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)

Nerd Nite Brighton 35: Rewilding, supermarkets, boffins

We’re back with three more fascinating speakers, eager to tell you what they’re nerdishly passionate about.

1. Penny Green – Rewilding in Sussex

Penny is the resident ecologist at the Knepp Rewilding Project. She guides Knepp Safaris and co-ordinates the biological monitoring of the rewilding project. She studied countryside management at Brinsbury College and went on to work with the National Trust, the Sussex Wildlife Trust and then the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre. Penny is passionate about biological recording, and loves to enthuse others with wildlife-watching. In her spare time she’s moth trapping, bird-watching, trail running, and volunteering with the RSPB’s Sussex Stone Curlew Project. Penny sits on various committees including Butterfly Conservation’s Sussex branch, the Sussex Mammal Group, the Sussex Dragonfly Group and the Sussex Moth Group.

2. Jack Klaff- Arty bloke among the boffins

Jack is an award-winning actor, writer, solo performer and academic, whose first movie role was in Star Wars. He now works closely with Intelligence Squared. He has written a number of their online debates and he has taken part in several of their live events. Jack has taught or presented at institutions and festivals around the world, including Florida State University, Goldsmith’s, Oxford, Cambridge, Boston University, Bristol, Imperial College, the Cheltenham Festivals of Literature as well as Science, TEDx at the European Parliament and he has held four visiting professorships at Princeton. He was Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Starlab in Brussels from 1998-2002 and maintains his connection with that institution in its present incarnation in Barcelona.

3. Ruth Anslow – This is the story of the supermarket rebels

What if you had an idea of how supermarkets “should be” that you turned into a voice? And that voice became a rallying cry of thousands of people? And that crowd enabled you to open a chain of stores? And those stores transformed supermarkets for the 21st century? And more people were inspired to follow their own ideas of how it should be? That’s Ruth’s journey…Ruth is the Co-Founder of hiSbe Food CIC. She’s in love with the idea that business can be a force for good, by serving the interests of the public and communities, not just a few shareholders and directors. Ruth’s into destructive innovation that makes out-of-date business models obsolete. She believes that when we follow a vision of “how it should be,” we can transform whole industries. Ruth dreams of reinventing big business, starting with supermarkets. And she’s made that dream her priority.
As always we’ll have the usual quizzing, cakes, music and drinks.

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from Eventbrite.

Nerd Nite Brighton 34: naturalism, sampling, alcoholism.

Join us in our new venue for another fun night of evidence-based entertainment. This month we have three great talks on wonderfully varied topics. Learn about why pan-species listing is important for naturalists, hear an argument for intelligent musical thievery, and take a look inside AA.

1. Graeme Lyons – Going down the pan-species listing route to becoming a better naturalist

Graeme Lyons is senior ecologist for Sussex Wildlife Trust, a freelance consultant, life-long naturalist and founding member of the Pan-species Listing Movement. 38 years old, he has already seen and identified 6,345 species in the UK. Graeme is also the county recorder for bugs (heteroptera). Graeme’s main passion is invertebrates, particularly beetles, bugs and spiders, but his interest in wildlife is far-ranging with birds, bryophytes, molluscs, cetaceans, fish and fungi high on his identification ability.

In his talk, Graeme will tell us about becoming a better naturalist through pan-species listing. His skills revolve around setting up efficient and focused monitoring strategies across a broad range of taxa to answer questions about habitat management. He also uses this data to inform the management planning process in a feedback loop which constantly informs and fine tunes the habitat management cycle! For more info, see

2. Dave Waller – Stealing is wrong (but sampling is ace): an argument for intelligent musical thievery

In his talk, Dave will lead us on an audio trip through the magic and history of sampling. His tools: his own blessing/curse of a record collection and a wonky portable turntable. Sampling has had a bad rap since it exploded, almost accidentally, in the mid-80s, with arguments that it’s uncreative and steals work from actual musicians. And thanks to the threat of costly court cases, it’s pretty much off the map now for any hip-hop producer who isn’t Kanye West or working for Jay Z. Which is a shame, as there’s so much beauty in sampling too: not only can a four-bar snippet propel you down a rabbit hole into a lifetime’s exploration of forgotten musical treasures, but there’s a real alchemic quality that comes with stumbling on the old, dusty and/or weird and creating something new.

Dave is a writer who was dubbed ‘the hip-hop encyclopaedia’ upon arrival at university. Disclaimer: that was 20 years ago. But it’s thanks to hip-hop and sampling that he’s still spinning such gems as ‘Actual Business Letters’, Cliff Richard’s ‘Two a Penny’ and ‘Fight the Flab with Terry Wogan’.

3. Jon Stewart – Inside AA: Can God Cure Alcoholism?

Alcoholics Anonymous offers a commonly accepted and media endorsed “spiritual” programme of recovery — but can God really offer meaningful solutions to this debilitating, potentially fatal condition? If so, how do we help all the secular alcoholics?
AA’s famous 12 Step programme evolved from the tenets of a now forgotten evangelical Christian mass movement. First published in 1939, it remains entirely unchanged since then.

How did a Higher Power become the go-to treatment modality for one of the great social health scourges of our time? Is spiritually-based health care even ethical? It’s the twenty first century, is this really the best we can do?

This wide ranging talk draws on the work evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson (Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation) and philosopher Dan Dennett to show how sacred texts and faith-based belief systems are being challenged in a new age of internet transparency. Jon Stewart was co-founder, guitarist and co-songwriter for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper. He currently lectures in popular culture at a local HE Institution, and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton. A grateful sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 14 years, Jon also campaigns for more up-to-date evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog at

As always we’ll have the usual quizzing, cakes, music and drinks!

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from here – book early to avoid disappointment

Nerd Nite Brighton 33 18/8/16 – Massive data, missing organs and the Oympics

We hope you all enjoyed double Nerd Nite July last month. It’s August and we are back to enlighten you once more. Hosting his last Nerd Nite Brighton this month is founder Partha Das so please come and join us for the usual cake, drinks, quizzing and merriment.

Our talks:

1. The algorithm will see you now: big data and the future of healthcare – Ben Bray

Our health records contains some of the most personal and intimate information about ourselves, but as healthcare (finally) moves into the digital age, what are the technological, social and ethical implications of a world rich in electronic health data? From medical artificial intelligence and an internet of healthy things, to new challenges to privacy and data ownership, we will explore the ways that big data is transforming health and healthcare.

Dr Ben Bray is a public health doctor and research director for the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme. Based at the Farr Institute of Health Informatics at University College London, he works on new uses of data analytics and visualisation in healthcare

2. Scanning for gold: what makes an Olympic athlete? – Malcolm Johnston

In his talk, Malcolm will explore the anatomy and physiology that makes an Olympic athlete ‘superhuman,’ and how modern imaging techniques can show why an athlete’s body is adapted to perform at the highest level. Using MRI scanning to demonstrate how the body changes with training across both power and endurance events, Malcolm will discuss how measurements of different parameters are used to optimise performance. Are we all potential Olympic athletes or are some people just destined for greatness?

Dr Malcolm Johnston is a consultant radiologist in Brighton specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of disease using modern imaging techniques. He is a qualified skiing instructor and competes at downhill mountain biking but has never come close to Olympic level sport. In fact he often struggles in the parents race on sports day.

3. Believing in life after death – why everyone should be an organ donor – Hannah Maple

Despite living in Crawley, Hannah managed to get into King’s College London Medical School and is now a transplant surgeon. Having graduated in 2007 she pursued a surgical career before taking a break from clinical work in 2011 to undertake a PhD. Based at Guy’s Hospital, London her research examined the psychological aspects of donating kidneys from the perspective of the donor and sought to understand more about what donors get out of the process. Why would someone want to give up an organ? She has recently conducted the world’s largest study of non-directed altruistic organ donors (people who donate their organs to strangers) and will tonight discuss her work alongside other ethical and legal controversies in the transplantation of organs.

Doors at 7.30pm for an 8pm start downstairs at Patterns

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from here – book early to avoid disappointment

Nerd Nite Brighton 30 – Food glorious food

What are you up to on June 23rd? Coming to our food special of course. We’re co-hosting this with our friends at the Brighton and Sussex Universities Food Network at our new venue Patterns.

This month our speakers are:

1. The rise of the ‘heritage’ vegetable – Abigail Wincott

What do Reclaim the Fields, Raymond Blanc and the UN have in common? They’ve all championed ‘heritage’ vegetables, fruit and seeds. From seed swaps to restaurant menus to the gardens of stately homes, the idea of ‘heritage’ vegetables has become almost inescapable for UK consumers in the last few years. The politics and economics of heritage vegetables is confusing. Their advocates include anti-capitalist activists but also the National Trust and Michelin starred restaurants. Sometimes they’re given away free, yet where they’re for sale, they’re always expensive. Globally there’s a huge and growing network of publicly funded seed vaults and research programmes. So what is so special about ‘heritage’ vegetables and seeds for all these groups? And what on earth does it all mean for the rest of us?

Abigail Wincott is an academic and programme maker who is interested in how we make use of the past in thinking about the current and future of food, including understanding food poverty and the politics of food heritage.

2. Complexity theory and food – Rachael Taylor

Food systems are complex and complexity theory presents a useful way of understanding interactions between different parts of food systems. Starting with an example of the humble apple, this talk will take a look at the complexities of food and how an apple in Brighton interacts with food in vastly different contexts. Using the concept of complexity theory, the non-linear, unpredictable, dynamic, and emergent behaviour of food systems will be explained in relation to the apple.

Rachael Taylor is a PhD candidate at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Her PhD research is on adaptive capacity in agricultural livelihoods in Northern Ghana. She also works as a researcher for a range of institutes and organisations, doing research on food-related topics in the UK and West Africa.

3. Making sense of the sugary stuff – Carol Williams

Brighton is the first ‘Sugar Smart’ city and sugarphobia is rampant. For example ‘Sugar Puffs’ are now ‘Honey Monster Puffs’ . Carol will be scrutinising sugar, fruit and food and trying to find the proverbial balanced approach.

Carol Williams is a public health nutritionist and academic who worked with the nongovernmental organisations that brought the 5 a day fruit and veg message to the UK in 1992, and wrote the first published guidance on what counts as a portion.. She is interested in how public health recommendations are interpreted by manufactures and consumers.

Yum yum!
There will be the usual cake, quizzing, music and merriment. See you there!

Tickets from here (£4 regular nerds, £3 NUS/65+ nerds, doors 7.30pm for 8pm start)

Nerd Nite Brighton 29: Fringe Special 26/5/16

So we said we’d give May a break because of the Fringe but then an opportunity came up that we couldn’t turn down. We are delighted to be hosted in the Main House at the amazing Warren site courtesy of our friends at Otherplace who have looked after us so well at The Basement.

We’re starting a little bit earlier with doors at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and finishing a bit earlier too as have 2 rather than the usual 3 talks. But, that’s good news for you nerds as it means cheaper tickets – woop woop.

Our talks this month:

1. The Best Animal Ever – Mr Russell Arnott

What do you think the best animal is? Is it the cutest? Or the biggest? Or the fastest? No! Whatever your current favourite is, Russell will convert you (HINT: it’s not a whale).
Russell Arnott is an oceanographer, physics teacher, and outreach officer for WhaleFest’s Incredible Oceans. He visits schools around the country with an inflatable whale and teaches children how important the oceans are. He also enjoys homebrewing and shouting in punk bands.

2. Masturbation and Mutilation in Victorian England – Dr Catherine Pope

Catherine Pope has a PhD on the Victorian novelist and saucepot Florence Marryat. Catherine is based in the Doctoral School at the University of Sussex, and also runs Victorian Secrets, an independent press dedicated to publishing books from and about the nineteenth century. She will be discussing women’s sexuality and the extreme measures that were devised to control it.

Beers, cake, music, quizzing and the usual in a huge inflatable dome thing! And there’s tonnes going on in the Warren before and after!

£3 regular nerds, £2 NUS/65+ nerds – tickets direct from Otherplace

See you there!

Nerd Nite Brighton 28 – numbers, numbers, numbers!

Sorry about our tardiness getting the word out on the street about this month’s Nerd Nite which is everything to do with numbers and maths. Our talks and speakers:

1. Probability: making sense of an uncertain world – Prof Enrico Scalas

Most popular science books totally ignore probability so it can be a bit of a mystery to the general public. This is a shame becaise it is essential for our understanding of the world and is at the foundation of all applied sciences. It is also an active field of research with many open problems. Enrico will unravel probability using a coin and a pair of dice following the historical path paved by Pascal and Fermat. He’ll also try to reply to a gambling question posed by Pascal’s friend Antoine Gombaud, a.k.a. Chevalier de Méré.

Enrico Scalas is currently Professor of Statistics and Probability and Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Sussex. He works on the applications of probability to physics, economics and finance. He is author of more than 100 papers and 2 books.

2. Chaos and synchrony: the maths of life – Dr Yuliya Kyrychko

Complex systems are everywhere. They arise in a variety of natural and artificial settings such as electrical power grids, computer communication networks, transportation systems, global financial institutions, neurons in the brain and the social media used by millions every day.

Yuliya will use real world examples to discuss how we can use mathematical modelling to understand the dynamics of such systems, and what we can learn from their emergent behaviour. We will see how these systems can be completely disordered and unpredictable, or fully synchronised.

Dr Yuliya Kyrychko is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Sussex. Originally from the Ukraine she completed her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Surrey before moving to the Department of Engineering Mathematics in Bristol. In 2007 she was awarded the EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on modelling of structure responses in earthquake situations, the only such award in the history of the Faculty of Engineering in Bristol to date. In 2010, she moved to Sussex as a Lecturer in Mathematics, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014. Her interests lie in the area of mathematical modelling of real-world phenomena, nonlinear analysis and delay equations.

3. The mathematics of infectious diseases – Dr Konstantin Blyuss

Mathematics can help us understand how infectious diseases spread and damage organisms. Konstantin will take you on a journey exploring how maths can model infectious disease behaviour both at the level of the population and from the perspective of how microorganisms evade the human immune system.

Having obtained his MSc in theoretical physics in Ukraine and a Diploma in Germany, Dr Konstantin Blyuss came to do his PhD at the University of Surrey in 2000. This was followed by positions in Exeter and Oxford and lectureships in mathematics in Keele University and the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences before coming to the University of Sussex in 2010. Konstantin works in the area of applied mathematics with a particular interest in nonlinear dynamics and its applications to epidemiology and immunology.

And the usual cake, beers, quizzing, drinking, laughing, silliness, etc

With live dynamic real-time hosting by Dr Mick Taylor

Doors 7.30pm for an 8pm start
£4 regular nerds, £3 NUS/65+ nerds

Tickets from our lovely hosts at Otherplace at the Basement on Kensington Street.

Nerd Nite Brighton at the Science Festival

February is Brighton Science Festival and we’re excited to be partnering up with them again. Check out everything that’s on but on 25th Feb swing by to our friends at Otherplace Brighton for:

1. The extraordinary story of water – Alok Jha

Water may seem the most ordinary of substances – it pours from our taps and falls from the sky – but you would be surprised at what a profoundly strange substance it is. It bends the rules of chemistry and defies easy scientific understanding. Without this rebel behaviour, however, none of us would exist. Alok Jha will change the way you look at water – showing how it has shaped life on earth, and how this molecule connects you and everyone else to the birth (and death) of the universe.

Alok is ITV’s Science Correspondent having previously worked for The Guardian and has reported on everything from space to stem cells. He has broadcast live from Antarctica, flown in a zero-gravity plane normally used to train astronauts and told the exclusive behind-the-scenes story of the scientists who made world’s first lab-grown burger. In 2015 he authored The Water Book: the Extraordinary Story of Our Most Ordinary Substance. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook

2. What do babies think about colour? Alice Skelton

One of the most common myths that parents hear about their child’s development is that babies can only see in black and white but this isn’t the case. Although colour is just a wavelength of light, we (grown ups) do a lot of strange things with it, like group them together, and pick favourites. So what about babies? Once colour reaches the infant brain, what do they make of it? How do they think about colour?

Alice is a PhD student working at the The Sussex Baby Lab at the University of Sussex investigating infant colour perception. The Sussex Baby Lab is a colourful, friendly place that is interested in finding out how babies see, think, and learn. Disappointingly it does not involve any baby sized lab coats. Alice’s favourite colour is a sort of blueish-purple.

3. Astroquizzical: unusual questions for an astrophysicist – Jillian Scudder

Astroquizzical began 3 years ago as an open forum for people to anonymously submit their questions about the Universe, and receive a reasonably complete, clearly worded reply in exchange. Astroquizzical has since fielded questions about the plausibility of movie and video game scenes, some technical explanations, and many questions which begin “what would happen if…”. This talk will walk you through some of the least anticipated questions Astroquizzical has received, and their answers.

We’re excited to have Dr. Jillian Scudder return to Nerd Nite. Jillian is an astrophysicist working at the University of Sussex. She studies galaxies, particularly how they change after colliding with another galaxy. Jillian runs Astroquizzical, a blog which answers questions from the public about anything to do with space. Astroquizzical posts have appeared in The Conversation, Medium, and Forbes. You can find her on twitter

Drinks, Cake, Quizzes, Lots of Silliness as per usual
Hosted by Dr Mick Taylor from University of Sussex and GoodMoney
Doors 7.30pm for an 8pm start
£4 regular nerds, £3 student/65+ nerds

tickets from the venue