May 8, 2014


Hello Calgary, Nerd Nite begins!

In almost 80 cities around the world, nerds congregate in bars, pubs and theaters to listen to talks that are educational, fun and sometimes even a little ridiculous … add in a little alcohol and you have a great combination.

For our inaugural event, I’m proud to present our topic line up of floating dinosaurs, one way tickets to mars and the Flintstones as history.  Come on out and bring your friends!

When: May 8, 2014 – Door open at 7:30pm
Where: The Belfry Gastro House – downstairs (102-630 8 Ave SW, Calgary)
$10 in advance (available here) SOLD OUT
$13 at the door
This is an 18+ event.

Sauropod dinosaurs – the colossal corks of the Mesozoic
Dr. Donald Henderson

The tiny-headed, long-necked, long-tailed sauropod dinosaurs were the largest land animals to have evolved on Earth. They were around from the earliest Jurassic until the very end of the Cretaceous, a period of about 145 million years, and can be considered one of evolutions success stories. The smallest of them weighed about a 1 tonne, but most were in the 10-20 tonne range, while exceptional ones may have weighed as much as 60 tonnes. These animals showed many skeletal adaptations to reduce the amount of bone needed to form their skeletons, and they also developed a very elaborate system of air sacs in the spines, neck, chest and abdomen to assist with breathing and cooling. As a result they had a mean body density less than that of water, and this leads to the idea that they would have been very buoyant in water. The modern interpretation of sauropods is to have them as land-living, herbivores, but most land animals will take to water occasionally. This talk will look at the consequences of light and airy sauropods being immersed in water.

Bio: Dr. Donald Henderson is Curator of Dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. He has a BSc in geophysics from the University of Toronto, but got fed up with solving computer hardware and software problems, and not doing much science. He subsequently earned a PhD in vertebrate palaeontology and biomechanics from the University of Bristol in England. He spent 5 years as a post-doc, research associate, and instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, before joining the Tyrrell Museum in 2006. Despite his dinosaur title, he also collects and studies ancient marine reptiles (plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and mosasaurs), and also studies pterosaurs – the ancient flying reptiles that co-existed with the dinosaurs. His main research interests are understanding how the large and mysterious animals of the past functioned as living animals, and he does this with his math, physics and computing knowledge.

The Flintstones are Real!
Christine M. Shellska

In this journey through rhetorical mayhem, I will attempt to persuade you that The Flintstones cartoon is a historically accurate portrayal of a young earth! Pay no attention to the mounds of scientific evidence that soundly refute the claims of Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC), and never mind what philosophers of science have to say about how we demarcate science from pseudoscience: after briefly positioning the so-called “controversy” surrounding evolution and arming you with some basic critical thinking tools to aid your navigation through this “scientific debate,” I will deploy some of the rhetorical strategies advocates of IDC use to engage students, citizens, and others to mistrust and reject science, and to convince you (hopefully unsuccessfully) that The Flintstones are real!

 Bio: Christine Shellska is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication and Culture, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Calgary, Canada. Her research involves studying the rhetorical strategies employed by the Intelligent Design Creationism movement, and her areas of focus include history, philosophy and sociology of science, Actor Network Theory and rhetoric. She is a Secular Humanist Liaison at the Faith and Spirituality Centre at the University of Calgary, a member of the Board of Directors for Atheist Alliance International, and a regular co-host on the Calgary-based Legion of Reason podcast.

Settling Mars: The next chapter of the human saga
Graham Blair Christensen

An Albertan Mars One candidate tells the story of his lifelong love of science and adventure, calling the red planet home and of the deep past and possible future of humankind. The talk will focus on Mars One’s plan to send 40 people on a one-way mission to Mars which is set to launch the first settlers in 2024 and will begin training the candidates in 2015. Graham will share his personal story of obstacles and triumph in his effort to reach the red planet. Along the way, he will introduce us to Mars of the past and present and share his thoughts on the Neanderthals and human evolution, Mars as a stepping stone to the establishment of a galactic civilization and the potential diversity of a cosmic biosphere.

Bio: Graham Blair Christensen is one of Mars One’s 1,058 worldwide candidates for a one-way mission to Mars which plans to launch the first human settlers in 2024. Graham has lived in Alberta all his life where he has pursued his interests in astronomy and paleontology and his love of outdoor adventure. He has some formal background in electronics but is largely self-educated. As a seasoned fossil hunter Graham has made many fossil discoveries in Alberta’s badlands and mountains. His lifelong love of astronomy is expressed through astrophotography, nightscapes and time lapses.