Date: Wednesday December 18, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Life is risky business

Summary: Fitness, or the ability to survive and reproduce, of every organism on the planet is influenced by risks.  But risks are not equally dangerous and vary over time and space.  Although organisms may perceive direct threats (e.g., muggers) as more of a risk, indirect threats (e.g., embezzlement) are often not sufficiently detected and could cause greater harm because more resources (money) are lost.  Therefore, organisms must be able to perceive where and when risks are likely to occur while acquiring needed resources, such as frozen pizzas or a potential mate with a spectacular physique.  We explore how the Risk Allocation Hypothesis helps us understand how humans and wildlife use similar behaviors to avoid risks and increase their fitness potential.  Whether it is hiding yo kids and yo wife from intruders or not feeding during moonlit nights to avoid being eaten by an owl, perception of risks is essential to life on Planet Earth.

Bio: Jared Duquette is a wildlife ecologist and currently working on a post-doc related to black bear ecology.  He is an avid outdoorsman, harmonica player, hip-hop dancer, and connoisseur of reuben sandwiches.  His afternoons commonly include researching charismatic mega-fauna, drawing crayon portraits of people, and listening to 80’s hair bands.


Entropy, Everyone’s Favorite Thermodynamic Function

Summary: Entropy has been causing serious philosophical angst since it was first formulated 160 years ago. Matter and energy tend to disperse, and since the universe’s energy is finite, in the end maybe it’s useless to even try creating order. Entropy’s tendency to increase limits the efficiency of engines and information transfer, and it might spell our doom by heat death of the universe. But, perhaps surprisingly, entropy is also a driving force in biology for creating organized structures like folded enzymes and a bacterial nucleoid separated from ribosomes. In this talk, I’ll examine what entropy means, how we study and talk about it, and our fight for order in an increasingly random universe.

Presenter bio: Emily Ruff is a UW-Madison graduate student who spends most of her time thinking about molecular biology. She loves thermodynamics, the liberal arts, and strong coffee, among many other things.


Schlongs of the World

Summary: Forget locker room comparisons, how does your penis measure up in the animal kingdom? More than 3 billion years of evolution have pounded the penis into myriad shapes, sizes and functions. You’ll learn which species boasts the longest, the strongest, the downright weirdest willy of all. How do they work? What do the ladies have to say about it? And why in Darwin’s name is it shaped like that?
“Heartwarming entertainment for the whole family.” NY Times Book Review
“Timed for the holiday season, Seiler’s insights are guaranteed to bring any conversation to a screeching halt.”  Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Two dicks up.” Siskel and Ebert

Presenter bio: Deborah Seiler is a science communications specialist for the UW-Extension and Department of Natural Resources. She returns to Madison Nerd Nite from her previous talk, Sex on Six Legs.