Get wild, get creative, and get cosmic, as we throw out the rule book and host our monthly gathering of the gray matter on the fourth Wednesday instead of on the third! We’ll look big in the urban-wildland interface with a journalist who knows when to run and when to play dead; an urbanist-curator will help us not be dim bulbs about Albany’s dumpy-arty treasure-park; and an astrophysics superstar will mine a vein of cosmic gold. With the usual side helpings of booze, food, and music, this post-Thanksgiving Nerd Nite feast promises to be well-rounded - so be there and be square!
“Look Big! A Big Look at Animal Encounters”
As humans encroach upon wild places, encounters with animals have become increasingly commonplace. But what are the rules for facing a moose up close? Do you run from a coyote or stand your ground? How deadly, really, are black widow spiders, rattlesnakes, and sharks? We’ll get a load of expert tips, fascinating animal facts, and harrowing true tales from a journalist whose new book, LOOK BIG, has been hailed as “the definitive guide for what to do in an animal encounter.” And Rachel will be signing and selling her lighthearted but legitimately helpful book, too! (Hint hint: it’s a perfect gift for outdoor, urban, and suburban adventurers alike.)
Speaker: Rachel Levin, freelance journalist
“Why a Dump Is the Best Park Ever”
In an age of boringly safe playgrounds and parks, the Albany Bulb is an adventure zone for adults. At this old construction debris landfill on the San Francisco Bay, rebar protrudes from the rubble and sculptures made of rusty scrap metal invite you to add your own finishing touches. The wild, user-designed park, with its lumpy terrain and surprising nooks and crannies, has attracted artists and seekers of the unusual for decades. Leading the charge to protect this unique urban oasis from ongoing attempts to manicure its roughness, Susan will take us on a tour of the peninsular playland’s past, present, and future.
Susan Moffat is an urbanist and curator and teaches and runs an interdisciplinary program at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.
“Cosmic Gold: Neutron Star Mergers, Gravitational Waves, and the Origin of the Elements”
Scientists have recently developed a new way to “see” the universe, using the gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein nearly a century ago. These waves can teach us about some of the most exotic objects in the cosmos, including star corpses known as black holes and neutron stars. Remarkably, they have also helped solve a longstanding puzzle about where in the universe some of the elements we know and love here on Earth are produced, including gold, platinum, uranium, and even Californium!
Eliot Quataert, UC Berkeley
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