Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Nerd Nite 102: Changing Minds: Beer, AI, and Mental Health

[ASL interpreters will be present]

Join us at the North Door on May 9th for this month’s Nerd Nite!

7:00– Alley entrance open
7:20– Speed-dating starts
7:30– Seating area/main room open
8:00– Show starts

If you want to, you can RSVP to our Facebook event, or just show up.

brain wires
Your brain is probably always on your mind, and this Nerd Nite will help you figure out a bit more about what’s happening upstairs. From inebriated brains, to emerging minds, and grey matter health matters — join your fellow nerds in learning the matters of the mind.

This month’s talks:


“Beer is Good for You” by Anna Lepeley, PhD

To your health isn’t just a casual toast. Learn about the health benefits of beer based on peer-reviewed research. Drink deep from the cup of knowledge and feel better about drinking your favorite alcoholic beverage.

Dr. Anna Lepeley has a PhD in Exercise Biochemistry and Nutrition research. She is the author of “Beer is Good for You”. As a touring stand-up comedian, Anna likes to entertain her audience while teaching.


“10 Weird and Wonderful Artificial Intelligences” by Curtis Seare and Ginette Methot

Did you know there’s an algorithm that translates chicken chatter? An AI to create your digital voice out of a one-minute personal voice recording? AI is getting closer to being able to read your mind? It’s entertaining and interesting to learn about the bizarre and amazing things AI is doing right now.

Curtis is a cohost on the Data Crunch podcast and the Director of Analytics at Shelfbucks, a retail analytics startup in Austin, Texas. He’s worked for almost a decade in the data science field across multiple companies and industries and has a master’s degree in predictive analytics.

Ginette is a cohost on the Data Crunch podcast as well. She’s worked as an editor and writer for ten years and finished her master’s degree in professional writing and rhetoric.


“Mental Health Data That Will Blow Your Mind” by Daniel Morehead, MD

How much ‘common sense thinking’ about mental health is correct? How accurately are mental illness and its treatment portrayed in the media? Dr. Morehead will discuss surprising, science-based data relevant to everyone with a brain and a desire to make use of it for healthier living.

Dr. Morehead is a psychiatrist in private practice in Austin and a regular speaker on behalf of mental health advocacy. He maintains interests in brain science, spirituality and psychotherapy.


Form a covalent bond before the show with nerd speed-dating!


Doors at 7:30, talks start at 8:00. As always, Nerd Nite is free.

Talks may not be given in the order described. Grab a beer and relax!

Nerd Nite 28: Punless!

I admit it. I was unable to find a cheeky pun to describe this Nerd Nite. There is no common thread this month, no uniting theme. Our three presenters fit no box other than nerdery. Their talks will follow no rule other than sheer nerdy awesomeness.

BUT HEY! The neat folks from Google Places will be joining us this month. Visit their on-site Chromebook station to review your favorite nerdy places, and receive free drink tickets and Google swag!

AND! Prepare yourself for two exciting announcements about the future of the Nerd Nite global empire.

The deets:


“Cambodian Shadow Puppetry,” by Abra Chusid

Inspired by her work with the Sovanna Phum Art Association in Phnom Penh, Abra will share a bit of shadow puppet history, contemporary practice, and some kick ass puppets.

Abra Chusid is a Fulbright Scholar, currently working on her MFA in drama education at UT. She likes kids, cats, and theatre, and will gladly travel to another far off locale to study any of the above if you will pay her way.



“Clues Within the Clues: Solving the New York Times Crossword Puzzle,” by Abigail Mahnke

Tell people you can finish the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and they think you’re a genius. The secret is that the clues themselves tell you a lot about the answer they’re looking for. Once you know the tips and tricks, the puzzle is yours to solve, too.

Abigail Mahnke was a hopeless crossword puzzler until a very nice boyfriend shared his puzzles and showed her the ropes. (Unlike him, she will not share puzzles.) She’s also the host of Inner Views, a weekly program on KOOP 91.7 FM Austin, where she interviews everyday people with extraordinary stories.



“Super weapons of the near future: It’s about power,” by Blake Freeburg

How will we keep the peace (or kill ourselves) in the decades to come? Armed androids, free electron lasers, fuel-air bombs and rail guns designed right here at UT! The only thing holding us back is the sending and delivery of energy. That, and treaties.

Blake Freeburg followed a degree in physics with a career as a serial startup engineer, working in over 7 companies in the last 15 years across a wide space of technologies. Blake is currently exploring “technological wildcatting”, founding several efforts and building solutions on a case by case basis.


Single? Test out your newest love potion at nerd speed-dating!

$10 gets you a beer and the attention of more nerdy guys and nerdy lasses than you can probably handle.

Speed-dating tickets here: (starts at 6:30 sharp)


Nerd Nite is FREE, cuz we do it for the love. And beer.

Nerd Nite 27: Goodbye to All That

The nerdliness returns next Wednesday! This one is going to be multiply awesome.

AND — this is also your last chance to see suave Nerd Boss and Brit-In-Residence Dan Rumney before he vacates to cooler climes! <sniff>

This month’s talks:

Wiggle or Waggle: Modes of Locomotion in Low Reynolds Number Fluids by Dan Rumney

Reynolds Numbers are everywhere. Their effects affect everything from your fertility to your safety in the air. Dan will bust out some awesome Physics, a sweet demo and some puerile jokes to tell you all about it.

Dan Rumney is a software engineer in Austin, but has a background in Physics. A brief flirtation with Fluid Mechanics at university ignited a long term love affair with gloopy liquids.

Are You A Vitruvian Man? by Lizzie Bracken

Whether you know it or not, you’re probably very familiar with the image of the Vitruvian Man. What you might not know is why Da Vinci drew him. Lizzie will explore the man, Vitruvius, and why he was so influential on Rennaissance minds.

Lizzie Bracken is a Scenic Designer and Architect with a passion for traditional designs and techniques that have their origins with the Greeks and the Romans.

The Courthouses of Central Texas by Brantley Hightower

County courthouse buildings are an indelible part of the rural Texas landscape. In addition to displaying a variety of architectural styles, the courthouses of central Texas also demonstrate how society’s relationships with public buildings and government have radically changed over the course of the last 140 years. More than a mere index of a building type, this talk will reveal how county courthouses relate to the communities that created them and reflect the values of their particular era.

Brantley Hightower is an architect in the office of Lake|Flato in San Antonio and has taught at several schools of architecture in the state including Texas Tech, Trinity University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Single? Start the night off right with a little flirty action at nerd speed-dating!

Tickets here:​Atx (starts at 6:30 sharp)

Nerd Nite is FREE, cuz we do it for the love. And beer.

Nerd Nite University – Class is dismissed

Our first session of Nerd Nite University was a rousing success, with two dozen eager nerds learning the finer points of lock-picking.

If you have questions about lock-picking or all things security based, you can contact our professors, Eric Michaud and Jamie Schwettmann at or follow them on Twitter at @ericmichaud or @brink_0x3f.

The next Nerd Nite University will be announced when we identify our next professors.

Nerd Nite 26: Puppetry of the Peonies

Get your mind out of the gutter…this may be our most family-friendly lineup ever! Yet, as always, nerdy to the core.

If you’re so inclined, give us some props at:

This month’s mondo bizarro talks:

Puppet Improv: Is Totally a Thing
Sara Farr (+ Patrick Knisley)

We understand they are not real, and we suspend our disbelief and see them for what they are — symbols. But since our brain is already in a mode to see everything in a puppet show as symbolic, it really messes with us when the other punch lands. Learn how puppets act on our psyche in strange ways…

Sara Farr is the founder and producing artistic director of the Puppet Improv Project. In her day-job, Sara helped design, build, and implement one of the first computer animation degrees (AAS) offered in Austin. She is a great fan of storytelling through all visual art forms.

Hydroponics, Fad or Food’s Future?
CJ Oden

Lifelong gardener CJ Oden will illuminate the basics of the hydro-way, speak about its efficacy, and discuss the key components of effective gardening in general.

CJ Oden has been into plants since he destroyed his mother’s garden – and replanted it for her – at age five. Growing up an outcast nerd with dirt under his fingernails, CJ now works for a local hydroponic store in Austin.

Birding on Broadmeade — Birdwatching and Nature Observation in a Northwest Austin Neighborhood
Mikael Behrens

An amazing and beautiful diversity of birds can be found without going far from home. Birds are the easiest kind of wildlife to observe and enjoy, and they offer a window into the bigger pictures of nature and ecology.

Mikael Behrens has been an avid birder in the Austin area since the mid 90s.

PLUS: Speed-dating is back! This month is for girls who like guys, and vice versa:

Nerd Nite remains FREE, cuz we do it for the love. Bring a friend!

Nerd Nite 25: Obscure Arts

Obscured. As in hidden, internal, dark skillz you always wished you had.
Or, maybe as in our stage lighting.


How to Steal a Nuclear Warhead Without Voiding Your XBox Warranty
Jamie Schwettmann

Ever wonder what Tylenol bottles and sealed shipping containers have in common? Jamie will give an introduction to tamper-evident devices, applications, design…and circumvention.

Jamie Schwettmann is a self-taught codeslinger, hardware hacker, social engineer, network analyst, and consultant for high performance, scientific, grid and cloud computing. As the Vortex Engineer of I11 Industries, Jamie explores the intricacies of physical security, and will present some of them here for your benefit.

Lockpicking Demystified
Eric Michaud

Unlike tamper-evident devices, locks are generally designed and intended to be multiple-use, opened with a specialized key and possibly resealed later. Lockpicking is the fascinating – and entirely legal – art of opening a lock without damaging it or using a key. This ‘opening without damage’ can be done in various ways, but is generally done with special tools for that purpose.

Eric Michaud has co-founded several companies and non-profits including Pumping Station:One, Hac-DC and The Open Organization of Lockpickers (,). Until most recently he has worked in an underground bunker somewhere in the Midwest for a shadowy government agency where his skills were put to use.

Hydroponics, Fad or Food’s Future?
CJ Oden

Lifelong gardener CJ Oden will illuminate the basics of the hydro-way, speak about its efficacy, and discuss the key components of effective gardening in general.

CJ Oden has been into plants since he destroyed his mother’s garden – and replanted it for her – at age five. Growing up an outcast nerd with dirt under his fingernails, CJ now works for a local hydroponic store in Austin.

Sorry lovenerds, no speed-dating this month!

If you are ‘socially’ inclined, please give us a bump at any or all of the following:

Nerd Nite remains FREE, cuz we do it for the love. Hey, bring a friend!

Nerd Nite 24: The Abyss

Last month, we nerds trekked to the edge of the universe.

This month…somewhere else you can’t breathe.

Don’t miss this Nite, it’s gonna be a lung-buster.

Expeditionary Cave Diving
Bill Stone

Bill Stone has organized the exploration of some of our planet’s deepest underwater caves. During the past 35 years, Dr. Stone has led 51 caving expeditions, spent more than seven years in the field, and logged 403 days below ground. In his spare time, Dr. Stone pioneered the development of computer-controlled diving apparatus, diver propulsion vehicles, 3D underwater and dry cave mapping equipment, spacecraft reaction control systems, next-generation laser radar systems for unmanned ground vehicles, and novel re-entry vehicles. In April of 2004 Dr. Stone was selected as Principal Investigator to lead the NASA project to develop the Europa lander third stage prototype – the “hydrobot” that will explore the hypothesized subsurface ocean on that Jovian moon and to autonomously search for life.

This man could talk about his rock collection, and it would be awesome.

Sense Deprivation and Immersion
Robin Arnott

In the experimental game “Deep Sea”, players are asked to wear a rubber mask that obscures their vision and monitors their breathing, and are then pitted against wave after wave of invisible sea monsters. Robin Arnott talks about what his experiment in sense deprivation has to teach us about perception.

Sound designer, sometimes experimental artist, and always hardcore gamer, Robin Arnott is the owner of the Austin game audio studio “Wraughk” (

Corals Are Not Rocks
Sarah Davies

What is a coral? What is a coral reef? What is coral bleaching? What are general threats to coral reefs? What I study!

Sarah Davies is a UT graduate student in the Ecology Evolution and Behavior program. By day she works in a lab studying coral reef connectivity and the limits to coral dispersal. By night she hunts mullets.


Heteronormative speed dating is back! Tell your hottest / most awkward friends!

–6:30, before Nerd Nite–

Nerd Nite is FREE, cuz we do it for luv.

Raising money for NPR and KUT

Those of you who attended last night’s Nerd Nite will know that Mike Graupmann, on behalf of The Encyclopedia Show, is collecting money in preparation for the KUT funding drive.

You may have heard in the news that funding of public radio is being threatened. Even if this funding is not pulled, public radio relies on donations from listeners in order to operated.

TES and Nerd Nite hypothesized that people who attend Nerd Nite and The Encyclopedia Show are the same kind of people who like public radio. A straw poll last night indicated that this is a pretty valid hypothesis.

As such, we’re teaming up to raise money to give to KUT in a couple of weeks. We got a good haul last night, but we’d like to get as much as we can. Mike is approaching other similar groups in Austin to try and create a big pool of cash to keep the lights on and the shows broadcasting.

If you would like to add a donation to this pool you can do so by clicking here to be taken to PayPal. Any amount would be welcomed and 100% of your donation will go to NPR/KUT.

Nerd Nite 23: Space Jam

“Come with us now on a magical journey through time and space!”

OK, some of you may have felt we rocked USAA a little TOO hard last month.
That we are victims of our own success.
That sex talks are anathema to REAL nerdiness.

So be it. Consider this month red meat for the base.



“Planet Construction: Building Alien Worlds,” by Dr. Joel Green

Watching Star Trek, one gets the impression that habitable planets and alien life are as common as fast food restaurants. So what is the true variety of planets and planetary systems found within the universe? Using the latest state-of-the-art NASA and ESA telescopes we’ll discover what we have learned, and the vast amount we expect to learn in the next decade.

Joel is an astronomer who studies star and planet formation at the University of Texas at Austin, although he is hoping to start an internship with Slartibartfast.


“Stellar Alchemy,” by Julie Hollek

The oldest stars in the outer regions of the Milky Way contain the fossil record of the events that occurred before they were born, specifically the explosions of the First Stars formed in the universe. The oldest stars have a chemical signature that is distinct from those of younger stars like the Sun. Observing these stars reveal events that occurred in the early galaxy, from the Big Bang to the lives and deaths of the First Stars to the formation of the elements of the periodic table.

Julie Hollek is an astronomer by day and a gastronomer by night, unless she’s observing in which case she’s also an astronomer by night.


“The Beginnings of the Universe and What We Learn From its Oldest Light,” by Athena Stacy

How do we know universe is expanding? Why do we believe it began in
a Big Bang? What will be the ultimate fate of the universe? Take a tour through all the changes the universe has undergone in the 13.7 billion years since its birth, and how the Cosmic Microwave Background helps us connect the universe in its infancy to the universe today.

Athena is an astronomy graduate student at UT Austin. She runs
computer simulations to see what the universe looked looked like
during its first billion years, and is especially interested in how
the ancient stars and galaxies of these early times compares to young
objects like our Sun and Milky Way.



Special guests from the NASA MUSICAL OUTREACH PROGRAM!


Once again, we are offering queer-nerd speed dating before Nerd Nite — this time for guys and girls. Tell your friends!

(Straights will get another chance next month)


Nerd Nite is FREE, cuz we do it for luv.

March Speed Dating- Queer Men

Wednesday March 2, 2011 – Wednesday March 2, 2011

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Nerd Nite Speed for Queer guys.


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