Posts Tagged ‘weird science’

Nerd Nite No. 28, August 7, 2013

Hey Nerds! August – so much good in August! 1) the Nerd Nite Global Fest up in Brooklyn from August 16-18 featuring our own Rocky Parker talking about serpent scents and sex and Trevor McElroy talking about Dolley Madison and beer brewing in Revolutionary times. We are so excited to have two Philly reps! 2) Heck yeah!! We’ve been nominated for a Philly Geek Award in the category of Event of the Year! Thanks so much to everyone that wrote in to nominate us. The awards ceremony is on August 17th, and we’ll be there. 3) The August Philly Nerd Nite is Wednesday the 7th, and we have a great show planned. Details:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 doors at 7:00, show at 7:30 sharp Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard $5 cover gets you a night of nerdy fun, plus food and drink specials

The lectures at hand:

“The Industrial Uses of Fungus” by Samuel Bledsoe

When people hear “Mushroom research” their automatic response is either drugs or the black mold that grows in the shower. However, people have been using it to help make things for centuries, such as food and beer. I’ll be focusing on 6 species – Aspergillus niger and oryzae, Trichoderma Reesei and harzianum, Rhizopus stolonifer, and Pencillium chrysogenum. They are used for bio-control, bio-chemistry, medicine, and food, and play an important part in our daily lives.

“The Psychology of a Cosplayer” by Jo Pincushion
You’ve seen them at comic shows, Star Trek conventions and pretty much everywhere else nerds gather: cosplayers. But what inspires men and women of all ages and backgrounds to dress up like their favorite pop culture characters? In this speech, Jo Pincushion — a cosplayer herself — explores the mindset of those who enjoy transforming their appearance into that of their comic book and celluloid heroes. Bio: Jo Pincushion is a Philadelphia area writer/performer who regularly contributes to Geekadelphia, The Real Stan Lee, Things Women Want, Quirk Books and Rock on Philly. She is also the host of the Pincushion Podcast, and will be teaching night courses on Tim Burton and horror films at Main Line School Night in the fall. For more information on all of her endeavors, visit
“My Life, My Digital Memory, In Over 11,000 Tweets” by Thomas Dixon
Just over one year ago, the Nerd Nite audience bore witness to my talk, “Traumatic Brain Injury? Technologically Beyond It!”, in which I shared both how I had developed episodic memory loss in light of having been hit by a car while I was on a run AND my extensive use of technology to replace my episodic memory function. Essentially, I have used my iPhone’s calendar as a prospective memory aid and my private Twitter feed as a retrospective memory aid, tweeting my life’s events as I see fit. These strategies provide so much information about one’s own life, particularly as there are now ~11.5k tweets over the span of two years, seven months, and eleven days (or 954 days, but who’s counting?), that it felt fitting to dig into the details of my “digital memory” to present what’s in it. Also, the question arises: Will we all make the switch to digital memory someday?
Bio: He’s back! Thomas Dixon returns to Nerd Nite with this talk, just over a year since his last NN appearance. He has since kept himself occupied with his Masters of Education program in educational psychology at Temple University (and it’s over half-way done now! He can see the light!), resuming his New Year’s Eve trips by being in Amsterdam for NYE 2013, and joining an archaeological survey team in Belize for the excavation of Mayan ruins for two weeks this past month. While all of that is exciting, it’s for returning to Nerd Nite that this nerd is excited!
And! Featuring Chiptunes by Storm Blooper aka Chris De Pew

Nerd Nite No. 25, May 15, 2013

Yo Nerds!

Fast on the heels of the Philadelphia Science Festival, we bring you an eclectic mix of nerdosity.  Be prepared to hear about the following hot topics: 1) earwax (for realz), 2) an ancient and defunct Philly landmark, and 3) Mr. T.

Sadly, this Nerd Nite is the last one for Nerd Nite boss Matt Young.  Lucky us though, because he’s agreed to play guitar and sing some songs –  he’s a boss on guitar too.  Please come out and wish him well before he moves down south!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

doors at 7:00, show at 7:30 sharp
Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard
$5 cover gets you nerdiness and food and drink specials

We pity the fool that doesn’t attend this Nerd Nite.

“Stink, Stank, Stunk . . . The Science of Human Earwax and Body Odor” by Kate PriggeEarwax isn’t something that most people think about on a daily basis; in fact most people do their best to get rid of it. Did you know that earwax exists in two genetically determined types: wet (sticky, yellow-colored), and dry (flaky, white)? Interestingly, earwax actually plays an important role in protecting your inner ear canal from physical damage and infection. Although earwax and body odor generally get a bad rap, both are necessary to your overall well-being. In this talk you’ll learn about the origin of human body odor and the role your genes play in earwax and body odor production.

Bio: Kate is a postdoctoral researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She recently obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. Her current research focuses on human body odors. Kate applies organic-analytical chemistry techniques along with molecular genetics and sensory evaluation methodologies to examine human odor production.

“An Indian Pole on the Edge of Town.” by Harry KyriakodisThe “Indian Pole” was an ancient Philly landmark, once located at 4th and Vine, that no longer exists. Learn about this 85 foot high pole that was capped by a 9 foot tall Native American figure, holding a bow and quiver with one arm outstretched. More importantly, what happened to this crazy (though once revered) thing? Maybe you can help shed some light on this mystery, which the speaker has been investigating–in vain–for years.

Bio: A historian and writer about Philadelphia, Harry Kyriakodis has collected what is likely the largest private collection of books about the City of Brotherly Love—more than 2500 titles, new and old. Harry is the author of Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront andNorthern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward, both published by The History Press. In addition, he gives walking tours and presentations on unique yet unappreciated parts of the city.

“Mr. T: Three Decades of Fool-Pitying Merchandise” by Ben Leach

If you grew up in the 1980s, Mr. T was a ubiquitous presence who preached wholesome values to kids while making a career out of punching and throwing people. All these years later, Mr. T has remained relevant in popular culture thanks in large part to serving as a spokesman for a wide variety of companies. Why do companies still seek out an action star who hit his career peak before the 1980s were even halfway over? It’s thanks in large part to Mr. T’s role as an unassuming merchandising mogul. In this presentation, you will be taken through Mr. T’s career as told entirely through merchandise, artifacts, readings, and clips related to the “man with the gold” from the 1980s until the present day from all over the world. From his own cereal and motivational tapes to some interesting choices in roles in the 1990s to selling out to shill your product, the influence of Mr. T on your life is practically inescapable.

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 ( and is launching another website, Retro Play Time (, later this year.

And music by Matt Young!

Be there and be square.

Nerd Nite No. 23, April 3, 2013


Spring is nearly here!  We are going to get you guys revved up with some talk about seeds!  And toilets?!  Yes!  And secret assassin societies!  And some great tunes!  Hooray spring!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

doors at 6:30, show at 7:30
Frankford Hall at Frankford and Girard
$5 cover

wherein you will hear the following:

“Seeds, Seed Exchanges and Solifuges” by Aimee Hill

What do solifuges and free, fancy and available “heirloom/organic” seeds that grow well in Philly have in common? Wait, what’s a solifuge? What’s a seed? As inhabitants of a post-industrial city, what do we have to do with maintaining and developing an ever-changing, resilient and delicious and living bank of edible plants? (mmm, edible plant bank) Learn the answers to all these questions and more…Got a problem? Seeds can fix that.

Bio: Aimee helps maintain the Philly Seed Exchange and is a Farmer and Teacher with a fascination for all things regarding bacterial domination of the world. She has recently moved from Philly to NJ (embarrassing, I know) for farm reasons, but returns to Philly often for seeds, gardens, and the City itself.

“Hold that flush! Towards sustainable equity when doing our business” by Christiaan (yes two aas) Morssink

A lighthearted yet demanding discourse on the wickedness of using tapwater for toilets, the absolute abhorrent global inequities in terms of access to facilities and the need for nerds worldwide to apply their nerdiness towards solutions that are sustainable, improve health and quality of life, while underscoring the dignity of each and all. In other words, bs-ing about excrement.

Bio: Christiaan is a public health policy professional, exe dir of the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, president of the Project for Nuclear Awareness, founding member of the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative as well as the Global Philadelphia Association. His interests are social determinants of health, and the amelioration of the lives of the poor while they buckle under the onslaught of the world’s feral capitalism. His interest in water is due to his Dutch origin and the realization that all breweries everywhere need clean water.

“Assassins, Creeds, and Crusaders (for reals)” by Paul Cobb

Is a secret society of sexy time-traveling murderers-for-hire too good to be true? Sadly, yes. But the reality is pretty nifty anyway. Thanks to various popular media, in particular the wildly successful video-game series ASSASSIN’S CREED, many people (or at least males between the age of 12 and 25) have heard of the medieval Order of Assassins. In this talk, I will take you behind all these fictions to the real, historical sect that inspired them, a medieval Muslim community that beat all the odds of history and is flourishing–quite peacefully–today.

Bio: Paul M. Cobb is Professor of Islamic History in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. He prefers bourbon. His new book, THE RACE FOR PARADISE: AN ISLAMIC HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES is coming out wicked soon.
Featuring music by Gretchen Lohse.Gretchen Lohse is a native Philadelphia singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She comes from a family with deep music roots and was classically trained on violin, which is evident on her recordings. As the front woman of Philadelphia psychedelic folk rock band Yellow Humphrey, she dreams up rich, strange musical tapestries- part memoir and part tall tale- that are heavily influenced by folklore and silent films.