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.

Nerd Nite 072

Date: Wednesday, Jan 29
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.

How is Brett Kavanaugh Still a Lawyer? Or, Legal Ethics and Discipline are Bullshit

Summary: Sure, we all think lawyers are terrible people, but where is the evidence? Come learn: how lawyers (and judges) are regulated, some bizarre applications of legal ethics code, why you should never cross a pig farmer, and what you can do about it… lawyer regulation, not the pigs.

John Lightfield

Presenter Bio: Exhibited the 2002 Walworth County Fair Reserve Champion Carcass Steer. On-again off-again: figure model, pizza chef, and bro pair. Definitely not an expert legal ethics. Likely practicing administrative law for the next six months.msterdam export product – tries to produce his own techno music.

Magnificent Mangroves: Adaptations, Biodiversity, and Outlook

Summary: From their unique adaptations to their benefits to biodiversity, mangroves are marvels of estuarine ecosystems. With a global distribution, these plants are ubiquitous in the tropics, but unfortunately, they face many threats that should be concerning to the denizens of the 43rd parallel north. So bundle (your vascular tissues) up, prop (root) yourself in a chair, and join us as we absorb the waves of mangrove knowledge!

Tyler Wintermute

Presenter Bio: A native of Northern Virginia, Tyler is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Botany at UW-Madison, and while his true passion are the trees of the people (Populus species, a.k.a. cottonwoods, aspens, and poplars) and their chemical ecology, he is fascinated and inspired by the life history of mangroves and their benefits to other biota. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring swamps, watching sports, and playing board-games. And taking care of plants. Lots of plants.

An Unlikely Peace: The facts, myths, and story of the Christmas Truce of 1914

Summary: The first winter of WW1 saw the realities of modern trench warfare fully realized, but the true horrors of the war were still months or years away. In a historical, one time only event, troops along the Western Front struck up an impromptu cease fire on December 25, 1914. We’ll take a look at how it started, what occurred between bitter enemies during the truce, and why it was never able to be repeated on the scale again.

Ben Cisler

Presenter Bio: Ben is a union electrician keeping the lights on here in the Madison area. A self-proclaimed history buff, he can often be found on the couch with his wife and husky mix (4 year old) puppy. He’s a Gemini who enjoys live music and long walks on the beach. In another life, he is a PHD history professor.

Nerd Nite 071

Date: Wednesday, Dec 4
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.

Black Holes and Revelations

Summary: Let’s say that one day you are feeling adventurous and decide to travel towards the black hole at the center of our galaxy. The less daring among us might think that nothing good can come from such a journey and that would be almost correct. Come to close to the black hole and your fate is sealed: you will die when you reach its center. Nonetheless, moments before your impending death you will be able to answer a question that continues to puzzle theoretical physicists: what exactly happens inside a black hole? In this talk, Lars will discuss the current understanding of this question and reveal some of the fascinating properties of black holes.

Lars Aalsma

Presenter Bio: Lars is a postdoctoral researcher in theoretical physics at UW Madison where he studies black holes, cosmology and string theory. After he obtained his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands he decided to move to a place above sea level and arrived in Madison in the summer of 2019. When he’s not thinking about physics, Lars enjoys running, watching improv shows and – as a true Amsterdam export product – tries to produce his own techno music.

Big Hits, Fast Whips, and Isaac Newton: The Physics of Roller Derby

Summary: You can’t be good at roller derby unless you’re also an excellent physicist. Okay, that’s not actually true, but every aspect of this full-contact sport on wheels is pretty much a perfect physics demonstration. How does a derby skater go from tottering around like Bambi on ice to sprinting around the track, smashing into opponents and sending them flying into the laps of audience members? Newton’s Laws explain it all. Remember them from your high school physics class? No? Well, you’ll remember them after this live, hard-hitting demonstration.

Liz Holden

Presenter Bio: Liz teaches physics at UW-Platteville. She is co-captain of the Reservoir Dolls roller derby team here in Madison. Though she has happily allowed roller derby to eat basically her entire life, she still finds time to obsess about her dogs–retired racing greyhounds–and drink fantastic tea (shout-out to Macha here in Madison!). Her derby name is Auntie Matter. She and her husband also run tours to Europe on a variety of cool topics. Want to find out which body part of Galileo’s she’s seen, or what Julius Caesar has to do with hundreds of cats? Want to hunt vampires in London and Paris? Come talk to her.

Trains that Passed in the Night: The Steam Railroad Photos of O. Winston Link

Summary: More than 60 years ago O. Winston Link, a New York industrial photographer, created a remarkable document of the last years of steam powered railroading in monumental cinematic photographs, many of them taken at night in the rugged Appalachian coal country of western Virginia and West Virginia. Link wanted to create as complete a record of this vanishing technology (and a way of life), and he enhanced his imagery with an equally impressive archive of long gone steam railroad sounds, (originally issued as five vinyl records, now transferred to CD).

This unique visionary record took more than five years to create, but has brought the photographer international recognition. Three best selling books reproduce much of this project, and Link’s photos are also on view in the O. Winston Link Museum, located in the former Norfolk and Western Railway station in Roanoke, Virginia. which also includes exhibits of his equipment and darkroom. It is the only museum in the United States devoted to the work of a single photographer.

Tom Garver

Presenter Bio: Tom is a retired art historian and is the last person living who assisted Link in the creation of this record in the 1950s, working with him in Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Tom later wrote the text for one of Link’s photo books, and was the organizing curator of the O. Winston Link Museum. Be prepared to be blown away, in both sight and sound, by those ‘trains that passed in the night!.’

Nerd Nite 070

Date: Wednesday, Oct 30
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.

Fractured Fairy Tales – The Gruesome Backstories to Beloved Favorites

Summary: From “Once upon a time” to “Happily ever after…” many of today’s fairy tales follow a familiar outline. However, the original fables and fairy tales that inspired these modern favorites don’t always end quite as happily. What happens when the prince doesn’t fall in love or the poison apple gets stuck in the princess’s throat? We’ll find out!

Ally Herro

Presenter Bio: Ally is a current HR Generalist and former Disney Cast Member. When not playing tabletop games or trying to find the best ramen restaurant, she can be found watching videos of derpy dogs (especially boxers) or planning her next trip to far away lands.

The Abbreviated History of Speedrunning in Video Games: The Origins of Getting Games Done Quick

Summary:At the end of the day, the point of any video game is to beat it. But some gamers began to ask themselves: how can we do this as fast as possible? From that question spawned an ever expanding subculture that would be labelled as “speedrunning”. The speedrunning community has exploded in the last few years, gaining more popularity and even hosting several national events. But where did this all start and what conditions led to its recent rise in popularity? We will have to go to hell and back (almost literally) to find the humble origins of this community of speed-obsessed gamers.

Will Ramsey

Presenter Bio: Will may have been born in Illinois (please don’t hold it against him too much), but he has remained a Wisconsin resident for the past 11 years. He graduated from UW Madison as a chemical engineer and took up a job with a small chemical plant in the area. He enjoys telling dad jokes, geocaching, and adding more archaic jargon to his already esoteric lexicon.

Castigate the Customer or Silently Seethe: You Decide! (Simulation-based Assessment and the Future of eLearning)

Summary: “The customer is always right.” LOL…lol…lol…we all know this is false, but for many people, part of their jobs is to be polite and helpful to customers who, well, aren’t. In this talk I will provide the ~*educational psychological*~ philosophy behind simulation-based assessments and why they’re way better than multiple choice tests for adult professionals.

Will you:

  1. Attend this talk, which is the best ending route!
  2. Not attend 🙁
Jenny Saucerman

Presenter Bio: Jenny is an instructional designer with a master’s degree in educational psychology from UW-Madison who creates educational games and simulations. Like, people pay me to make games. It’s pretty rad. My career started in 1994 when I got a SEGA Genesis for Christmas. If you’re playing Fire Emblem Three Houses, talk to me after my talk so we can debate which is the best house *coughblackeaglesobviouslycough*

Nerd Nite 069

Date: Wednesday, Oct 2
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.

The Virtues of Eating Shit

Summary: This talk will focus on the anatomical and physiological features that force animals to consume their own excrement. I will focus on some fun examples and attempt to answer the age-old question, “why does my dog keep eating shit?”

Jeremiah Yahn

Presenter Bio: I was born at a very young age and have continued ever since. While some maintain that my best feature is my cat, I would also agree. I enjoy houseplants, thunder, wedding DJ’s, and discussing whether or not he/she who smelt it did, in fact, delt it.

Truth, Lies and Slander: A Wikipedia Hackathon

Summary:Wikipedia is a top-10 most visited site on the internet. It’s also community edited: but how is content created, moderated, fact-checked and governed? In this live demo, I’ll inject Wikipedia with a wide variety of truth, lies, and everything in between. We can watch the internet respond in real time 🙂

Mark Coatsworth

Presenter Bio: Mark is a research staffer at the Center for High Throughput Computing at UW-Madison. He moved to Madison from Toronto in 2014 and indulges his spare time in photography, old time banjo, fast bicycles and editing Wikipedia. He’s an alumnus of Nerd Nite Toronto and super excited to bring his science experiments to an international audience

There are no trashy orangutans: towards conservation and coexistence in the Anthropocene

Summary: Orangutans are cute, fuzzy icons of threatened nature, frequently featured in documentaries and TV shows and trotted out by conservation organizations during funding campaigns. Despite all this attention, populations of these intelligent apes continue to decline. At the same time, new research indicates that orangutans may be more resilient than previously thought- for example, orangutans and humans have shared space for over 60,000 years, and now some orangutans are even living in industrial palm oil and forestry plantations! How does this complicate our dominant ideas and assumptions about who orangutans are, and what their relationships to humans is and should be? How should this change what we do to conserve them? These are questions that are relevant to conservation generally as we enter a new epoch of our own creation, the Anthropocene. Orangutans have a lot to teach us about human-wildlife coexistence, and how to accept certain realities of a human-dominated world while still fighting the good fight for nature.

Stephanie Spehar

Presenter Bio: Stephanie is a primatologist and biological anthropologist and an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UW Oshkosh. She has chased monkeys (and apes! Which are similar to but different from monkeys! We primatologists are sticklers about taxonomy) across many continents, but currently focuses on orangutans in Indonesian Borneo. Her research attempts to understand how primates respond to different ecological conditions and to human impacts, with the goal of promoting human-wildlife coexistence. In her spare time (ha) she is also heavily involved in sustainability education and research on her campus, and in climate activism with Extinction Rebellion Madison. She is married and has two young daughters (and yes, her experience with primates and human evolution definitely informs her ideas about parenting. She is happy to talk your ear off about this if you’re into it).