STEP 6. STRUT YOUR STUFF
Before you got fit, you wouldn't have dared meet geeks and
eggheads on their own turf. Now these are your people. So
chat, flirt, and don't forget to flex.
Top Nerd Bars: Science abs pumped? Here's where to show them off.
Miracle of Science, Cambridge, MA
Geek Factor: Harvard and MIT profs and local biotech workers lounge at fireslate tables surrounded by microscopes and other lab paraphernalia. A giant, wall-mounted menu is modeled after the periodic table of elements.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "Want to experiment with coupled-wave theory?"
Outpost Tavern, Houston, TX
Geek Factor: Johnson Space Center astronauts have been knocking back brews here for more than 20 years. Every April 12 is Yuri's Night—celebrating cosmonaut Gagarin's historic jaunt into space.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "Ever wonder what Earth looks like from the back of a Ford Explorer?"
Amigo's, Pasadena, CA
Geek Factor: Every other Wednesday is Quantum Margarita Night, when physicists from Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab meet to drink strawberry margaritas and talk shop.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "What's a nice girl like you doing in an n-dimensional space like this?"
DNA Lounge, San Francisco, CA
Geek Factor: A "no Microsoft zone," this dance club equipped with Linux-based Internet kiosks and live webcasts offers its source code to patrons for free.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "Every now and then two numbers meet, link, and become forever binary."
Celtic Bayou, Redmond, WA
Geek Factor: This Irish pub features a wireless network and lunch discounts for Microsoft employees.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "Hey, nice GUI. Want to integrate our matrices?"
Sci-Fi Cafe, New Haven, CT
Geek Factor: Yalies meet here to sip Hale-Bopps (a nonalcoholic mix of cranberry, orange and lime juices) or Saturn Hemisphere martinis.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "If you were a phaser, you'd be set on 'stunning.'"
Koa House Grill, Kamuela, HI
Geek Factor: The Koa House is so close to the W.M. Keck Observatory that local astronomers refer to its lounge as the Koa boardroom.
Guaranteed Pick-Up Line: "I've heard Uranus rotates on its side. True?"
Barstool Science: Three tricks to make you the life of the nerd party.
Mark the bottom-right and top-left corners of a long, thin strip of paper with X's, and the other two corners with O's. Twist and roll the paper such that X meets X and O meets O, and tape the ends together. Ask the drunk next to you how many sides this strip has. If he says two, draw a line along the middle of the strip until you're back where you started to show him that a Mbius strip is one-sided. Now punch a hole in the strip and ask: "If there's only one side, where does the hole lead?" Raise your eyebrows meaningfully. The science: Welcome to the weird mathematical field of topology. The hole in the strip suggests how wormholes—hypothetical shortcuts between distant points in the universe—could work.
Using a couple of toothpicks, lower a steel sewing needle (brought from home) onto the surface of a bowl of water. It will stay on top thanks to surface tension, the huddling together of polarized water molecules due to hydrogen bonding. Next, get some powdered soap from the bathroom, sprinkle it into the bowl, and watch the needle sink to the bottom. The science: Soap has
an electrically charged carboxylic-acid structure at one end of each molecule. These structures vigorously attract water molecules, pulling them from their mutual attractions and thereby breaking the surface tension.
Grab a penny, bum a lemon from the bartender, and wrassle up a galvanized nail and some copper wire. Squeeze the lemon until it's soft, then make two small cuts. Insert the nail and penny in the holes, attaching separate lengths of wire to each. Make the guy next to you touch his tongue to the free ends of the wire. It'll tingle. The science: In this makeshift voltaic battery, the zinc-coated nail is the negative electrode and the copper-coated penny the positive. The electrolyte is lemon juice, whose positively charged hydrogen ions react with zinc: Zn + 2H+ → Zn2+ + H2. The penny helps channel electrons through the circuit and your neighbor's tingly tongue.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.