Date: Wednesday October 24, 2012
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

A Brief History of Fandom

Summary: Hugo Gernsback published the 1st science-fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926. Moments later, SF fandom was born. Richard S. Russell, who lived thru and participated in much of it, reprises his 2008 fan guest-of-honor speech from Odyssey Con 8, at which he articulated his 3 Principles of Fandom: (1) All fandoms are created equal. (2) Seduce the young. (3) Always bring a book!

Presenter bio: Richard S. Russell is a long-time Madison science fiction fan who has worked on all the WisCons, Odyssey Cons, and Geek.Kons there have ever been. He is proud to have a pseudopod planted in media, literary, gaming, comic, costuming, convention, and fanzine subfandoms. He’s a former WisCon coordinator and Fan guest of honor at both X-Con and OddCon.


Exploration of Lightning Through the Eyes of a Chemist and Astraphobic

Summary: Lightning, a natural phenomenon that has been studied, worshiped, and even feared for thousands of years; however, have you ever wondered how lightning occurs and what effects it has on the Earth’s atmosphere? This presentation will explore the important role that lightning has played throughout history, as well as the science behind the flash of light, the roll of thunder, and the reactions it catalyzes in the Earth’s atmosphere. *Warning* this talk will debunk common myths which may or may not leave you disgruntled at having been duped for so long; however, it will equip you with lots of facts that can prove to be useful if you ever need to impress a potential mate while standing in an open field during a storm, which means you’re not the only idiot to walk around outside during a storm and you’re probably meant to be together.

Presenter bio: Michelle grew up in the small city of Chardon, Ohio, southeast of Cleveland. She went to Ohio University and graduated with a B.S. in chemistry in 2008 then decided she was not ready for the “real world” so decided to move to Madison, WI to attend graduate school for materials chemistry. Michelle is wrapping up her thesis research in metal oxides and their applications in renewable energy. After graduate school, she hopes to make enough money to support her beer-snobbery and expand her collection of stray animals.


Who’s Learning From Whom? How Machine Learning can help us understand human learning.

Summary: If you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, you’re already carrying around a device that is learning in a way not possible just a decade ago. Who you like to call, what websites you like to visit, what messages you consider spam. But what if, in addition to this stuff, it knew that you wanted to learn something new, and could itself learn how to help you do that? (Some of you just said “Cool!” and some others “Creepy!”. Both reasonable.) Traditionally, Machine Learning (a subset of Artificial Intelligence) has been used as a toolset to do things like extract information from big data or automate decision making. Recently, the ideas and techniques from Machine Learning have been applied to human learning in an effort to better understand, and influence, human learning behavior. I will discuss some of the studies and what the future may hold for human/machine cooperative learning.

Presenter bio: Bryan is a PhD student, research assistant and lecturer in the Dept. of Computer Science, UW-Madison. He likes long walks, short algorithms and the Monty Hall problem keeps him up at night.