A genealogist, city planner, and psychologist walk into a theatre. They tell you things you didn’t even want to know: was Elizabeth Warren nuts when she laid claim to indigenous heritage? How are parking minimums shaping Edmonton’s urban form? Can we make a good (or bad) joke out of any of this?

The great news is that these questions and many others will be answered at our March Nerd Nite. You won’t want to miss this one, and the three reasons why (our speakers and their topics!) are listed below

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

When: Tuesday, March 19, 2019 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST)
No minors.

Tickets on sale now!

Our line-up of talks includes:

Genetic Genealogy: The Joys, Risks, and Follies of Spitting in a Tube
Alyssa Paterson

From finding lost siblings to uncovering unknown family histories, to discovering that your dad is not your dad (surprise!), we’ve all heard stories of shocking discoveries that have come from spending $129 to spit in a tube or scrape some cells from inside your cheek. Genetic genealogy is big business and is growing bigger by the day. Learn about how these tests work, what they’re actually telling you (hint: it’s probably not what you think), reasons why you should take them, and reasons why some of you probably shouldn’t.

For the past 18 years, Alyssa Paterson has answered the question “What are you nerdy about?” with the word “genealogy”. In her undergrad, she pursued a dream of becoming a Genetic Counsellor, until she failed Organic Chemistry and gave up on science forever (she’s really a music person anyway). By day she works as General Manager of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Winspear Centre, and by night she builds out her family tree, branch by branch.

Zoned Out: How Legalese Shapes the World Around Us
Anne Stevenson

City planning is about big ideas: how we grow our cities, build our neighbourhoods, and connect our communities. These big ideas, however, ultimately get boiled down to a single document: the Zoning Bylaw. Likely to put most readers to sleep, Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw is 800 pages of often inscrutable rules that nonetheless profoundly affect the way our city looks and functions. Join me as I share the sordid history of zoning, the pseudoscience behind some of the regulations, and how a single comma can change the shape of the future.

Anne Stevenson is a proud born and raised Edmontonian. After a BA in international development, Anne was inspired to pursue an MSc in Urban Design at the London School of Economics to better understand how the shape of our cities can help – or harm – our communities. Anne has had the chance to live and work around the world, and currently serves as Senior Planner of the Zoning Bylaw with the City of Edmonton.

What are you laughing at? A scientific look at the world’s worst jokes
Chris Westbury

Although scholars have proposed and debated theories of humour for over 2000 years, the study of humour has never been put on a scientific basis. This is largely because theories of humour tend to be post hoc, hand-wavy descriptions that are too general to make explicit testable predictions. I will discuss experimental studies that solve this problem by focusing on the world’s worst and second-worst jokes. By stripping humour down to so little, we have had considerable success in building statistical models that predict humour judgments in advance. Our model of the humour of single words is simultaneously consistent with several major theories of humour and synthesizes and weights information from a large number of independent measures (yes, single words are really complex!). I will also share my less-than-scientific thoughts on why we (and other primates) laugh at all.

Chris Westbury was born and raised in Calgary. He attended university at McGill University in Montreal, where he obtained a PhD in clinical psychology. Following post-docs in philosophy, neuroanatomy, and psycholinguistics, he was hired in 2001 in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta, where he is currently a professor. His research focuses on studying the structure, organization, neurological foundations, and computational modelling of language processing, with a main focus on semantics, the meaning of words.

Tickets on sale now!