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Nerd Nite Brighton 45: Waves, Vision, Quantum

We’ve got all the physics, laughter and quantum thingumies you could want this month at Nerd Nite Brighton. Three fantastic nerdy speakers, nerd news and our fiendish quiz- all washed down with (free) cake and (reasonably priced) beer. What more could you want?

We usually sell out so get your tickets now!

7.30 for an 8pm start.
£4 Regular Nerds or £3 Unemployed/Students/65+ Nerds

Our speakers:

Prof Mark Hindmarsh: Gravitational Waves from the Big Bang

Mark Hindmarsh is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Sussex, carrying out research on the physics of the Big Bang. In his talk, Mark will explain how a tiny fraction of a second after the Universe began, the Higgs field turned on. This might not have been a smooth transition: instead, the Universe might have filled up with bubbles of Higgs field- rather like opening a can of fizzy drink. The resulting fizz might have been loud enough to generate gravitational waves, detectable in a future space-based gravitational wave detector such as the European Space Agency’s LISA.

Dr Hannah Macpherson: Landscape, Laughter and Visual Impairment

Hannah Macpherson is a geographer and inclusive arts practitioner interested in social relations. Her research focuses on experiences of D/disability and uses art-based research methods, walking interviews and other qualitative research methods. Feminist, post-structural and new-materialist theories inform her work. Ten years ago she conducted her doctoral research acting as a sighted guide with people with visual impairment who go walking in the Lake District and Peak District. Her talk is about spaces of British landscape, the laughter of the oppressed, resonance and affect. And there are some terrible jokes.

Prof Winfried Hensinger: Quantum Computing

Winfried Hensinger is professor of quantum technologies at the University of Sussex. Hensinger’s group works on constructing a trapped-ion quantum computer demonstrator device, a quantum simulation engine as well as portable quantum sensors in collaboration with a number of academic and industrial partners.

Hosted by Dr Mick Taylor
Twitter: @brightonnerd
Facebook: NerdNiteBrighton
Tickets link

Nerd Nite 44: Music, Sound & Therapy


It’s music to our ears this month at Nerd Nite, with three talks on musical topics. Great speakers, cake, gin, nerdy news and the highly competitive quiz…

7.30 for an 8pm start. We usually sell out so get your tickets now!
£4 Regular Nerds or £3 Unemployed/Students/65+ Nerds

Our speakers:

– Chris Kiefer: Designing New Musical Instruments
– Emily Macdonald: Music Therapy: Why singing is good for you.
– Ben Newland: Occupying Space with Sound: A brief guide to the social, political and cultural use of portable sound systems.

Dr Chris Kiefer is a computer-musician and musical instrument designer, specialising in musician-computer interaction, physical computing, and machine learning. He performs with custom-made instruments including malleable foam interfaces, touch screen software, interactive sculptures and a modified self-resonating cello. Chris’ research often focuses on participatory design and development of interactive music systems in everyday settings, including digital instruments for children with disabilities, and development of the NETEM networked score system for musical ensembles. His work also concentrates on machine learning and signal processing for audio and interaction, with a particular emphasis on nonlinear and dynamical systems. He has developed and published games and instruments for mobile devices.

Emily Macdonald is a music therapist, piano teacher, choir leader, arranger and multi-instrumentalist. Her music therapy work has focused on vulnerable, at-risk children and leading therapeutic singing groups for adults with dementia. She sings with barberswing trio The Close Shaves and is the Director of Brighton Swing Choir. When she’s not playing music, you can usually find her dancing the lindy hop!

Ben Newland is an artist, designer and music fanatic who tends to work with sound and sound system technologies. He is the creator of the Nomadic Sound System, a 10 piece portable sound system in the form of a marching band. In this talk Ben Newland meanders through the history of portable sound system use and explores the cultures that revolve around them. From marching bands, to sonic weapons, to sodcasting teenagers on the back of buses, portable sound systems are projectors of territory, identity and cultural values and disruptors of the status quo. He will also demonstrate his own sound system projects and speculate on the future of mobile noise making. You can follow Ben on Twitter @Nomadicsoundsys.

Hosted by Dr Mick Taylor

Facebook event

Twitter: @brightonnerd

Nerd Nite 43: Nerd Nite at the Museum

Nerd Nite teams up with Brighton Science Festival this month for a FREE Nerd Nite at the Museum special as part of the Brighton Museum Late! We’ll be taking over the fantastic Museum Lab space on the first floor, and we’ll have two nerdy speakers, plus our usual quiz and nerd news. There will also be other exciting activities to check out elsewhere in the Museum, courtesy of University of Sussex researchers.

Tickets are free, but limited, so make sure you sign up for the Museum Late via the British Science Festival site.

Please note, this Nerd Nite special starts earlier than usual at 7.30pm. Museum doors will open at 7.00pm.

1. Spinning the colour wheel (Dr Alexandra Loske): A talk about how the invention of new pigments and publications on colour influenced the Royal Pavilion interiors. Alexandra is an art historian, curator and editor with a particular interest in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century European art and architecture. She has been working at the University of Sussex since 1999 and is the managing editor of the Frogmore Press. She is currently working on a book on the history of colour systems in art and print culture. Alexandra is a Curator at the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museums.

2. The Beast Within – A brief introduction to the organisms that make others their home (Lee Ismail): Parasites are some of the most successful organisms on Earth. Some cause irritation and discomfort to their hosts, such as fleas or lice, whilst others are horrific parasitoids that alter their host mentally and physically before ultimately killing them. Parasites themselves can range from complex, multicellular organisms such as spider wasps to the simplest of single celled organisms causing horrific diseases in animals and humans. This talk gives a very brief introduction to these lifeforms and demonstrates how we may not be in full control of our lives after all! Lee Ismail is Curator of Natural Sciences based up at the Booth. His favourite animal is a pangolin.

Hosted by Anna Downie

Nerd Nite 42: Climate change, Singularity and Owls

Nerd Nite Brighton: Climate change, Singularity and Owls
Thursday 27th July 2017

We’ve got something for everyone at Nerd Nite this month with an amazing diversity of speakers, plus our usual nerd news, nerd quiz and (nerd) cakes.

Doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

£4 Regular Nerds, £3 Unemployed/NUS/65+ Nerds

Tickets available from Rialto Theatre
Twitter: @brightonnerd
Facebook: NerdNiteBrighton

Our speakers this month:

Robin Webster: Grief, hope and whether the climate geeks could save the earth
David Plummer: Owls: Natural Born Killers
Simon Wilkinson: Postcards from the Singularity

Robin Webster will be talking about whether the nerdy language we use when we talk about climate change is almost deliberately set up to distance us from the reality of the issue – and in polite society we’ve silently agreed not to talk about it at all. She’ll describe some of the most recent technical research showing us where we’re at on emissions, the tehno fixes we’re relying on and the unexpected changes of the last few years that give us hope. She’ll also take a dive into the fascinating research showing why we find it hard to talk about climate change, how we might be able to frame our way out of trouble and why small actions matter a lot more than we think they do.

Robin has been a climate change researcher, writer and campaigner for ten years. She’s worked for a number of different NGOs and specializes in turning technical material about climate change impacts and emissions into something that someone might want to read. In 2009, Robin helped start up the climate fact-checking blog Carbon Brief, and subsequently spent a few years diving into Daily Mail headlines and the Annexes of reports about energy policy – in order to find out what was accurate and what (more often) wasn’t. Robin also performs comedy improv and has trained as a storyteller. She’s fascinated by how we can tell more compelling stories about climate change, and why we don’t often do it.

David Plummer’s talk will show the true nature of owls opposed to myth, with a comparison to the Terminator. Wildlife and photography have always been David’s two great loves. His earliest memory is of studying woodlice at the age of two. At eight, he bought his first second-hand SLR camera and was delighted when he managed to get a full-frame shot of a blue tit at nest. David now runs wildlife photography courses, teaches on behalf of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and conducts tours for Steppes, the leader in worldwide ethical travel, in India, the Galapagos, Kenya and Rwanda. He also conducts bespoke private tours in specific locations or to film target species, with particular expertise in: the Pantanal region of Brazil, the Maasai Mara, and Hungary.

David is a passionate believer in protecting functioning eco systems, and advises internationally on eco-tourism and how it can be used to protect habitats and species. He is also actively involved in conservation in the UK: he is the co-ordinator of the BN5 owl project, a community based project in Sussex to monitor and boost owls, and he is a committee member of Henfield Bird Watch, winner of the British Trust for Ornithology’s “Marsh Local Ornithology Award”.

Find out more:

Simon Wilkinson will be tackling the question of how the human perspective will change as AI becomes artificial general intelligence and how the narratives we tell ourselves about the world and our role in it might begin to look increasingly shaky.

His work incorporates audiovisual, installation, VR, AR, Ai, electronic music, online and performance mediums; often combining multiple approaches simultaneously to create highly immersive narrative environments which invite prolonged audience engagement.

His work has been featured at Tate Modern and regularly tours internationally. The most recent five works, produced under the name CiRCA69 and collectively entitled Whilst The Rest Were Sleeping, exist within a continuous narrative universe. Shows from this series have, in 2016/17, enjoyed a 16 nation world tour across 6 continents. A world premiere of the complete collection will take place in Mexico City October 2017 as part of MutekMX.

Simon guest lectures at a large number of international universities including Netherlands Film Academy, Sarajevo Academy of Fine Art, Bilkent University Ankara, Lima University of Technology and Engineering London College of Communication and a number of UK universities. He was the lead facilitator on British Council’s Transmedia Thinktank in Venezuela 2016 and in 2017 was a resident at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Future of Intelligence exploring the use of artificial intelligence in his practice.

Find out more at

Images in poster by kind permission of circa69 and David Plummer.

Nerd Nite 41: Play, Galaxies & Sound

Celebrate (almost) mid summer by worshipping your inner nerd! Nerd Nite brings you talks, a quiz and news in the nerdiest possible way. With added cake.

Doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Our speakers this month:

Claire Baert – Citizen science: Play, help, research

Prof Kathy Romer – Life with Clusters of Galaxies: like a box of chocolates (but at least it is all soft centres…)

Gianluca Memoli- Shaping sound

Claire Baert is a project manager for a video game company in Brighton. She discovered citizen science by playing Foldit, a research discovery game developed by the University of Washington. She started the Brighton Citizen Science Meetup Group in 2015 to promote local citizen science projects and launched in 2016, a website dedicated to scientific games. She is also contributing to EyesOnAlz, a biomedical game that accelerates research on Alzheimer’s disease.

Originally from Tyneside, Kathy Romer got her BSc in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Manchester in 1990 and her PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh in 1995. She then moved to the USA and was a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University and at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). After a short time as a research professor at CMU, she secured a tenure track position there. She moved back to the UK in 2004 to take up a lectureship at the University of Sussex. She is still at Sussex and is now both a Professor of Astrophysics, and a Public Engagement Fellow for the Science and Technology Research Council. Kathy is a world expert in the discovery and exploitation of X-ray clusters of galaxies. She is principle investigator of the XMM Cluster Survey collaboration and is coordinating the cluster research for the international Dark Energy Survey project.

Gianluca Memoli works as research fellow at the University of Sussex. His research is focused on how sound interacts with objects, for entertainment and medical applications like novel human computer interfaces, acoustic levitators and (eventually) drug delivery. He is a passionate science communicator and, in his spare time, the proud father of two boys.

Gianluca will talk about how sound can take different shapes that can be touched. He will demonstrate how to shape ultrasound fields and use them to create 3D displays made of floating objects, how to create invisible objects that you can feel in mid-air (like in the Iron Man films), how to levitate objects against gravity (much like in Star Trek or Star Wars), and how use specially designed blocks (a little like LEGO bricks) to control the direction of sound.

Tickets: £4 Regular Nerds, £3 NUS/65+ Nerds


Nerd Nite 40: Time, Fire and Bees

We’re back with a great line up, cake from our friends at the Real Junk Food Project and the quiz.

Doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start
Our speakers this month:

1. Dr John Downie: The mechanics of time

John Downie has been taking things apart and putting them back together since he was a boy (he hardly ever has any parts left over). He studied electrical engineering at Edinburgh then worked for the Uganda Electricity Board and managed to avoid the crocodiles whilst diving on Owen Falls hydro power station. His PhD in electrical engineering involved rather too many arsenic compounds so he transferred to maths research. At Sussex University he worked on gas turbines and computers before moving to Brighton University teaching and researching product design, computing and engines. He is now retired so gets to spend all day making and designing and fixing stuff- clocks and bicycles a speciality.

 2. Meriel Jeater: Myths of the great fire of London

Meriel Jeater joined Museum of London in 2000. She is a curator in the Archaeology Collections department (covering the ambitiously wide timescale of 450,000BC to AD1700) which includes archaeological objects and social history. Meriel has worked on the permanent medieval London gallery, the War, Plague and Fire gallery, and has most recently curated the Fire! Fire! exhibition. Meriel has a BA in Archaeology and Ancient History, an MA in Museology and is most interested in the medieval, Tudor and Stuart periods.

3. Dr Beth Nicholls: People, pollinators and pollution

 Beth, or ‘Beth Bees’ to her friends, gained a PhD in Animal Behaviour from the University of Exeter by studying what bees think about when they collect pollen from flowers (mostly, “Mmmm….pollen” and “Does this smell funny to you?”). For the past three years Beth has been working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, investigating the impact of pesticides on bees and other pollinating insects. Beth is a big fan of getting other people (including small children) to do her research for her, also known as ‘Citizen Science’. She is currently embarking on a new project working with allotment growers in Brighton & Hove to understand more about which insects are pollinating the fruit and veg grown in the city.

Nerd Nite Brighton 39: British Science Week Special!

This month we have a British Science Week special, with topics varying from yeast sex to citizen science through wildlife cameras, and neuroscientific investigation of free will! We’re excited to be at the Rialto Theatre for this special. They have a full bar and a great technical setup, so there’ll be no pub noise to distract from these three great speakers. Of course, there’ll be the usual cakes and quiz to add to the fun.

Tickets available from Rialto website (

£4 Regular Nerds, £3 NUS/65+ Nerds.

Dr Kayleigh Wardell – What can we learn from yeast sex (cells)?

Kayleigh earned her PhD at the University of Nottingham by studying how broken DNA gets repaired in a strange, single-celled organism that lives in the Dead Sea (Haloferax volcanii, if you’re interested). She moved to Brighton in 2013 to take up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, studying sex cell formation in yeast. More specifically, she is looking at what happens to DNA when sex cells are made (spoiler: it gets broken!). She will be telling us how this leads to genetic variation, and how we can learn about human reproduction by watching how yeast do it.

When not in the lab, Kayleigh can usually be found telling anyone who will listen about how cool DNA and sex cells are. She has taken part in Soapbox Science, where she stood on the Southbank of London waving around a fluffy egg and sperm. She has also attempted science-themed stand up comedy although she isn’t sure whether the audience were laughing with her or at her. Kayleigh is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch, as part of her mission to get even more people excited about science.

Jon Fidler – The world of Naturebytes

This talk will explore how Naturebytes develops new digital making activities that enable people to experience the natural world around them. We will discuss the example of our DIY Wildlife Cam Kit, a motion-sensitive camera powered by the Raspberry Pi computer, and how it can help deliver skills in coding, electronics, 3D design and printing, and educate people about conservation. Using the Wildlife Cam Kits we are building a community of wildlife digital makers and an expanding network of cameras to generate and share information about wildlife.

One of the co-founders of Naturebytes, Jon has been heavily involved in 3D printing and design for 10 years and is the founder of Modla, a creative design consultancy based in London. At Modla, he has lead projects with The Science Museum, Nike and Saint-Gobain. He is now on a mission to educate young people and inspire the next generation to do amazing things with 3D design and printing technologies. Jon grew up on a farm which has given him a strong interest in nature and, through Naturebytes, combines this enthusiasm for the natural world with the world of design.

Dr Jim Parkinson – Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist?

Jim gained his PhD in Experimental Psychology in 2007 at the University of Sussex, investigating links between action and perception: Does how you perform an action affect how you perceive the action? He then went on to work with Dr Anne Springer and Professor Wolfgang Prinz at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. Whilst there he investigated how individuals can predict and internally simulate the visual perception of human motion.

Following this, he worked with Professor Patrick Haggard at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, where he conducted research into the volitional self-control of actions. In 2013 he returned to the University of Sussex, joining the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science as a postdoctoral research fellow.

One of Jim’s main research interests is Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist? Why do we at least have the feeling we are “free”? This also encompasses self-control and motor inhibition, the sense of agency and intention, and subliminal priming of volitional behaviour. This research utilises the state-of-the-art neuroscientific equipment that the Sackler Centre offers, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) recording and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques. Jim is also the (other) co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch.

Nerd Nite Brighton 38: Horny Rhinos, Ayn Rand, Storytelling

Nerd Nite Brighton Poster, Feb 17


We’re back in the North Laine for Nerd Nite Brighton 38! As always we have three entertaining yet educational talks for you, and the usual cakes and quiz.

Emma Kilbey – The Ayn Lady

Emma Kilbey is an actor, singer, writer, dramaturg, director and trainer, specialising in character comedy, devised theatre and script-writing. She is a founder member, performer and writer for Brighton-based Radio City Theatre (Theatre Royal/Komedia Brighton). She also sings sporadically with psychedelic folk band, Foundry Folk Union and early music trio, The Silver Swans. Emma is giving a talk based on the life and times of the Atlas Shrugged writer, Ayn Rand.

Laurie Jackson – How can we keep rhinos horny?

Laurie has lived in Sussex since 2008, when she moved to the area to work for Sussex Wildlife Trust. Now employed by Buglife, she provides advice to land owners about safeguarding pollinating insects. Laurie is passionate about environmental conservation and loves exploring new corners of Sussex as well as leading wildlife holidays in Europe. She’s mad about butterflies, moths and birds but she also sits on the committee of Sussex Mammal Group and teaches mammal courses locally. Laurie will be giving a talk based on a recent trip to South Africa studying bird-mammal associations. The trip took place as part of research by the University of Brighton into the role of rhinos as ecosystem engineers and what the impact could be if they disappeared – a very real threat due to poaching.

Guy Pattinson – Storymaking, storytelling and storydoing

Despite having worked in communications for 20 years, Guy is a late-to-the-party nerd about stories. As the founding driving force behind Long Run Works, he is always on the hunt for new ways to create stronger stories for good ideas so that they can grow faster.  Straight out of Uni he landed on his feet with a job he loved, creating campaigns for the Premier League, England rugby team and London Olympics, and within five years becoming a director of one of the UK’s top five PR agencies. Then it hit him; there are more important things in life than what happens at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, just. And there are definitely better things to do than sell the brown fizzy drinks and credit cards of sponsors. So he ditched the dark arts and relearned his craft while working to support the technologists, scientists and engineers who are tackling societies biggest challenges. He sleeps better but remains restless in pursuit of the perfect story.

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)

Nerd Nite Brighton 37: Arsehole Scientists, Digital Leaders, RPS

Join us in the North Laine for the first Nerd Nite Brighton of 2017. As always we have three fun-yet-informative talks for you, and the usual cakes and quiz.

1. Ben Dyson – The Science of Rock, Paper, Scissors
Ben Dyson is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex. He graduated from York University, UK, in 2002 after completing his thesis on auditory cognition and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship position at the Rotman Research Institute, Canada (2002-2004) to learn about event-related potentials. His first academic position was at the (then) Department of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK (2005-2008). He returned to Canada to work at Ryerson University, Toronto for six and a half years where he remains an Adjunct Professor. Ben returned to Brighton in January 2015. Find out more about his research at:

2. Steve Cross – Your Favourite Dead Scientist was an Arsehole
Steve is a comedian and nerd celebrity who specialises in turning science upside-down and shaking it till its lunch money falls out. He’s the founder of Bright Club, an international network of academic comedy nights, and the force behind the chaotic cabarets Science Showoff and Books Showoff. His dream in life is to make every nerd funny, and his website is

3. Pollie Barden – Older People & Technology: Digital Learners to Digital Leaders
Pollie is a Lecturer in Product Design at the University of Sussex. Her research focuses on creating delightful user experiences with technology. She has over ten years of experience in designing, developing and project managing digital experiences that range from web/mobile platforms, physical computing to pervasive games. She has presented her work at conferences and exhibitions across the globe. As an educator, Pollie has taught physical computing, coding, game and graphic design in workshops and at universities in both the U.S. and U.K. Her varied experience informs her success at managing and mediating professional relationships and fostering team building. Find out more and see her work at

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)

Nerd Nite Brighton 36: Cosmology, Robots, Xmas

It’s the Annual Nerd Nite Brighton Christmas, complete with our traditional Physics carols around the accordion, and three great speakers.

1. Julian Mayers – A Cosmologist’s Guide to Life, Loss and Love
Julian Mayers is a part time cosmologist, currently researching into astrophysical X-ray phenomena associated with black holes – and will be able to complete his Phd when he has enough time to give it the attention it deserves. He runs an on-line video and audio production company with many clients in science and academia and also makes radio 4 documentaries for the BBC, sometimes with a science-y bent.

2. Ian Watts – Fun with Robots in TV
Ian Watts is a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at the University of Brighton. He worked for 17 years as an engineer and lecturer in television and radio with the BBC, contributing to shows including Panorama, Horizon and Bergerac. He built robots for Top Gear, Scrapheap Challenge, Holby City, Battlebots and more. Ian was Roboteer in Residence at the Institute of Applied Technology, a triple Gold Medallist at the BBC Techno games, winner of Battlebots Royal Rumble in San Francisco, and was International Champion at the Dutch Robot Wars Games.

3. Kath Church – The 12 Days Of Xmas – Semiotic Deconstruction and re-definition in a post-Brexit Paradigm
Katherine has dedicated her life to a semiotic study of Xmas tropes and has been longing for a paradigm shift to enable her to re- interpret them. 2016, although not a great year for many has been a great source of inspiration. A chilling tale made cheerful with the help of The Muppets.

There’s be the usual cakes, and a festive modelling competition!

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)