Science nerds of Vancouver unite! Our next nite will feature talks from the fields of Maths, Biology, and Engineering! To infinity… and BEYOND! Get your geek on and join us for a pint or two!
Where: The Fox Cabaret
When: Tuesday May 26th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30
Tickets: $5 Early Nerd Tickets on Eventbrite, $8 at the door
#1 Pascal’s Wager and Various Types of Infinity
Blaise Pascal asserted that people should devote their lives to Christianity in order to maximize their expected outcome for the afterlife. The mathematics of infinity have progressed somewhat since then, which might just allow us to gain infinite reward and still live in sin. Wealthier attendees may consider purchasing eternal life from speaker Shaun Stewart at very reasonable rates.
Bio: Shaun Stewart is a mathematician who studied at the University of British Columbia. He is also a comedian, performing with The Critical Hit Show, The Gentlemen Hecklers, and The Vancouver Theatresports League. Shaun is currently in the process of becoming a secondary school math teacher, and will soon be teaching your kids.
#2 Bioblitzin’ the Flathead: Using Citizen Science to Promote Conservation
Dr. Peter Wood
Recently conservationists have taken to the concept of “bioblitzing” to further their work, drawing upon citizens to perform a rapid assessment of an area’s biodiversity, and using the results to engage the public, and lobby for protection. For the past four years this strategy has been used by several groups to highlight the importance of defending the Flathead River Valley, a gorgeous area in the southern BC rockies (see: https://vimeo.com/61579554). This talk will explore lessons learned in how to use this tool effectively to translate science into policy. It will also feature stunning visuals of the landscape, its charismatic megafauna, and enigmatic microfauna. We will then completely geek-out on the science behind why this area is one of the most biodiverse in all of North America, and why it is critical in light of climate change.
Bio: Peter’s conservation work over the past 15 years has taken him all over the world, including Borneo, the Congo Basin, the Amazon, and even the Okanagan. Through his work he aims to bridge the gap between science and policy, and make links between social justice and environmental protection. He completed his PhD on international law and forest conservation at the University of Toronto. He’s also really good at Doodle polls and email.
#3 The Search for a Beautiful Solution: Physics, Engineering, Superheroes, Demon Portals, and YOU
What does “Physics” mean in our modern context? What about “Engineering”? Where do the fields overlap? Where does Canada fit in all of this? Will our physicists and engineers build the next mega-collider-thing that will create a black hole and swallow us all into a timeless nether-dimension? Will they open a portal to an alternate demon universe and unleash Hell on Earth? Or, will they develop the chest-mounted fusion reactor required to power our flying armour suits? How does this affect YOU? A Canadian engineer with a background in physics who has seen Iron Man and played DOOM, Quake, and Half-Life will attempt to answer all of these questions.
Bio: Grant Minor is originally from Ontario, but has been living in BC for 10 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Enginering Physics from McMaster University and a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria. He is a practicing professional engineer licensed under APEGBC. Grant currently works at TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, and has held the position of Remote Handling Group Leader / Nuclear Engineer at the institution since 2010. He manages a group of engineers, technicians, and tradespeople who design, build and maintain particle accelerator equipment used in high-radiation environments. Grant has previously worked in the hydrogen fuel cell industry, as well as the nuclear power generation industry in Ontario. He also performs in several Vancouver bands on the punk and indie circuit, including Girlfriends and Boyfriends, Phoenix Thunderbird, and ACTORS.
Foxes. We have a fascination with them. We query over the sounds they make; we amaze at their hunting prowess; we imagine their bizarre and beautiful friendships; and we can’t deny that they are strangely sexy. It’s for all of these reasons that we both love and respect the fox. As such, we are pleased to announce that our next event will be held at the foxiest joint in town – The Fox Cabaret! We’re ready to bring the nerd to this ummm “reformed” theatre.
Where: The Fox Cabaret
When: Tuesday April 7th, Doors @ 7; Talks @ 7:30
Tickets: $6.30 online; $8 at the door
#1 Better the Devil You Know? Benefits, Limits and Ethics of Predictive Genetic Testing
With the increased availability of human genome sequencing and genetic testing, more options are available for predictive testing for disease than ever before. This means many exciting options for early disease treatment, lifestyle choices and advances in “personalized medicine”. However, this knowledge can also lead to ethical challenges and may have limitations. How can predictive testing help improve disease outcomes? Are new “personalized” medical treatments really advancing heath?
Bio: Kimberly Girling is a Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience at UBC, developing novel, preventative therapies for Huntington’s Disease, an inherited, genetic neurodegenerative disease. Kimberly is also the Director of Corporate Relations of the Student Biotechnology Network, a BC-wide organization that helps students develop career paths in life science and biotechnology through education about career opportunities and connection with industry leaders. Kimberly has a strong interest in global health and accessible medicine and sits on the advisory board for the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative (NGDI) at UBC, an organization that works to increase research, awareness and funding for tropical diseases and works towards medical advances for neglected communities worldwide. Kimberly co-founded and co-edits the UBC NGDI Student Global Health Journal. Kimberly also volunteers with the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, working to develop better policies relating to opiate overdose in Canada, and contributing to science communication through blogging.
The story of one Design Nerd’s journey.
Bio: Mitra Mansour is a Vancouver-based Interdisciplinary Designer, Researcher, Facilitator and Project Coordinator with a background in Art, Communication, Architecture and Urban Design. She is the founder of Creative Room, a collaborative interdisciplinary design studio and on-going research laboratory for cooperative creative studio business. Currently she is the Director of Community Engagement and Facilitator with the Vancouver Design Nerds, Co-director and curator of Civic Renewal Lab, and a member of the City of Vancouver Public Art Committee.
Mansour’s practice has led her to the creation of and advocacy for better design through community engagement, social impact design, and public interest design with a focus on sustainable environments and models. Her current work includes Mobile Town Hall (MoTH) – a mobile pop-up citizen-led initiative and structure designed to foster more meaningful dialogue between community members and city hall (Town Hall 2.0).
#3 Anything Except My Ship, My Sword, or My Wife: Swords in Medieval Literature
Dr. Siân Echard
A visitor arrives at Arthur’s court, seeking a boon. The King, noted for his generosity and adventurous spirit, promises that he will give the visitor absolutely anything, with a short list of exceptions. The King’s sword (and his ship, and his knife, and his cloak) all come before his wife in that list, suggesting just how important Arthur’s weapons are to him. Arthur’s sword (or swords) is only the most famous example of the centrality of a hero’s weapon to his reputation in medieval literature. This lavishly-illustrated talk will look at how swords are presented in medieval hero narratives, looking at weapons as symbols of rule, agents of destiny, and objects of magic and mysticism. We’ll finish up with a brief look at how the idea of the named weapon makes its way into modern fantasy and gaming.
Bio: Siân Echard is a Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests include Anglo Latin literature, Arthurian literature, John Gower, and manuscript studies and book history. She is particularly interested in how the presentation of text—on the page, in the archive, in the digital world—affects how text is received and discussed. Dr. Echard holds a UBC Killam Research Prize for 1998, a UBC Killam Teaching Prize for 2001, and was named a Distinguished University Scholar in 2004.
Nerd Nite Vancouver is having its one year Nerdaversary! To celebrate an amazing year filled with fantastic speakers and delicious beer we’re bringing you… more fantastic speakers and delicious beer – but with a twist! We’re pleased to announce that we will be holding Nerd Nite v10 at the Vancouver Aquarium. Tickets will be sold online on the Vancouver Aquarium’s Website. Take a gander below to see our lineup of monstrously delightful talks. We recommend you come early to have a drink before we head into the theatre.
Where: The Vancouver Aquarium
When: Tuesday, March 3rd @ 6:45pm (doors @ 6:00)
Tickets: $10.50 (non VanAqua members), $8.40 (members)
#1 Monster appetite: The insatiable cravings of a coral reef
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth and can extend for hundreds of miles. The reefs are made of tiny coral animals, some the size of the tip of a pen, with mouths surrounded by sticky, stinging tentacles that are pointed skyward. For plankton passing by too close, the coral reef can be the end of the line.
Bio: Hannah Evans is the senior aquarium biologist at the Vancouver Aquarium.
This talk has been changed from the original speaker Dr. Chris Balakrishnan due to a flight cancellation.
#2 Meet Cadborosaurus: An introduction to marine cryptozoology
Dr. Paul H. LeBlond
Hundreds of sober people have seen large unidentified animals in the coastal waters of the northeast Pacific. These creatures are collectively known as Cadborosaurus, more familiarly “Caddy”. I will review and critique the evidence for Caddy’s existence, based on eyewitness reports, and present some speculations as to its nature.
Bio: Paul LeBlond is an Emeritus Professor in Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at UBC. In parallel to his research andteaching activities in physical oceanography, he developed an early interest in “sea-monsters”, leading to in-depth studies of Cadborosaurus and the creation of the BC Scientific Cryptozoology Club. He now lives on Galiano Island where he is active in community organizations.
#3 Could Godzilla play hockey? The rocket science of movie monsters
Dr. Jaymie Matthews
Jaymie Matthews hunts for alien worlds, including worlds that might harbour aliens. Might any of those aliens be monsters? Prof. Matthews would certainly prefer to meet E.T. than be eaten by Alien. But monsters have already invaded Earth. The first movie monster attack took place in 1924, in Die Nibelungen, where the monster was a giant dragon. Eleven years later, New York was terrorized by King Kong. In 1954, Godzilla started stomping on Tokyo.
Could there be a real Godzilla somewhere in the Universe, based on the laws of physics and biology? When Godzilla roars, does he purr like a kitten? With the playoffs approaching, the question on the mind of every NHL coach is: Can Godzilla skate?
Learn the answers to these questions as you sit ringside as an astrophysicist takes on Godzilla, Gamera, King Kong and Smaug in the ultimate battle of brains vs. brawn.
Bio: Jaymie Matthews is an astrophysical “gossip columnist” who unveils the hidden lifestyles of stars by eavesdropping on “the music of the spheres.” His version of an interstellar iPod is Canada’s first space telescope, MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars), which detects vibrations in the light of humming stars. MOST also makes Matthews an “astro-paparazzo” by helping him spy on planets around other stars that might be homes for alien celebrities. Probably not Vulcans, but microbes. The discovery of microbes on another world would qualify them as newsmakers of the century.
A Professor of Astrophysics at UBC and a member of the Board of the HR MacMillan Space Centre, Prof. Matthews is also an Officer of the Order of Canada. In addition to research, education and outreach are also important facets of Dr. Matthews’ life. He’s a co-founder and regular instructor of UBC’s Science 101 course for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and a mentor in the national Loran Scholar programme. Dr. Matthews was a “Human Library Book” in a programme where “readers” could reserve him for 20 minutes at a time to ask anythingabout astronomy. He was also a storyteller at the Kootenay Storytelling Festival in 2013.
We are back once more for another edition of Nerd Nite Vancouver! This will be our last event before the holidays, so be sure to get your fill of nerdy fun! A sneak peak of our upcoming event is below, and really, who can resist talking about poop?
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, November 19th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $2 dollars at the door
#1 The walking “nearly” dead: parasite manipulation of host behaviour
Though at times it may be refreshing to have decisions made for us, the ability to choose how we spend our days is something we non-parasitized may take for granted. From fungi, to nematodes, to wasps, some parasitic species have adapted the amazing ability to manipulate their host’s behaviour in a way that goes beyond the horror of any zombie-themed t.v. series. Get ready to explore the fascinating world of host-parasite interactions – where the microscopic have tremendous influences. We will discuss the diversity of parasites that manipulate not only host behavior but also host appearance; all in an effort to complete their life cycle and start the process all over again.
Bio: Kaylee Byers is one of the Vancouver Nerd Nite co-bosses and just loves science. She is a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia where she studies rats, their fleas, and the diseases they carry (vancouverratproject.com). Sometimes she goes on rat safaris. When she’s not reading about creepy critters or staring through a microscope, she’s on the search for Vancouver’s best taco.
#2 Loving your cooties – how advances in genomic technology is shaping our understanding of the microbes on and around us
Your poop is probably something that you don’t dwell too much upon, but poop is a hot topic in the emerging field of metagenomics – why? It’s because in, on and around us are tiny microbes that play important roles in our wellness and of the health of the environment around us. And your poop is littered with them. In this brief, and hopefully entertaining, conversation I will outline where metagenomics came from and simply describe the technological advances it required to get here. I will highlight some interesting work on the Human and Earth Microbiome projects, and speculate on the promise and perils of this new science. You will leave convinced that the future is undoubtedly in poop.
Bio: Ana received an undergraduate from Queen’s University in Biomedical Computing, and a Master of Science at UBC with the Bioinformatics Training Program. Following graduate school she worked at GenomeDx Biosciences, where she further refined her skills by obtaining certification in Professional Project Management. Ana joined the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2013 as “Thinker/Doer” (or more formally “Bioinformatician & Biostatistician”), working with Dr. Jennifer Gardy.
When not probing the depths of the microbial world with the powers of science and statistics, Ana can be seen running around – literally. She competes for fun in running races and triathlons, and can often be found trekking through BCs beautiful mountains.
#3 Saving sea lions
Dr. Martin Haulena
Join the Vancouver Aquarium’s Head of Veterinary Medicine as he shares stories of rescuing sea lions in the field. Sea lions are charismatic marine mammals that are found along the West Coast of North America. Related to seals, sea lions are also pinnipeds that are often seen lying on rocks, docks and other objects. Recently, more and more sea lions in the Canadian province of British Columbia have been in distress; they have become entangled in various types of debris that can cause severe injuries and even result in death. Find out how the Vancouver Aquarium is saving the lives of sea lions in British Columbia.
Bio: Martin Haulena graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph in 1993. He completed a clinical internship in aquatic animal medicine at Mystic Aquarium in 1996 and a Master’s degree in pathobiology from the University of Guelph in 1999. He became a Diplomate of the American College of Zoological Medicine in 2007. Dr. Haulena was the Staff Veterinarian at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California for 9 years. He has been Staff Veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium since 2006. His special interests are in the medical management of aquatic animals, particularly marine mammals, with emphasis on innovative diagnostic methods such as MRIs, endoscopy and sonography, developing safe anaesthetic protocols and improving surgical techniques. Veterinary students from around the world study aquatic animal medicine each year under the direction of Dr. Haulena. He serves as Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. His professional affiliations include the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine, Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Zoological Veterinarians. He has authored over 45 scientific journal articles and book chapters.
Could there be a greater day in history? On October 15th, 1520 King Henry VIII of England ordered for there to be bowling lanes at Whitehall! Let them have bowling! And, let them have Nerd Nite! A glimpse of our upcoming event is below!
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, October 15th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $5 dollars at the door
#1. The Vancouver Boardgame Community
#2. Bizarre Behaviour: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spiders
Spiders: you either hate them or you…nope, you probably hate them. But hundreds of scientists study these eight-legged “freaks” because they have some crazy cool behaviors. From sexual cannibalism to communication, spiders offer a unique glimpse into the world of animal behavior. We will venture into various behaviors including why some spiders live together with thousands of other spiders. (No, I did not make that up). Come learn about the bizarre behaviours of spiders!
Bio: Catherine Hoffman is finishing her Masters in Zoology at the University of British Columbia. She started studying spiders during her undergraduate in Ohio, but isn’t some crazy spider freak…promise. Catherine then ventured across the continent to study social evolution in spiders at UBC. This research has taken her to Ecuador for the past three summers where she trampled around the rainforest and experienced the joys of the Amazon basin. More than anything, Catherine loves telling scientific stories to the public.
#3. Slow Technology – – Rise of the Nerds
‘Slow technology’ is about being a better user, primarily by making better choices when we purchase & use our devices. As technology gets better and more pervasive, our behaviors become subservient to the lowest common denominators. We’re increasingly and blindly accepting what befalls us in the marketplace, resulting in products with more novelty than quality, choices more based on marketing slogans than tangible facts, and desires for things that prioritize aesthetics over durability. The solution is to focus on making ourselves better, not just the technology. At the same time, nerds have risen to become a sought-after source of knowledge so have the opportunity to take the reigns of this donkey cart and guide us (and our behaviors) towards the light. Unless you serve the dark side of the Force, in which case you’re screwed.
Bio: Bruce has been rummaging around inside the IT industry for over 20 years helping people make sense of technology. He has designed, built, programmed, repaired, upgraded, taught, explained, coerced, and crisis counselled people in classrooms, on television & radio, throughout the netherworld of the internet, but most of all in person. These experiences have built a first-hand understanding of all that is wonderful and transformative about technology in our every-day lives. It has also however uncovered the darker side of our unbridled consumer behaviors, especially when flavored with the irresistible spices of today’s gadget-driven marketplace – – “I have met the enemy and he is us”. Bruce believes there’s a fantastic world of potential and benefit before us, that centers on the merits of technology. All that stands in our way is ourselves, our indiscriminate desire for novelty over quality, our disinterest in learning how things work, and worst of all how our apathy encourages a dehumanized view of those who produce and dispose of our techno waste for us. After having spent so long working and building a career in technology, he has become more interested in ensuring our worst behaviors as end-users don’t lay its potential to waste.
On September 17th, 1976 the first Space Shuttle, Enterprise was unveiled by NASA. Join us for an equally epic unveiling of Vancouver’s nerdiest nerds! Check out a sneak peek of Nerd Nite v6.0 below.
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, September 17th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $5 dollars at the door
#1. Quit school and join the circus: How juggling and human pyramids do a better job preparing you for life.
There are big think tanks where pedigreed academes spend loads of time discussing how to cultivate more pedigreed academes. Great gobs of money are invested in deciding which human attributes are worth investing gobs of money in, then more gobs of money are spent (and made) testing whether student performance justifies having spent those gobs of money. But, gee, sometimes some pretty good ideas come out of all those gobs, like naming skills that people need to actually live their lives: how to think creatively, collaborate with others, and adapt to change, for example. These are known as 21st Century Skills. Missing from this discussion however is that school might not be the only place, or the best place, to learn these skills. Sometimes, the circus might be better.
Bio: Jackie Davis is a 3rd year doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program at the University of British Columbia where she’s researching the effects of community-based circus arts on youth development. She first started geeking out on circus during her master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, then later coined the term “circademic” for that special breed of scholar who loves connecting dots between circus practice and statistical significance. When she’s not working on her comprehensive exams, or her research design, or her lit review, Jackie is — wait, she’s never not doing those things. Never mind.
#2. Psycho. Acoustic.
We are constantly interacting with sound. It carries human and animal language, informs us of our environments and is capable of wholly manipulating our emotions. Yet outside of music, we pay very little attention to it both in our surroundings and within the media we consume. How is sound found in nature (what is a sonic boom, anyway?), and how is nature using sound? From echolocation to vibrating elephant foreheads and stridulating bug penises as loud as a broken diesel truck, mother nature is the most skilled and creative sound designer imaginable. How do we steal her ideas for fortune and glory? We’re animals as well, but sound for us is different in that it makes us feel feelings. What techniques are sound designers using in games, film and otherwise to brainwash audiences in to doing our emotional bidding? We’ll draw from my [completely non-academic] obsession with sound to expound on these topics.
Bio: Gordon McGladdery is a professional composer and sound designer. He helps stimulate the nerdtastic passions of the world with Destin on the hit Youtube channel Smarter Every Day, spearheaded audio and music for the top-selling game Rogue Legacy and generally loves learning about and evangelizing audio to the world. When he’s not working on games or film, he’s further nerding out with Matt Marteinsson of Klei Entertainment on the podcast Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio.
#3. Alien Languages – Beyond Human Limits?
Animals make sophisticated calls but only humans talk. No other creature on Earth – ape or bird – has mastered syntax: structured sentences with a subject, verb and object. Dinosaurs had over 200 million years to acquire language, but probably didn’t. Did Neanderthals talk? Today, seven billion chattering humans are the masters of the planet. But what about sentient aliens? Could language evolve differently on one of the estimated 100 million exoplanets in the Milky Way that may harbour complex life? Does speech need words? How does language shape culture? A science fiction author examines some of the myriad possibilities.
Bio: Guy Immega is a retired aerospace engineer, entrepreneur and science geek. His company, Kinetic Sciences Inc. built experimental robots for the space station, robots to clean up nuclear waste and miniature fingerprint sensors for cell phones. In 2005, he sold the company’s assets and retired. Since then, Guy has published science fiction short stories and other nonfiction essays and completed an SF novel, in which he explores the linguistic potential of an alien species. For more info, check out his website: http://kineticwords.net.
To all you nerds out there! We are taking August off, and will be back with more amazing talks in September! Presenter bios and abstracts will be posted in the next couple of weeks!
Until then, here’s a beautiful dancing peacock spider for you. Just puttin’ the moves on the more dully colored female.
Summer is a busy time for nerds. We’ve got nerdy drinks to make, nerdy books to read, and nerdy things to see. We are adding to that Nerd list by giving you one more event to jot into your schedule. Get ready to get your nerd on!
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, July 16th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $5 dollars at the door
#1 Stop looking at me. I told you to stop looking at me. Why are you still looking at me?
Why do you look at stuff? What stuff do you look at? What exactly is this ‘stuff’ anyway? Most of us give little to no thought about the constant stream of energy bombarding us. Electromagnetic energy, in the form of visible light, pouring forth from the sun. Some wavelengths absorbed, some reflected, others refracted, most never seen. It is only when we have our big stupid faces pointed in the general direction of the oncoming barrage do we even have the chance of really seeing something. Sadly, even then most of that information will go unattended. Lost forever in the sea of radiation. The talk I will give will deal with three questions. First ‘What exactly is this stuff anyway?’ An explanation of what our visual experience is made of and how electromagnetic energy from the sun becomes our visual experience will follow. Second and third ‘What stuff do you look at? and Why do you look at stuff?’. There are visual elements or features that attract the eye (more accurately the attentional system). There are things we can’t help but look at. You can be tricked into looking at something without knowing why you are looking. This talk will draw from my formal studies in human cognition, human vision, human attention and thesis work I completed on human attention
#2 The secret sex lives of fishes
In the animal kingdom, the invertebrates are the true celebrities of kinky sex, from black widow spiders (females eat males after sex) to bedbugs (males fertilize females by stabbing them in the abdomen). By contrast the diversity of mating techniques in our fishy vertebrate cousins has been sorely overlooked. This talk will shed some light on the secret sex lives of fishes, particularly in wrasses, a cosmopolitan fish family that has evolved an amazing array of methods for getting the job done. We’ll cover how wrasses use tactics like sex change, female mate choice copying, male sneaking, and cooperation among dominant males in the hopes of winning the battle of the sexes – the fallout isn’t always pretty, but it sure is fun to study!
Bio: Holly Kindsvater grew up in the Mojave Desert where it rained one or two days each year. She became a fish nerd during her undergraduate days in order to ensure she was never that dry again. Since then she has been lucky enough to study fish in rivers and oceans around the world, including Mexico, the south Pacific, and the Mediterranean. She moved to Vancouver in 2012 where her postdoctoral research at Simon Fraser mostly involves a lot of computer time.
#3 Screw the Ramen Noodles! How to have an actual career in art and not starve… or at least, not all of the time
Art is a hard gig, but it doesn’t have to be THAT hard. Pia Guerra, award winning comic book artist with over 20 years of freelance illustration experience will guide you through the perils of choosing art as a career path. How do you keep a roof over your head while developing a portfolio? How do you balance necessities vs luxuries in a world where credit can get you anything… and a whole mess of bill hurt? How to live with instability and still thrive? Should you take that phone sex line job on the side? Pia will bring in her own life experience and that of colleagues to help narrow down what you need to know to become a lean, mean, art producing machine. (There may even be a ramen noodle recipe in there if you’re good).
Bio: Pia Guerra is best known for her work as lead artist and co-creator of the Vertigo series Y – The Last Man. She has been drawing professionally since the early 90s, often taking whatever illustration work she could find, from storyboarding for Microsoft to illustrating Star Trek RPG manuals, to painting a mural in a rich lady’s bathroom, all the while doing a wide variety of “real jobs” to make up the difference.
On May 21st 2005, the world’s tallest roller coaster – Kingda Ka – was opened at Six Flags in New Jersey. Buckle up for a ride that will be equally thrilling, but won’t make you want to reconsider eating hotdogs beforehand. (Note – prior consumption of hotdogs is encouraged).
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, May 21st 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $5 dollars at the door
#1 Cyborgs Eat Cities
Technology doesn’t change cities, cities change technology. No matter how much we wish we could wave the wand of technology to fix civic and social issues, it never happens quickly. People are stubborn assholes – often times rightly so – and tend to ruin techno-optimists’ good times. This is how it has been for all of human history, right back to that first jerk that started lighting fires everywhere to keep people warm and places well lit. In our modern age of cyborgs, drones, and adding 2.0 to the end of things the dynamic is no different. Cyborgs rush to cities, and the cities eat them alive.
Bio: Ryan is a drummer, interaction designer, coder, and urban design enthusiast. He is Director of User Experience and Chief Drinking Officer at bazinga! and moonlights as a stage level in local bands The New Values and Dirty Spells. He firmly believes that the future is here, it’s just not terribly well thought out.
#2 Has the Field of Neuroscience been Hijacked?
Popularity can be a double-edged sword. Many news stories, TED talks, and commercial products related to neuroscience attest to its popularity among the public, but this popularity can also foster a false sense of confidence in the relevant findings. I will discuss several examples of this phenomenon as well as the evidence, which may or may not support their conclusions. I will also discuss the responsibility of people who give the public information about findings in the field, suggesting that the role of “responsible interpreter” is often not taken seriously enough.
Bio: Neal conducted his undergraduate studies at the University of Lethbridge, where he first became interested in cellular, molecular, and behavioural neuroscience. After finishing his Masters in Neuroscience at the University of Calgary, he returned to Lethbridge to complete his Ph.D. As part of his doctoral work, Neal discovered a novel area of the rat hippocampus, a structure critically involved in learning and memory, which constitutively lacks the ability to produce new brain cells. Neal then completed an Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research-funded fellowship in Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, studying the molecular basis of psychiatric disorders like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is now a faculty member at Quest University in Squamish, and an Adjunct Professor in Neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge. At Quest, he teaches courses in neuroscience and molecular biology.
#3 Kathy Bates is my Spirit Animal: The Journey of Becoming a (Somewhat Chubby) Actor
“So while I’m in the middle of my porn-jokes set we realize the only members in the audience are the Christian Coalition on Campus.” What is it like to shed your skin and step into another person’s shoes? To completely construct an individual, fight for their wants and desires and share their story? Unlike any other profession, many people assume “Hey, I can be an actor!” but what does it really involve to create an emotionally-truthful character and share their story with integrity? Now back to the porn jokes. Join us as we explore the constant struggle to be a compelling actor, going through classical training, “Wait. She was his mother?” and what it was like during a brief flirtation doing stand up comedy on the historic stages in Los Angeles, CA.
Bio: Natalie Semotiuk is a Masters student currently studying for her MFA in theatre at York University. After growing up in Edmonton, AB, she ditched the prairies for flip-flops and moved to Los Angeles, CA where she at first pursued acting at the New York Film Academy, and then her Undergraduate degree in 20th Century history. After working for controversial non-profit Invisible Children for a year and then the Toronto International Film Festival she decided to go back to her first love: Theatre. Over the years she as been on stage many times as an actor, a few less as the director and some even as the writer. After concluding her first year of studies of her MFA, Natalie has studied the classics, and continues to learn what it means to be a compelling actor.
Spring is upon us! And what better way to ring it in than to expand our knowledge of those beautiful flowers all around us, and the ways in which they are having sex! Because, you better believe they’re having sex, and lots of it. We have a great line up this month, from plants, to artificial intelligence, to the importance of science literacy! Come get your nerd on!
Where: Café Deux Soleils (2096 Commercial Drive)
When: Wednesday, April 16th 2014 @ 8pm (Doors @ 7:30pm)
Tickets: $5 dollars at the door
# 1 The Seedy Side of Plants
Let’s talk about sex – plant sex! Compared to the world of seed plants, human sex lives are relatively “vanilla”. Sessile, and separated by metres or miles, plant partners usually need assistance to reproduce sexually. This dependence on external collaborators has created extraordinary reproductive strategies including sensory trickery towards animals, releasing pollen en masse (how messy!), and even the frustratingly lonely self-fertilization. Over thousands and millions of years, these strategies have evolved, ensuring species resilience, genetic diversity, and survival in dramatically challenging landscapes. Discover how plants manipulate, trick, and use tools to help in the need to create seeds.
Bio: Nicole Balsdon currently works at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at UBC; she loves spreading her passion for science to people of all ages, particularly the messy world of biology. When she isn’t getting strangely close to plants, she enjoys cooking and baking, most notably convincing yeast and other microbes to work on beverages and breads in her kitchen. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, and has worked for Alberta Environment and the U of A Herbarium.
# 2 Sex and the Singularity
A talk that looks at how we have come to a point when technology is inevitably changing the way we have and consume sex. It also looks at how things will (and must) change as we head to 2045 when artificial intelligence will have progressed to the point of a greater-than-human intelligence, radically changing civilization, and perhaps human nature.
Bio: Nikolas Badminton started studying cognitive psychology, human interaction, social network theory and web engagement 20 years ago. He continues to advance his thinking daily in these areas. He is the curator of “From Now” – a conference on Humanity with Technology on June 7th, 2014.
# 3 On Being Scientific Literate… Particularly as it Relates to Unicorns
Dr. David Ng
My talk will explore the concept of scientific literacy, which is often something that is usually hard to fully imagine (it’s a moving target and its parameters are a little messy at the best of times). With this in mind, I’ll try my best to encapsulate some of the key elements of being scientific literate and why it’s important for members of the general public to be aware of these nuances, especially as it pertains to civics and also as an AWESOME FORCE TO BE RECKON WITH! There will also be unicorns in my talk.
Bio: David Ng is a geneticist, science educator, part time writer, and Faculty based at the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia. You can find out more about his academic dabblings at bioteach.ubc.ca or on his twitter feed (@ng_dave). Of note: (1) he is partly responsible for the massive DNA helix emblazoned on his building’s facade; (2) his Dad beat up Bruce Lee; (3) his first foray into general publishing featured a unicorn on the front cover; (4) his academic projects are unconventional (studying the interplay between science and creativity; an online initiative mixing biodiversity with Pokemon); and (5) his wife and kids are exemplary.