Nerd Nite October: Einstein!

einsteinOctober 23, 2017 at The Academy of Music

$5.00 general admission  | 7:00pm

Nerd Nite Noho comes to the Academy of Music stage!
Nerd Nite is a monthly event held in more than 90 cities across the globe during which folks give fun-yet-informative presentations – while the audience drinks along. Presenters Gary Felder and Brokk Toggerson will cover themes related to the work of Albert Einstein as connective tissue and food for thought around our November Season Series performance of Jack Fry’s one-man show, Einstein! Come schmooze, have a drink and talk science!

GARY FELDER is a professor of Physics at Smith College. He holds a PhD in theoretical cosmology and has done research in the field for 20 years. He’s given many public presentations on the topic, including SciTech Cafe, appearances on the Bill Newman show, and talks at elementary schools, high schools, summer camps, retirement communities, and more.
“The Big Bang and Beyond“
Einstein’s theory of relativity presented a radically new idea of what space and time are, which in turn led to the development of the Big Bang Theory of the history of the universe. Gary briefly explain how the theory of relativity led to the Big Bang Theory, what that theory says about the history of the universe, and a few of the current open questions and areas of research in cosmology.

BROKK TOGGERSON is a physicist who did his Ph.D. at CERN’s LHC and is now a physics teacher at UMass Amherst.
“The Black Holes of Scientific Knowledge”
Sometimes it seems that scientists (and physicists in particular) have essentially everything figured out. Sure we are still working on a few really hard problems, but other than that it can seem that there are just details to be cleaned up. Turns out, there are some fairly significant things that we still do not really understand! Questions like, “what is nothing?” don’t really have satisfactory answers. In this talk, we will explore some stuff, both grand and every day, that we do not know.

Nerd Nite NoHo 9/11/17: Manipulation and Bats

September 11, 2017 at 7:o0pm

World War II Club, 50 Conz Street, Northampton MA

Join us for ‘Mind Control: Manipulating your audience when making presentations’ by Georges Grinstein and ‘To the Batmobile! The ongoing plight of North American bats’ by Jonathan Reichard.

$5 admission.

‘Mind Control: Manipulating your audience when making presentations’
Georges will discuss what visual analytics is, give examples of modern visualizations and visual analytic tools, and discuss his current research interests: cognitive visualizations, very high-dimensional data visualizations, and coupling visualization and machine learning.

Georges Grinstein is an academic with over 40 years of research and teaching focused on computer graphics, visualization and visual analytics. He’s started a number of companies and mentored numerous doctoral students, and loves starting new projects and learning new things.


‘To the Batmobile! The ongoing plight of North American bats’

Since 2006, populations of hibernating bats in the US and Canada have been decimated by the fungal disease white-nose syndrome. As the disease continues to spread across the country, the scientific community is making great strides to determine how to control the pathogen and promote recovery of bats. Some North American bats are avoiding the most serious impacts of WNS, but the ecology of bats in the US and Canada has been changed

Jonathan Reichard works for the US Fish and Wildlife Service as the national assistant coordinator for white-nose syndrome. Jon helped lead the collaborative actions of state, federal, and scientific agencies and institutions to prepare for the arrival of white-nose syndrome and implement conservation and recovery strategies.

Nerd Nite August 14th: Weather & Song

Monday, August 14th at 7:00pm
World War II Club Banquet Room
50 Conz Street
Northampton, MA

Nerd Nite NoHo! It’s happening again, and this month we’ve got the fantastic Wesley Olds presenting “Weather Forecasts, WTF?”

Weather forecasts have a notorious reputation for being unreliable, yet people often plan their day based on them. Is that reputation justified, or do meteorologists get an undeserved bad rap? If weather forecasts are unreliable, how can you use them wisely to make plans? This presentation will shed some light on those questions.

Wes received his B.S. in Meteorology from Lyndon State College and M.S. in Applied Statistics from Cornell University.

We will also have the absolutely lovely Adam Marks presenting “The Art Of Mashups and Sampling: How to Make any Two Songs Work Together”

Have you ever heard a song on the radio that used a part from and older song? How about a YouTube video which takes two songs you’ve never thought could work together flow seamlessly? Adam Marks has been making these kind of audio “Mashups” since 2006, and will be going through the basics of both theory and audio editing to prove that with a little bit of math and even more creativity, anything is possible. Other topics covered will include Digital Audio Workstations and basic music theory.

Adam creates his own music mashups and is capable of listening to and then considering the quality of musical performance.

Nerd Nite April: Greenwashing and Ranked Choice Voting

Hoy cow, it’s already (almost) April! We’re very happy here to bid winter a not so fond farewell and welcome green back into our lives.

Speaking of “green”… here are our talks!

A Cure for Greenwashing

Is your coffee eco-friendly? What about your favorite cereal? Your computer paper? Businesses who make these products might tell you it’s all “green”, but is it? Hear about Greenwashing and how it affects our planet. This fun and engaging talk will empower you and show you easy ways to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Kery Emma Ellis began as a veterinary nurse but found her true passion as a nature guide. She earned her master’s degree in conservation biology at Antioch New England and has since been leading bird hikes and giving talks on shade-grown coffee. Her other passions are dance and indie film.

No Spoiler Alerts: Ranked Choice Voting Explained

Every election cycle, we endure a familiar debate over “spoiler” candidates: one side decries “wasted votes” for a candidate that can’t win, while the other condemns voting for “the lesser of two evils.” I’ll show how the spoiler effect is not inherent to voting, but a consequence of the Plurality system we use in most U.S. elections today. We’ll learn about Ranked Choice Voting, an alternative system that allows voters to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference, and we’ll consider its potential benefits to elections in Massachusetts and beyond.

Greg Dennis serves as Research Director for Voter Choice Massachusetts, a non-partisan, non-profit organization devoted to educating the public about electoral reform. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 2009.

$5 Entry. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

Nerd Nite March 13th: Game of Thrones and Music as a Language

Monday, March 13th @ 7:00pm  /  $5 Entry. All ages welcome in the banquet hall, but valid ID required for front bar and alcoholic purchases.

17038656_1416474455060489_3480306163108102429_oJesse Fixes Thrones
For those of us even aware that it exists, Game of Thrones is understood to be one of the least popular and commonly derided Epic Fantasy Sagas ever written. Doomed to a single printing and quickly buried underneath the sands of time. In this talk, Jesse Mayhew asks the ‘tough’ questions: How could a stag kill a dire wolf? The utility of Piscine Heraldry. Was the Red Wedding red enough?

Jesse Mayhew is the host of the Podcast The Chairmen of the Boards: A Podcast about board games, board game culture, and the trials of adult male virginity. He is actually quite fond of Game of Thrones.

Is Music a Language?
Music can make us sad or happy, it can surprise us or calm us, and it can tell complicated and subtle stories. But even though music can communicate all these things, is it actually a language? If it is, what are its words? What are its parts of speech? How does music communicate complicated ideas through its notes, chords, and melodies?

This talk will outline some ways that music acts like – and does not act like – spoken language by tweaking several models from computational linguistics to show how they apply – and do not apply – to music.

Christopher White is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at UMass Amherst. Chris remains an avid organist, having studied with Haskell Thompson and James David Christie. As a member of the Three Penny Chorus and Orchestra, he has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and as a quarterfinalist on America’s Got Talent.

We will also be donating 50% of the proceeds to the Northampton Arts Council. Here’s a little about them:

The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its’ goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as Transperformance and Four Sundays in February, and advocating on behalf of the arts community.

Nerd Nite February: Trees & Geeks

Monday, February 13th at 7:00pm
World War II Club
50 Conz Street
Northampton, MA

wood‘The Changing Faces of Nerd Community: Organizing Events for Modern Geeks’

A discussion about nerd stereotypes, social dynamics, diversity, & toxic masculinity.

Melissa Lewis-Gentry is the Business Manager & Store Manager for Modern Myths, Inc. In addition to running the day to day operations of the downtown Northampton store, she also coordinates with their NY store, and helps run their multi-state traveling convention business. Before taking over Modern Myths, you might have met her at conventions across New England runningDungeons & Dragons games for Wizards of the Coast.


‘The Incredible Complexity of Trees’

A talk on some of the fascinating things about the inner workings of trees. How do trees pump the sap up so high? Did you know that
trees have hormones? Have you ever tried local nuts (the food that is)?

Henry Lappen is the chair of the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee which promotes and plants street trees in town. He is also a professional entertainer whose shows include “Henry the Juggler” and A “Passion for Birds”.

$5 Entry. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

Nerd Nite is on January 9th!

coffee copyWelcome to 2017, all! And while Nerd Nite did really well in 2016 with some awesome talks, we personally weren’t too sad to see it go. We hope you’ll start the new year right with some fellow nerds and these two talks on nitro-brew coffee and defending someone you know is guilty. We will also be donating 50% of the proceeds to the Food Bank of Western MA.
The location

World War II Club (aka The Deuce) / 50 Conz /  Northampton, MA
January 9th @ 7:00pm  /  $5 Entry. All ages welcome in the banquet hall, but valid ID required for front bar and alcoholic purchases.

The talks

‘Nitro Brew Coffee: Is it Safe to Drink?’
By Elonia Lamontagne, chemistry teacher at Chicopee High School 
A general chemistry flashback including review of the atom, electron configuration, bonding, states of matter, periodic table, etc. Using chemistry, we can look at nitrogen as a gas, nitrogen in the air, the nitrogen cycle, and nitrogen in the body, then we will determine if we should be putting nitrogen gas into our coffee.

‘How Do You Defend Someone You Know Is Guilty?’
By Meredith L. Ryan, Esq., criminal defense attorney

It’s the question every criminal defense attorney is asked about their work. How on earth do they stand next to people who do bad things and argue for them? Why do we even bother when we know someone did it? Learn how defending one person can affect the rights and liberties of all people, and the role defense attorneys play in protecting our Constitution.

Nerd Nite December: Journalism and Drones

15129541_1278778468830089_1362217330946851386_o**Nerd Nite NoHo will be donating 50% of Monday’s entry fee to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and any additional donations are welcome.**

$5 Entry. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

‘How did those journalists get it so wrong? An election postmortem’

On November 8, many Americans woke up expecting Hillary Clinton to become the country’s next president. Weeks of coverage by prominent news organizations had assured them of that. On Election Day, the Huffington Post gave Clinton a 98% chance of winning, the New York Times an 85% chance, and even the revered FiveThirtyEight was thought to be playing it safe with the 71% chance they gave her. On November 9, those same people woke up to President-elect Trump. How did those journalists get it so wrong? This election postmortem will use both mass communication theory and emerging evidence to evaluate that question, and end with a different one: What can we do about it?

Rodrigo Zamith is an assistant professor in the Journalism Department at UMass Amherst, where he studies the intersection of journalism and technology. As a Minnesota Vikings fan, he is accustomed to disappointment and proving the odds-makers wrong.

‘Drones for good – How aerial robots are shaping the future’

We are blessed to live in an age when massive technological advances are improving our lives and our planet. Drones – or aerial robots – are one of these advances which have amazing potential in the creative as well as practical arts and sciences. From farming to search % rescue to storytelling, these amazing aircraft are already transforming our world. This fast paced presentation will bring viewers up to date with the technology – and, more importantly, the positive effects that flying robots will enable in the near future.

Futurist, technologist and author Craig Issod divides his time between the Pioneer Valley and Coastal Rhode Island. He has worked in many diverse fields including construction, alternative energy, publishing, innovation and technology. Craig has published three best selling books on consumer drones and runs a popular blog at



The World War II Club is recovering from some burst sprinkler system pipes, which has left the kitchen temporarily out of commission. What does this mean? Unfortunately, we can’t offer food. You are welcome to bring something to eat or order takeout while at the deuce. Bring some pizzas and have a pizza party!

Nerd Nite November: Emotions & Architecture

14681709_1244665035574766_9074518492221639513_n**Nerd Nite NoHo will be donating 50% of Monday’s entry fee to the ACLU, and any additional donations are welcome. Until (and beyond) then, peace and love to all our fellow nerds.**

$5 Entry. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

“Moods and Measurements: Quantifying Emotion in the Decision Process”

From hot heads to cold calculations, emotions have long been considered to have a substantial influence on decision making. In this presentation, we will first discuss the distinct effects that emotions such as anger, fear, and happiness are thought to have on the decision process. We will then focus on a central question underlying these findings: though sophisticated techniques have been developed to measure the effects of these emotions, what tools do we have to measure the emotions themselves?

Andrea Cataldo is a doctoral candidate in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department at UMass Amherst, where she studies mathematical models of decision making. She grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts and consequently knows a little too much about cranberries, clams, and Dunkin Donuts.

“Triple Deckers: New England’s Working Class Vernacular Architecture”

Originally built to house factory workers, Triple Deckers remain one of the most visible examples of New England’s Industrial Age past. In this presentation, we will examine the historical environment that produced these buildings, discuss their current status in post-industrial New England cities, and contemplate their lasting legacy on the community and landscape. Specific attention will be given to the architectural features that combine to constitute the style.

Brianne Zulkiewicz divides her time between serving on the board of Valley Free Radio and working at a local museum. She is a committed preservationist and an amateur architectural historian. She grew up in Western Massachusetts and graduated from Hampshire College.

Nerd Nite October: 3 Years, 3 Talks!

catspace2October 10th, 7:00pm
World War II Club (The Deuce)
50 Conz Street, Northampton
We can’t believe it’s been three years already! To commemorate this event, we will be having three presenters at 15 minutes each (instead of 20). Also as a throwback to the very first Nerd Nite in history, we have someone speaking about birds.

Free snacks and giveaways will be provided as well. We hope you will come celebrate with us!

$5 Entry. Guests under 21 years are welcome in the banquet room area, but are restricted from the front bar, so please have your ID on you if you’d like to order alcoholic beverages.

A Game of Cat & Mouse: How One Parasite Hijacks Brains and Manipulates Behavior
by Dan Vahaba

Does free will exist? While we like to think we’re in charge of our own actions, the notion of free will is greatly challenged by parasitic organisms that hijack the brains of other animals. Brain parasites come in many flavors and exert major influence on the behavior of their hosts in order to reproduce, but one particularly fascinating species is the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii (“toxo” for short). Toxo is a unicellular organism that can only reproduce in the gut of cats, but when it ends up in rodents, it manipulates their brain and behavior in a big way. My talk will focus on the life cycle of toxo, how it ends up in and impacts rodents, and what it does to find its way back into cats. At the end of the talk, I’ll discuss the possibility of toxo’s influence on humans.

Dan Vahaba is an owner of two hopefully toxo-free felines (Peanut and Leon), as well a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience & Behavior program at UMass Amherst. His dissertation research has nothing to do with brain parasites, but instead explores how brain estrogens facilitate communication learning and auditory processing in songbirds.

How Diversity Improves Systems
by Presley Pizzo

Diversity is a hot topic in the tech industry, but we often assert that it’s important without explaining why. I’ll argue that gender and racial diversity, biodiversity, and even diversity of inanimate resources all benefit us in the same fundamental way.

Presley Pizzo is a software engineer at Originate. She has a PhD in linguistics from UMass Amherst and a penchant for metalworking. She works with leadership and the grassroots diversity initiative at Originate to improve diversity and inclusivity in the company.

Neotropical Migrant Birds: Why Conservation in Panama Matters in Massachusetts
by Ezekiel Jakub & Melva Olmos

Migratory birds such as the warblers, flycatchers, and raptors are some of the most enjoyable and anticipated birds to watch during our spring and summer. These migrants spend, in fact, most of their lives not with us in Massachusetts but in the new world tropics (“Neo-tropics”) including Mexico, Central and South America.

In a rapidly developing and globalized economy of the Republic of Panama, conservation has not been a priority. Loosing land to forest fragmentation, loosing forests due to illegal logging, poor funding for the environmental ministry, and only “paper parks” have made conservation of wildlife difficult! Lacking public funds and commitment conservation is largely a “privatized” movement by non-profit organizations, land owners, and community groups.

Come enjoy an evening with Ezekiel Jakub (Executive Director and Ornithologist) and Melva Olmos (President and Jaguar Biologist) of Conservación Panamá and a kaleidoscope of photographs, sounds, and video of a tropical paradise in danger! Learn about our work towards neo-tropical migrant conservation and what you can do!

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