SOLD OUT: Nerd Nite #14

It’s been a sensational year of nerdy talks paired with moderate indulgence. Join us as we toast a year of nerdery with our final Nerd Nite of the 13/14 season. As always, three speakers will delight and titillate your brain pieces, plus, there’s booze.

When: June 12, 2014 (doors @ 7:30pm, show @ 8pm)
Where: The Club (Citadel Theatre, 9828-101A Avenue Edmonton)
$15 in advance (Tickets Available Here SOLD OUT)
$18 at the door
[Children 17 & Under Will Not Be Admitted]

Music and mythology, Einstein and Astrology
Philip Paschke

Now, this is the story all about how Nerd Nite got flipped-turned upside down and I’d like to take twenty minutes – just sit right there – I’ll tell you how I came up with a theme that’s so square. In a presentation that’s half music history, half music theory, and half pop culture revelry (and one third math), I’ll show you how the Nerd Nite Edmonton Theme Song might just be one of the nerdiest tunes out there. From Dr. Who to Doogie Howser, M.D., learn about the subtle and not-so-subtle geek-references in this piece through an exploration of TV Themes that have been stuck in your head since the 80s.

Bio: Phil Paschke has a Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition from the U of A and once took a two-week film scoring course from the guy who scored Robin Hood: Men in Tights. While his day job as Communications Manager for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and Winspear Centre keeps him busy, he sets aside a bit of time each year to scoring Team Awesome Video Club’s annual entry in the 24/One short film contest, and a lot of time to watching TV.

Where Dead Things Go
Jeffrey Newton

Considering the number of creatures that die every day, why aren’t we swimming in a sea of cadavers? When asked to conjure up an image of “nature,” most will imagine a lush forest or maybe a lion stalking a wildebeest in the Serengeti. However, there’s a darker side, one that we, as a society, prefer to leave in obscurity; the decomposition of dead things. Not only is it smelly, there are usually lots of maggots too. None the less, decomposition occurs through the gratuitous services of an army of volunteers. Meet the decomposers!

Bio: Jeffrey’s biologist impulses were nurtured growing up on St. Maarten (Caribbean). To the chagrin of his parents, siblings, and anyone in smelling distance, he insisted on picking up (and keeping) any dead insects, frogs, lizards, birds, or mongoose he could find. This set the stage for later in life when he decided to do a study on cadaver decomposition during his MSc at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Since then he has come to Canada where he completed his PhD in Soil Ecology/Zoology. Today he runs the Edmonton branch of the Alberta Science Network and spends his time either doing science outreach or getting other academics and engineers into K-12 classrooms.

The Anatomy of Unexpected Political Results
Chris Henderson

What motivates people to vote for a particularly candidate or party? What motivates them to vote at all? In the 20th century, hundreds of billions of dollars have been directed to trying to understand voters, trying to shape their opinions and creating the conditions to make particular voters vote. However, elections often end with a wholly unexpected result that few could predict. We’ll look at a handful of elections that ended in a way that still surprise us and haunt campaign teams.

Bio: Chris Henderson is a public relations consultant at Calder Bateman Communications, and has been an advisor for a variety of municipal, provincial and national campaigns over the last 10 years.

SOLD OUT: Nerd Nite #13

There are over 4500 species of cockroaches and at our next Nerd Nite we won’t be discussing any of them. Our presenters will however regale you with amazing tidbits about our planets and the folks who live here. So, escape the cockroaches in your basement and join us for a tantalizing slice of knowledge pie (note: there will be no food) and beer.

When: May 8, 2014 (doors @ 7:30pm, show @ 8pm)
Where: The Club (Citadel Theatre, 9828-101A Avenue Edmonton)
$15 in advance (Tickets Available Here) SOLD OUT
$18 at the door
[Children 17 & Under Will Not Be Admitted]

Math: Inspiring madness for almost 5000 years
Samantha Marion

Allow me to introduce you to my good friend, Mathematics. I think you’re really going to like her. Like most people worth knowing, she is quirky, mysterious, seductive, and altogether just not what she seems. Forget the horrifying recurring nightmares you have of fractions and long division and meet the sparkling wonder that has captivated men and women for millennia. But why does she have such a hold on us? Why has she inspired madness, murder and self-mutilation? I’ll throw some deep, philosophical questions at you and I won’t expect you to answer them.

Bio: Samantha Marion has a master’s degree in pure mathematics from the University of Alberta. For two years, she ran the U of A math department’s outreach team, tirelessly advocating math to unsuspecting grade school students. Currently, Sam is a Staff Scientist at the TELUS World of Science in Edmonton where she is constantly pestering her co-workers and visitors with statements like “math is fun!” and “deep down, we’re all mathematicians”. One day, her bosses at the science centre broke down and allowed her to organize a MathFest. It was the greatest day.

Life and Death and Death and Death in Virtual Worlds
Aaron Clifford

In February 1962 a starship exploded across the screen of a PDP-1 computer. In that moment, Steve Russel, creator of Spacewar!, became the first person to kill a digital being; today the digital body count is in the billions. Are these deaths meaningless just because they occur in a game? There are millions of players engaged in massive virtual worlds. Many of the players interact socially through in-game characters, often over many years. In the 52 years since Spacewar!, it has become possible to witness the death of our [digital] selves. When the time comes for our characters to pass into the Great Backup in the Cloud, how do we remember and memorialize them?

Bio: Aaron is Technical Team Lead at RED the Agency and an independent game developer. He has been playing video games since Pong and has experienced every kind of digital demise available. He has bartered his love of video games into a career in interactive experiences. He has worked on electronic learning software for NATO Flight Training of Canada, wireless controllers for the original PlayStation, and Raspberry Pi controlled radar guns for Partners in Road Construction Safety. He has a 5-year-old son and two, 3-year-old daughters who he hopes will follow in his nerdy footsteps — but will love even if they end up hockey players. He loves cycling, social media, photographing insects, and the amazing sound of his wife, Carolyn, singing.

How on Earth Did We Get Here: Chemical Thoughts on the Origin of Life
Juli Gibbs-Davis

With all of the recent (well-deserved no doubt) hype about the first few moments of the universe, one might think that our understanding is so great that the big questions about life on our planet are pretty well understood.  The truth, however, is that what we don’t know much about the origin of life on earth.  How did the prebiotic soup made up of tiny molecular building blocks lead to highly organized assemblies of molecules that make up cells, which are enormous in comparison? (Molecules are to bricks what cells are to cities.)  I will present the big questions that we still don’t understand about how life on earth began and how the simple molecules present on early earth could have evolved to form the complex machinery of life.

Bio: Juli originally hails from Northern Arizona.  After completing a B.A. in chemistry at Arizona State University, she attended Northwestern University for her Ph.D. and postdoc in materials and surface chemistry (where she met fellow Nerd Nite Presenter John Davis).  She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta working on developing DNA self-replicating systems that shed light on origin of life questions and have potential in disease diagnostics.  Her group also uses lasers to study the chemistry of environmental surfaces.

SOLD OUT: Nerd Nite #12

Did you know that every time 176 nerds congregate in the same room, a nerd accidentally breaks his glasses? With your participation we can test this urban myth [that I just created] on April 3rd. As always three great speakers, fun, adventure, and of course beer.

When: April 3, 2014 (doors @ 7:30p, show @ 8)
Where: The Club (Citadel Theatre, 9828-101A Avenue Edmonton)
$18 at the door
[Children 17 & Under Will Not Be Admitted]

The Cell that Founded Civilization
David Stuart

Some attribute Benjamin Franklin with declaring that “beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.” Whoever said it, beer certainly makes me happy and it’s yeast that makes the production of beer and wine possible; so it only makes sense that yeast too makes me happy too. Yeast has been the foundation of the brewing industry for centuries. These resilient and adaptable microbial cells have found a myriad of uses including becoming the corner stone for a revolution in synthetic biology and the biofuel industry. So where does yeast come from? How does it do what it does? What else can we coax these marvelous microbes to do for us? Join me as we raise a glass to yeast and provide insight into how yeasts have been bred and engineered to become a workhorse for the brewing, and biotechnology industries.

Bio: David Stuart is an associate professor in the faculty of Medicine Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta. One part of his research laboratory is focused on engineering yeast for the production of biofuels and valuable compounds. Another part of his lab studies yeast meiosis to gain an understanding the process of by which human sperm and egg cells develop, and what goes wrong to cause birth defects. During his undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo David discovered his passion for biochemistry and genetics along his love for beer. Both of these interests blossomed during his pursuit of a PhD at the University of Alberta and his work as a postdoctoral scientist in San Diego. In addition to his academic interest in yeast biology David is a home brewer and regularly experiments to produce new and different varieties of beer.

Sometimes a Glock is just a Glock: Girls, Guns & Action Movies
Cristina Stasia

Today, female action heroes are more likely to lick their guns suggestively than to shoot them. We have yet to see Bruce Willis do this. The first female action heroes did not hesistate to use firearms, because that’s what action heroes do: they shoot the bad guys and save the day. Today, the rebooted Charlie’s Angels don’t even use guns. Instead, they use their sexuality. We have also yet to see Bruce Willis do this. (Fingers crossed). Starting with Blaxploitation, I’ll take you through the different iterations of the female action hero, focusing on the ways she has gone from using firearms to using her hypersexualized body to save the day. This has serious implications for the action genre—and for understandings of female power and feminism.

Bio: Dr. Stasia received her Ph.D. in English from Syracuse University and is an award-winning instructor in the Women’s and Gender Studies department at the University of Alberta. Her publications include chapters on female action cinema, the politics of television remakes, the bisexual star text of Angelina Jolie, and third wave feminism and postfeminism. She recently completed a book manuscript titled Lipsticked and Loaded: Feminism, Femininity and the Female Action Hero. She argues that female power has become a pervasive but meaningless concept and charts the disempowerment of women through an analysis of female action movies from 1975-2005. While watching a particularly problematic action movie on a third date, she asked her date if he would mind if she took notes. He said no. She married him.

Sweet Child O’ Mine: The Complex Sugars of Human Milk
Christopher Cairo

There many reasons why breastfeeding is thought to benefit infants. The composition of human milk is surprisingly complex, and some of the major components of human milk are sugars. These aren’t just any sugars – but complex polymers of sugars (oligosaccharides) – and they do more than just give babies calories. Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) protect infants from diseases, stimulate their immune systems, and likely help regulate the bacteria that colonize their guts. So how does milk do all this? I’ll talk about just how complex the composition of milk really is, and what the structures of HMOs are, as well as give examples of how these incredible molecules help keep infants healthy.

Bio: Chris did his undergraduate studies at the State University of New York-Albany and his graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Afterwards, he moved back to the east coast to take up a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School where he studied the biophysics of white blood cells binding to other cells. Chris is currently an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Alberta and a principal investigator in the Alberta Glycomics Centre. His research group studies how cells sense their environment at the molecular level with applications in cancer, diabetes, and inflammation.