Just before Thanksgiving, I went to my first Nerd Nite meeting, and it was pretty cool. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, they describe themselves as “the Discovery Channel, but with beer.” Basically, they have three speakers come on three different nerdy topics. Oh, and the whole thing is at a bar, thus the beer.
At the one I went to, the topics were lock-picking, bioengineering, and organ transplants – all topics that relate to Batman.
First was the lock-picking speech, which was very popular. I never realized how simple it was to pick a lock! He went through the history of locks and lock-picking technique in less than 30 minutes. Plus the speaker had lock-pick kits for sale in the back of the room, as well as kits and locks out for you to try.
Next was the bioengineering speech. They started with ancient prosthetics from ancient Egyptian toes to Gotz of the Iron Hand. From ancient times until very recently, prosthetics were meant to replace some of the function lost from the injured body parts. The Iron Hand was built around 1500, but it was able to hold anything from a writing quill to a lance! Now, though, prosthetics are reaching a point where they are improvements over normal function, like with the “Blade Runner” controversy of the 2012 Olympics, or the knee brace from Dark Knight Rises. Then they moved away from the mechanical and more to the biological, talking about how likely it would be to create Captain America. (The answer is not likely with an existing Steve Rogers, but getting more likely with a Julius Benedict.)
And finally the speech on organ transplants. I thought it was going to be more of an overview speech, but this was a first-hand account by a person with Wilson’s Disease who survived two liver transplants. (And is now doing quite well.) It was pretty amazing to hear about what she went through, and just how convoluted and expensive the transplant system is! Perhaps the most interesting part of it was the gamesmanship involved. People waiting for transplants want to go to where the lists are the shortest, and then want to get as close to death as possible without actually dying in order to get their transplant faster.
All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I’m thinking about going again to their next one, which happens to be tomorrow.