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.


Is Anything Nerdier Than True Love?

Quick! What's the nerdiest thing on the planet?

Star Wars? Nerf? Harry Potter? The Hobbit?

Maybe it's Lego?

If you're Kevin Ulrich of Brotherhood Workshop, the nerdiest thing on the planet is
true love...

rendered in Lego, or course.


Nerd Q&A: Is There Such a Thing as Nerdy Fitness?

JD Hancock -[ beGIn m8rnInG w8rk8ut ]-
What are some nerdy hobbies for getting into shape?

Thanks to fitness trackers, pretty much any physical activity can be nerdy these days, but there are some choices better suited to nerds than others.


Real Life Nerds: High School Student Sends Genetic Experiment to the ISS

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to carry the Dragon module on a resupply mission to the International Space Station today. In addition to food and supplies, the Dragon spacecraft includes 17-year-old Anna-Sophia Boguraev’s Genes in Space experiment.

Using a miniPCR DNA analysis system, Boguraev's experiment is designed to establish whether genetic changes to DNA and the weakened immune systems observed in astronauts are linked, a first step in safeguarding astronaut health in long duration missions, such as future Mars missions. Her experiment may open the door to detecting immune system alterations in space, as well as assessing astronaut health during space flight including genetic changes that could lead to cancer, neurological disorders, and developmental abnormalities. This will be one of the first experiments to use advanced DNA detection technologies in orbit.

The miniPCR kit will remain on board for future research projects. The machine’s portability, given its small mass and footprint, makes it ideally suited for DNA analysis on the ISS.

The Genes in Space contest is a US and UAE STEM competition that challenges students in grades 7 through 12 to propose DNA experiments that could solve space exploration problems using the unique environment of the ISS. The annual competition is currently accepting student research projects until April 20th. To learn more, visit GenesInSpace.org


Help Unravel the Mysteries of the Cosmos

A LIGO optics suspension - G. Grabeel/LIGO

On September 14, 2015 the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, measured gravitational waves--ripples in the fabric of spacetime--caused by a cataclysmic event far out in the cosmos. The discovery is the culmination of decades of research and development and the world-wide effort of thousands of researchers.

Now you can be part of the next discovery!

Join Einstein@Home, and use your computer's idle time to search for signals from spinning neutron stars using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite.

Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Professor of Theoretical Physics, says, “with this discovery, we humans are embarking on a marvelous new quest: the quest to explore the warped side of the universe--objects and phenomena that are made from warped spacetime.” You can help on this quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe just by downloading a new screensaver. While your PC is sitting idle, it can analyze data from searches for gravitational wave signals. 

This first detection heralds a new era in astrophysics. The gravitational waves were produced by the collision of of two black holes. Black holes emit no light, so we had no way to see them, but with gravitational waves they shine like stars in a sea of darkness. The ultimate goal is to use “multi-messenger astronomy”, where gravitational wave detectors and telescopes that "see" in visible light, x-rays, gamma rays, radio waves, and even with neutrinos, all at the same time. Each method of observing provides a different look at the same objects, allowing them to be studied in multiple ways and revealing relationships and interactions never before observed.