Date: Wednesday May 28, 2014
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The Wonders of Plasma Physics and Fusion Power

Summary: Plasma makes up stars, galaxies and over 99% of the visible universe. On earth, they have many practical applications such as fluorescent lights, lasers, welding and even manufacturing computer chips, however no application is more exciting then the promise of fusion power. Scientists have been overcoming numerous trials and tribulations in the quest to harness the almost unlimited potential of fusion power since the 1950s for the clean, radioactive waste free, production of electricity. An overview of basic plasma physics, plasmas of the universe, practical uses of plasmas on earth, as well as the history and future of fusion power research will be presented along with amazing plasma physics demonstrations as you are invited to learn how to work with the stuff of stars.

Presenter bio: Andrew Seltzman went to Georgia Tech as an undergrad majoring in physics and electrical engineering and spent most of his time building robots and fusors. After graduating, he came to UW Madison where he is now a PhD candidate in the physics department focusing on microwave heating of plasmas in the Madison Symmetric Torus. In his free time he fiddles around with electronics in his secret lab, flies gliders, and dances argentine tango. He is currently the de facto coordinator of the plasma outreach table.


Zentai Suits: An Opaque Window into Human Identity

Summary: What if you could remove parts of yourself one at a time? Parts like your memory, your ability to communicate, or your face. When would you stop being you? When would other people stop thinking you are you? Psychology and sociology attempt to understand how we assemble our individual characteristics into our identity and the identity of others. This process profoundly affects our understanding of ourselves and the world, but it is something that is very hard to examine personally. After all, you can’t just temporarily remove a part of yourself and see how people react. Or can you? Join Dan Kaplan for a special, spandex clad Nerd Night talk that explores identity, perception, and the allure of zentai suits.

Bio: The presenter tells us he/she is Dan Kaplan, a person who used to make museum exhibits in DC and is currently a producer at the Wisconsin Media Lab.  However, we’ve only seen the presenter in full body spandex, so we aren’t sure any of this is true.  We have no idea what he/she actually looks like or if he/she really is Dan.  We just know the presenter as a human-shaped thing that is really into covering itself in spandex, so it is hard to form an opinion about the person.


FIRE: a story of explosives, soap, bronze, energy, and PEE

Summary: Fire! WTF is it? We’ll talk about that, and we’ll also talk about how humans use fire to unleash ancient sunlight. We’ll also discover exactly how it can turn trees and rocks into steel swords. This relates directly to the dawn of agriculture and a very surprising use for pee.  Bringing all this knowledge together, we’ll talk about that crazy hand-burn scene in fight club and the surprisingly cleansing uses for wood ash. ALSO, we’re gonna BURN some stuff on stage!

Presenter bio: Lee Bishop started Nerd Nite Madison along with Elena Spitzer almost 3 years ago. It has been SUPER fun, but he is moving back to Berkeley, CA to beg for change on the street. He is a PhD Chemist and full-time science enthusiast. He edits the scientist-written blog,, runs middle-school science clubs & events, and teaches introductory chemistry at Madison College. He loves to get excited about stuff, and he is really excited about fire!