Author Archive

Nerd Nite Auckland Chapter 25

Nerd Nite will be back at Galbraith’s Alehouse (2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton) on Tuesday March 3rd. In our typical style we will gather to drink beer (or other beverage or choice), and celebrate nerdiness in its many manifestations. If that sounds like your type of evening, come along! As usual we’ll start the drinking and socialising at 6.30, with talks from 7pm.

Our first speaker this month is Szu-Wen Kung, who is a lecturer in translation studies at the University of Auckland. Szu-Wen’s talk will attempt to explore the role of literary translators as language performers in translating a literary work imbued with a cacophonous chorus of conversation. In particular, she asks how the literary translator mediates the linguistic and dialectical features, and to what extent is such textual mediation creatively “performed”?

Our second speaker, Joachim Brand, will be discussing some of his recent research on nonlinear waves in atomic superfluids (we have been assured he’ll explain what that means), and how they are connected to sound figures, i.e. vibration patterns on solid objects like plates or violin bodies that can be visualised by spraying sand onto the objects. Similar to musical instruments, superfluid defects can resonate at characteristic frequencies that produce intriguing patterns.

Nerd Nite Auckland – Chapter 24

Happy New Year, fellow nerds! We shall be back at Galbraith’s Alehouse (2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton) on Tuesday Feb 3rd for our first action-packed Nerd Nite of 2015. We’ll start the drinking and such like at 6.30, talks from 7pm.

Our first speaker, Alyona Medelyan, will discuss Natural Language Processing (NLP) – an area of Computer Science that studies how computers can understand human language. Thanks to NLP, one day you might have your own intelligent assistant who can understand any dialect, who can answer your questions by finding the right answers on the web, and who can help you communicate in any language through instant and accurate translation. In her talk, Alyona will explain why understanding human language is so difficult, show examples of notable state of the art applications, and talk about what advances in NLP we can expect in near future.

Our second speaker Fergus Whyte was scheduled to speak at Nerd Nite in December, but unfortunately got held up in court! Fergus is a solicitor specialising in litigation, and a former clerk to the Judges of the High Court of New Zealand. He will be talking about criminal sentencing. Sentencing is something we see a lot about in the media and hear a lot of people expressing an opinion about it but how does it actually work? Fergus will be discussing the process of sentencing for serious crimes and the tensions inherent in the sentencing process.

And finally, our third speaker Esther Burning will be sharing about emotional intelligence and how it impacts our physical, mental and relational health, as well as the health of our society as a whole.

Nerd Nite Auckland – Chapter 23

Auckland’s final Nerd Nite for 2014 is this Tuesday December 2nd at Galbraith’s (2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton) from 6.30 pm. We will be wrapping up the year with talk of patterns in biology, criminal sentencing, and giant penguins.

Our first speaker will be familiar to any Nerd Nite regulars, as he is indeed your friendly Nerd Nite host, Ben Curran. After 2 and a half-ish years of running these things, the time has finally come for Ben to finish off the Nerdnite year by talking a little it about what it is that he does. Which involves Patterns, in Numbers, in Biology. Or at least one little corner of it. Which involves combing through large amounts of RNA looking for patterns that might give us hints as to the underlying structures that control an immune response.

Our second speaker, Fergus Whyte, is a solicitor specialising in litigation and a former clerk to the Judges of the High Court of New Zealand. He will be talking about criminal sentencing. Sentencing is something we see a lot about in the media and hear a lot of people expressing an opinion about it but how does it actually work? Fergus will be discussing the process of sentencing for serious crimes and the tensions inherent in the sentencing process.
And finally, Daniel Thomas is vertebrate zoologist at Massey University and he studies fossil penguins. He will be talking about the ancient history of New Zealand and the giant penguins that used to live here. Well over a meter tall, these penguins would have hunted far offshore at a time when New Zealand was mostly underwater. Daniel’s talk will introduce you to these giant, 30 million year old seabirds.

Nerd Nite Auckland – Chapter 22

Join us on November 4th from 6.30 pm at Galbraiths’s (2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton) for your monthly dose of craft beer and nerdery.

Our first speaker is Nataly Martini with a talk entitled ‘Games in health education – are you serious?’ Health education is considered serious business. After all we don’t want our healthcare professionals to be playing with our health. But with medical knowledge estimated to double every 7-10 years, how do we help to keep our future health professionals up-to-date while taking more responsibility for our health without relying on Dr Google? Are games a possible answer? This talk addresses some of these questions.

Next year is the International Year of Light, so it’s somewhat fitting that the 2014 Nobel prizes for both Chemistry and Physics were awarded in recognition of light-related research. Cather Simpson will discuss the development of high-resolution fluorescent microscopy, and of blue LEDs, for which the Chemistry and Physics prizes were awarded respectively…

…it will be illuminating.

Nerd Nite Auckland – Chapter 21

A bit late getting the ball rolling this month, but Nerd Nite Auckland shall indeed be back at Galbraith’s in October. That’s Tuesday 7th October from 6.30pm (talks start at 7pm) at Galbraith’s Alehouse (2 Mt Eden Rd, Grafton). All nerds and nice people welcome. As usual we don’t charge entry but donations are appreciated to buy our (lovely, generous, volunteer) speakers drinks and get the odd bit of equipment that we need to keep NN running smoothly.

Our first speaker is Joshua Guilbert, who will be talking about animal navigation, translocation and conservation of bats. Animals are capable of navigating home from unfamiliar locations and across seemingly featureless environments independent of season, weather or time of day. It has been suggested that species across the animal kingdom accomplish this by using information from Earth’s magnetic field. Understanding animal navigation is important for the management of any species that migrates or has a strong homing instinct. This is especially true of bats, which do both. Joshua’s research focuses on the homing behaviour of bats, which he hopes to apply to a successful translocation very soon.

Next, Geoff Willmott will be presenting a potted history of high speed photography. Super slow-mo cameras have entered the mainstream in the past decade, mostly because of their use in sports coverage. Previous generations were wowed by images of splashing droplets, or bullets passing through apples. Starting at the invention of photography, this presentation will introduce record-breaking fast photography technologies, what they were pointed at, and what we have learned from the images they have produced.

Our third speaker is Jeremy “Mr J” Bishop from Arkham City Comics, talking on the increasing interest from Hollywood on the Comic characters & teams that have been loved for decades by Nerds & Geeks alike. From the early attempts to today’s Blockbusters & TV shows.

Nerdnite Auckland – Chapter 20

We’re back in September for some more nerdery, and have some brilliant speakers lined up, but first and foremost please note the one-off change in venue:

Nerd Nite Auckland on Tuesday September 2nd will be downstairs at Horse & Trap (3 Enfield Street, Mt Eden). As usual we shall start drinking at 6.30 pm, with talks kicking off at 7.

Now for the nerdery:
New Zealand waters host an unparalleled diversity of cephalopods (octopus, squid and their relatives), from tiny fire squids to legendary giants. Kat Bolstad, who leads AUT’s squid lab, will share some of the mysteries and curious habits of these intriguing denizens of the deep sea.

Next, Yolanda and Julian Bartram are owners of New Zealand’s leading face-paint, make-up and special FX shop and studio in Kingsland. World Champion bodypaint artist Yolanda will be discussing the advances of specialFX in film and TV, the variety of materials used in practical fx, and the process of prosthetic manufacturing.

Finally, we shall be hearing about the connection between knitting and mental health. Can yarn be good for your brain? Crafter Rachel Rayner discusses the evidence that knitting (and crochet) can make you happier, healthier – and warmer.


Nerd Nite Chapter 15

Aaaaaaaaand Nerd Nite Auckland is back for 2014!

Tues Feb 4th – same time, same place, new year and new nerdy talks.

For newbies and those of you who have forgotten since 2013, that’s 6.30 pm (talks start at 7 pm) on Tuesday 4th February, at Nectar, 472 New North Road, Kingsland (the bar above The Kingslander).

Our first speaker for 2014 is Raewyn Dalziel, who will be talking about facts and myths about women’s suffrage. Last year, New Zealand marked 120 years of women’s suffrage and some old questions resurfaced about the significance of this momentous electoral law change. Raewyn taught in the Department of History at the University of Auckland for many years before becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University. She is a Guardian of the Alexander Turnbull Library and chairs a research advisory panel for Te Papa.

Next up we have Patrick Bowman, a professional physicist and amateur medieval re-creator. His historical interests include costuming, brewing, dancing, music and martial arts. Patrick will talk about his activities within the Society for Creative Anachronism and the fun of attempting to replicate and understand aspects of pre-seventeenth century European life. The talk will include pictures of Patrick and his friends in silly clothing, and some “show and tell”.

And our third speaker is Lisa McDonnell who is currently working as an analyst for Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ). Lisa will be talking about the science behind muscle spasms, through a story about her attempt at finishing the Auckland Marathon!

Nerd Nite Chapter 14

Last chance to nerd it up this year! Where did the time go? While our illustrious speakers will not be answering that particular question (well they might if you ask them directly), they will be answering many more.

Alrighty, first up we have Craig Stevens; a professional physical oceanographer and amateur noise maker based in Wellington. Field expeditions have taken him from Cook Strait to Antarctica; from water-filled mine pits in Canada to tidal turbines in the U.K.; from inland seas in Europe to the southern ocean. Someone has to do it. Craig will be speaking about ‘Ocean Turbulence – The Earth System Viewed from the Perspective of a Record Needle’

Quote: [Horace Lamb attr.] I am an old man now, and when I die and go to Heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather more optimistic.

Energy gets put into the earth system at celestial scales (tides, solar heating) and does its thing driving atmospheres and oceans – but we sort of fudge the dissipation of all this energy with somewhat ad hoc numbers in computer models. Craig’s science is to try and capture this turbulent dissipation of energy which happens at tiny scales (say ~ 2 mm) and relate it back to global scales. The approach evolved out of looking for submarine wakes after WWII but it’s not far off strapping a record needle to a torpedo and shooting it through the ocean looking for the “sound of turbulence”.

Next up, we have Keith Giles, Photographic Collections Librarian at the Sir George Grey special Collections, Auckland Central Library talking about 19th century New Zealand photographers. In this case we shall let the pictures tell a thousand words (or a thousand words per picture? That would be a lot of words…)


Last but not least is Joseph Nichols from the University of Auckland Microfabrication Lab, who will lead “A discussion of the Scale on the Universe with a Micro machinist.” Joseph will be talking about some of the cool things they do to exploit the incredibly unique properties of the “tiny” universe – and how it all ties in with everything that we can see and do from a scientific and engineering viewpoint.

Chapter 11

September Nerdnite is coming up, same nerdy time, same nerdy place. 6.30 pm for a 7 pm start at Nectar Bar, Kingland (470 New North Road, above the Kingslander). We have a diverse range of talks this month. Be there and be square!

Our first speaker is astrophysicist Phil Yock, from the University of Auckland, with a talk entitled “We see them come, we see them go, some are fast, some are slow”.

All stars in the Milky Way are in motion. When one passes in front of another, Einstein predicted the background star would brighten up, not dim down, because light is bent by gravity. The world’s largest telescope devoted to observing Einstein’s brightening effect is in New Zealand. It is called MOA. The MOA telescope finds about 500 brightenings every year, from fast ones caused by rogue planets to slow ones caused by black holes. Several cool planets have been found orbiting stars beyond the snowline where temperatures fall to about – 200C. MOA’s prime goal would be to find an inhabited planet out there, following Giordano Bruno’s prediction of the 16th century.

Next up, we have Ali Seyfoddin, who will be talking about delivering drugs beyond the cornea.

From Arsenic containing Fowler’s solution to controlled release nanoparticles, pharmacists have come a long way in promoting public health. Ali’s presentation introduces the concept of drug delivery and gives insights into what is involved in ocular drug delivery, challenges, obstacles, and the opportunities.

And last, but certainly not least, is Gemma Cookson, urban designer.

In Gemma’s talk, ‘Occupying the Edge : An exploration of Christchurch urban housing’, she will discuss work from her Masters of Architecture (UNITEC) final project, which looks at the Social, Environmental and Economical factors shaping the rebuild, and will present a potential solution that involves urban aerodynamics, community gardens and canals to enhance the quality of life and bring people back into Christchurch´s Center City.


Nerdnite Chapter 9

It’s nearly that time again – another night of beer and nerdiness is fast approaching. Nerdnite talks for July will cover topics ranging from cricket to geckos to Ancient Egypt. For all the nerdy goodness, join us this Tuesday July 2nd from 6.30 pm at Nectar Bar in Kingsland.

Brendon J. Brewer, Bayesian statistician and cricket enthusiast would very much like to speak with us regarding batting averages, being a popular, easy way to compare the quality of different batters in cricket. Batting averages are not, however, without problems (Stuart Law from Australia, whose only innings was 54 not out, technically has an infinite batting average). Brendon will talk about what can be done to fix this situation, though it could welll lead to some heretical conclusions such as Donald Bradman’s average being revised down from 99.94 to about 80, Chris Martin’s being revised up from 2.36 and riots in the cheap seats.

Our second speak, Omer Chaudhary, a materials chemist, will be speaking to us about the amazing ability of geckos to adhere to almost any surface, owing to microscale structures on their feet. Omer will discuss his efforts to make synthetic surfaces that mimic the adhesive properties of gecko’s feet.

Finally, Laurence Xu, whose reasearch interests include Egyptian language, religion, literature, and papyrology, will be discussing the celebrations involved in the Ancient Egyptian Feast of Inebriation, or the Egyptian New Year, through Egyptian myths such as the Destruction of Mankind and Myth of the Solar Eye.