fih2Hoverboards.  IBM’s Watson.  Drones.  Walter Isaacson. Ten of the best Nerd Nite presentations from across the continent. Cocktails in the National Air & Space Museum. Whoa!

Since it was so thrilling last year, we’ve again teamed up with the Smithsonian’s annual The Future Is Here Festival May 14/15-17, 2015 in Washington DC so you can learn about the the future of you from the most prestigious minds in the world while enjoying booze and world-renowned entertainers. Fun!  Tickets and additional info here.

DISCOUNT CODE:  On the ticket page, receive a whopping $150 off the Saturday and Sunday-only ticket when you enter the code: NERDNITE
*The code has to be entered by clicking on the blue “Enter promotional code” link on the main page BEFORE clicking through the green button to Order Tickets.


Thursday May 14, 2015 (subject to change)
6-9pm: Screening of Back To The Future followed by Q&A with Lee Leshen, creator of new documentary about the film, at Warner Brothers Theater at the National Museum of Natural History

Friday May 15, 2015 (subject to change)
8-10pm: Cocktail reception inside the friggin’ National Air & Space Museum

Saturday May 16, 2015 (subject to change)
9am-5pm in Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
You’re surrounded! The Internet of Things meets Artificial Intelligence by Kevin Ashton, Inventor of the “Internet of Things”
“I’ve Already Visited the Future!” by Cole Bolton, Editor-in-chief, The Onion
The Future of Your Body by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Communicating With Brain Signals by Mick Ebeling, Not Impossible Labs CEO
The Future of Crime by Marc Goodman, Chair for Policy and Law, Singularity University
Architecture of the Future by Greg Henderson, Hendo Hoverboard co-founder
The “Back to the Future” Hoverboard by Jill Henderson, Hendo Hoverboard co-founder
The $100 Million Brain Mapping Initiative by Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
The Future of Human-Machine Relations by Walter Isaacson, Author of “Steve Jobs” and “The Innovators”
How to Grow a Human Arm in a Lab by Nina Tandon, EpiBone co-founder, CEO
IBM’s Watson Predicts the Future by Dr. Marc Teerlink, MBA/MBI, Chief Business Strategist, IBM Watson Group
The Future is in Your Genes by Craig Venter, CEO, J. Craig Venter Institute

6pm: Drinking with board games, shuffleboard, skeeball, pinball and more at Penn Social at 801 E St NW

Sunday May 17, 2015 (subject to change)
In Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
10am: Nerd Nite welcome and introductory remarks by Matt Wasowski & Dr. Chris Balakrishnan
10:20am: Robot Intimacy: The Inevitable Leap to Love and Sex with Robots by Beth Phillips (Orlando)
11am: Quantum: The Final Frontier by Dr. Shohini Ghose (Waterloo, ON)
11:40am: Fun, Fun, Fun: Adventures In Mind Control with the CIA by Nick Knittel (Madison)
12:20pm: Poster Child: How Ghana, Thailand, and Poland Interpreted Futuristic Worlds of Classic Movies through Posters by Ben Leach (Philadelphia)
1pm: Will the Zombie-Makers of Today Yield the Neuroscience and Drug Discoveries of Tomorrow? by Kelly     Weinersmith (East Bay, CA)
1:40pm: Microalgae: Food Fertilizer and Fuel of the Future by Mike Jochum (Austin)
2:20pm: What Would Dr. McCoy Make With A Star Trek Replicator? by Dr. JulieLynn Wong (Toronto)
3pm: The Future of Food: Why We Need Urban Bee Geeks by Jocelyn Crocker (Edmonton)
3:40pm: Should we Build Terminators? by Erik Schechter (New York)
4:20pm:  A Sampler of Apocalypses by Laura Lanford (Chicago)
4:50pm: Closing remarks
6:30-10pm:  Screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey with appearance by original cast member Keir Dullea at E Street Cinema

Tickets and additional information available at


Robot Intimacy: The Inevitable Leap to Love and Sex with Robots
by Beth Phillips, Doctoral candidate, Applied Experimental and Human Factors Psychology, University of Central Florida (Orlando)

Description: Robots are undergoing a transformation in society, from fulfilling roles as dissociative tools to roles as our partners and collaborators. Drawing on what we know about the current direction of robotic design as well as human attachment, it’s easy to predict that one day we will have loving, intimate relationships with our mechanical friends. Join us for a discussion on the future of human-robot relations and why envisioning a world in which people fall in love with artificial beings is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Bio: Elizabeth “Beth” Phillips is a doctoral candidate in the Applied Experimental and Human Factors Psychology PhD program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She is currently working on her dissertation in human-robot interaction and her research focuses on enabling effective teamwork between humans and robots of the future. She has an interest in how robots and other technologies are changing the way we interact with the world and one another. For more information, please check out

Alice in Quantum Wonderland
by Dr. Shohini Ghose (Waterloo, ON)

Description: The weird but wonderful laws of quantum physics can be harnessed to design incredibly powerful quantum computers and novel tasks such a teleportation or unbreakable cryptography. How does quantum theory provide us with all this power? This talk will describe the strange invisible world of atoms and photons, which is now becoming visible for the first time. It will discuss how cutting-edge experiments are revealing the behavior of quantum entanglement – the spooky quantum correlations that perplexed Einstein, but which could be the fuel that will drive future quantum computers. These studies are changing the way we think about matter, space and time, and may lead to technologies that could transform society.

Bio: Dr. Shohini Ghose is an Associate Professor of Physics and Computer Science and Director of the Centre for Women in Science at Wilfrid Laurier University, and an affiliate of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. She is an award-winning quantum physicist who studies how the laws of quantum physics can be harnessed to transform computation and communication, and to develop novel tasks such as teleportation. She and her research collaborators made the first ever movies of individual atoms, showing evidence of the connection between chaos theory and quantum physics. Her work has received worldwide media attention and she was recently awarded a prestigious Sera Bangali Prize for her contributions to science (past winners have included Nobel Laureate, M. Yunus and President of India, Pranab Mukherjee). In 2014, she was selected as a TED Fellow and spoke about her work at the annual TED conference in Vancouver. She was named Woman Physicist of the Month in April 2014 by the American Physical Society, the world’s largest society for physicists. She was also selected as a 2014 Gifted Citizen from over 1300 applicants representing 63 countries. In October 2014, she received a Mahatma Gandhi Global Achievers award from Baroness Sandip Verma (UK Minister of Energy and Climate Change) and the NRI Welfare Society at the House of Lords in London. Dr. Ghose has taught physics to over 2000 students and has co-authored Canada’s first introductory astronomy textbook. She recently won a Women of Waterloo (WOW) region award for Education. Ghose is Chair of the national Committee to Encourage Women in Physics of the Canadian Association of Physicists. She serves on the Women in Physics Working Group of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and she Chaired the 2014 International Conference on Women in Physics, which was held in North America for the first time. She is an affiliate of the Institute for Quantum Computing, and a Fellow of the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo.

Fun, Fun, Fun: Adventures In Mind Control with the CIA    
by Nick Knittel (Philadelphia)

Description: Are you a person of flexible moral fiber? Do you have a general disdain for the homeless or destitute? Does the idea of slipping LSD into the coffee of your coworkers sound like a fun kind of Tuesday? Then take my hand, friend, and let us journey into the magical, wonderful world of the CIA in the 1950s and 60s! Here we’ll learn of the incredibly real and incredibly terrifying goal our government once had (and still might!) of developing and perfecting mind control for use on enemy combatants and anybody else that potentially got in the way. Under the innocent names of Project MKUltra and Project Artichoke (among others), the government tested and researched the effects of drugs, sensory deprivation, hypnosis, and oh so much more on unsuspecting members of the public until the project was shut down in 1973. Buckle your seat belts, because things are gonna get weird.

Bio: Nick Knittel grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and pursued studies in video production at Ohio University. He worked on numerous student-produced television programs and short films, as well as co-writing and producing a feature-length film based on the book Trailer Park by Russell Banks. He received his MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction at Fairfield University and was the winner of Fairfield University’s first MFA Book Prize for Good Things, a collection of interconnected short stories. Nick currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he works as a medical editor.

Poster Child: How Ghana, Thailand, and Poland Interpreted Futuristic Worlds of Classic Movies through Posters
by Ben Leach (Philadelphia)

Description: For generations, movie posters have served as our first impressions of the adventures that have transported our minds to the future through space and time, and often, these posters are viewed of works of art in their own right. However, when it came time to market these films to other countries, certain countries decided to take it upon themselves to create something different and so far removed from the original design to reflect their own culture and tastes in film so that these wild ideas and new technology could be sold to their local movie lovers. We’ll take a look at posters from Thailand, Ghana, and Poland, where the art of movie posters is quite different than anything you’ve ever seen. From the emphasis on horror in Thailand to the folk art nature of advertising in Ghana to the insanity of a modern art movement in Poland, you may find yourself demanding that theaters display their movie posters’ foreign counterparts!

Bio: Most children are told to put away their toys when they are done playing with them. Ben Leach decided to put his on display and feels almost out of place if he doesn’t have hundreds of miniature plastic faces staring at him. A New Jersey-based science and medical writer, Ben grew up with antique collectors for parents and considers flea markets and yard sales his natural habitat. He’s always on the lookout for something he’s never seen before. He started submitting content and information to collectible toy magazines when he was 13 years old and got his first feature story published when he was 19. Specializing in all things 1980s and 1990s, Ben is the owner of one of the largest collections dedicated to 1980s icon Mr. T in the country. Currently, he operates a website dedicated to antiques and collectibles with his family called The Collector Gene ( He earned his master’s degree from New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program and currently works as a medical writer for a biomedical research institution in Philadelphia.

Will the Zombie-Makers of Today Yield the Neuroscience and Drug Discoveries of Tomorrow?    
by Kelly Weinersmith (East Bay, CA)

Description: Do you find parasites disgusting? If not, they may have already gotten to you. Some parasites are like little mad scientists, forcing animals to bend to their wicked whims. Parasites can make ants into zombies, make fish beg to be eaten, and make humans get in car wrecks. In many animals, parasite manipulations are downright surgical. They manipulate behavior and physiology in ways that cannot yet be replicated by scientists. Zombie-makers have benefited from millions of years of natural selection, and “asking” parasites what tricks have been bestowed upon them by natural selection may yield future breakthroughs in our understanding of interactions between the brain, immune system, and behavior. Additionally, bioprospecting focusing on parasites that manipulate their hosts may yield novel drugs for treating a variety of diseases, including depression, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. Modern science may allow us to turn the tables on parasites, using the tricks parasites have learned over millions of years to improve our well-being.

Bio: Kelly Weinersmith received her PhD from the University of California Davis, where she studied how parasites turn their hosts into zombies. Groups like the National Science Foundation and the American Association of University Women have funded Kelly to do crazy things like sample fish in quantities measured in dump trucks, induce and analyze fish puke, and infect fish with brain-infecting parasites to measure how these parasites change fish physiology and behavior. It’s impossible for Kelly to keep her mouth shut about science, so when she isn’t actively doing science you can find her podcasting over at Weekly Weinersmith or Science…Sort of. For Kelly’s next big adventure, she she’ll be joining Rice University as a Huxley Faculty Fellow. Follow Kelly on twitter @Fuschmu.

Microalgae: Food, Fertilizer, and Fuel of the Future    
by Mike Jochum (Austin)

Description: Microalgae have the adaptability necessary to survive almost anywhere on the planet, grow at an incredibly fast rate, and produce valuable commodities like Omega 3’s, bioplastics, and biofuel. This presentation will briefly discuss how to grow algae, provide examples of some interesting strains, and highlight some of the research that is being conducting to foster new green technologies.

Bio: Mike Jochum has been working in applied phycology for the last five years with AlgEternal Technologies, LLC, an Austin based tech company focused on the growth of unicellular microalgae for a wide variety of markets ranging from microalgal derived nutraceutical supplementation to biofuels production. Michael is listed as an inventor of the AlgEternal Technologies patent-pending closed system vertical photobioreactor entitled “Biomass Production System and Apparatus”.  He has played a critical role in the overall system design of the Vertical Growth Module™, and his research on the abiotic factors associated with exponential growth of microalgae have been a critical asset when designing the prototype photobioreactors used to manipulate the outdoor environment and ensure the continued rapid growth of algae cultures.

What Would Dr. McCoy Make With A Star Trek Replicator?    
by Dr. JulieLynn Wong (Toronto)

Description: Need medical supplies on a long space mission? If you can’t take everything with you, then you’ll have to print on demand. With this in mind, Dr. Julielynn Wong 3D printed usable medical supplies using solar energy at the Mars Desert Research Station.  Miss Wong has designed an ultra-portable solar-powered 3D printer that can be transported in a carry-on suitcase so doctors visiting remote villages can bring this with them to create medical supplies on-site.

Bio:  Julielynn Wong, MD, MPH, is a Harvard-educated, award-winning public health physician, innovator, and educator.  Miss Wong created 3D4MD ( which creates 3D printable medical supplies to deliver healthcare in the most challenging places to those who need it the most.

The Future of Food: Why We Need Urban Bee Geeks    
by Jocelyn Crocker (Edmonton, AB)

Description: While their honey is a sweet by-product, the most important benefit that comes from our long relationship with the European honeybee is agricultural since 1/3 of our food production depends on pollinators. Frightening reports of declining bee populations have raised questions about our future food security. In addition to using a plethora of bee puns, this talk will focus on the factors contributing to colony collapse disorder, how urban beekeeping might bolster bee populations and local food production in future years, and how you can bee-come an urban beekeeper.

Bio: Jocelyn Crocker (BSc, MEd) is an instructor with the department of Biological Sciences Technology at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Prior to taking a beekeeping certification course in January 2014, Jocelyn knew almost nothing about bees except that she liked to eat their vomit on toast for breakfast. Nowadays, Jocelyn regularly gets buzzed in her backyard apiary with her husband and young children.

Should we Build Terminators?    
by Erik Schechter (New York)

Description: This lecture discusses the rise of killer robots and the controversy surrounding them. Topics covered: how might a fully autonomous system be better a weapon than a simple drone? Who is working on these robots and who is opposing them? Can we can even stop the emergence of Terminator?

Bio: Erik Schechter is a tech journalist whose writing has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Aerospace America, Scientific American, the Wall Street Journal, Jane’s International Defence Review and other publications.

A Sampler of Apocalypses    
by Laura Lanford (Chicago)

Description: The end is nigh! But what form might it take? The possibilities are limitless!

Bio: Laura Lanford is an instructor for the Chicago Community Emergency Response Team and a preparedness hobbyist. Ask her about the post apocalyptic world …after her second beer.