Nerd Nite April [51] – Brains and Bots!

High Dive Seattle
Tuesday, April 19th
Doors open at 6:30 (get there early for seats!), talks start at 7:30



~Christina Durbin: Paradoxes & Complexities: The Science of Creativity~
Archimedes in the bathtub, Newton and the apple, Einstein’s theory of special relativity — Eureka! moments are what happens when hours of work come together in a single “creative”” flash. For most of human history, creativity was something otherworldly, a gift from the muses, only to be bestowed upon a select few. Today, cognitive science has shown this to be false. The real story of creativity is more difficult and strange than one can imagine, but one thing is certain: We are all creative. This talk will tell the story of the brain that gave the world such revolutionary ideas as E=mc² and the Theory of General Relativity, and cover simple techniques you can use to foster your own creativity.

Chris Durbin is a “creative”” currently working as a user experience designer in the tech industry. Outside of work, Chris exercises her passion for books, beer & lifelong learning by way of UX Book Club, a monthly meet up with author Q & As that cover a smattering of topics related to experience design.

~Brian Douglas: Synthetic Psychology and Braitenberg Vehicles: Explorers, Cowards and Lovers~
Not all robots require complex computing power and complicated engineering! Brian will talk about the world of Braitenberg Vehicles, simple robots with simple sensors that can exhibit complex behaviors based on how you connect them. These robots are a concept from the Italian-American cyberneticist Valentino Braitenberg, a pioneer in the field of synthetic psychology. Brian will show us how by selecting simple sensory inputs, and modifying their connectivity to simple actuators, the resultant robot may exhibit complex, intelligent seeming behavior in response to stimuli — some may be lovers, some might be cowards and others might even act like eager explorers!

Brian Douglas is the principal engineer for attitude determination and control at Planetary Resources, and author/producer/director/everything for the popular ‘Control Systems Lectures’ YouTube video channel. His current extra-curricular project is writing a free textbook on control theory released under Creative Commons that emphasis reader interactivity and incorporating feedback. You can follow him on Twitter at @BrianBDouglas.

Nerd Nite March [50]: Out of this Worm!

High Dive Seattle
Tuesday, March 15th
Doors open at 6:30 (get there early for seats!), talks start at 7:30

Laura Taylor: Worms with Dementia!
Laura’s talk will give a brief overview of neurodegenerative diseases and the molecular mechanisms that lead to their progression, followed by an explanation of how her lab uses a transgenic worm model of dementia to better understand how neurodegenerative diseases occur and discover therapies to prevent them.

Laura Taylor is currently a third year PhD candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Washington. Laura works at the VA hospital of Puget Sound in the Kraemer laboratory, which studies dementia. Her specific focus is on understanding what early molecular changes drive neurodegeneration during aging. When she’s not studying disease progression, Laura enjoys volunteering with the Pacific Science Center as a Science Communication fellow and speaking at informal science talks around King County. She is interested in promoting scientific education and wants to pursue a career in science policy. Aside from science, Laura enjoys dancing ballet, taking short walks on the beach with her dog Lucky, and trying to play Harry Potter theme music on her piano.

David Gould: Rovers were on Luna, Landers were on Venus — Unique Achievements of Soviet-era Robotic Planetary Exploration
Many of the Soviet Union’s greatest accomplishments and most interesting failed attempts in robotic planetary exploration have been sadly shrouded in obscurity. Their scientists pioneered planetary landers, rovers, & sample return missions, and accomplished groundbreaking explorations of the moon, Mars, and Venus, setting records and using unique technology. This talk will range over little-known “firsts” of the past and a little into the present, looking at where things stand today (both figuratively and literally). We’ll explore shooting lasers at the Moon to find misplaced rovers, a crowd-sourced search of images for crashed landers on of the surface of Mars, floating balloons in the clouds of Venus, the cleanup of radioactive debris, and a very unfortunately placed lens cap.

David is a serial Nerd Nite attendee and computer geek by trade. He’s a fervent aviation nerd and casual space exploration enthusiast by dint of having grown up in NASA’s back yard.

Nerd Nite February [49]: Share the Love Fundraiser

The High Dive – Fremont
Tuesday, February 16th
Doors 6:30, talks start at 7
$5 (or more if you can!)

RSVP here

Invite your friends and hot Tinder dates to an extra special Nerd Nite. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn something rad!

100% of all proceeds for this month’s event will be donated to the Virginia Tech research team that was critical in exposing the drinking water crisis currently affecting Flint, MI. Bring your extra dollars to support this worthy cause!

See the Virginia Tech fundraising breakdown here:

More info:


Nicholas Hunt-Walker: Holding the Souls of Black Folk: Candomble, Vodou, and Santeria in the Western Hemisphere

As we move through Black History Month, we reflect on the many and varied events which forged that history and honor the strugglers and the struggle. There is, however, no black history in the Western Hemisphere without slavery and black spirituality. These days when we consider the latter, we focus mostly on black christian and muslim communities, the first growing out of America’s slave society, and the second growing out of black resistance. However, those people who first saw the New World from slave ships had gods before gods were given to them. Some of those gods were inevitably shaped by the circumstances of the western hemisphere and became Brazilian Candomble, Hispanic Santeria, and Haitian Vodou (amongst others). We’ll delve into some facts behind these faiths, finding their common threads and dispelling some of the devilish propaganda that’s built up over the centuries. Then, from trickster gods to mothers of the ocean, we’ll discover gods whose faces are undeniably and eternally black.

Nick, a lover of stars and data, is a Ph.D. student in Astronomy at the University of Washington. When he’s not trying to teach about the cosmos to undergrads trying to get a credit, he researches the structure of our galaxy, practices the magnificent martial art of Capoeira, and delves into the data of our world. Check out his Twitter feed, @nhuntwalker, and his blog,


Anthony Poponi: Control Your Inner Caveman and Laugh More!

Stress is Killing You! Exercise? Sure, it helps. How about getting the benefits of running without having to run. Meditation? It’s wonderful. How about getting the benefits of meditation without having to meditate. It’s the American way to want a pill to cure everything but there’s a solution to the stress in your life and it’s free. It’s laughter and it’s available to each of us. Need help finding more laughter in your life? We’ll show you how.

Anthony is a little “off” – but in a good way (and a regular speaker at Nerd Nite Honolulu). Anthony has a passion for laughter, life, community and philanthropy and it shows in his actions, words – and yes, antics. In our hectic personal lives and business schedules we sometime fail to pause, to take a moment to stop and reflect on life’s gifts, our own accomplishments and our ultimate goals. Anthony loves to inspire people to recognize their fortunes, to give thanks, to be persistent and to most importantly share a laugh while on this journeying up with me!


Be there and be square ♥

Nerd Nite January [48]: Turing and Turrets

High Dive
Tuesday, January 19th
Doors open at 6:30, talks start at 7:30

2016 is off to a strong start! This month features a talk about castles by Nerd Nite veteran Sasha Myerson and Nick Vaidyanathan’s review of educational theory and artificial intelligence. Be there and be square. 

Sasha Myer: The History of Castles
Castles are fascinating! They’re beautiful and imposing and (perhaps inaccurately) nostalgic. By design and function, a castle had to be both warm welcoming home and deadly war machine. My talk will journey back to “once upon a time” time and introduce the history and architecture of western European medieval castles. I’ll start from timber ringworks and move on through the Norman invasion, Edward Longshanks, the Reconquista, the Crusades, and discuss all the crazy killer (literally, killer) ways that castles evolved to be safer against siege.

Bio: Sasha got her BA in Medieval History with an Art History concentration. But since she would rather gaze lovingly at armor and triptychs and stained glass then write a paper on them, she works in hotel management. Yesterday she googled “beautiful castles” while looking for images to include in her powerpoint. The MSN slideshow that she found included Universal Studios’ Hogwarts and Euro Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. She is really not okay with that.

Nick Vaidyanathan: Intelligence: Man, Machine, and Beyond
What is it? How is it different in humans and machines? How does it differ between experts and novices? In this talk, we’ll discuss findings from the National Research Council and other publications around the differences in thinking between experts and novices and man and machine. By the end of tonight you might just be an amateur cognitive or data scientist…or at least know enough to recognize bad ones on TV!

Bio: Originally hailing from The City of Angels, Nick Vaidyanathan decided to go to school to become a Devil of the Sun and along the way picked up merit badges in Computer Science, Business, and Computer Systems Engineering. He devotes his research energies to bringing science to the Art of Computer Programming and engineering better programmers. As a general irascible malcontent, he decided the best way to gain expertise in this would be through field experience, and can now be found swabbing the decks on the Dread Pirate’s Ship and striving very hard not to break the internet…or most only once a year. If you don’t learn anything about learning tonight, be sure to teach him a lesson!

Nerd Nite December [47]: Meow-llennium Falcon Edition

We are ending 2015 with two AMAZING speakers!

High Dive
Tuesday, December 15th
Doors open at 6:30, talks start at 7:30

William McKeithen: “Crazy Cat Ladies”: Sexist Stereotypes and Queering Human-Animal Relationships

Are you or someone you know a “crazy cat lady”? The Seattle Times just named our city the nation’s second capital for these woman-feline companionships! But what exactly makes someone a “crazy cat lady”? For this Nerd Nite, cultural geographer Will McKeithen will talk about the “crazy cat lady” stereotype, its history, its meaning, how it impacts women with cats, and how they also resist its norms. Drawing on feminist and queer theory, this talk will explore how heteronormativity and human-animal hierarchies combine to make women with cats who live on the edges of polite society seem like freaks. The talk will also explore the recent popularizing of the “cat lady” (it’s cool now, right?!) and what this might mean for the future of people and pets. **Possible “cat lady” special guests to be announced!**

Will McKeithen is a doctoral student in Geography at the University of Washington. When he’s not talking about “crazy cat ladies,” he’s researching the effects of heteronormativity on the environment, parasitic worms and their use in illicit medicine, STIs and sexual governance, or gay penguins. Read his work at:

Tomas Lafferriere: The New Star Wars Canon: What we lost and what we’re happy to see go.

Episode VII is released in less than 48 hours! (After this talk…). Learn about all the stuff that used to be in the Star Wars Canon, what Disney threw out and what they kept.



Nerd Nite November [46]: Same Nerds, New Digs

Nerd Nite Seattle is so excited start back up! Come for the usual nerdy talks, cool people and delicious drinks at our new home, High Dive.

Remember that Nerd Nite will now be on the third **TUESDAY** of the month!

Nerd Nite
Tuesday, November 17
7:30 (Doors open at 6:30)
Admission: $5

Speaker #1: Jenny Haaland

Title: COMMON CORE used CONFUSION. It’s super effective!

Desc: Confused by Common Core? You and everyone else on Facebook. What is Common Core, and is it right for our students? Come see what all the commotion is about with Jenny Haaland, M.Ed., as she guides you through the conundrum of curricula

Bio: Jenny has taught in low-income schools in LA county and Burien for 11 years as an elementary school teacher and interventionist. Having served in five school districts, all with their own curricula and standards to master, Jenny has weathered the tides of change and will explain the current educational trends affecting our students today.

Speaker #2: Nell Byler

Title: Rings in a tree stump: what stars can tell us about the life of a galaxy

Desc: Nell will discuss the history of star formation in our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, using Hubble Space Telescope data from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) survey.

Bio: Nell Byler is a 5th year graduate student in astronomy at the University of Washington. She studies nearby galaxies, using the individual stars within a galaxy to understand its evolution as a whole. She is also one of the co-organizers of the local Astronomy on Tap events, held at Bad Jimmy’s in Ballard.

NerdNite[45]: Race to 100!

Nerd Nite Seattle
Monday, September 21
7:30 (Doors open at 6:30)
Admission: $5

Nerd Nite is only eight talks away from hitting the big 1-0-0. Join us for a *Very Special Nerd Nite* where eight fan favorite speakers will give snappy five minute talks as we race towards our centennial!

Why the rush? Well, this will be our final Nerd Nite at LUCID. David Pierre-Louis, LUCID’s owner and Nerd Nite’s strongest supporter and friend, has plans that will take him on to new, exciting enterprises.

But never fear! Nerd Nite 2.0 will be back with a vengeance in November. Not only will it be at a brand new location (announcement forthcoming) but it will be under new leadership.

Julia and Ross started Nerd Nite exactly four years ago. After almost 100 talks and countless nerdy friendships, it’s time to hand it over to new bosses who will help Nerd Nite Seattle thrive and evolve.

So, join us in raising a glass to LUCID and to Krunal and Marielle, Nerd Nite Seattle’s new co-bosses!

And now, on to the speakers (stay tuned for their topics):

Talk 93 | Jennifer McCreight
Talk 94 | Semih Tareen
Talk 95 | Mihwa Kim
Talk 96 | Casey McNerthney
Talk 97 | Sasha Myerson
Talk 98 | Tim Lloyd
Talk 99 | David Pierre-Louis
Talk 100 | Ross Maddox

NerdNite[44]: Car Hacking and Banana Snacking!

Nerd Nite Seattle
Monday, July 20
7:30 (Doors open at 6:30)
Admission: $5

Talk #1: Banana Bonanza! A Brief History of the Bizarre Berry
Marielle Saums

One of the world’s most consumed fruits, the banana is bland but far from boring. The Cavendish variety found in grocery stores today bears little resemblance to the bananas first cultivated in Papua New Guinea 10,000 years ago. From banana republics to clone wars, learn how the economy and ecology of this freakish fruit changed the world at this month’s Nerd Nite!

Marielle Saums previously gave a Nerd Nite talk about botanical explorers. Her favorite banana dish is the Elvis sandwich.

Talk #2: Vroom, vroom, crash — why it’s so hard to fix your own car (and so easy to hack into it)
Krunal Desai

Why does it cost $400 to change a headlight sometimes? What happened to the good old days of being able to fix your car with duct tape and WD-40? Vehicles are now filled to the brim with computers that are black boxes to the user — but not to hackers! Learn about the details of modern vehicle electronics, why you can’t really fix stuff yourself anymore, and why it’s easy for folks to send you careening of the road if they so choose!

Krunal is an electrical engineer who bailed on the auto industry to work on spacecraft. As a German car owner, the realities of simple repairs turning into multi-day, very expensive jobs are sadly all too familiar.

NerdNite[43]: Slimers and Submersibles!

Come learn how scientists use fancy technology to study the ocean and its creatures deep and shallow. Be there and be square.

Bonus live Q&A with real-life researchers currently at sea on a research mission!

Nerd Nite Seattle
Monday, July 20
7:30 (Doors open at 6:30)
Admission: $5


A modern voyage of exploration: remote sensing, telepresence, and giant robots aboard E/V Nautilus || Tim Dwyer

Even in 2015, most of the Earth’s surface – the part covered with ocean – remains mysterious to us. We have far better maps of the surface of the moon, Mars and Venus than we do of the seafloor right off our own shoreline. Seeking to change this, explorer Robert Ballard founded Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) in 2008 with the specific mission of exploring the unknown ocean, seeking discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry. OET operates the Exploration Vessel Nautilus, one of only two such “E/Vs” in the US today. Nautilus carries out this mission using fantastic technologies including high-resolution sonar seafloor mapping, satellite communication “telepresence,” and large, remotely operated vehicles (equipped with lazers!). This presentation offers the audience a chance to speak directly with scientists and engineers currently aboard ship as they explore the depths of the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

Tim teaches science and math at Spring Street International School in Friday Harbor, WA. Always looking for new ways to get people interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, he applied and was selected to spend a month aboard Nautilus as a science communication fellow this summer.


Low speed, high tech: radio tracking small marine animals || Hilary Hayford

The intertidal zone–the region between the highest and lowest tides–changes from a terrestrial to a marine habitat and back every few hours. This makes it a difficult place to live, and could yield a lot of information about how plants and animals cope with extreme environmental changes. Tidal fluctuations also provide a challenge to those wanting to study intertidal life. Biologists often tromp out at low tide to make observations, but during high tide even diving/snorkeling views are obscured by wave action. This talk will describe one method of finding out what intertidal animals are doing when we can’t watch them: radio tracking. The animals may be slow, but the radio antenna is always listening. Sort of like Big Brother for snails. Spoiler: they are not, in fact, plotting to take over the world.

Hilary is a graduate student and marine biology researcher at the University of Washington. She has spent thousands of days at 100 sites across 3 countries crawling around the intertidal zone, trying to discover the secret to success of small, slimy creatures.

NerdNite[42]: A Feast for the Senses!

Come learn about hunting art forgers with your eyes and dinner with your nose and ears at this month’s installment of Nerd Nite Seattle. Be there and be square.

Nerd Nite Seattle
Monday, June 15
7:30 (Doors open at 6:30)
Admission: $5


Master(piece)s of Deception || Sasha Myerson

Other titles for this talk which were considered and then summarily discarded because they were stolen or copied (no, the irony of that sentiment is not lost on me) were How to Steal a Million, The Art of the Steal, The Antiques Rogue Show, and F for Fake. The sheer number of stories about forgers and artistic con artists proves how fascinating we find them to be. The mystery! The romance! The intrigue of it all! My talk will dabble on what actually constitutes forgery and art fraud. Delve into some of the more famous and less famous but super interesting examples. And then (time, energy, and level of drunkenness permitting) will dip into detection.

Sasha is a fan of cons and grifters (as anyone who has seen her Netflix queue can attest) and if she didn’t have the artistic skills of a left-handed third grader that just got high from eating sparkle paste she might have wanted to pursue a career in art and artifact restoration. Instead she works in hotel management and occasionally whiles away her lunch hour with books about art, art history, and art crimes. She will now be the uncontested record holder for Nerd Nite Seattle speakers.


Nosing about: How leaf-nosed bats find prey || Leith Miller

All animals use sensory cues to accomplish even the most basic tasks, and many possess highly specialized sensory structures that allow them to perform extremely challenging tasks. For example, the common big-eared bat, can locate completely motionless and silent insects in the dense forest using echolocation alone – a feat that was previously deemed impossible. Finding prey is one of the most critical uses of the sensory system that can directly impact the survival of an organism.

Neotropical leaf-nosed bats (family Phyllostomidae) are one of the most ecologically diverse groups of mammals with over 160 species. They have an astoundingly wide range of diets, from insectivory, to carnivory (i.e., fishing), nectarivory, frugivory, and sanguinivory (i.e., blood-feeding). Unlike most bats, phyllostomids emit echolocation calls through their nose and possess a conspicuous nose leaf structure on their nares, which functions in echolocation. I study the anatomical variation in these sensory structures and how this influences the diversity of this group of bats. Studying the evolution of these sensory structures is important in understanding what drives resource partitioning, since predators must first detect prey items before they can eat them.

Leith is a Ph. D Candidate in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington. She is extremely interested in how different bats find food through echolocation. She does this research by tromping through crocodile infested wetlands and dark bat caves in Costa Rica to try and capture as many species as she can.

Next Nerd Nite
Nerd Nite Seattle is every 3rd Tuesday of the Month

6:30 doors, 7:30 talks
Happy Hour From 6:30-7:30!
$5 cover
High Dive Seattle
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