Happy Nowruz! It is a new day. a day that if you were Persian you would be celebrating a new year. It’s a special day for many reasons, the Earth has tilted back towards the sun, and has hit equilibrium. Things are springing anew around us, it’s a time to get things growing in our lives, which for us here at Nerd Nite, means learning together. So no matter how you celebrate this day, let’s celebrate it together, because after all this is the 42nd edition of Nerd Nite so let’s seek the “The Answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe and Everything”.

Poster by: Armin Mortazavi IG: @armin_mortazavi

Where: The Fox Cabaret

When: Wednesday March 2oth; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30

Tickets: Eventbrite

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1. Orbital Resonance

Christa Van Laerhoven

We generally think of planets (and the smaller stuff, too) as going about their orbits, minding their own business. In actuality, our Solar System is a giant interact-a-thon, as fellow planetary bodies perturb each other via gravity. I will talk about a kind of interaction called orbital resonance and a way to diagnose that this particular kind of interaction is happening. The cast celestial characters that will help me demonstrate these concepts includes Neptune and everyone’s favourite not-a-planet Pluto.

Bio: Christa Van Laerhoven is a valley girl from Agassiz and a postdoctoral fellow at UBC, studying what she likes to call ‘orbital shenanigans’ (how the orbits of planets, asteroids, and moons can change over time). She has a PhD from the Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona and a B.Sc. from UBC in Physics and Astronomy (Honours).

2. Science Through Storytelling

Kristi Charish

Ask any gamer who’s played the sci-fi video game series Mass Effect about the genophage and they will spin you a tale of a genetically engineered virus that devastates an entire species’ fertility, and then they’ll tell you of the mission they’re on to discover and distribute a cure. So if a video game can convince millions of gamers to engineer a vaccine and release it across the galaxy, why can’t we convince people on earth to vaccinate against measles and take their antibiotics? Are we speaking a different language? Living in an overlapping but parallel universe? Tonight we’ll talk about the power of the narrative and why it works so well. Video games, TV procedurals, films, and even our arch nemesis pseudoscience use the power of the narrative and we can too!

Bio: Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS, an urban fantasy series about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS, an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker. She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix.

Kristi is also a scientist with a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing.

Twitter: @kristicharish

FB: http://www.facebook.com/KristiCharishAuthor

Website: http://www.kristicharish.com

Instagram: @charishkristi

3. How to Teach a Robot to Walk in Two Simple Steps

Glen Berseth

Moving around in our world is a very important skill. It allows us to get to the bar so we can order drinks, or get to the bathroom after too many trips to the bar. In my talk, I will first describe the hand-holding process needed to get a robot to take its first steps. After a robot can walk I will describe what comes next when a new robot parent sets his child free to explore in a simulated world.

Bio: Glen Berseth is a PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia where he works in the Motion Control and Character Animation group. He received his BSc degree in Computer Science from York University in 2012 and his MSc from York University in 2014 for optimization and authoring crowd simulations. Glen is almost complete his PhD and will be starting a PostDoc at Berkeley where he will continue to force robots to do his bidding.