Nerd Nite No. 51: Street Art! Mulberry Paper! Star Wars Maps! Plus music by Emily Mineo

Hey gang! Thanks for all of you that came out for our 5 Year Party! WE had a great time, and hopefully you did too.

Now, a look to the future! And by future, we mean August Nerd Nite. We have a great group of speakers– many of whom have come to Nerd Nite on a regular basis– and we’re happy to hand them the mic for the first time.

Lindsay Bates,  “Bombing, Tagging, Writing: Why Graffiti and Street Art are More than Vandalism”

A first look upon a well-contrived piece of graffiti or street art may inspire feelings of surprise, delight, and amusement, but the connection between graffiti and cultural heritage might be more difficult to perceive. Conventionally, graffiti was synonymous with vandalism, associated with a subculture that needed to be extinguished immediately. However, with the works of such artists as Basquiat, Keith Haring, Banksy, Steve Powers, and the like, graffiti began to be recognized as something more than crime – something with far more value, something that could reach beyond the walls of a gallery. Indeed, this subculture has since proliferated exponentially, and with its popularity a closer connection to heritage becomes more apparent. Though it may be a more radical and alternative way of creating heritage, its increasing recognition suggests that such cultural values are clearly demonstrated.

Bio: Lindsay Bates holds a BS in Architecture from Catholic University, and a MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania.  She has been a graffiti and street art enthusiast since visiting Barcelona in 2005, and is especially passionate about how art can be a catalyst for change in our communities.

 

Nicole Donnelly, “Papermaking with a Philadelphia Invasive”

Nicole is an artist & papermaker, and for the last few years, she has been harvesting Philadelphia’s paper mulberry tree (broussonetia papyrifera) from the abandoned piers in the Delaware River. This plant probably looks familiar to you, and that’s because it’s a non-native, aggressive / invasive plant, and it grows all over the city, especially along the highways and rivers, and it can actually thrive in very poor soil (like so many of our invasive plants, a.k.a. weeds). However, this plant has been used for thousands of years to make paper, and is the traditional fiber used for paper in China, Japan & Korea (what is commonly, and mistakenly, referred to as ‘rice paper’, and in the art store is called ‘mulberry paper’). This kind of papermaking is a SUSTAINABLE practice (because the plant is perennial and regenerates the branches that are cut each season).

Bio: Nicole Donnelly is a papermaker, visual artist, and independent teacher based in Philadelphia, PA. She fell in love with handmade paper and its artistic possibilities while studying with Timothy Barrett at the University of Iowa (2008­-09), who literally wrote the book on Japanese hand papermaking. Donnelly is a co-­organizer of the Hand Papermaking Community Documentation project; the founder of paperTHINKtank, a papermaking studio in Philadelphia; a board member of The Soapbox Independent Publishing Center in West Philly; and the President of the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA), 2015­-17. Her artwork is focused on the environmentally sustainable possibilities and beauty of handmade paper.

 

Henry Bernberg, “Mapping the Galaxy Far, Far Away: Using Raster Channelization Techniques to Build a Hyperspace Network for the Star Wars Galaxy”

Ever wondered how the Imperial Fleet gets around the Galaxy Far, Far Away while avoiding all those black holes and supernovas? Or how the Millennium Falcon could make it from Hoth to Bespin without a working hyperdrive? Learn about how the galaxy was mapped, who mapped it, and how advanced spatial analysis techniques can be applied to filling in the gaps between planetary clusters and the hyperspace lanes that connect them.

Bio: Henry is a sci-fi and mapping nerd living in Philly and specializes in geographic information systems analysis. He holds degrees in urban spatial analytics, historic preservation, architectural studies, and anthropology; has worked on archival and mapping projects projects at The Penn Museum, Azavea, and the Kansas Geological Survey; and worked on archaeological digs in Belize and Turkey.

 

Music by local artist Emily Mineo!

 

When: Wednesday, August 1

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite Philly Turns 5!

Yo Nerds! The time is finally here–our 5 Year Celebration in Philadelphia.

We’re mixing things up and hosting the evening’s festivities at Johnny Brenda’s (after party at Frankford Hall!)

Now, the details:

The who: 6 All Star Speakers, 2 Local Nerdy Entertainers, and your friendly Nerd Nite Bosses
The what: 6+ nerdy talks and performances from some of our favorite Philadelphia nerds, Nerd Nite Philly swag, and most importantly, a party atmosphere to celebrate all the Philly nerds that have made our monthly events possible
The when: Thursday, July 9, 2015
The where: Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave.
The how much: $10 cover, get your tickets here

Jill Weber, “The Kunga: Solving the Riddle of this Royal Steed”
Ancient authors wrote about the Kunga – a prized animal that pulled the chariots of kings and gods – in the 3rd millenium BC. But, was this donkey x wild half-ass hybrid real, or just propaganda for the State? Here, I recount my pusuit of this animal across the Syrian wilderness and through the maze of academic intrigue.

Simon Joseph, “Getting Steamy in Philadelphia”
The history of steam power in America is linked strongly with Philadelphia. By talking about four boats (three launched and the fourth now anchored in Philly) and one ill-fated water tower, Simon will hopefully cover some of the major advances in the technology. Finally, as this is a departure from his normal vexillological fare, Simon will try to keep the fire alive by giving this presentation entirely in semaphore. (This may be a lie.)

Janet Monge,  “Hemlock, Cholera and Marijuana: Getting it all Wrong in Forensic Anthropology”
Case studies of prehistoric, historic and modern errors in the reconstruction of events surrounding death of 11 people. From the ancient Middle East to the suburbs of Philadelphia, history has painted a very different picture of the very real events of human violence against other humans. Forensic anthropologists get it right (and wrong sometimes) telling the stories from the very real bones left behind.

Mike Bair, “Antarctica, It’s Weirder than You”
A brief exploration of Antarctica and the people who work there…. No need to listen. I’m bringing pictures.

Alexis Jeffcoat, “True Love Never Dies: Victorians, Burials, and the State of Amour”
The woman who left behind her heart, the ashes that were pulverized to make room for two souls; the pomp and circumstance of arctic explorer’s burial with the sad state of his lover in a pauper’s grave. These are love stories. And hate stories, too. Lust, loathing, passion, devotion; all of it follows us to the grave. Be it all-consuming, romantic or even scandalous; love does not end with death and no one was surer of that than our Victorian predecessors. Sit back, grab a drink, and snuggle up: we’re about to gossip like its 1872. The dresses were long, the love was torrid and the burials? Dramatic.

Oh and also, Ben Leach, revisiting some of his best talks and discussing the things he just couldn’t squeeze into 20 minutes before.
And Trivia, free swag, poetic musings by F. Omar Telan, and more!

Nerd Nite No. 50: Nerd Nite Teams Up with the APS!

Hey Nerds! We’re at a bit of a milestone here in Philly– the 50th edition of nerd-based entertainment in the city of brotherly love! How awesome is that? We’re celebrating in two ways: first, on July 1 we’ll be presenting a series of talks in conjunction with the American Philosophical Society and, second, on July 9 we’ll be celebrating 5 YEARS in Philly with a party. We hope to see you at both!

So what’s up for July 1?

 

Bernard Brown, “Spermataphores, Orgies, and Chin Grinding”

Philly herper Bernard Brown will explore the hot cold-blooded sex lives of our local salamanders, including the spring ‘breeding aggregations’ of spotted salamanders, newt leg locks, and the seductive dance of the diminutive redback salamander.

About Bernard: Bernard Brown has been herping Philadelphia for over 10 years. He has written about natural history topics for Grid Magazine, is the Philadelphia County Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey (PARS), and co-hosts the Urban Wildlife podcast.

 

Jane Boyd, “Bears in the Backyard, Plants in the Attic: Collecting at the American Philosophical Society”

Before Philadelphia was chock-full of museums and libraries, there was a rectangular redbrick building next to Independence Hall where all the cool stuff went. During the late 1700s and early 1800s, people all over the country sent strange and interesting things to the “ingenious and curious men” at the American Philosophical Society. Find out about Thomas Jefferson’s live grizzly bears, Lewis and Clark’s pressed plant specimens, Charles Willson Peale’s mastodon skeleton, and other remarkable items that filled Philosophical Hall.

About Jane: Dr. Jane E. Boyd gets around town as an independent curator and museum consultant specializing in interdisciplinary exhibitions and projects, on topics ranging from natural history to Civil War medicine to chemistry sets. She has worked for the APS Museum and Library, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Mütter Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. More on her website at www.jane-e-boyd.com.

 

Steve Alt, “So You Think You Know Plants…”

…But you probably don’t, at least not about their origins. While certain founders were hard at work in the business of creating a country, other colonists were exploring the natural history of the New World. With thousands of new species to investigate and a substantial market in the import and export of exotic plants, there was a lot of green to be made in the greenhouse. This talk will explore the world of agriculture and horticulture in the 18th century.

About Steve: Steve Alt started farming in Plainsboro, NJ when he was just a wee lad. When the malls came to cover the strawberry and potato fields of NJ, Steve moved to botanical gardens and eventually trained in horticulture at the Morris Arboretum. He has a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, serves as a museum guide at the American Philosophical Society Museum, and has been in the landscaping and horticulture business in Chestnut Hill for 16 years.

 

What else can you expect? Lauren Duguid is going to show us all that you can play some pretty sweet music using a saw!

 

When: Wednesday, July 1

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

 

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 49 and 49.5: June 10 and June 18

Yo Nerds!

Please note we have some changes in June to our regularly scheduled program. First up, due to Philly Beer Week, we have pushed back our June Nerd Nite to Wednesday, June 10. We’re still working out the fine details, but you can expect to hear more about the Academy of Natural Sciences’ *new* Grossology exhibit, enjoy a discussion with local artist Blair Campbell, learn about why mushrooms should be considered superfoods, and and hear some beats from local 8-bit musician Pixel8ter. All the talk info is below. Remember, the show will start at 7:30 sharp at Frankford Hall with a $5 cover!

 

Michael Kalaras: “Mushroom Nutrition: Shining a light on the magical world of mushrooms”

Edible mushrooms, often relegated to lowly side dish fare, are a complex package of nutrients better suited to superfood status. This talk will focus on how a fungus grown in the dark can become a rich source of the important “sunshine” vitamin, the significance of a unique antioxidant and the role mushrooms may have in human health.

About Michael:

Dr. Michael Kalaras is a Research Assistant for the Center for Plant and Mushroom Foods for Health in the Department of Food Science at Penn State University. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science at Penn State where his interest in the nutritive properties of mushrooms began. He has worked to develop a rapid method of vitamin D2 enrichment of mushrooms using UV light and recently taught a course devoted to the science of mushrooms.

 
Blair Campbell: “Pop Culture Pixels”

Blair will talk about his journey and process behind his career in making his digital geeky art.

About Blair:

Blair J. Campbell is a South Jersey native that has always been a geeky and an artist. Recently he’s found a way to mash both together and make a living off of it. He can be found most days messing around online, sipping coffee, and playing with his pug.

 
Mary Bailey: Animal Grossology: Putting the “Fun” in “Funky”

Stinky, slimy, puky, grimy; animals have some NASTY habits. From coprophagy to cannibalism, the creatures of the world can definitely make you say, “Ew, gross!” But never fear…Mother Nature has her reasons! Find out about the often disgusting, always fascinating, adaptations that give some animals the evolutionary edge, and explore the science behind why it makes us humans feel all icky.

About Mary:

Mary is a consummate conservationist, avid traveler, and slightly above average birdwatcher with slightly below average binoculars. Her finest accomplishment to date is making Sir David Attenborough laugh out loud when she told him she saw 137 species of birds during her Big Year.

 

 
Music by Pixel8ter between talks!

 

Also, because we can’t say no to evenings that mix beer and education–especially ones that involve visits from NASA and the International Space Station(!!)–we’ll be hosting Nerd Nite No. 49.5 on Thursday, June 18 also at Frankford Hall. This pay-what-you-wish edition will give Philly Nerds a chance to learn more about NASA’s involvement in the space station, via a NASA scientist and astronaut! We promise we’ll fill you in on the specific talk details when we hear more!

 

June18 Special Edition

 

XOXO,

Team Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 48: The Dangers of Democratization, Dirty MRFs, and Jedi Junk! Plus, Music by the Black Mariah!

Oh hey, Philly Nerds. We’re on a roll celebrating all that is nerdy in our great city. We had a great PSF-edition of Nerd Nite on the 29th, but now, back to our regularly scheduled program: May Nerd Nite.

 

What do we have planned? Well let’s get right down to business:

 

First up is “The Dangers of Democratization: The Story of Cote d’Ivoire” by Anne Frugé

In 1990, multiparty-democracy was introduced to Ivory Coast with strongman Houphouet Boigny at the helm. By 1993 Houphouet was dead, a power vacuum loomed, and the country was torn apart by political feuds. Ultimately the question of which Ivoirians should be considered citizens led to a civil war that lasted from 2002 to 2008 and La Crise of 2010. Based on recent field research, this Nerd Nite talk explains what happens when a country tries to democratize before important milestones in political and economic development have been reached.

About Anne: Anne Frugé is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland researching (and teaching) politics of the developing world and ethnic violence. She has conducted field work in Ghana and Ivory Coast. Her husband, Phillip Gray, is so supportive of her work that he travelled to West Africa with her in 2014.

Next we have Michelle Feldman presenting “The Science of Recycling: Wait, What’s a Dirty MRF?”

What happens after your recyclables are picked up? Join your plastic bottles and milk cartons as they head to a Materials Recovery Facility, get crushed and melted, and then end up as a park bench or a jacket. This Nerd Nite talk will explore how various recyclables are broken down and re-made in to every day objects.

About Michelle: Michelle is the Executive Director of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, a nonprofit organization dedicated to litter abatement and recycling education and promotion. She is not a scientist, but she is nerdy (just ask anyone, really!). Before her time at KPB, she was the Commercial Corridor Manager for the Frankford Community Development Corporation, where she gained a new love for Philadelphia and its neighborhoods. She holds a BA in Political Science from Brandeis University, and a Masters in Public Policy from Drexel (see, told you she’s not a scientist).  
Lastly, Nerd Nite regular Ben Leach will discuss “Jedi Junk: Oddball Merchandise from a Galaxy Far, Far Away”

Have you guys heard of this movie series called Star Wars? It’s pretty popular. And it survives thanks to merchandise. The total amount of money all of the Star Wars films have made at the global box office totals over $4 billion, but the total sales of toys for the franchise totals $12 billion. However, you don’t make and sell that much merchandise without a few missteps along the way. Nerd Nite utility player Ben Leach lets you ride shotgun in his T-16 Skyhopper as he discusses some of the stranger characters that were immortalized as action figures, the even stranger choices that were made when it came to merchandising popular characters, and some items that were clearly thought of after a rough bout of hibernation sickness and thus were never, ever sold, probably for the best.

About Ben: Ben Leach is a medical writer based in Southern New Jersey. He was dragged to his first flea market when he was a month old, and ever since then, he’s been on the hunt for weird and eclectic items that remind him of what it was like to be a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. He sometimes provides updates on his family’s website collectorgene.com. Previously, he’s spoken at Nerd Nite about brainy supervillains, foreign movie posters, his Mr. T collection, and he hosted a game show based on the 1984 Sears Wishbook.

 
Cover is $5, which gets you admission to learn from some local nerds as well as hear some new music from local band the Black Mariah, all while enjoying happy hour prices at the always accommodating Frankford Hall.

 

When: Wednesday, May 6

What time: Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm

How much: $5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night

Where: Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly