“Heiress adventurers, battling giant insects, and video games” might sound like the pitch for a new Tomb Raider game, but it’s actually what awaits you beyond the Rickshaw Stop’s doors. A local history sleuth weaves the tale of the Bay Area’s own Lara Croft, an evolutionary ecologist will send us back in time to when giant insects ruled the world, and a neuroscientist shares game design tips - for birds and mice!
“Champagne and Polar Bears and Spies, Oh My!” by Reigh Robitaille
How did a debutante from Marin County end up hunting polar bears and gathering military intelligence? When she wasn’t hosting lavish parties at her grand estate in San Rafael, Louise Boyd found a home in the Arctic. She was the first woman to fly over the North Pole, and she even discovered a new part of Greenland - now named Louise Boyd Land. Oh, and there was that time she was a spy for the U.S. government…
Reigh started I Spy Tours to explore the lesser-known tales of the San Francisco’s past. Her “Wonder Women of SF” walking tour series shares the stories of women who have shaped Bay Area history.
“You’re Going to Need a Bigger Net: The Evolution of Giant Insects” by Christopher Beatty
A mainstay of bad science fiction cinema is the giant bug movie, in which oversized insects and spiders face off with scientists and soldiers in a battle for domination of the planet. Cult classics such as “Earth versus the Spider” and “Them” showed us the terror (or sometimes, hilarity) of interacting with giant, many-legged foes. But in eras past, giant insects did exist, the likes of which rival the creations of Hollywood prop designers. In this talk, we will explore some of those amazing prehistoric insects and consider some of the current theories on how they came to be, how they lived, and why they now inhabit only our dreams.
Chris is an evolutionary ecologist who studies behavior, speciation, and biogeography, mostly with dragonflies. His work has taken him to Spain, Peru, Kenya, and the Fiji Islands. For more info, visit his website, christopherbeattyphd.com.
“Building Video Games for Mice and Birds” by Justin Kiggins
Humans aren’t the only esports stars out there - neuroscientists and behavioral psychologists have been designing games for mice and birds for years. Using basic principles of animal behavior to design computer interfaces, scientists have opened up our understanding of the origins of speech and language. It’s only a matter of time before you’re slain by a mouse in Fortnite!
Justin Kiggins is a product manager at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, working on open-source software for single-cell biology and microscopy. Before joining CZI, he was a neuroscientist, writing software to perform machine learning on brain activity, create video games for mice, and build web applications for storing scientific data. You can find him on Twitter at @neuromusic
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