New GSC Academic Chair Hosts Nerd Nite

On January 31, 2014 by Grad Forum
Zachary Hamaker speaking at Nerd Nite.

Zachary Hamaker presenting on the injustices of voting.

For the past two years, Nerd Nite has been funded by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and organized by its academic chair to provide graduate students with the opportunity to practice public speaking skills in an informal environment. On Thursday, January 23, Anna Prescott, the newly-appointed academic chair of the GSC, hosted her first Nerd Nite. Around 40 audience members and 5 speakers turned out for the event.

Tyler Walton (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies), who was voted “Nerd of the Nite” at the last Nerd Nite, kicked off the event by discussing more about author J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings works. Walton gave a description of Tengwar, a script created by Tolkien and used by the inhabitants of Middle Earth to write in their own languages.

Next up to present was Erin Tiernan (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies), the current editor of the MALS Journal. Tiernan spoke about the art of “sauntering” and how to stop worrying. Tiernan advised the audience to enjoy life at Dartmouth more and appreciate what graduate school has to offer as a means of getting more in touch with themselves.

Everett Sullivan (Department of Mathematics), another returning Nerd Nite speaker, presented on “hyperbolic geometry,” a non-Euclidean geometry. Linking simple geometric understanding to larger mathematical theories and practices, Sullivan explained the concept of hyperbolic geometry and how it helps scientists from many different fields, such as physical cosmologists and researchers working on brain mapping.

Ethan Woodard (Master of Arts in Liberal Studies) came next and gave a brief but thorough history of comic books. Woodard described the differences between DC Comics and Marvel Comics, while focusing on the issue of continuity in comic book universes. Woodard fielded many questions from the audience about comic book heroes, comic book history, and what he thought about the future of the genre, which sparked interesting conversation among several audience members.

Finally, Zachary Hamaker (Department of Mathematics) spoke about the injustice of elections. Hamaker gave several examples of how elections can be biased. He proposed that there are two alternatives to the injustice of elections: 1) to have only two candidates, or 2) to have a dictatorship. This presentation suggested the need for further research in order to improve elections.

All of the presenters did a great job, and it was very hard to choose the “Nerd of the Nite.” Consequently, Prescott decided it would be best to crown all of the presenters as “Nerds of the Nite,” a decision that was backed by the audience—until one audience member nominated her as “Nerd of the Nite” for hosting the wonderful event.

The Graduate Forum congratulates Prescott on successfully hosting her first Nerd Nite. We look forward to attending more Nerd Nite events in the future!

by Gilbert Rahme

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