Nerd Nite #82

Date: Wednesday, November 30th
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

We will start with Gigi Melone and a group of “Insect Ambassadors” from UW-Madison’s Entomology department. It’s about time we gave bugs some love!

Shawn Steffan and Jacki Whisenant are our two Insect Ambassadors. Shawn will be discussing the power of insect-microbe symbioses through deep evolutionary time, using bees, leaf-cutter ants, and bark beetles as examples! Jacki Whisenant will be taking us behind the scenes at the UW Zoology Museum and their flesh-eating beetle colony!

Next up is Whitney Thompson, giving a talk about the “Taylor Swift” of the 1800s: Under the nom de plume of Claribel, Charlotte Alington Barnard (1830-1869) published over 100 songs between 1859 and 1869, mostly in the sentimental- or drawing-room-ballad genre. Despite the domesticity suggested by the genre’s name, her songs were so popular that they escaped the drawing room and became staples not just of amateur music societies, but also of large public concerts. However, with her success came a fierce backlash from the trade press. Publications like The Orchestra and The Athenaeum decried the profusion of “Claribel-ware,” occasionally outright calling the music “trash” and particularly protesting the nascent royalty system in which Claribel took part. Her career may have only lasted a decade, but Claribel was nonetheless at the forefront of some massive changes in both the business and culture of music, and it’s that impact that I’ll attempt to sketch out here.

Last up is Kevin Bachhuber, who has a different angle on insect appreciation: food! He founded the US’s first FDA inspected human food grade insect farm, and continues to work in the industry today.

Check out our facebook page for more information referenced in tonight’s Nerd Nite including Kevin’s favorite cricket recipe and Whitney’s Claribel research site!

Nerd Nite #81

Date: Wednesday, October 26th
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Hilary Stohs-Krause will be, appropriately for Halloween, talking about fear! “Let’s dive into why modern humans are generally so terrible at risk assessment. Our world is increasingly complicated, and our fear response has been left behind (it’s like current threats are displayed via hologram, but our brain is trying to play them with a gramophone). We’ll explore threat pathways in our brains, risk amplifiers and the established “types” of fears. Enter the Halloween season ready to face all the goblins, ghouls and men’s rights activists with confidence!”

Lili Luxe will be discussing “Scintillating Stories of Stenography” “Courtroom drama is a popular form of entertainment and dominates headlines around the world every day. This talk will introduce you to the person who is front and center of every proceeding, the stenographer. Learn how that weird little machine works and some history behind this fascinating — and surprisingly lucrative! — profession.”

Our final presentation is by Finn Kuusisto, sharing the lore of the popular first-person shooter video game Hunt: Showdown. “Hunt monsters in the bayous of late 19th century Louisiana for fun and profit. We’ll briefly review the lore of Crytek’s popular horror-themed shooter game that almost never saw the light of day. From the Louisiana event to the emissaries of the Sculptor, we’ll
cover all the basic story you need to know to be a real hunter.”

Nerd Nite #80

Date: Wednesday, September 7th
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Mark your calendars! The Nerd Nite Madison season opener after our summer break is 8:00pm September 7th at the High Noon Saloon. As always, Nerd Nite is free and 18+ admitted. (21+ to drink).

Speakers are Jessica Schmitz, talking about her life raising jumping spiders, and Tyler Wintermute with a tale from Hoosier history and the Indiana Gas Boom! Your host Haley will close out the night with a round up of interesting nerd news that you might have missed this summer, plus some exciting announcements for Nerd Nite you won’t want to miss!

Nerd Nite #79 – Canceled

Date: Wednesday, May 25th
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

This event was canceled – see you all after the summer hiatus!

Nerd Nite #78

Date: Wednesday, April 27th
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The order of the night’s line-up will be announced on the Facebook event the day of the show.

Why we worry about all the wrong things: Modern humans are pretty terrible at risk assessment. Our world is increasingly complicated, and our fear response hasn’t kept up. By exploring what contributes to our sense of risk and how we process fear, we can learn to recognize and retrain our instincts to feel safer, happier and less stressed!

It’s Not Rocket Science: Well it is….but only the fun parts! You’ll never believe these three propellants they tried! 5 ways you can keep your engine from MELTING! The secret to orbital rendezvous that they don’t want you to know! EXPOSED secrets from the Apollo program! Is the flow staged combustion cycle going to be bigger than BITCOIN? Why Elon Musk’s new engine will DESTROY Jeff Bezos! These are the 10 best space acronyms that will make you seem smarter! WATCH NOW the biggest rocket explosions of all time! Maybe a little too much hype but I still think rockets are out of this world.

An Introduction to K-Pop: The small nation of South Korea has been producing waves of insanely catchy pop earworms for three decades. Now everyone and their grandmother has at least heard of the K-pop superstar boy group, BTS. How did K-Pop become such a global music phenomenon? What even is K-Pop? Why are K-Pop fans so obsessive? Who is LOONA? And why do we have no choice but to stan? Fall down the rabbit hole and learn more about the musical universe of Korean pop music.

As always, this High Noon event is free, and we encourage you to wear a mask.

Nerd Nite #77

Date: Wednesday, March 23
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Get ready for another exciting, nerd-tastic night at the High Noon Saloon! We’d love you to join us as we learn about three new topics– The history of medical forceps, maritime archaeology, and why the rent is so damn high. As always, this event is free, but wear a mask and bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test

New Nite #076 Look in the sky: it’s a plane, it’s a tree, it’s a spider!

Date: Wednesday, Feb 16
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The order of the night’s line-up will be announced on the Facebook event the day of the show.

Pop(ulus)-Culture of Dane County and surrounding areas

There are many seasons and reasons to appreciate the plant genus Populus. Poplars, cottonwoods, and aspens were the first trees to have their genome sequenced, are some of the largest single organisms in the world, and have been used by humans for millennia. However, you don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia of modern Pop-culture to appreciate what are ultimately just a group of honkin’ good trees! The Popurazzi have been at it this past year, snapping photos of ramets, genets, and all-around great trees of the genus you can find in southern Wisconsin. While we’re sure there are plenty of ortets keeping a low-profile, you won’t want to miss this salicaceous tour highlighting the best that Populus has to offer in our area.

Tyler Wintermute

Presenter bio: Tyler is a PhD student in the Department of Botany at UW-Madison, studying the chemical ecology of the genus Populus, a surprise to no one. While using complicated instruments to analyze small metabolites that have broad impacts on ecosystem processes really gets him going, he recognizes a need for digestible, translational ecology and general science communication to larger audiences who might not care how many 1-hydroxy-6-oxocyclohex-2-en-1-carboxylic acid units are attached to a glucose molecule. Plus, his favorite Populus species was extirpated from Wisconsin by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1889, so he’s had to make do with more resilient trees. When not botanizing, Tyler enjoys sports, and has recently started cross-country skiing, a mythical activity in his native Northern Virginia.

What’s So Great About Flying Small Planes?

If you have a friend or acquaintance who is a pilot, you may have heard (many times) about how great flying is, or even been offered a ride in a small plane. If not, you have probably seen or heard planes flying around the local airports – Dane County Regional Airport in Madison or Morey Field in Middleton. In this talk, I’m going to give an overview of what flying general aviation (GA) planes is all about: Why do people love to fly (and love to talk about it)? How does one go about learning to fly? How safe is it to say yes to a ride in a small plane? What are the advantages and disadvantages of flying yourself somewhere vs. buying an airline ticket?

Sam Hurley

Presenter bio: Sam a Scientist in Radiology at the University of Wisconsin, and an MRI Physicist for UW Health. He received a PhD in Medical Physics, also from Wisconsin. In his professional life, he works on methods to make medical imaging using MRI and PET/MR more quantitatively accurate and less sensitive to patient motion. In his free time, he enjoys attending concerts, playing bass guitar, travel, scuba diving, and working on electronics and software projects. Sam has been flying for about three years, holds an FAA private pilot’s license (aka an “airmen’s certificate”), and owns a partnership in a single-engine four-seat Cessna 172.

Spiders and Friends: When it Comes to Legs- Eight is Great!

Explore the world wide web of arachnids! Learn about some fascinating eight-legged animals from all over the world-and your back yard. Be able to answer questions such as: is the Daddy-Long-Legs a spider? Do spiders breathe? Are arachnids hell-bent on forever terrorizing humans, or are they just misunderstood, or both? Hardcore arachnophobes should sit this one out, but if you’re just creeped, experience the benefits of “knowing thy enemy.”

Danielle Ellen

Presenter Bio: A self-proclaimed “Renaissance Person,” Danielle doesn’t just pursue her interests – she chases them and tackles them to the ground! Some of those interests include: music (she fronts two bands), painting and fiber arts, psychology, religion, philosophy, entomology, and memes. She has been a teacher, a clothes-folder, a nursing home activities assistant, a project manager, and for three years ran a wacky-wild-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-man costume company with two-time Nerd Nite favorite, Bob Baddeley. She currently works as an actuarial analyst and is learning embroidery in her spare time.

Nerd Nite 075

Date: Wednesday, Dec 1
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The order of the night’s line-up will be announced on the Facebook event the day of the show.

Ribbing you the wrong way: Why so many museum mounts of whales & dinosaurs are wrong, and why you might care

Have you ever wandered around a natural history museum, gazing in awe at the skeletons of impossibly large whales or enjoying the site of prehistoric monsters? What if I told you almost every museum display (and most textbook illustrations) have gotten the rib cage completely wrong due to mammal-chauvinism? Join me for a look at how fossils, developmental anatomy and correcting our own preconceptions can provide insight on how torso bones work, and why it matters to more than just museum visitors and 5 year old dinosaur enthusiasts.

Scott Hartman

Presenter bio: Scott got his PhD at UW-Madison in paleobiology, studying (among other things) rib cage anatomy. After graduating he fooled UW-Madison into hiring him so he could stay on to warp the next generation of nerds and biologists. When not teaching or sciencing, he also likes to draw, watch movies with his daughter, cheer on Wisconsin sportsball teams (also with his daughter), and sometimes squeezes in time for a PC game. In addition to human progeny he is the proud father of an adorable dog and cat, who are far too spoiled for their own good.

What If Finding Nemo Were Real?

We certainly don’t expect a movie about talking fish and literate pelicans to be biologically accurate, but what if Finding Nemo were? Come learn about the mighty morphin’ sex change powers of clownfish and how they would change the story of Pixar’s award-winning classic.

Sasha Rosser

Presenter bio: Sasha Rosser is a data scientist at the UW-Madison Department of Surgery by day and nationally touring stand-up comedian by night. She also co-founded the local production company Madison Indie Comedy and collects R2-D2s and mustard.

Azucar!: Cuba’s rise and fall in the world stage

Everyone loves sugar. In fact, humans are evolutionarily predisposed to want and crave sugar. Although it’s striking, it’s no surprise that the yearly global sugar production today is approximately 180 million metric tons per year and most citizens acquire between 300 and 600 Calories DAILY from sugar or sugar products. Today’s sugar economy is vastly different from what it was 100 years ago. Pre-1940, Cuba led the world in sugar-cane production, providing upwards of one-third of the world’s supply, a lot of which ended up in the United States. Mauriel is fascinated by how Cuba’s history was shaped by sugar and how Cuba’s story fit into the world stage at the time.

Mauriel Rodriguez Curras

Presenter Bio: Mauriel a PhD student in Forest and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research focuses on how carnivore communities are structured, particularly in the Anthropocene. He is currently doing research in Isle Royale National Park to understand how red foxes and American martens are responding to the recent wolf reintroduction. Outside of the academic setting, he loves biking, climbing, hiking, and playing board games.

Nerd Nite 074: A Triumphant Return

Date: Wednesday, Nov 3
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The order of the night’s line-up will be announced on the Facebook event the day of the show.

Smells & the Microbiome: Are Microbes Controlling Your Sex Life?

Microbes are responsible for many of the very best–and very worst–smells we encounter daily. Microbes are also all around, in the environment, living in and on animals, including us, and capable of influencing our behavior! Smells fishy but let’s investigate! Come learn about the role microbes and their scents play in attraction!

Jenny Braturd

Presenter Bio: Jenny Bratburd is a science policy enthusiast with a PhD in Microbiology from UW Madison, and currently works as an outreach coordinator for NASA’s Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team. In her spare time she leads a virtual baking competition and is training for increasingly longer runs and bike rides.

A Roadmap to Discovering a Real National Treasure: Nicolas Cage

Summary: Nicolas Cage may be Hollywood’s most difficult actor to pin down. Throughout his sprawling career, he has refused to be boxed into a single genre or performance style, consistently defying expectations (and often advice) of critics and fans alike. But what really motivates Cage to choose his most baffling roles? The answers may reveal a cautionary tale of dramatic excess or, just perhaps, a roadmap to fearlessly pursuing one’s creative dreams.

Eric Niemeyer

Presenter Bio: Eric is a building energy engineer and part-time Nic Cage enthusiast. His family roots stretch from the cornfields of Nebraska all the way to the cornfields of central Ohio, making his eventual move to this Midwest cultural epicenter inevitable. In the past year, he has rediscovered such exciting hobbies as “leaving the apartment” and “talking to people not on Zoom”.

Dumb Watches in a Smart World

Summary: Why mechanical watches are thriving in a digital world.

AJ Frost

Presenter Bio: AJ is an information technology person who writes and likes mechanical watches

Nerd Nite 073

Date: Wednesday, Feb 26
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The order of the night’s line-up will be announced on the Facebook event the day of the show.

Fecal Shields: When Poop is your Protection

Summary: Some insect larvae are pretty defenseless when it comes to body armor or hiding places, so what better way to ward off predators than by a decorative poop hat? Join us to find out why this unusual strategy works!

Jacki Whisenant

Presenter Bio: Jacki Whisenant is a scientific illustrator with a fondness for bats, bones, and anything with six legs. Most of her time is currently spent working towards a Master’s in Entomology at UW-Madison, but she also works at the UW Zoological Museum and is a teaching assistant for comparative anatomy and physiology courses.

Why (teaching) chemistry is hard

Summary: Your chemistry teacher put in a lot of effort to make you understand the intricacies of their subject. Often, you will have spent the time they tried to teach you bored, talking to your friends, or not understanding anything that’s going on. Maybe you even thought the class a complete waste of time (except when making things explode in the lab). In this talk, I will discuss what makes chemistry a tricky subject to learn, what your teacher tried to get across, and whether there is even a point in learning about chemistry in high school.

Jolijn Nagelkerke

Presenter Bio: Jolijn is a chemistry high school teacher from the Netherlands, who is currently working as an academic advisor at UW Madison. She moved to Madison to be with her theoretical physicist husband and consequently spends most of her dinner pretending to understand what he’s saying. Meanwhile, she thinks of more interesting topics, such as ultimate frisbee, or the fantasy novel she’s reading.

Forget Robinson Crusoe: How a Real-Life Japanese Castaway Changed the World

Summary: For one 19th-century Japanese man, shipwreck was but the first in a series of extraordinary tribulations in a life worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. Stranded along with his shipmates after a storm on an uninhabited Pacific island, a teenager named Manjirō was eventually rescued by a passing ship, subsequently took up residence in Massachusetts, and later mined for gold in the California gold rush. Then, a decade after his ill-fated voyage, he embarked on a daring attempt to return home to Japan, despite impossibly long odds–and a potential death sentence–hanging over him.

Adam Stanley

Presenter Bio: Adam is a professor of history at UW-Platteville and the co-founder of Leaping Hound Travel tour company. Both of these professional endeavors afford him the opportunity to do what he really enjoys: telling strange-but-true stories from history. On most weekends this time of year, you can find him skating as a roller derby referee at bouts here in Madison and beyond.