Posts Tagged ‘Periodic Table of the Elements’

nerd nite 18: trapdoors, ninjas and getting off the grass

Wow, this nerd nite looks to be especially incredible (not that they ever aren’t, of course!).

It’ll be taking place at the Hotel Bristol, from 6pm onwards*. On September 16th.

And now for the lineup: as always, this may not be the actual order on the night 🙂


Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc)

Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc)

Way of the Ninja: a Nerd’s hack to personality types
Linc Gasking (@DownLinc)

Personality archetypes are thousands of years old. Many different tests are available, with results which are highly variable and therefore typically discounted by nerds.

This talk explains how to hack personality typing into these four ancient categories, renamed soldiers, shamans, pirates and ninjas. You will learn practical skills about reverse engineering these types based on external cues such as clothing and cars; and what it all means.

About the speaker: In April 1999, Linc Gasking was the first person in line at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where he camped out for six weeks to see Star Wars: Episode One.

He is a co-founder of and Free Range Farm, a Wellington-based startup network.


Trapdoors into the Periodic Table
Nicola Gaston (@nicgaston)

Our relationship with stuff around us – even the stuff we are made of – has undergone some pretty profound changes over the course of human history.  Funnily enough though, we are still seeking to manipulate matter into tools that are fit for purpose in the world we live in; these days, this often means worrying about the construction of materials atom by atom.

This talk will provide some examples of computational materials design with particular emphasis on what changes when we are working at the nanoscale.  As we drill right down to the atomic scale, we will explore some of the patterns in the periodic table that have left permanent marks on human society. And like any relationship, this goes both ways…

Nicola Gaston is a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute, based at Victoria University of Wellington.  Her favourite element is gallium. At least for now.


Get Off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy
Shaun Hendy (@hendysh)

Kiwis work harder but earn less than almost any other people in the developed world. Why is this? What are Kiwis doing wrong? In this talk, Professor Shaun Hendy argues that our poor economic performance can be explained by our struggle to innovate. On a per capita basis, OECD countries on average produce four times as many patents as New Zealand. Why is this? What determines a country’s capacity for innovation?

By showing how economic geography influences productivity and rates of innovation, Hendy and Callaghan argue that if New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly it must build nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. It must get off the grass and diversify its economy beyond the primary sector. Can New Zealand learn to innovate like a city of four million people? Can New Zealand become a place where talent wants to live? Can we learn to live off knowledge rather than nature?

Shaun is winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication prize, co-author with the late Sir Paul Callaghan of the book Get Off the Grass, and Principal Investigator and also Theme Leader (previously Deputy Director) with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Victoria University of Wellington.


As always, nerd nite is a FREE event, so bring everyone you know!


* Note to new people. Speakers start at about 6:30pm, but the best seating does go fast. It’s not unknown for people to rock up before six to get a good table 🙂 Also, Monday’s are two for one on all dinners, so bring your appetite and a friend!

nerd nite 9: the miscellaneous edition

UPDATE: The videos of the talks are now available, and linked to below, under the description of each talk!  You can also peruse the nerd nite Wellington Vimeo channel here 🙂

Greetings, all, and welcome to 2012!

In this, the first nerd nite of 2012 (and hopefully not the last session, it being, well, 2012 and all*), we’ll be covering superheavy elements, our history with computers, negotiation and radio and our relationship therewith.

Getting a special mention are speakers Peter Schwerdtfeger and Heinz Gäggeler (who is actually based in Switzerland), who are flying down from Auckland to be with us!

It’s taking place on Feb 13th, from 6pm, at the HOTEL BRISTOL (Cuba St). Please do get in touch if you have any brilliant leads on venues which can seat over 100 people, are in central Wellington, and have a good ambience.  No function rooms 😛

And, as always, please do indicate by RSVP whether you’ll be coming! Our Facebook page is a good way to go about that 🙂


Beyond the Periodic Table – Going for the Super heavy Elements

Peter Schwerdtfeger and Heinz Gäggeler

The first Periodic Table of the Elements was proposed by Mendeleev in 1869, compiled on the basis of arranging the elements in ascending order of atomic weight and grouping them by similarity of chemical properties. He predicted the existence and properties of new elements. At that time it was not known how far in the atomic number we can go before an atom becomes too unstable and radioactively decay. A century later, it was assumed that the Periodic Table would end at nuclei with about 100 protons.

In the last decade we have seen the production of new elements for the Periodic Table up to nuclear charge 118, the so-called superheavy elements. They have fascinating chemical properties related to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Experiments on these exotic species are currently in progress at an atom-at-a-time scale. How far can we go? Where does the Period Table end? Can we do some chemistry with such exotic elements? What is the chemical and physical behavior of these exotic elements?

Peter is the Head of the Centre for Theoretical Chemistry and Physics at The New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, Massey University Auckland. He is a recipient of the New Zealand Hector Memorial Medal, and the Humboldt Prize.

Heinz is joining us from the Paul Scherrer Institute in  Switzerland.

Videos of talks here and here.

Personal Computer Revolution: Our Changing Relationship with the Machine

Andrew Stephen

In the 60 or so years since the first electronic computers the role they have played, and our relationship with these remarkable machines, has changed as profoundly as the machines themselves.  From huge, building sized computers that used enough electricity to power small villages, to pocket sized devices that run for days on a battery, these have inspired, augmented and frustrated humanity like no other invention in history

This talk will look at the evolution of these machines, and our changing interaction with them.
Andrew got his first computer at age 10, and today collects early personal computers of the 70s, 80s and 90s.  He works by day as an Information Security boffin to support this borderline unhealthy habit.  Andrew lives with a surprisingly tolerant wife, two children, a motorcycle and approximately 180 dusty, recalcitrant computers.

Video of talk here.

Negotiation for Nerds

Breccan McLeod-Lundy

Nerds have a reputation for being poor negotiators, some of it is deserved; however, nerds happen to also generally be the types of thinkers that are capable of becoming great negotiators if they take the time to improve their skills.

The field of negotiation covers everything from the car salesmen to convincing friends to help you move a couch. As a practice negotiation has evolved significantly over the last few decades and become far better recognised as a develop-able skill. This talk will illuminate some of the ways the practice of negotiation has developed and some of the methods that have appeared for creating agreements that satisfy everyone involved.
Breccan does things, mostly to do with the web. He alternates between developer, project manager and ranty consultant. He can be found at

Video of talk here.


Our Wireless Love Affair

Emily Cotlier

For a hundred and thirty years, radio-wave technology has evolved in response to our social demands. Learn about the basic principles of wireless radio transmission, our intense social relationship with radio throughout its consumer availability, and how wireless technology is adapting to today’s tremendous demands on limited radio bandwidth.

Emily Cotlier is a Senior Technical Writer at Aviat Networks, where “we make wireless work.” She is also vice-president of the Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand, and an occasional cabaret emcee around Wellington.

Video of talk here.


Nerd nite Wellington is a free event, held in Wellington every two months or so and hosted by aimee whitcroft (@teh_aimee). It gets three or four people to get up and talk, for about 20 minutes, on subjects about which they’re passionate. So far, we’ve had everything from cryptic crosswords to scrabble, geonengineering to flinging things into space in expensive and dangerous ways, and about everything else in between. It’s generally held in bars, because aimee believes that alcohol, learning and socialising go well together.

Bring your friends, family and everyone else who like learning! But beware, the venue fills up fast 🙂