Almost makes me want to go back to college, listening to someone as engaging as Marks was. Of course, I don't remember any college classes I took where I could drink a craft beer and eat a tasty hummus plate while listening to a lecture.
Which goes a long way toward explaining the appeal of Science Night (every 3rd Thursday, 7-9 pm, all ages welcome).
You get to learn about a scientific subject in a decidedly non-academic atmosphere.
I rarely visit bars or brewpubs. I hardly ever drink beer. So Science Night -- we've been to two at Gilgamesh -- is an opportunity for me to venture into a fresh combination of experiences: food + beer + sitting at a long table with strangers + hearing a science talk = FUN!
My wife and I appreciate what Gilgamesh Brewery is offering Salem.
It's simply way cool to sit in a brewpub, sipping a beer, eating some vegetarian-friendly food, listening to an entertaining scientist-type tell us about an interesting subject, then enjoy a Q & A period where other Science Night'ers ask great questions and get fascinating answers.
Speaking of cool...
This was Melissa Marks' favorite word.
Aside from "bacteria," I guess. She used it entertainingly. This fact or that finding wasn't just important; it was cool! I would have been more interested in science during my college years if I'd had a professor like marks.
It is indeed cool that each of us is made of up of many more bacterial cells than human cells. (Though bacteria only weigh 2-3 pounds, so we can't blame them when we get on the scale.)
It also is cool that bacteria are our distant ancestors. We Homo sapiens have evolved from single and multi-celled organisms, all the way to who we are now: creatures who need those ancestors to survive.
I hadn't known that babies are born pristine, so to speak. The mother's womb is a sterile environment. Going through the birth canal starts the microorganism accumulating process. After that, doing things like sucking on a pacifer that falls on the floor introduces more beneficial "germs" into our bodies.
This is good for us. Primitive tribes have greater colonies of good microorganisms than we do. Of course, they also lack modern health care, so on average they don't live as long as us.
But Marks emphasized over and over that antibiotics in whatever form (in soap, for example, or wipes) are very bad for humankind when used in excess. Killing bad bacteria also kills good bacteria.
There are some interesting upcoming topics for Science Night. Evolution and how we make decisions are next up. I'll be there, beer in hand. Given how craft beer-crazy Oregon has become, I'm kind of embarassed to admit that my current beer consumption consists of that single monthly glass I have at Gilgamesh's Science Night.
I really enjoy that beer though. Tastes so much better than the beer of old. And like I said, science seems a lot more interesting while drinking a beer.
[Off-topic brewpub etiquette question for Ms. Brewpub Answer Girl, if she exists:
I am sitting at a quasi-communal long wood table. My wife is next to me. Next to her, and across from us, are three women who have ordered items that come with fries. They have large orders. I sense, correctly, that the women cannot eat all of the fries. I didn't order fries, because I don't want an entire order. But I want just the amount that is left on their plates. We have been exchanging some pleasantries with the women, but otherwise don't know them. Is it proper brewpub etiquette for me to say, "Would you mind if I finished your fries?" I didn't do this, though I thought about saying it. A lot. Especially after I finished my beer.]