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.

Nerdnite Auckland – Chapter 30.

Afternoon all.

So next Tuesday will be the 30th Nerdnite in Auckland and our 3rd birthday. It will also be my last one at the helm. These rambling once a month emails will either disappear or be coming from someone who doesn’t ramble quite so much 🙂

Anyway, as per usual, we’ll be at Galbraiths next Tuesday evening, being Tuesday the 1st of September. Head along after work for a pint, food maybe (scotch egg, go the scotch egg, unless you’re vegetarian, in which case, get something else) and some general good geeky company. We’ll kick off around, ooo 7ish.

The mix of speakers, is, of course, as per usual, eclectic. Matt Williams will be along to talk about his area of study which involves exploring the connection between climate change and assault. There is one.

Diia Bourke will be talking about a topic that I am inordinately fond of, cheese (not that climate change and assault aren’t important or interesting, they are, it’s just that I get a lot more pleasure from cheese than I do from climate change and assault). There will be talk of flavours, the bugs that make the flavours, what to look for in a cheese and other general cheese related matters of importance (all of them).

And out final speaker is one Dave Snell, who currently has a program on TV, by the name of Bogans, which is well worth a look. He’ll be along to talk about the connection of two other topics from which I gather some small (lots of) pleasure – the connection between heavy metal and comics.

Should be good.


If I don’t see you on Tuesday – thanks for sticking around for  both the rambling (from me) and all the cool things we’ve got to talk about over  the 3 years I’ve been doing this. I hope to see you at future Nerdnites, where I will be in the back being quiet(ish).



Nerdnite Auckland – Chapter 29

So details are beginning to emerge about next Tuesday’s Nerdnite here in Auckland. After a couple of … odd months, I think we’re on to so good solid nerdy form here. 3 speakers, for your listening pleasure.

Anne Wignal studies spider communication – how spiders communicate with each other – and how male spiders reduce the risk that an aggressive female will eat him before he has a chance to mate with her. This is going to be good.

Did you know that pinball was illegal in several US states until it was proven in a court of law to be a game of skill rather than a game of chance? Were you aware that there are pinball machines for X-Men, Iron Man, Spiderman, The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Big Lebowski and many more nerdly themes? BJ Wilson – who represented New Zealand in the IFPA Pinball World Championships in 2013 – will talk about pinball’s past, present and future and its reflection of our technical, artistic and cultural evolution.

Also along for the evening, Rene, who for the past 2 years has been working on a project to lift student achievement in national standards in over 300 schools, focusing on enabling student agency, by engaging knowledge and skills within schools and communities. Over this time he was also completing his Master of Art and Design, the outcome of which was a creative consideration of climate adaptation as a social and ecological palimpsest, in a nutshell, how can art contribute to finding solutions to issues faced by communities . He decided the best way to do this was with gunpowder.

yeah, should be a good evening.

Grab your geeks and bring them along.



Nerdnite Auckland – Chapter 27

So. After missing last month due to staggering amounts of I can’t get my shit together on my part, we’re back. What are we going to learn about this time whilst having a beverage? Summing it up so briefly that it probably doesn’t make sense, it’s houses.

One of the chaps coming along to talk, goes by the name of Mark Todd. Not the equestrian. He’s responsible for a series of buildings popping up around time with a certain theme to their names. The Ockham. The Issac. The Turing. The Hypatia. All of you should know where those names come from. I shall be disappointed in you if you don’t. Anyway. Mark has titled his talk “Why housing exposes the dirty secret of modern western economics”. A talk about housing and economics from a maths geek who runs a science foundation and builds apartments. Should be interesting.

In the case of the our other speaker, it’s a specific house. Alberton House to be precise. Rendell McIntosh works at Alberton, one of Auckland’s historic homesteads. An interesting place to have a wander around (with a particularly awesome kitchen) if you ever get the chance, Rendell will be telling us a little about it’s history.

There might be a 3rd speaker. There might not. Either way, I’m sure you’ll deal with it.

Tuesday the 2nd of July at Galbraiths. 6:30-7ish. Find some geeks and bring them along. Or come by yourself.

See you there.



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.


August News

So those more observant of you will have noticed that no details have been posted for Augusts Nerdnite in Auckland.

Long story short, we’re skipping a month. We’ve had … issues contacting speakers we thought we had confirmed. 2 speakers we would have gone with, we’ve done that before, but as of Friday, we were down to 1 confirmed speaker.

Galbraiths however, is still going to be open. The chances of me wandering along for a pint are … high. If anyone would care to join me for one, I’ll see you there he said.

Sorry about that. We’ll be back next month, promise.