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Nerd Nite May: This Stuff Kind of IS Rocket Science

OK, maybe not exactly rocket science, but certainly the underpinnings of it. This month our talks will be about plasma physics and fusion (it really is easier to understand than it seems, we swear), gravity (because its Star Wars day, and maybe we should understand how they defied it so well), and techno-librarians (every good rocket scientist started with a physics book somewhere down the line). Spring is here and its time to take your brain out of that winter deep freeze. So as always, come and join us to be there, and be square.

Date: Saturday May 9th, 2015 A.D.
Time: Doors 6:00PM, Show 6:30PM
Where: DC9, 1940 9th St NW

With musical guests: Freeform Radio


And the talks are…


Tweet-Harvesting and Rocket Cats: Cool Projects from Academic Libraries
by Zachary Elder

unnamedLibrarians aren’t shushing or filing in card catalogs anymore; I’ll give some examples of new digital projects librarians are working on that demonstrate how even though technology has changed, librarians/archivists are still all about collecting information, preserving information, and enabling people to discover and share that information. I’ll show an app we built that may help researchers collect and analyze social media, and how a digital collection enabled scholars to discover if animals were forced to be bombs in the 16th century (just trust me on this one).

Bio: Zach is director of the Eckles Library at the George Washington University. He contends that, while technology is drastically changing and enhancing libraries, people of all types continue to make passes at librarians who wear glasses.


Party Fouls, Mushroom Clouds, and the Energy Crisis
by George Wilkie

profilepicPlasma physics doesn’t strive to reveal the fabric of reality or “The Mind of God”, and there probably won’t be any television shows dedicated to it in the near future. But this field is a never-ending source of puzzles, the consequences of which are important for our understanding of the universe, and for the future of humanity. For example: why does water spill? The answer is more complex than you might think. I will show what this has to do with, among other things, fusion energy: a challenge which has been described as trying to hold onto Jell-O with rubber bands.

Bio: George is a PhD student of plasma physics at the University of Maryland. After beginning his career as a physicist in the defense industry, four years ago he started using his powers for good and joined the effort toward magnetic-confinement fusion. His research focuses on the behavior of fusion-born alpha particles, trying to predict under what conditions they will keep the plasma hot enough to keep fusion going.


May the Fourth (of Gravity) Be With You!
by Anna Quider

1538737_10152418851313767_264191639114194041_nMay 4th holds a special place in the hearts of nerds as Star Wars Day.  Join us in paying tribute to the ubiquitous force that shapes our universe and is the mortal enemy of all drunk people: Gravity! From the crushing power of black holes, to the graceful beauty of spiral galaxies, to our planet’s annual trip around the sun, gravity’s handiwork spans the cosmos.

Bio: Anna is an astronomer who has spent countless hours trying to study stars, despite the gravity of her bed pulling her to it through sleepless grad school nights. Now, as the Director of Federal Relations for Northern Illinois University, she helps ensure that federal funding for scientists remains strong and universities keep churning out top notch science and technological innovations. She secretly hopes that by doing this, one of these days a university scientist will invent a personal anti-gravity levitator.

Nerd Nite DC: Be There and Be Square!