Nerd Nite #46: New Year, new nerdy you

We don’t want you to get tied up in knots about Nerd Nite… Well, we do, but only with your enthusiastic consent. Join us for the first Nerd Nite of 2019. We have a line-up of speakers passionate about a range of topics off the beaten path — as always. With a twist: this time, we’ll be doing the show in the Arts Barns Lobby!

Get that Christmas shopping done early and get those tickets today!

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

When: Tuesday, January 8, 2019 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Lobby, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance (plus fees + GST) — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The Making of Midgard: How did complex life arise on Earth, and what do Thor and Loki have to do with it?
Beth Richardson

This talk is about EUKARYOGENESIS, a horrific word created by mashing together the Latin and/or Greek words EU (good, well), KARY (nut, kernel), and GENESIS (making of, creation). We’re going to discuss what makes a really good nut — the “really good nut” in question being the cell nucleus. The origins of cells with nuclei, or eukaryotes, is a controversial issue in evolutionary cell biology. It has resulted in: opinion pieces in Nature; counter-opinion pieces in Nature; counter-counter-opinion pieces in Nature; yelling at conferences; and grown-ass men dragging each other on Twitter, all in the last forty years. I will introduce you to the history, the science, and the myths surrounding eukaryote origins, and how a little bit of divine intervention from Asgard has finally allowed us to get some real evidence for how these squishy info-nuts genesis-ised.

Beth Richardson grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire, England. She studied for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Natural Sciences with a biochemistry specialisation at the University of Cambridge (though she tells everyone she went to Hogwarts). She joined the University of Alberta in 2014 after her PhD supervisor lied to her extensively about the weather, and now uses computational biology to figure out how single-celled eukaryotes adapt to environmental change while never going outside herself.

Nuclear Radiation: that thing you’re afraid of but don’t know anything about
Sean Wagner

“Nuclear waste,” “Contamination,” “Hundreds of thousands of years of uninhabitability…” If these phrases pop into your head whenever someone talks about nuclear power, you might be victim of misinformation about radiation, what it is, and how it works. Since Sean does not own a tinfoil hat, he doesn’t really care why so many people are against nuclear power: only that the misinformation they have spread over the past 40 years has almost made it impossible to stave off global climate change. So, hoping that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, we get to have a little trip through the basics of radiation and why there are good reasons that we require stringent safety measures, but also why it’s not nearly as bad as it is made out to be, and far less harmful than most people think.

Sean has been a lifelong nerd in as many fields as he could find, theatre, space, lasers, materials, track and field, Star Trek, and now nuclear energy. With two degrees in engineering, he feels that he has an okay grasp of how systems work and how to optimize things that currently aren’t working. Right now, the things that he believes aren’t working are our response to Global Climate Change and the growth of the economy in ways that benefit all people, not just corporations. Luckily for him he thinks that the answer to both problems is more efficient and effective production of energy and that is nuclear power. Let’s see if he can convince us all.

‘Hey honey, I’ve seen it on Pinterest. Let me tie you up to the ceiling’ — A primer on rope bondage
Jeff Vanelle

“Rope bondage,” “Shibari,” “Kinbaku.” Most have heard those terms, most have seen pictures, maybe some videos — far fewer have experienced it. Deeply rooted in medieval Japan (XV century or so) as a mean to restrain prisoners, the “art of binding” came to be in the early XIX century. From there, the art developed as any others in different currents influenced by the culture surrounding it. Today this art form has taken an aesthetic and erotic form, retaining the psychological and physical aspect of its origins. I have been very fortunate to be exposed to shibari through some incredibly talented friends in town and abroad. While each of them is far more of an expert than I am, some have dedicated their lives to it, I have not. In fact, I don’t speak Japanese, my mentors are Mexican, German, Scottish, American, and… I’m French! So don’t expect a lecture on Japanese Arts and History. Still I’ll share my own humble experience with ropes, provide you with some basic information and shed some light on this beautifully exciting hobby of mine. Is it safe? Does it hurt? Will it leave a mark? Can anyone try? So many knots to learn!

Jeff is an eclectic, life long learner, passionate about too many things to fit in a day. Computer graphics tech nerd, saké brewer, photographer, bacon, cheese and sausage maker, competitive dragon boat racer. Each of those topics could be the subject of a Nerd Nite (who knows?!). But today, Jeff will share his experience in… Rope bondage.

Nerd Nite 45: a Nerdy reprieve before the chaos of the Christmas break

It’s time for one last hurrah… before the holiday season verily takes over our lives. Oh, don’t worry, we’ll be back for more nerdy nites in the New Year (alliteration!). But you’ll want to get your fill now. Because who know what can happen between now and the turning over of that annual clock.

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

When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The State of Wireless in Canada. Or; Why Is My Cell Phone Bill So F*cking Expensive?
Aaron Hoyland

Smartphones are great. They let you keep in touch with family and friends, help you stay organized, and allow you to take amazing photos wherever you are. It’s just too bad that you have to remortgage your house every time the bill comes due. Ever wonder why Canadians pay such high rates for our wireless devices? Think the only explanation is greedy cell phone companies? Think again! Join us for a deep-dive (or at least a shallow dip) into the wireless industry in Canada. What decisions brought us here? Why does this seem like such a difficult problem to solve? We’ll answer these questions and more as we peer into the fascinating world of wireless regulation, MVNOs, spectrum auctions, and why it really pays to live in Saskatchewan or Quebec.

An engineer by education and a nerd by birthright, Aaron has been fascinated by science and technology since he was a wee lad taking magnets to his parents’ computer screen to see what would happen. For the last decade, he’s been obsessed with the fast-paced and ever-changing world of smartphones and wireless technology and how they intersect with our day-to-day lives. As a former corporate trainer, Aaron gets his jollies distilling complex technical topics into something interesting and accessible. When he’s not staring into a tiny screen, you’ll find Aaron listening to podcasts, playing video games, consuming news and political commentary or hating himself at the local gym.

Moss: the BIG life of tiny plants
Mallory Hazell

Moss might be the saddest plant on earth; it’s terribly misunderstood and underappreciated. In fact, many people consider it a nuisance. But if you purchase an expensive hand lens, and dedicate thousands of hours to infuriating plant identification, you too can begin to see the beauty of these tiny plants. You’ve likely seen moss growing on trees and sidewalks, but you might be surprised to know that there are entire ecosystems dominated by moss, and that those ecosystems have a tremendous impact on our planet. In fact, the restoration of one moss-dominated ecosystem is becoming recognized as immensely important towards the fight against climate change!

Mallory Hazell is Vegetation and Wetland Ecologist with an eccentric passion for moss! She is a professional biologist with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, and recently completed a Master’s degree in wetland reclamation from the University of Alberta. She conducted research on how to design and construct a peatland (a moss-dominated wetland) on a former oil sands mine. While her love for mosses started several years before graduate school, it was during graduate school that she started to appreciate the impact some moss-dominated ecosystems have on our planet. She is a member of the Western Canada Bryophyte and Lichen Interest Group, but insists that she is still an absolute bryology beginner.

All the stats you never wanted about women in YEG politics
Lana Cuthbertson

Only about a quarter of our politicians in Canada are women. There’s been some improvement from the time (some) women won the right to vote, but the progress has been slow. Today, new challenges have popped up, like the public square that is Twitter and how it impacts women in politics. Then there’s #metoo and how that movement plays into this issue. We need to do better. But where are we at, exactly, and what do the numbers show? And why should we care? Why is this important? And most importantly, how can we make it better? There is a way—and it involves you.

Lana Cuthbertson is the Chair of ParityYEG, an Edmonton-based organization dedicated to getting more women into politics and public office. She also works in ATB Financial’s Transformation department, where she listens to other people who work at ATB and shares their stories throughout the company. She loves storytelling, innovating, and promoting women in leadership. She has degrees in journalism and English literature and sings in a choir.

Nerd Nite #44: Exercise your brain!

When we plan Nerd Nite, we look for variety. Something a little science, something a little arts, and something way out of left field. Your obsessive nerd bosses have delivered this month. Join us for the 44th ever Nerd Nite Edmonton, when you’ll learn something about kettlebells, the economy, and gluten-free vegan cooking!

You know when people say, “I want to have it all”? Well, mission accomplished, nerds.

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

When: Tuesday, October 23, 2018 (doors @ 7:30pm | show @ 8pm)
Where: Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330 84 Ave NW)
Tickets: $20 in advance — AVAILABLE NOW

Our line-up of talks includes:

When economics makes weather forecasting look good
Nick Ford

Maybe President Donald Trump is right: fake news is real! Whether you want to believe it or not, a lot of our news is adjusted for reality and that means fake news. In fact, plenty of important data that economists and policy makers use tell us that conditions in the winter are the same as summer months. See? Fake news!

Join economist Nick Ford as he peels back the seasonal adjustments of some data types. He’ll show through analysis that seasonally adjusting numbers results in ambiguity and confusion about facts. Nick will also show that by only selecting and reporting seasonally adjusted data, we actually encourage consumer complacency. Even worse, that this can lead to loss of culture. At the end of the presentation, you’ll learn a few ways the we can not just build a better winter city, but a warmer, livelier local economy, too.

Nick Ford is an economist at ATB Financial. It’s his job to research, track, present and report on economic indicators and trends that impact Albertans. Nick provides macroeconomic monitoring and analysis, is a regular contributor of ATB Financial’s daily economic comment, The Owl. He also hosts ATB’s We Are Alberta Podcast.

Nick is proud to sit on the Nuit Blanche Edmonton board and previously served on his community league board. Before crunching numbers and telling stories, Nick worked in anti-money laundering and as a customer service representative at a bank that’s not as cool as ATB. Other jobs Nick has had include serving up fries and burgers as a line cook and fitting cleats as a salesperson at a soccer (or as his Liverpudlian dad calls it: football) store in Edmonton. Nick is a native Edmontonian and holds a BA in Economics from the University of Alberta.

Finding your way to a healthier life in the sordid world of fitness and exercise
Mike Chomitsch

“I’ve got to start exercising and get healthier” is a familiar lament among all of us… But it can be easier said than done. The fitness industry itself, as well as mainstream and social media, have distorted the notion of health and have made this idea unpalatable for many. In fact, a large part of the industry cares far more about profit than it does health. Spewing myths, the industry focuses on misguided goals, familiar pain points (losing weight, sculpting your body) to make money, and takes advantage of our noble intentions to stuff its pockets with hoards of cash while delivering little in return. But worry not, friends! Mike Chomitsch, gym owner and industry curmudgeon, will help you find your way! His talk will help you get started, enjoy your journey and keep at it as you move towards a healthier, happier life. Along the way, and with much humour, he will debunk common myths, expose industry secrets, and poke fun at the sordid industry he has been a part of for nearly a decade.

Mike Chomitsch is the owner and operator of Ritual Conditioning, a small gym that focuses on calisthenics, kettlebells and community. A reformed big-box gym-goer, he found a different method to exercise, one that was enjoyable, effective and sustainable. It also meant he didn’t have to spend time in a big-box gym anymore, much to his delight. For the past decade, he has helped people get stronger and healthier while enjoying their fitness experience by providing a safe environment, effective exercise and large amount of humour. In the meantime, and from a happily safe distance, he was able to watch his industry and ruminate on how it works and how he and his wonderful coaches have done it differently. For more on his gym, visit

Need a Hand in the Kitchen? I GOT ONE!
Alexis Hillyard

I was born without my left hand, and people always wonder how or if I can do [insert random task here]. This nerd nite talk will take you on a stumptastic food adventure, exploring the whimsical one-handed cooking techniques that I use in my weekly YouTube series, Stump Kitchen. I’ll talk about WHY I have one hand, WHAT I do with one hand, and WHO having one hand has let me be. And of course I’ll throw some nerdy amputee stats and vegan cooking info in there too!

Alexis Hillyard is a YouTube Creator, self-taught vegan chef, and entrepreneur. Born without her left hand, Alexis uses her stump as a kitchen tool — from spatula to juicer — while expanding the vocabulary of what’s possible in the kitchen each week on her show Stump Kitchen. Stump Kitchen is a YouTube series that celebrates body diversity, gluten-free vegan cooking, and the amazing, unique ways we move through the world. In 2016, Stump Kitchen won Best Food Blog in VUE Magazine’s Best of Edmonton. In 2017 Alexis was named the first Canadian Ambassador to the Lucky Fin Project, an organization dedicated to limb difference awareness, education, and celebration.