way to win at our beloved pastime? What is the strategy of champions? Join us as we delve into the complexity of this deceivingly simple game. We will examine common rookie mistakes and study the tightly-guarded secrets of the grandmasters. It’s every bit as elegant as the World Series of Poker, but with more booze!
Dr. Andrew Pike holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Pennsylvania. During graduate school, he was a regular contestant in a competitive Rock Paper Scissors league held in various pubs throughout Philadelphia, where he was known as “The Rock Doctor”. Currently a resident of Santa Cruz, he works as a hydrologist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Contrary to his name, he does not always throw Rock. Watch out!
NERDS VS. THE WORLD’S MOST WICKED PROBLEMS: A GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGE by Lina Nilsson
From the wheel to the iPhone, technology innovation has the power to fundamentally and rapidly transform the way we live our daily lives. In this talk, we’re going to explore a wickedly difficult problem: how we can create tech solutions to some of our most extreme global problems while also sticking to pricetags that make these solutions relevant to the 50% of the world’s people who live off of less than $2.50 per day. Nerds of the world, here is a call to use your powers for the good of the planet!
Lina is the Innovation Director at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, at UC Berkeley. Previously, has spent time at the lab bench, and has worked at a fishery in Norway and on a vineyard in Germany, so she can purify proteins, gut salmon and remove weeds at alarming speeds should the need arise. Lina is a dreamer and an engineer; she believes in the power of science to make the world a better place.
December holidays mean an early edition of Nerd Nite East Bay. And we mean early. We take Nerd Nite to the big screen at The New Parkway theater, a much beloved and anticipated brew-and-view in Oakland. We’re invading before their official opening. They’ll provide the awesome screen, comfy seats, and sell you a bit of beer and, if the tastings we’ve been part of are any indication, ridiculously awesome grub. We’ll bring the learning: with KQED QUEST discussing black holes, one of the New Parkway’s experts talking about audio/visual systems, and a talk about NASA’s balloon-based measurements of space weather. Also: the nerdiest animated music video you will ever see. Be there and be square!
So: please join DJ Citizen Zain and hosts Ian Davis and Rick Karnesky as we break-in the (brand) New Parkway theater!
Black holes have been the stuff of science fiction since their discovery in the late sixties. But now a new, nimble NASA telescope is using its powerful x-ray vision to hunt for these abundant yet invisible, massive space oddities.
Alex Filippenko is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cal. His accomplishments, documented in about 700 research papers, have been recognized by several major prizes, and he is one of the world’s most highly cited astronomers. An avid tennis player, hiker, and skier, he enjoys world travel and is addicted to observing total solar eclipses (11 so far).
Bill Craig is an instrument manager at the Space Sciences Lab at UC Berkeley and has worked on numerous space missions with acronyms like including XMM-Newton, CHIPS, and GLAST as well as a number of balloon-borne instruments. He works on NuSTAR, which will open a new window on the Universe by being the first satellite to focus high-energy X-rays into sharp images.
Lauren Sommer is a science producer for KQED radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
AUDIOVISUAL SYSTEMS: HELPING PEOPLE GET LAID SINCE 1926 by Cliff Tune
Dinner and a movie – the classic date! We’ll take a look at the history of audiovisual systems, geek-out on video display and audio transducer technology, and delve into modern cinema specifications to help understand why audiovisual system technology touches us so profoundly. Be warned! You may be up all night rearranging your living room.
The product of a family of musicians and engineers, Cliff started playing music at age six. Starstruck by the knobs, buttons and blinky lights on an audio mixing console, he dived headlong into live sound engineering in his teens. Nowadays, after years of backstage doughnut trays and burned coffee, Cliff has designed and built audiovisual systems for theatres, recording studios, airports, hotels, courthouses, churches, funeral homes, cars, boats and airplanes. When not trying to save the world from mediocre audio, Cliff spends his time running his recording studio “The Playground”, producing records, playing drums, and perfecting his BBQ pork shoulder recipe under an ever-gorgeous Oakland sky.
KILLER ELECTRONS FROM SPACE: A MICRO-BREWED MISSION by Alexa Halford
Ever since the invention of the telegraph, we have seen that space weather can affect our technology. However, we’ve only been in space for about 50 years studying the weather up there and lately it’s been getting stormy. We are approaching solar maximum, the time period when we expect to see more solar storms, more northern lights, and possibly more space weather impacts on our technology. With the successful launch of the Van Allen Probes and upcoming launch date of it’s much smaller (but in my biased opinion way cooler) sister mission BARREL, we hope to gain a better understanding of these space weather events and possibly one day be able to predict the next attack from killer electrons.
Alexa Halford is a prime example of what happens when you go to college in MN to take up space. She became a space physicist, and because she got her PhD in Oz, some times says x, y, zed instead of x, y, zee. When not having way too animated discussions about plasma waves, she teaches figure skating… which also happens to have a lot of physics involved in it. Physics is every where man, it’s just so cool!
Rise from your Thanksgiving food coma with three nerdy lectures (and light-producing chemistry demonstrations) in a bar. Be there and be square!
With DJ Ion the Prize and hosts Ian Davis and Rick Karnesky, who know now that AT-ATs aren’t tanks. The fiveten burger truck will have food for sale outside.
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph
(less than half-a-mile from the 19th St BART)
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FRUITVALE FOLLIES: 6 GENERATIONS OF TINKERING AND FAILED EXPERIMENTS IN OAKLAND by Emma Bassein
The anecdotal and biased story of technology in Oakland told through the first hand accounts of 6 generations of one family living in the east bay. From exploding radio vacuum tubes to shop fires, the dependents of the Cohen-Bray family have managed to injure themselves, but preserve their historic house in the Fruitvale neighborhood and are here to tell the tale.
Emma has absolutely no qualifications as a historian, except that her family has lived in the East Bay for 6 generations. As the child of two aged hippies, she spent her youth roaming the bay area protesting everything in existence, and then went off to MIT and Princeton to study Environmental Engineering. She now works as an engineer for an energy efficiency company in San Francisco.
A PHYSICIST GOES LOOKING FOR A TUMOR CELL by Lydia Sohn
It is a strange and circuitous route from studying superconductivity to searching for Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs). CTCs are cancer cells that have “blebbed” off a primary tumor and travel through the blood stream. They are thought to cause metastases in the body, and their numbers (anywhere from 1-10 cells in 10 mL of patient blood) indicates prognosis and how well a patient is responding to treatment. Currently, there are no true methods to isolate and enumerate CTCs in blood. Biology meets solid-state electronics to help find a solution.
Lydia Sohn, a low-temperature physicist, is now a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley. When not searching out tumor cells, she combs the academic lite rature, looking for duplicated plots.
LET’S MAKE LIGHT OF THE SITUATION by Mitch Anstey
LEDs, glow-in-the-dark t-shirts, and detergents that “make your whites whiter” are all possible thanks to a property called luminescence. It comes in many shapes and sizes, but it’s all the same general principle: turn energy into light! Humanity has quickly taken this property, carved it up, marketed it, and given it cool names like triboluminescence, cathodoluminescence, and sonoluminescence. Now it’s time to take luminescence back to the streets! The streets of Oakland! Come see some examples of this incredible property, and learn all you ever wanted to know about making light!
Mitch Anstey is a chemist by day and a sleeping chemist by night. He made esoteric metal chemistry his specialty at UC Berkeley. Thankfully, someone found that useful in the job market, and he now makes metals emit light for the good of the nation at Sandia National Labs. You’ll find him loving on the Easy Bay just about any day of the week, and he’s glad Nerd Nite has jumped over to the Sunny Side of the Bay.
DJ Citizen Zain and your hosts Ian Davis and Rick Karnesky will keep you entertained as you drink your Sunday away.
Doors at 7 pm, show at 8
Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph
(less than half-a-mile from the 19th St BART)
CONTROLLING THE SUN WITH NANOCRYSTALS: CLEARLY SMARTER SMART WINDOWS by Memo Garcia
Electrochromic “smart” windows, as most of us know them, consist of layered materials on glass, which change color or opacity when energized by an electrical current. Effective and energy saving. Sure, in a tinted-sunglasses kind of way, but imperfect for those of us who like looking out of such windows. Cutting-edge research in nanoscience has advanced the field beyond “does it seem darker in here?” however. By creating semiconductor nanocrystal coatings like those used in flat-screen TVs, a team of scientists at the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley Labs have engineered even smarter smart windows, capable of controlling the amount of heat allowed to pass through from the sun while remaining completely transparent.
Memo Garcia is a grad student at the Molecular Foundry. If I’m any good at facebook stalking, it seems he does crossfit training when he’s not maximizing our personal comfort and defending our view of the world outside. But from my impression, crossfit training involves giving piggyback rides to people. I may not be a very good facebook stalker.
GLAMOUR AND CRIME IN THE FIVE AND DIME by Vivienne Pustell
Once seen as an exciting destination to visit or a great place to settle down and live, Oakland is now seen as the punchline of jokes at its best, and A Scary, Bad Place at its worst. We’re all familiar with most of the problems Oakland faces, but how did it get this way? A city that once outshone San Francisco is now affectionately referred to as San Francisco’s Jan Brady. How did it happen, what are we still doing to perpetuate the problems, and how can we fight back?
Vivienne Pustell is a high school teacher in the Oakland Unified School District. An east coast transplant, she fell in love with the quirky history of the Bay Area and has spent a downright silly amount of time learning about it. Her other passions are reading anything that isn’t bolted down, finding every possible educational event in the Bay Area that also involves cocktails, and terrorizing her students with her unforgiving red pen.
INFIDELS, MAILMEN & BARNACLES: BUILDING CHARLES DARWIN’S UNIVERSE by Alex Lee
Charles Darwin is famous today for his theory of evolution by natural selection, a discovery enabled by his insatiable curiosity, attention to detail, and obsessing more than most about the finches he found near South America. His voyage to South America on the HMS Beagle is what many of us are told about Darwin, but his journey to evolution was, of course, far more complicated. It starts centuries before Darwin, when the few who dared talked about evolution were labeled as infidels, and innovations in the postal system enabled decades of Darwin’s important research. Some of the stories sound like curious footnotes in the history of evolution, but they are part of the foundation of Charles Darwin’s life and discoveries. You’ll discover that the history of evolution and Darwin is far more than the voyage of the Beagle.
Alex Lee discovered his love of evolution and Charles Darwin at UC Davis where he got his B.S. in evolution and ecology. Even after leaving school he couldn’t stop reading about Darwin’s life. He’s now a docent at the California Academy of Sciences, where you can find him obsessing about invertebrates.