I was invited by a new friend to keep the nerd lecture ball rolling by attending the Super Secret Science Club, a scientific lecture series that meets on the second Tuesday of every month at the Bellhouse. Last Tuesday's speaker was paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, discoverer of the Lucy skeleton, a 3.2-million-year-old early hominid, in Ethiopia.
It was AWESOME. Johanson made the material accessible without seeming watered down. He was funny, charming, flirty and appropriately bitter against religion and ignorance. He was lightly political as it pertained to the current state of science in our culture, and helped put the hard facts of his and others' discoveries into the context of the greater world at large.
He had discovered the bones in 1974, so as we watched pictures of he and his team working some 35 years ago, it was a fascinating juxtaposition of images of the younger, ambitious man and the seasoned, wiser, yet no less exuberant older man before us.
His lecture seldom dragged, and he handled the questions afterward with great aplomb, including one from a self-agrandizing moron who had clearly Wikipedia'd a catch word to use for that very night: "Could you speak regarding the TOPHOLOGY involved...," punching the word tophology (sp?) like an eager school boy auditioning for the role of teacher's pet.
The good Professor took this opportunity to PWN the punk, responding, "Actually, I was just hiking in the Rocky Mountains two days ago with a colleague when we came across a perfectly lovely deer pelvis and I pointed to it and said, 'That will never become a fossil,' and when she asked why, I said, 'Well, it's all a question of tophology, my dear.'
That's right punk, he knew the word AND had used it in context.
And then... he ended playing us a SONG about Australopithecus that someone had written for him. And said they were making a YouTube video of it. I was like, "Wha wha WHAAT?!? Ending paleontology lectures with a summary song?! That's MY bit!!!"
So in the end, I'd have to conclude that SSSC is a bit more nerdcore than Nerd Nite in the scientific branch of the Nerd world, but NN extends across the whole of Nerdery so still maintains it's street cred.