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Nerd Nite June 10, 2017

Ah, summer! The chirping of birds, the hiking of trails, the abject nerdery! This month, we’re celebrating all the great outdoors has to offer, including in our own backyard. Nerd Nite will give you your own special guide to our city’s fine and sometimes-questionable statuary, we’ll get a behind-the-scenes, under-the-ground look at the National Mall, and take deep breath…we’ll learn about what’s up with our  humid, sometime’s kinda funky air. Here’s to kicking off a very nerdy summer!

Date: Saturday June 10th,
Time: Doors 6:00PM, Show 6:30PM
Where: DC9, 1940 9th St NW
Tickets: $10 at DC9’s ticket sales site.

This is a 21+ event.
Unger photoWho’s That Dead White Guy on a Horse? (And Other Pressing Questions About DC’s Statues)” by Jess Unger

 When is the last time you stopped to admire one of our stone and metal neighbors? The statues of our city deserve our attention, if only to figure out why we share so much real estate with them. Who decided these figures were worth honoring, and why were these particular forms selected? Taken as a whole, the figures represented in DC’s statues tell an interesting story about our priorities as a city (and a nation). Taken as individuals, well – let’s just say you’ll be surprised at who made the cut.
 Jess Unger (@jessunger) spends her days at the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, helping to connect cultural heritage institutions with emergency planning resources. She enjoys taking close up photos of the city’s statues to determine who is making the weirdest face (Jackson is currently winning).
The Sodfather’s Guide to Sustainable Turf on The National Mall by Michael Stachowicz
Turf, grass, and lawns get a bad rap.  Many people tie maintenance of this plant to snobby country clubs, suburbia, and other high maintenance examples, it is also the surface that we gather to relax, play, picnic, and build community.  Nothing exemplifies the cross section of these two extremes more than the National Mall. We want this iconic landscape to exemplify our pride and competence, and we want to use it unreservedly for community activities, not least of which is expression of our First Amendment rights.  Can we have both and be sustainable? Recent reconstruction of the Mall was more than just a sod job.  Every aspect was evaluated as a way to keep grass alive in America’s most trafficked park including design, construction, and permit conditions. This talk will go behind the scenes on how the most recognizable lawn in America was rebuilt to be sustainable.
Following graduation from University of Massachusetts, Michael (@mwstack) embarked on a career of building, renovating, and caring for golf courses, combining highest levels of landscape operations while spending other peoples’ money. But then he became an evangelist for authenticity , eventually writing articles tying historic design principles advocated by Frederick Law Olmsted to golf courses and raging against Disney-fication of our landscapes.  This sparked a yearning to be part of landscapes that mattered to a wider audience, not just the privileged few. So, after a career in managing golf course operations for the Vineyard Vine wearing country club set that caused him to lose his hair and not be able to sleep more than four hours at a time – Michael took his love for maintaining and building landscapes to the National Park Service when the opportunity presented itself to care for the “America’s Front Lawn.”
IMG_1405 (1)Having a bad air day? by Gretchen Goldman
Do you ever walk outside and wonder… why does the air look dirty today? Should I be breathing this? And, like Ralph Wiggum, do you ever wonder, why does it smell like burning? You’ve just encountered a bad-air day! But what makes air “bad”? It could be run-of-the-mill fossil fuel burning or it could be the trees or it could be a carpet fire (which are completely unrelated to metaphorical dumpster fires). After this talk, you could know the difference! So get ready for some atmospheric and ground-level science, learn how the air can affect us in ways we don’t even understand yet, and what new secrets scientists are uncovering about the very air we breathe.
Gretchen Goldman (@GretchenTG) is the research director at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she studies how science is used and misused in policy making. When she’s not chasing around her one-year-old son, Gretchen can be found biking across Washington, DC and planning her next adventure. She holds a PhD and MS in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS in atmospheric science from Cornell University.

Nerd Nite – May 13, 2017


How many people have actually made it to space? Less than six hundred of the billions of people on the planet. But there are even fewer master sommeliers (wine stewards) at a measly 149. To train for space travel; astronauts have to go to the remotest spots on earth to brave micro-gravity and plausibly harsh planetary conditions. Sommeliers have to spot every single type of wine. Difficult both in their own right! For our next Nerd Nite, we are going to have speakers who seriously know about the trials and tribulations of space faring and wine pairing. So let’s toast to boldly going where no one has gone before with our favorite glasses of blanc or noir at this month’s Nerd Nite!

And heads up: we’ll have all-new Nerd Nite t-shirts on sale as well as one of your old favorites!

Date: Saturday May 13th,
Time: Doors 6:00PM, Show 6:30PM
Where: DC9, 1940 9th St NW
Tickets: $10 at DC9’s ticket sales site.

This is a 21+ event.

A 1960s commune leader, a Texas oil scion, and eight volunteer scientists walk into a hermetically sealed artificial biosphere… by Kirstin Neff

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 2.51.32 PMIn 1991, the world was captivated by what Discover Magazine called “the most exciting scientific project to be undertaken in the U.S. since President Kennedy launched us toward the moon.” A stark assemblage of blinding white steel and glass in the desert of southern Arizona, Biosphere 2 was envisioned as a bold experiment to bring humans closer to permanent habitation on Mars. In this story, big, ambitious science yields bizarre results in ways both entertaining and enlightening.

Bio: Kirstin Neff is a native Baja Arizonan in search of good Mexican food in D.C. She studied political science and Russian at Wellesley College, and received her M.S. and Ph.D. in hydrology from the University of Arizona. She has worked as an outdoor science educator and conducted remote sensing research at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. She is currently a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow on Capitol Hill. She also did her first hydrological field work on Lake Baikal in Siberia.





Weird Wine: Strange Stories from the History Of Viticulture and Vinification by Rachel Pendergrass

Wine has a gotten a bit of a bad rep for being one of the snobbiest industries around, but there’s a lot more to the wine than unpronounceable words and bizarre tasting notes. Come hear some of the wackiest, pretension-free true stories about wine and the industry that surrounds it, from mafia connections to your bottomless brunch buzz, to the miraculous day when wine flowed from the taps in Italy.

Rachel is a writer, storyteller, and humorist in Washington, D.C. She
has written about food and beverage for HowStuffWorks, Martha Stewart Living, and Eater. She currently holds a level two certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (which is like the book-nerd version of training to be a sommelier). She only needs to slay two more dragons to become a level 3 and get a +2 bonus against all fortified wines. She also hosts/produces the nationally touring Solve for X Variety show, as well as Scribe Night playwriting workshop show, and Shameless: An Open Mic Variety show, both of which are native to DC.

The Shitty Side of Space Travel by Becca Ressman

unnamedDo you ever wonder how astronauts take care of business from low Earth orbit? Did you know that when we first sent a human into space that a school girl from Pennsylvania put more thought into this than NASA? It’s something every aspiring astronaut should worry about, which is why we need to inspire all the budding space-toilet engineers out there with stories of pee icicles and space diapers.

Bio: Becca is currently a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, working for a member of Congress. She covers space, cybersecurity, and other science and tech issues for her office. She got her PhD in physics/astrophysics from The Ohio State University and earned her Bachelors in physics and statistics from Carnegie Mellon University. She is also a connoisseur of tiny hats.