We don’t want you to get tied up in knots about Nerd Nite… Well, we do, but only with your enthusiastic consent. Join us for the first Nerd Nite of 2019. We have a line-up of speakers passionate about a range of topics off the beaten path — as always. With a twist: this time, we’ll be doing the show in the Arts Barns Lobby area!

Nerd Nite: It’s like the Discovery Channel, but with beer!

Our line-up of talks includes:

The Making of Midgard: How did complex life arise on Earth, and what do Thor and Loki have to do with it?
Beth Richardson

This talk is about EUKARYOGENESIS, a horrific word created by mashing together the Latin and/or Greek words EU (good, well), KARY (nut, kernel), and GENESIS (making of, creation). We’re going to discuss what makes a really good nut — the “really good nut” in question being the cell nucleus. The origins of cells with nuclei, or eukaryotes, is a controversial issue in evolutionary cell biology. It has resulted in: opinion pieces in Nature; counter-opinion pieces in Nature; counter-counter-opinion pieces in Nature; yelling at conferences; and grown-ass men dragging each other on Twitter, all in the last forty years. I will introduce you to the history, the science, and the myths surrounding eukaryote origins, and how a little bit of divine intervention from Asgard has finally allowed us to get some real evidence for how these squishy info-nuts genesis-ised.

Beth Richardson grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire, England. She studied for her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Natural Sciences with a biochemistry specialisation at the University of Cambridge (though she tells everyone she went to Hogwarts). She joined the University of Alberta in 2014 after her PhD supervisor lied to her extensively about the weather, and now uses computational biology to figure out how single-celled eukaryotes adapt to environmental change while never going outside herself.

Nuclear Radiation: that thing you’re afraid of but don’t know anything about
Sean Wagner

“Nuclear waste,” “Contamination,” “Hundreds of thousands of years of uninhabitability…” If these phrases pop into your head whenever someone talks about nuclear power, you might be victim of misinformation about radiation, what it is, and how it works. Since Sean does not own a tinfoil hat, he doesn’t really care why so many people are against nuclear power: only that the misinformation they have spread over the past 40 years has almost made it impossible to stave off global climate change. So, hoping that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way, we get to have a little trip through the basics of radiation and why there are good reasons that we require stringent safety measures, but also why it’s not nearly as bad as it is made out to be, and far less harmful than most people think.

Sean has been a lifelong nerd in as many fields as he could find, theatre, space, lasers, materials, track and field, Star Trek, and now nuclear energy. With two degrees in engineering, he feels that he has an okay grasp of how systems work and how to optimize things that currently aren’t working. Right now, the things that he believes aren’t working are our response to Global Climate Change and the growth of the economy in ways that benefit all people, not just corporations. Luckily for him he thinks that the answer to both problems is more efficient and effective production of energy and that is nuclear power. Let’s see if he can convince us all.

‘Hey honey, I’ve seen it on Pinterest. Let me tie you up to the ceiling’ — A primer on rope bondage
Jeff Vanelle

“Rope bondage,” “Shibari,” “Kinbaku.” Most have heard those terms, most have seen pictures, maybe some videos — far fewer have experienced it. Deeply rooted in medieval Japan (XV century or so) as a mean to restrain prisoners, the “art of binding” came to be in the early XIX century. From there, the art developed as any others in different currents influenced by the culture surrounding it. Today this art form has taken an aesthetic and erotic form, retaining the psychological and physical aspect of its origins. I have been very fortunate to be exposed to shibari through some incredibly talented friends in town and abroad. While each of them is far more of an expert than I am, some have dedicated their lives to it, I have not. In fact, I don’t speak Japanese, my mentors are Mexican, German, Scottish, American, and… I’m French! So don’t expect a lecture on Japanese Arts and History. Still I’ll share my own humble experience with ropes, provide you with some basic information and shed some light on this beautifully exciting hobby of mine. Is it safe? Does it hurt? Will it leave a mark? Can anyone try? So many knots to learn!

Jeff is an eclectic, life long learner, passionate about too many things to fit in a day. Computer graphics tech nerd, saké brewer, photographer, bacon, cheese and sausage maker, competitive dragon boat racer. Each of those topics could be the subject of a Nerd Nite (who knows?!). But today, Jeff will share his experience in… Rope bondage.