Nerdnite Chapter 8

Another line up of talks from all over the spectrum lined up for July.
If all goes according to plan, we’ll be hearing about animal cognition, art conservation and mapping the solar system and near earth objects.
First up, we have Alex Taylor, a lecturer at Auckland Uni’s School of Psychology, who asks ‘What can tool-making crows teach us about the evolution of human intelligence?’  We don’t want to crow about it too much, but this should be a good talk. :)
Our second speaker is Sarah Thompson who spends a lot of time pointing lasers at art pigments to learn about how paintings fade from exposure to light. Sarah will be shedding light on some cool discoveries and techniques used in the art conservation science.
And then we have Applied Mathematician Philip Sharp whose research centers on the use of computer methods to simulate physical processes that vary with time.  Philip will be taking us through the ramifications of the latest news to hand, namely:  “Large asteroid  hits Nectar bar”.  The chances of a large asteroid colliding with Earth are very small, but as the dinosaurs found out, if one hits the effects are catastrophic. What could happen? what we can do to prevent a collision? would an evacuation of greater Auckland would work? (My guess is no, btw)
Gather your geeky and your nerdy. Bring people who like learning and beer. Nectar, in Kingsland at 6:30pm, Tuesday the 4th of June (it’s free).

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 – Chapter 7

Back to it. nerdnite returns, same bat-time, same bat-channel, with a technologically orientated evening on Tuesday May the 7th at Nectar, above the Kingslander in … Kingsland. Materials science, 3d printing and differential analysers (google them, they’re awesome machines).First up, we have Shaun Hendy, visiting us all the way from Wellington. Shaun is a physicist by trade, specialising in nanotech and materials science, and will be speaking about economics, science and innovation in his talk entitled “Get Off the Grass”.

Our second speaker Danny Dillen is a product designer currently running his own small 3D printing, prototyping and product development company in auckland. He will be introducing us to 3D printing methods, particularly the newer filament extruder printers which have begun to dominate the consumer market, as opposed to the half million dollar+ machines used in industry.

We also have William Irwin, a volunteer from MOTAT, who will be taking us through the history and restoration of the Meccano Differential Analyser No. 2, an analog computer that solves differential equations. This particular one was used to help build Benmore Hydro Dam, and design the bouncing bombs used to destroy hydro damns in the Ruhr Valley during WWII.

Chapter 5

So Nerdnite Auckland is dusting off it’s boots and getting back on the metaphorical road.

Again with the 3 speakers, we’re all set to go for Nerdnite #5. Same time, same place. Which means Nectar, upstairs from the Kingslander on New North Road in Kingsland, this coming Tuesday (the 5th of March). Doors open 6:30, talks will kick off round 7 once everyone has acquired a beverage.


First up (or last, depending on who wants to go where) we’ve got Tim McNamara, who coordinates digital volunteer response in emergencies talking about privacy. I believe the topic will be “Privacy: It’s worse than you think”. Think worse people, think worse, with Tim’s help, we might catch up.

Then we’ve got biomedical engineer Michelle Dickinson getting into the details of some of the cooler aspects of nanotechnology that are about. Quite possibly including superhydrophobicity, the dangers of nanotechnology and how to make smart phones smarter.

And finally, provided his plane is on time, Richard Easther, a cosmologist from the physics department at Auckland University will be giving us a biographical talk about Beatrice Tinsley – someone from the history of New Zealand science that’s worth knowing more about. Come along, should be fun. Spread the word, bring your friends and not just the nerdy ones. Try and bring a few of the not quite so nerdy ones over to the dark side. See you Tuesday. Tally ho.

Chapter 4

We had 3 speakers confirmed for our 4th Nerdnite.

We normally have a wide range of topics for our talks, we made an exception this time and it was all about beer.

The first speaker to confirm was Ron Beatson from Plant and Food Research, all the way from Motueka, giving us a summary of the hop breeding programme in NZ, which will include: Hop Botany 101, main features of hops, the history of the NZ hop industry, NZ hop growing & production, chemistry & brewing and development of NZ bred cultivars.

We also had Brent Westein from SOBA, the Society Of Beer Advocates talking about what SOBA is about and some of the changes in the Auckland beer scene in the past few years (good, but not as fast as Wellington, grumble mutter mutter grumble).

And for the bits in between we had Master Brewer Albrecht von Wallmoden, with everything else you need to know.


Chapter 3

Speakers for our 3rd Nerdnite (which went very well despite large numbers of malingerers who felt Radiohead were more important) were:

Cather Simpson.

“How can lasers light up YOUR life?”

Dr Cather Simpson runs the Photon Factory, a facility that provides incredibly fast laser pulses to a variety of researchers as well as the ability to microscopically machine pretty much any material.


Matthew Dentith,

Why we’re all conspiracy theorists now (or, we should be).
Conspiracy theories get a bad rap. They’re considered to be only believed by outsiders, they are irrational beliefs and even though we know conspiracies do occur, most of us don’t think that means we should treat conspiracy theories seriously.


Mike Dickison

Why aren’t birds bigger?

Madagascar used to be home to Elephant Birds, the largest birds in the world. Despite their name, they weighed only a tenth as much as an elephant. Which is curious, as flying birds are bigger on average than flying mammals, and flightless birds bigger than flightless mammals. What determines the maximum size of birds? Some have proposed it’s because they lay eggs; others put it down to them not having tails. Who’s right?

Mike did his PhD at Duke University on the evolution of giant flightless birds ( He’s also a graphic designer, specialising in the communication of scientific data (, and the author of a best-selling book on how to play the ukulele (
If you would like to speak or want to suggest someone that you think should speak (or something that you want to hear about), let me know, contact details on the contact page. Funny that.

Chapter 2

Speakers for our 2nd Nerdnite were:

Daniel Hurley:

“Tango: what do silver and settlers in turn-of-the-century Argentina have to do with a modern participatory art form?”

Daniel Hurley gives us a brief history of the music and dance of tango; from simple music created by displaced people, to a subculture present all over the world. Tango dance is easy to learn, and based on understandable physical principles – but there are no rules, and every couple looks different when they dance. Tango music has been played for more than a century – but there are violent disagreements even today about what is, and is not, tango. Listen to this talk, and the next time you see a black-clad stranger walk across an empty space, stop, and look speculatively at the floor, you’ll know what they’re thinking.

Brendan Moyle

“An accidental tourist- exploring the illegal markets for wildlife”

Brendan Moyle, (of Poaching of wildlife is a serious threat to many endangered species. Effective strategies to address this need to be developed. This leads into the less conventional research I’ve been doing in Asia. As neither smugglers nor their customers are good at filling out statistical returns, a more on-the-ground approach is required. This leads to encounters that never quite get into any academic journals.

Steven Galbraith

“Six impossible things (in cryptography) before breakfast”

Steven Galbraith – Associate Professor of Pure Mathematics at the University of Auckland and a leading researcher on elliptic curve cryptography will give us a whirlwind tour of some concepts in cryptography and explain how a little simple mathematics goes a long way to solving interesting problems. Is it possible to send credit card details securely over the internet? How do I know that software updates are not a virus? Can I share a secret? What has mathematics got to do with any of this? If you would like to speak or want to suggest someone that you think should speak (or something that you want to hear about), let me know, contact details on the contact page. Funny that.

Hai everybody.

Indeed, Nerd Nite is coming to Auckland. We’re in the process of looking for a venue and getting our first 3 speakers lined up. Sign up to the mailing list or pop along to the book of face page and we’ll let you know what’s happening.