Archive for the ‘2021’ Category

Nerd Nite #102: Colors, Smallpox, Toy Companies

We’ve got three great talks lined up for you, including:

AJ Freeman, “What Color Is Our Sky?”

Many of us don’t properly appreciate that color, in human handcraft, is a powerful form of technology…Van Gogh could only dream of using certain shades of Blue, and the secrets of Purple were once so jealously guarded that for most, to wear it was to take one’s life into one’s hands.

The history of humankind is illustrated in color, and in “What Color is Our Sky,” we explore the role of these shades in shaping civilization. What was the first color? Why was the first synthetic fabric dye a medical miracle? Why is Red the most common color used in national flags? Why do the Flyers wear Orange? These answers and even more questions in “What Color is Our Sky?”

BIO: AJ Freeman is one of the region’s foremost chronochromatic experts and author of “64 to Infinity: Love Letters in Crayon. His favorite color is Indigo, because Isaac Newton pretty much made it up.

Dan Sanford, “The Life and Death of Smallpox”

The Life and Death of Smallpox

With Covid-19 still on the move you might wonder has humanity ever actually beaten a disease? It is rare, but sometimes medicine and policy manage to triumph. By 1980 doctors around the world were able to say that smallpox was gone. How did we manage to beat a disease that had spent centuries beating us?

BIO: Daniel Sanford was once seen in the Pine Barrens but nobody has been able to prove he is the Jersey Devil. Today he works in Philadelphia making sure you can access databases to prove the first part of this biography is false.

Ben Leach: “Philly’s Local Toy Companies”

Did you realize that the Philly area has given birth to some of the world’s most beloved playthings? In this talk, Nerd Nite Philly favorite Ben Leach returns to discuss Philly’s surprising toy past!

BIO: Ben Leach is a New Jersey-based science and medical writer. However, he is also a collector of the eclectic and unusual, especially if it’s something that relates to his childhood from the 1980s and 1990s. He has been a published author on collectibles since he was 19, with work appearing in Lee’s Toy Review, Toyfare, and Currently, he operates a website dedicated to antiques and collectibles with his family called The Collector Gene (

It all happens on Wednesday 12/15 at 7:30pm. Doors open at 4, we advise arriving early to get a good seat. $10, there’s an ATM on site and we also accept Venmo.

PLEASE NOTE: Attendees at Frankford Hall are required to be fully vaccinated and provide the restaurant with proof of vaccination. Contact the restaurant at 215-634-3338 for further information on masks and other questions you may have.

Nerd Nite #101: Transportation Engineering, Local Ads and More!

Hello friends! We’re back on Wednesday, November 3rd at Frankford Hall with a brand new Nerd Nite for you. Here’s what you can expect:

“Intelligent Transportation Engineering and Philly’s Future for Mobility and Access”

Everyone has gotten stuck at a red light that ruins the continuity of traffic flow down a corridor. Many of us have waited on the corner for a bus to come – only for three to show up. Why are there seven potholes on my block? Who designs this inefficient garbage?

This presentation aims to elucidate the reasons for these phenomena – the complex systems that transportation engineers study, the data that’s changing our decisions, what information we hope for in the future, and how urban mobility and our streetscape will change in the next few decades.

Come and join in a candid discussion of the trade, our perceived shortcomings and the real pitfalls that shape our transportation policy and overall mobility outcomes. Transportation is truly a shared experience – everyone has questions and anecdotes and we’ll welcome all of them.

BIO: Justin Ferri is an intelligent transportation consultant from South Philly that works for both public and private sector clients up and down the east coast. He cut his teeth a decade ago doing (surprisingly dangerous) 11-hour traffic counts on the mainline and doing (surprisingly wholesome) ADA curb ramp inspections outside of trap houses in Kenzo. He’s now mostly doing boring things like writing policy for intersection control evaluation for the feds, working with big data, cursing map conflation, and considering far-fetched implications for autonomous vehicles. His napkin math estimates that he’s walked about 65% of Philly’s 2,500 street miles on foot.

“The 10 Greatest Philly Local Ads Ever Made”

Do you have a passion for fashion? Have you ever seen what people who believe in the power of each other can do? What Philadelphia museum claimed that you can feel the fun? All of these confusing questions will be answered when Chris presents an audio/video overview of his picks for the ten greatest Philly commercials of all time in a presentation that will be certain to spawn debate…and leave you with endless jingles stuck in your head.

BIO: Along with being a Nerd Nite Philly co-boss, Chris Cummins is a writer for Den of Geek and the producer/host of Sci-Fi Explosion. You can follow all of his nonsense on Twitter @bionicbigfoot and tune into his free 24 hour live Halloween Spooptacular from 8pm 10/29 to 8pm 10/30 (bringing you hilarious vintage clips, short films and features, music videos, cartoons, comedy and so much more at

It Came from Below: Spooky Science Stories from (Down)stream

From scurvy on the seven seas to dynamite and cannons meant to control the rains, water plays a starring role in some of our strangest and most compelling true stories. But what about the myths, legends, and superstitions that bring us dangerous creatures and angry waves? Is that winding river really full of secrets? Is the salty ocean truly as mysterious as it seems?

Join Distillations podcast cohosts Lisa Berry Drago and Alexis Pedrick as they spin a few yarns, talk about the weird water stories they can’t get out of their heads, and why this shared resource is such a big part of our folklore.


Alexis Pedrick is one of the cohosts of the Distillations podcast and the Director of Public Engagement at the Science History Institute. She is a D&D-playing, science-loving, history nerd.

Elisabeth (Lisa) Berry Drago is the other cohost of the Distillations podcast. She is also a research curator and museum experience strategist at the Science History Institute and a huge, self-professed nerd.

Wed 11/3. 7:30pm.
Frankford Hall,
1210 Frankford Avenue.
$10. (There’s an ATM on site, a Wells Fargo up the street and we also accept Venmo).


Nerd Nite #100: The Return!

It has been far, far too long since we’ve been able to celebrate nerdery in Philadelphia with you. But all that will change on Wednesday, August 11th at 7:30pm at Frankford Hall when Nerd Nite Philadelphia returns! We’ve got a special lineup for you to welcome you back:

Flags are Physical Objects
by Simon M. Joseph

Nowadays you’re more likely to interact with a flag emoji than you are with an actual flag. This doesn’t stop these pieces of fabric from existing in the analog world, however. In his triumphant return to Nerd Nite, Simon will go through a few examples of how flags have evolved to meet our changing human needs.

BIO: And now ladies and gentlemen, it is the distinct pleasure of the management to present to you the evening’s star attraction. Here they are back after their exclusive three year tour of Europe, Scandinavia, and the sub continent. Won’t you welcome from Calumet City, Illinois, the show band of… wait, this is the intro from the Blues Brothers! Oh nuts, I’m going to have to come up with a better biographical statement before I hit the character lim

Cosmic Comics: A Tribute to Out of this World Funnybooks

by Chris Cummins

Join Chris as he presents an overview of the weirdest science fiction humor comics ever made. With a spotlight on the strange, Cummins will show you how space is the place for laughs!

BIO: Along with being a Nerd Nite Philly co-boss, Chris Cummins is a writer and comics historian who has contributed to Den of Geek, Archie Comics and USA Today. He is also the producer and host of Sci-Fi Explosion, a “cosmic cabaret of craziness” that focuses on science fiction ephemera.

Are Vampires the Elite Class?
by Timothy Wotring

What We Do in the Shadows is a vampire horror-comedy tv show which premiered on FX in 2019, and is based off the movie of its namesake from 2015. It answers that age old question, “What would it be like for eternal vampires to be roommates?” The show is full of gags and goofiness, but it also has something to say about class struggle. The vampires represent the wealthy class who refuse to allow for other economic systems, while the humans continue to struggle under the gaze of late capitalism. Join me as we explore how vampires hoard wealth and power and seek domination over the entire world! It will be bloody fun!

BIO: Timothy is a pastor and lives in Philadelphia, PA. He watches horror year-round and enjoys presenting on pop cultural topics pertaining to horror at conferences!

All this plus a very special performance by SKELETOR!

It all gets underway at 7:30pm at Frankford Hall on Wednesday, August 11th. $10 (cash, Venmo, or crypto only, there is an ATM on site and a Wells Fargo up the street).

Be there and be square, we have missed you so much!