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
When: Wednesday March 2oth; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30
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
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.
3. How to Teach a Robot to Walk in Two Simple Steps
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.
Does anyone remember “The Six Million Dollar Man” or the spin-off “The Bionic Woman? If not you probably have heard the catch phrase “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better…stronger…faster.” The show even has a sweet premise: “After a severely injured astronaut is rebuilt with nuclear powered limbs and implants, he serves as an intelligence agent.” !!! The problem though is that even if you have nostalgic feelings of this show as a kid, in today’s world it’s practically unwatchable. Technologies dreamed in stories back then rarely translated well to a live-action show or movie mainly because the fictional technologies were too far beyond real life technological capabilites. The Scientific-technical revolution from the 1940’s to the 1970’s laid the groundwork for some amazing science fiction, but only recently have some of these technologies started to become reality which is why the tech sector in society today has become so robust and exciting.
Nerd Nite is proud to go on a special field trip to the #BCTECHSummit sponsored by Unbounce, where we’ll hear from three tech nerds to share their stories! If you’re never been to Nerd Nite before, we’re short nerdy talks with drinks. It’s a casual learning and drinking environment!
Where: Unbounce (400-401 West Georgia St)
When: Tuesday March 12th; Doors @ 7, show starts @ 7:30
1. The Crossroads Between Data & Baking
Claire Son is a born and raised Calgarian and made the move to Vancouver in 2015. She is the Data Analyst Lead here at Unbounce where she helps Unbouncers understand the impact of their work by uncovering data insights, all while spreading data best practices and knowledge company wide. Claire has been involved in a number of data projects ranging from deep dive analyses to enterprise data migrations and loves to empower people with data.
Bio: When Claire isn’t spending her time on a data problem she’s either travelling the world, playing video games or baking. Claire is an avid baker and recently joined the Pastry Team at Terra Breads.
2. Nonprofits: Why we love them, and hate them. (But mostly love them)
The nonprofit sector is misunderstood and underappreciated. And while it’s important to ask questions and value accountability, our society has to understand how nonprofits operate to truly evaluate them. Join Nejeed Kassam, founder of Keela and the Better Canada Initiative, to discuss the nonprofit sector, its role in civil society, and the gap that exists between what most donors believe and the reality of nonprofit work.
We’ll even tackle the question: Should people who work in nonprofits be paid for their work? (Spoiler alert: absolutely.)
Bio: Najeed Kassam is the CEO and founder of Keela – an impact technology company, dedicated to empowering small non-profits with accessible software. He was educated at McGill University (B.A.) and Osgoode Hall Law School (JD). Called to the Bar in Ontario in 2015 and in British Columbia in 2017, Nejeed is also the founder of the Better Canada Initiative. He is the former Executive Director of both End Poverty Now and Conversations for Change. Nejeed is a global innovator with experience working for the United Nations and the Senate of Canada. He is the author of the book ‘High on Life’ (foreword written by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien) and the co-producer of the documentary, ‘Conversations for Change’. Nejeed sits on a number of start-up and non-profit advisory boards, has spoken at conferences around the world, and is currently a member of the Global Shapers Community (World Economic Forum) and a fellow at the Royal Society of the Arts in the UK.
3. On Being a Female Tech CEO
When you think of tough nuts to crack in the CEO business world what comes to mind? Being a first-time CEO? Being a female CEO? Being a technical CEO? I’d like to share my experience of having fun combining all of them together. Saying any one of these things is difficult would be the understatement of the decade!. If you are a first-time CEO, not many will trust you. If you are a female, there are some prejudices you’ll face whether you like it or not. Coming from a technical background means you don’t have the business eye and training- but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn it! Join me on my journey in discovering how it’s less about what you know (and more about what you don’t know) and how you plan to manage that so you can make your dreams come true!
Bio: In 2012, Maryam founded MetaOptima Technology Inc. in Vancouver, Canada, where MoleScope and DermEngine were developed for intelligent dermatology, smart skin imaging, analytics and management. The company was one of 10 that were shortlisted for the 2013 BCIC New Ventures Competition, and won a $40,000 Wavefront Wireless prize package. In 2014, Dr. Sadeghi also won the Venture Prize from Coast Capital Savings.
Recently, Maryam was appointed as a MITACS Research Council member, was credited as one of BC’s most influential women in BC Business Magazine, and her company was listed as a “Ready To Rocket” business in the area of digital health.
Since its development, MetaOptima has become one of the fastest growing digital health technology companies in Canada, with successful expansion into Australia. The company is continuing to extend its reach through expansion into the United States market, and empower a greater number of physicians and patients for better care outcomes.