About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Project MARS Competition Now Open

Curiosity Rover - NASA
Humans are taking our first steps toward actually setting foot on Mars. When astronauts venture to the planet, what will they see? How will they feel? What will they experience? What will they do? Project Mars invites college students and early career professionals to learn about NASA’s deep space endeavors, including the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket and deep space gateway concept, and create their visualization of what this expedition may look like.

Bring your interpretation of NASA’s work to send humans to Mars to life through breathtaking cinematography, amazing animations and state-of-the-art special effects. You have up to 5 minutes to tell an inspiring story about a 9-month trek to the red planet, so captivating creativity is a must! The winning short film will be selected by a team of film and graphic design industry judges including Gareth Edwards, director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Grand prize is $10,000.

Recruit brave astronauts for a daring mission, promote space tourism for the adventurous, or depict the next generation of space systems that will transport new world explorers to Mars. The sky is not the limit when you design a poster for the deep space journey, so reach out to infinity and beyond for creative ideas. The winning poster will be selected by a team of film and graphic design industry judges including Joshua Grossberg, creative director of McCann New York. First place prize is $1500.



Discover the Real Life History Behind Hogwarts

Memoir of Nicolas Flamel
The British Library collaborated with Google's Arts & Culture collection to open up their Harry Potter: a History of Magic exhibition to anyone with an Internet collection.

If you couldn't get to the British Library for their exhibition in real life, you can still see J K Rowling's handwritten notes and Jim Kay's original illustrations for the books alongside rare books on alchemy and magic from the library's special collections. Who knows, you may be able to decipher the Ripley scroll and recover the secret to the elixir of life.


Coloring in Library Books

This could be fun.

Libraries around the world have posted images from their collections, and you can use them as coloring pages. The images range from scenery to complex patterns.

There's a whole Twitter chain about it, #ColorOurCollections.

Usually coloring in the books will get you kicked out of the library, so embrace this rare opportunity.


Want to Help Develop an App for Making Friends?

Interested in an app designed to help make new friends?

Yeah, sounds like similar to most social network apps, but it's supposed to help you meet people with similar interests. 

From u/voidupdate's original Reddit post, you can link to a fairly quick Google survey asking questions about meeting new people, finding things to do, and how frustrating you think it is to schedule activities with a group, so this app may be similar to Meetup.  


The Book That CAN Hurt You

All this time I've been telling everyone that books can't hurt people, so there's no reason to get out your pitchforks and torches and run to the library to ban them.

Turns out I was wrong.

There's at least one book that could kill you (maybe there are more, I haven't checked).

The book Shadows from the Walls of Death: Facts and Inferences Prefacing a Book of Specimens of Arsenical Wall Papers by Robert Kedzie contains a collection of wallpaper samples...that are toxic. I am uncertain if reading the book could actually kill anyone, but most libraries that owned copies eventually removed them from their collections and destroyed them. So, it's a pretty rare title. The remaining copies are in special collections, and their pages are encapsulated in plastic so the arsenic can't hurt anyone.

Kind of makes those parents who storm the library and demand that Harry Potter be removed from the shelves look a little silly.

You can actually look at a digital copy of one of these books at the National Library of Medicine. As far as I know, you can't get arsenic poisoning over the Internet.