Nerd Nite No. 47: Star Formation! Aircraft Safety! And Improv

Greetings Nerds!

Are you ready for one of TWO Nerd Nites happening in April? On April 1, join us for our usual nite of nerdy, featuring the below cast of characters. And then mark your calendars for Wednesday, April 29, when we’ll be teaming up with the Philadelphia Science Festival  for an evening of mythbusting, science, and, of course, beer.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk April 1. What can you plan on learning about over the course of this find evening?

 

“Living Off the Cuff: Freestyle as a Philosophy” by Jonathan Iwry

Most people regard improvisation as something just out of reach: impressive to watch, but terrifying to attempt. But when we take a closer look, we realize that combining creative thought with living in the moment is less a talent than a way of life—that we can harness it to find success and meaning in what we do.

 

“Baby Stars or: How I Learned to Observe Them and Came to Love Dust” by Nicholas Galitzki

This talk will describe how stars form from large clouds of dust and gas in our galaxy and one of the central mysteries of this elaborate process. Nichaols will also give a quick guide on how to build a balloon-borne telescope designed to gather clues about star birth.

About Nicholas: He is a 5th year graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UPenn. He works with an experimental astronomy group there which means building telescopes before getting to observe with them. Nick has been interested in astronomy since grade school after being inspired by the fantastic night sky visible from his home in a rural part of Washington State.

 

“Crash and Learn: How Past Aviation Mishaps Have Shaped Airplane Safety Today” by Michael Ceriello

You’ve always heard that airplanes are the safest form of travel. Indeed, the drive to the airport actually is statistically more dangerous than the flight itself. But has this always been the case? Commercial aviation started out as a bumpy ride and went through significant growing pains before it could earn the safety title is holds today. This Nerd Nite, we’ll explore the data and engineering behind a few accidents which helped to shape and define the rules and regulations which govern the fastest and safest method of travel the world has ever seen.

About Mike : He works as a Structural Engineer for Boeing in Philadelphia and holds a degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he studied Aeronautical Engineering with a focus in fixed wing aircraft aerodynamics. During his career at Boeing, he has been involved in various programs such as the 787 Dreamliner, NASA’s Space Launch System, and, most recently, the 737NG. His discussion topic stems from his lifelong love engineering, airplanes, and Michael Bay-style explosions.

 

When: Wednesday, April 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 46: Plasma! Monopoly! Antarctica! Plus comedic intermissions!

Are you nerds ready for another Nerd Nite? We’ve got a fun one lined up for you filled with laughs, weirdness, scandal, and mysteries of the universe. Want to learn more? Join us Wednesday, March 4 @ Frankford Hall (as always).

 

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.

 
About Mike: Mike Bair became a member of the United States Antarctic Program after serving six years as a sonar technician in the navy. He is one of 3000 people to have ever wintered-over in Antarctica.

 

Mary Pilon, “The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game”
For years, the story of Monopoly’s origins was that the game was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvanian who sold his game to Parker Brothers during the Great Depression and lived happily–and richly–ever after. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game decades later, unearthed the real story, which traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie who invented her nearly identical Landlord’s Game more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly. Her game–underpinned by morals that were the exact opposite of what Monopoly represents today–was embraced by a constellation of left-wingers from the Progressive Era through the Great Depression, including members of Franklin Roosevelt’s famed Brain Trust.

 

David Schaffner, “It’s 2015: Where is My Mr. Fusion? (and other burning plasma physics questions…)”
It’s not shocking that Hollywood doesn’t always get science right. It might have been a little presumptuous for the Back to the Future writers to expect fusion power plants on our flying cars by 2015, but, really, how far off were they? And how much do we really know about this stuff called plasma that is often blithely identified as the 4th state of matter? Even though 99% of the visible universe is known to consist of plasma, there is still so much we do not understand. From the enormous, dangerous plumes of plasma ejected by the sun into the solar wind, to the sterile glow of a fluorescent light bulb, you may be surprised to learn just how much plasma affects us in our daily lives. As part of a series of Nerd Nite talks across the country in conjunction with Global Plasma Month, I’ll try to navigate you through this sea of hot charged particles, hopefully without getting zapped.

 
About David: David Schaffner is a postdoctoral researcher at Swarthmore College where he spends his time blowing magnetic bubbles of plasma in a vacuum chamber and studying their turbulent properties. He is interested in a broad array of plasma physics topics including the quest for controlled fusion power, but is particularly focused on recreating astrophysical turbulence in a laboratory setting.

 

Plus! Stand up by Stephanie Yuhas!

Wednesday, February 4

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

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

Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave.

Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 45: Passenger Pigeons, Cravings, Working Dogs, Plus Music from Sidewalk Atlas!

Greetings Nerds! We have a great line up for the 45th Nerd Nite Philly (and first of 2015!). We know you’re itching to find out what we have planned, so let’s do this:

Passenger Pigeon – The Disintegration of a Species
It doesn’t matter if we all die. – The Cure

Trying to find humor in the story of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon is akin to finding sunshine in a Cure song. Well, a good Cure song anyway. But that is what Kate Garchinsky, writer and illustrator, aims to do for Nerd Nite. Using the timeline of her own life, she will share her experience of the preventable extinction of the Passenger Pigeon in words, pictures, and depressing song lyrics–one hundred years post-mortem.

Bio: Kate Garchinsky’s first word was “bird.” Now she is a writer and illustrator of natural history for children who also likes to draw dead birds. She began working on her book, “Passenger Pigeons: Their Amazing Life and Tragic Extinction” a few years ago, inspired by her bird rehabilitation volunteer work, and a life-changing Wikipedia search. She also is currently illustrating two more non-fiction picture books for children, due out in 2016 and 2018. Kate has exhibited her Passenger Pigeon artwork at the Audubon Center at Mill Grove, and the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. Visit Kate online at:
www.penguinart.com
twitter.com/katesnowbird
facebook.com/KateGarchinsky
instagram.com/katesnowbird
It’s better than it tastes: How a food looks affects liking for the taste of the food.

Although most people think that the flavor of a food is the primary driver of liking or disliking that food, research has shown that it is only one of many factors influencing liking. Since “the first taste is with the eyes” we have, not surprisingly, found that how a food looks has a big effect on how much we like a food. This is good news for those of us who do not cook like Marc Vetri but would like to have family and friends enjoy what we make for them.

Bio: Debra A. Zellner is currently Professor of Psychology at Montclair State University in New Jersey and on sabbatical leave at the Monell Chemical Senses Center doing a research project with the Vetri Foundation. She is the author of numerous research articles and book chapters on the liking and perception of food. Her primary interest is understanding why people like the foods they like.
Science has gone to the dogs

We all know that dogs are pretty smart and some dogs have jobs. Now dogs are going to college to become scientists! At the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, dogs are helping find lost people, identify cancer and answer the age old question, why do dogs eat grass (actually that one is still a mystery).

Bio: Dr. Cindy Otto, a veterinarian and scientist founded and directs the Penn Vet Working Dog Center to dig into the questions that “only a dog nose”. She incorporates her experience as a clinical veterinarian (specializing in both emergency medicine and sports medicine), a disaster responder working with search dogs, a research scientist and a dog trainer into the coolest job ever.

 

We’ll have 2 intermissions filled with music from returning band Sidewalk Atlas.

 

This all goes down at the famed Frankford Hall, per usual.

Wednesday, February 4
Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm
$5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night
Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!

Nerd Nite Philly

Nerd Nite No. 44: Dickens! Mutter Museum! Dark Matter! And a Special Holiday Contest

Are you fine folks ready for the final Nerd Nite of 2014? We sure hope so, since we have an extra special lineup planned. And you won’t be able to get another dose of nerdy action at Frankford Hall until February! We’ll be at Frankford Hall the first Wednesday of the month so mark your calendars now: February 4, March 4, April 1, you get the picture.

Now without further ado, the topics for the final 2014 Nerd Nite:

“From Picked to Pickled: True Tales of the Mütter Museum” by Anna Dhody

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of America’s most Disturbingly Informative museum? Join Curator Anna Dhody for some true tales of the Mütter Museum!
Bio: Anna N. Dhody is a human, female, successful propagator of half of her genetic material, and a bibliophile. She suffers from coulrophobia and arachnophobia (but only at the same time), and has a weakness for hedgehogs. When not cooking for her two boys (one offspring, one spousal) she is also the Director of the Mütter Institute and Curator of the Mütter Museum.

“Charles Dickens and the Haunting of Christmas” by Edward Pettit

For a time in the 19th Century, when readers bought the Christmas issue of a magazine, they did not expect to be regaled with tales of good will to all men and visions of sugar plumb fairies. Instead they expected it to contain a tale or two that would chill their very souls— a tale they would read aloud around their hearth on Christmas Eve with the wind whistling down their chimneys and the world outside still and silent.  Ghosts and spirits would rise from the pages and haunt their dreams.  And the man responsible for the Christmas Ghost Story tradition: Charles Dickens.

Edward G Pettit is a Philadelphia writer, professor, book reviewer, film presenter, public lecturer  and all around literary provocateur.  He is known as the Philly Poe Guy, but also recently served as the Charles Dickens Ambassador for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s yearlong Bicentenary celebration of the author’s birth in 2012 and wrote the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion’s 2013 murder mystery play, Twisted, in which he played Dickens.  Pettit will be reading one of Dickens’s Christmas books, The Cricket on the Hearth at the Maxwell Mansion on December 13.

And Christina Love presents “Join the DarkSide: Dark Matter Matters”

Dark matter makes up over 80% of all the matter in the universe. We don’t know what it is. We can indirectly see dark matter by the gravity that it produces, but we have yet to directly detect it. There are three ways that researchers are currently looking for dark matter: particle detectors, particle accelerators, and excess particles.

Bio: Christina Love received her PhD from Temple University where her work focused on the direct detection of dark matter with the DarkSide Collaboration and she completed her postdoctoral work at the Transportation Security Laboratory working on the detection of explosives for aviation security. She is currently an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Physics at Drexel University where she works on education and outreach. For example, she is the founder of Start Talking Science, an event where researchers present non technical posters to the general public.

And a special holiday treat for everyone: Nerd Nite veteran Ben Leach will be mixing up our usual entertainment segment with a special Price Is Right style contest featuring the 1984 Sears Wish Book! It’s going to be incredible retro fun!

The logistics:

Wednesday, December 3
Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm
$5 cover gets you admission plus happy hour specials all night
Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Nerd Nite No. 43: Fungus, Braille Art, Hacking and Poetry

Us Nerd Nite bosses–you know, the fine folks who organize the monthly celebration of nerdiness at Frankford Hall–are quite pleased with November’s line up of speakers and local entertainment. Where else in Philly are you going to learn about zombie fungus and computer hacking, meet the creators of #BrailleStreetArt, and enjoy some spoken word poetry all in one place? Well, if there is somewhere else, we imagine that liters of beer and excessively large German pretzels aren’t involved.

Without further ado, the topics at hand:

Fungal A.I. – Zombie fungus and mold logic by Samuel Bledsoe

Fungus acts in ways similar to some basic computing algorithms. The focus is on Cordyceps, a parasitic fungus that controls ants for its reproductive needs.

 
#BrailleStreetArt: Where Art and Accessibility Meet by Austin Seraphin and Sonia Petruse

Meet the creators of #BrailleStreetArt, the Philly Geek Award winning project that combines the social, political & tactile processes of art and accessibility. Sonia Petruse & Austin Seraphin will discuss the origin of the project, how their personal & professional affiliations in Philadelphia inspire them and what’s next.

 
And What the Hack? A glimpse into the dark art of computer hacking by Dylan Pierce

Ever wonder how websites get hacked? Ex-hacker and former IT Security Administrator Dylan Pierce shares a glimpse into the history and culture of hacking, from phone phreaking to modern day hacktivism and SecOps. This includes a demonstration of one of the oldest but still most frequently used attacks to compromise databases. Don’t try it at home. Actually yea, you can totally try it at home just don’t use it on someone else’s site. That’s very illegal. Just don’t do it

 
F. Omar Telan presents POEMS OF THE APOCALYPSE (including MY HEART AND OTHER TEEN AGED MELODRAMAS) with A SLIDESHOW OF DOOM and INCIDENTAL MUSIC OF DESPAIR!!! or, you know, something

More questions? Well you better just stop by and ask our illustrious presenters yourself!
The logistics:
Wednesday, November 5
Doors open at 4pm. Show starts at 7:30pm
$5 cover gets you happy hour specials all night plus admission to this fantastic night
Frankford Hall, 1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Be there and be square!
The Nerd Nite Philly Squad