NERD NITE MELBOURNE: EDITION #41
To kick off the new decade, the next nerd nite will be Auslan accessible. We have an excellent 3-speaker lineup where speakers will be discussing how Wikipedia will save humanity, civilization-ending cataclysms, and how can roadkill contribute to our understanding of Australia’s real ‘palaeo diet’. Come join us for our season finale at Howler in Brunswick and $16 burger plus pot deals whilst you are learning.
A guided tour of the secret world behind Wikipedia
by Dr Thomas Shafee
Description: Everyone knows Wikipedia right? Encyclopedias used to be luxury items, yet now everyone has free access to the largest one that’s ever existed. For something so ubiquitous in our lives, most of how it actually works isn’t commonly known. If the Wikipedia pages you read are the main streets, then behind them are a vast and varied maze of laneways where the people who build it hang out. How is it all organised and how does that affect what’s in the articles? Who’s there and why? Where is the action at? Where is good for newcomers to drop by, and where’s it best to steer clear of? We’ll go on a tour of some of the interesting parts of this world behind Wikipedia. Knowing a few of the back alleys can help you appreciate why the articles are the way they are, and how far you can trust them.
Bio: Thomas’s day job is as a researcher and data specialist, but by night he spends a lot of his time writing and illustrating for Wikipedia. It started with adding information from his PhD thesis and he’s slowly got to know the world behind the encyclopedia. He now helps new people get involved in improving the communal resource that we all rely on.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, and Other Civilization-Ending Cataclysms
by Dr Mark Richardson
Description: How will our civilization end? In this talk I will present a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges that we are collectively facing right now, and in the near and distant future. Serving as an impartial bookmaker, I will outline my recommended gambling odds for each scenario coming to fruition. As a precaution against existential dread, consider plying yourself [responsibly] with the positive allosteric GABAA modulator of your choice – I heard the pilsener is nice.
Bio: Hello World! My name is Mark. I once detonated a piece of chemistry equipment while demonstrating to two undergraduate researchers how safe it is to use. I know how to make methamphetamine and other illicit materials – I’ll walk you through the process in exchange for a beer and a cigarette. I taught undergraduate chemistry in the United States in 2017-2018 and was once held by ICE at the USA-Canadian border because I forgot to bring my employment papers with me while visiting an aquarium in Vancouver (itwasworthit.jpg). I am frequently accused of having a foreign accent, no matter where I am or how long I have lived there. I tell most people I am a scientist, or an organic synthetic chemist, depending on how likely it is they know what the second one is. Although, if I have previously applied for a job with you, it is possible I may have claimed to be something else entirely. I want to talk to all of you about the end of the world because I find it interesting and I want you to find it interesting too.
How can roadkill contribute to our understanding of Australia’s real ‘palaeo diet’?
Dr Jillian Garvey @jillian_garvey
Description: With our current bush fire crisis in Australia there has been increasing attention on how we might incorporate Aboriginal cultural burning practices into our modern land management strategies. This indigenous knowledge gained from millennia of living on and looking after Country, can also be applied to native animal bush tucker. First Nations people have an intimate understanding of Australia’s unique, predominately marsupial, fauna. Their old people knew which animals were best to eat, when they should be hunted or collected, and how they should be butchered, prepared and cooked. However, much of this cultural knowledge and practices were disrupted by the devastating effects of colonisation. Using zooarchaeology we are helping to fill this gap via the ‘Native Animal Bush Tucker Project’. This long-term project combines archaeological analyses, ethnography, and modern use of animals by First Nations people. It also incorporates innovative butchery experiments and nutritional analyses of a wide range of species, mainly collected as roadkill. All of this can assist in interpreting patterns in the archaeological record, as well as predicting the likelihood that a particular species and/or their body parts may have been selected. This research can also be used to identify changes through deep-time, with important implications for our own modern Australian diet and our attitude towards native animals.
Bio: Jillian is someone who has always been fascinated by and loved to collect ‘dead stuff’. Luckily for her she was able to turn this lifelong passion into a career. Since completing her PhD in vertebrate palaeontology (studying 350-million-year-old fossil fish) she has focused on Australian Aboriginal archaeology, and in particular zooarchaeology (the role of animals in archaeology). To better understand the zooarchaeological record Jillian has integrated the analyses of modern animals into her research, thus ensuring that she spends a considerable amount of time collecting roadkill. Her current research focuses on human occupation and use of the landscape and its resources in southeast Australia, with projects in northwest Victoria on Neds Corner Station and the adjacent Yanga Nowie (Murray Sunset) National Park on Ngintait and the First People of the Millewa Mallee Country, in central Victoria near the township of Boort on Yung Balug Clan and Dja Dja Wurrung Country, and in lutruwita (Tasmania).