> Nerd Nite No. 90: Family Jewels, Quantum Computing, Star Wars Law

Nerd Nite No. 90: Family Jewels, Quantum Computing, Star Wars Law

It’s Nerd Nite time again, and we’ve got three more talks guaranteed to entertain and enlighten you!

– Rachael Vause, “Handling the Family Jewels in the Middle Ages”
Apart from Frodo’s ring in Lord of the Rings, or maybe even Littlefinger’s mockingbird pin in Game of Thrones, you’ve probably never thought about the jewelry of the Middle Ages. But rings have power and sigils signal identity. As far back as the 5th century, people expressed power, heritage, beliefs, and personal style through adornment. In early medieval England, jeweled brooches and swords were passed down with stories of great deeds told round the fire. Talismans like the fang of a beaver worn around the neck, or a ball of crystal worn on the belt, granted protection during life as well as in the grave. Even after the introduction of Christianity at the end of the 6th century, people sought protection from both the Old Ways and the new. Helmets featured fierce boars or dragons, while also featuring the Cross or prayers to God. After existing side-by-side with pagan talismans for more than 150 years, why did Christian jewelry eventually become the dominant form? Cultural groups create power objects to answer a basic psychological need for protection, as well as to materially express new ways of thinking and believing. Objects in intimate contact with the body can work to change entrenched cultural notions about the mind/body relationship, specifically in the process of religious conversion. Through the study of jewelry, the early Middle Ages emerges from the shadows a much brighter and more complex place than we imagined, full of the exchange of ideas and glittering products of artistic invention.

Bio: Rachael Vause is a PhD Candidate at the University of Delaware specializing in early medieval art of the British Isles. But call this period the “Dark Ages” at your own peril, because she’s not having it. Rachael aims to shine a light on the inventive and imaginative people of the 5th-11th centuries, both in the western world and other areas such as the Middle East. This summer Rachael will give a paper at the University of Leeds on Fatimid jewelry in Islamic Caesarea. Not content with sticking to one discipline, Rachael incorporates anthropological and biological science with art historical research in order to better understand what drives humans to make fascinating and beautiful things.

– Max Henderson, “The Emerging Role of Quantum Computing in Machine Learning”

Data science has been rapidly growing over the past decade, and its applications have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. As these applications consume more data and need faster response times, new technologies and algorithms are needed to meet the computational demands. Quantum computing is a highly promising emerging technology that could present significant opportunities to accelerate the training of machine learning algorithms and improve data science methods.

This presentation will provide an overview of quantum computing, with a focus on practical applications in industry. The current state of quantum computing hardware technologies will also be explored, including some of the ways people are leveraging these devices for advanced machine learning applications.

Bio: Max functions in a variety of roles to help QxBranch grow. He helps support projects involving quantum computation, machine learning, and data science. He has held Data Scientist positions at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Lockheed Martin, providing technical solutions in cyber, bioinformatics, and natural language processing
domains. Max has a Ph.D. and MS from Drexel University in Physics
as well as a BS in Physics from West Chester University.

Thomas Harper, “The Law of Star Wars Strikes Back”

Star Wars may be full of lightsabers, space battles, and one very awkward brother/sister crush, but it’s also brimming with legal issues. Could Darth Vader legally interrogate Princess about the hidden Rebel base? Are Ewoks a bunch of furry war criminals? Join Army JAG attorney Major Thomas Harper as he returns to Nerd Nite Philly to break down these issues and more from the galaxy far far away.

Bio: Major Thomas Harper served on active duty as an Army JAG officer for seven years before switching to the Army Reserves and private practice. During his time in the JAG Corps, Thomas has served in a variety of positions, including as a prosecutor, a criminal defense counsel, and as an operational law attorney advising on the law of war and rules of engagement in combat operations in Afghanistan.

While he loves all things geek, he is a massive Star Wars fan and collector who still proudly carries a Darth Vader lunchbox. Thomas blogs and podcasts for The Legal Geeks (www.thelegalgeeks.com), using Star Wars to teach about a wide variety of legal topics. He regularly shares his love of Star Wars on the national stage, and has presented at San Diego Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, WonderCon, and DragonCon.

We will have complete details soon. As always, it’s a $5 cover (cash only, ATM on site and there’s a Wells Fargo up the street). The show starts at 7:30pm sharp, but we recommend getting there early to enure a good seat!


Wednesday, March 6th.  Frankford Hall


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