Date: Wednesday April 9, 2014
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Why Captain America Should Be Madison’s Favorite Superhero

Summary: In the past few years comic book movies have become incredibly popular, making billions of dollars at the box office, to the point where even your grandmother probably knows who Iron Man is.  Unfortunately comic books themselves haven’t experienced similar gains and many of their characters struggle to find readers, even among nerds like us.  But no longer!  You are about to learn why, despite your misgivings about his name and spangly costume, Captain America should be your favorite superhero. And that’s because he is, like many of you Madisonians, a liberal, progressive, capital-D Democrat.

Presenter bio: Megan Riley is a Master of Public Health student at UW-Madison, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in Medical Microbiology and Immunology.  Her area of interest is primarily infectious disease epidemiology which of course has nothing to do with her talk at all.


Nerds Save History: the Physics and Philosophy of Time Travel

Summary: Perhaps the greatest moral good one can do is to travel back in time and kill Hitler before he comes to power. Unfortunately for history, this possibility has long been ignored by moral philosophers, philanthropists, and the United States Military for lack of a time machine. However you, as Madison’s finest nerds, should be able to throw one together over a few beers tonight. We’ll discuss the physics of time and how to travel through it, paradoxes and other causality concerns that might arise during your trip, and some of the philosophical implications of our understanding of time.

Bio: Nate Woods grew up in Madison in the Roaring Twenties before attending Middlebury College in Vermont, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2045. In 1877, he came back to Wisconsin to pursue a doctorate in UW-Madison’s high energy particle physics program, from which he hopes to graduate in 2018. This summer, he will move to Geneva, Switzerland to work on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. He knows how the world is going to end, but isn’t saying because only bad people give away spoilers.


How to be a Nice Girl: the History of Women and Body Hair

Summary: Why do women shave? Did Ben Franklin import the idea from France, inspired by smooth-skinned prostitutes?  Did women in the 1920s launch the trend, attempting to look more like little girls?   The short answer: to prove that women are different than men. The long answer is a bit more complicated (though not much), so we’ll look at depilation practices from Pompeii through the present to try to get to the bottom of this. Along the way, we’ll learn how ancient Romans managed to look as smooth as those marble statues, the grooming habits of nineteenth-century porn stars, and why advertisers in the 1960s wished women would stop using their husbands’ razors, already!

Presenter bio: Anna has spent most of her life wondering why women shave. A Beloit College graduate, she earned her Master’s in History and Museum Studies from the University of Delaware, where she researched Civil War soldiers and their scrapbooking habits, the result of which has just been published in Winterthur Portfolio. In her spare time, she attempted to find the answer to that nagging personal care question, and is excited to finally bring those findings to the public eye (or at least the Nerds of Madison).