Date: Wednesday March 25, 2015
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Why 60 Minutes? 5000 years of tradition and science

Summary: The minute and second were first measured by astronomers of 16th-century Europe, but both measures existed in writing as far back as the 11th century. Why did medieval astronomers choose to cut the hour into 60 pieces, and why did this choice persist for so long? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg, because this story actually traces back many thousands of years! The 60 we use today is the same the Sumerians used before the oldest known writing. This tradition has been handed from civilization to civilization in one long, unbroken line. We’ll follow 60 from its origins, to how it became tied to astronomy, trigonometry, and navigation, and how it came to be the system we still use today. 

Presenter bio: Robert Coolman is a graduate researcher in the department of Chemical Engineering at UW-Madison. Robert explores interactions between science and history in his writing at When he’s not getting anything done you can find him in the kitchen with his wife or in the living room playing tabletop games.


Alcibiades: Classical Greece’s most legendary badass and possibly, its biggest douchebag

Summary: If you were to get wasted, walk up to Morgan Freeman, and clock him in the face you would probably end up one of the most hated people on the planet. If Alcibiades were do the same thing, Mr. Freeman would ask him to marry his daughter. Alcibiades was one of the Athenian Athenians to ever roam this planet. He was a tactical genius, a great orator, obscenely wealthy, and absurdly beautiful. When he wasn’t banging Socrates and leading Athenian armies he was leading Spartan armies against Athens (while banging the King’s wife). Join the talk and learn more about one of history’s most ridiculous characters. 

Bio: Teddy de Groot is a graduate student in the biomedical engineering department at the UW. Though a biomedical engineer all his life, he has taken an inexplicable interest in classical studies and how history was written before it was ruined by Germans in the 19th century with their socioeconomic-driven explanations for everything.


Linguistic attitudes: Why we think the things we do about language

Summary: We all place different values on the ways that we, and others, use language. Southern accents might make us tingle (in a good way) while hearing the word ‘literally’ just one more time might drive us up the wall (like, figuratively speaking). But why? In this talk we’ll look at the science behind language attitudes, the term that linguists use to describe our common understanding of different varieties of language. Come prepared to look at the language of wartime cartoons, overanalyze why we love and hate different slang terms, and raise a glass to the diversity of English dialects.

Presenter bio: Joshua Raclaw is a postdoc and resident sociolinguist at the UW’s Center for Women’s Health Research, where he studies how biomedical researchers use language in their evaluation of grant applications. He’s also interested in how language helps construct our relationships and identities and how new technology changes how we communicate with one another, and one time he wrote over two-hundred pages on the word ‘no’. In his spare time he enjoys huddling for warmth in his apartment with his wife, cats, and beloved Netflix account.