Inventor Nerd, Science Nerd

Gerard K. O’Neill (physicist and space activist) was born on February 6, 1927

Gerard Kitchen O’Neill was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high-energy physics experiments. Later, he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver. In the 1970s, he developed a plan to build human settlements in outer space, including a space habitat design known as the O’Neill cylinder. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. O’Neill began researching high-energy particle physics at Princeton in 1954 after he received his doctorate from Cornell University. Two years later, he published his theory for a particle storage ring. This invention allowed particle physics experiments at much higher energies than had previously been possible. In 1965 at Stanford University, he performed the first colliding beam physics experiment. While teaching physics at Princeton, O’Neill became interested in the possibility that humans could live in outer space. He researched and proposed a futuristic idea for human settlement in space, the O’Neill cylinder, in “The Colonization of Space”, his first paper on the subject. He held a conference on space manufacturing at Princeton in 1975. Many who became post-Apollo-era space activists attended. O’Neill built his first mass driver prototype with professor Henry Kolm in 1976. He considered mass drivers critical for extracting the mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids. His award-winning book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space inspired a generation of space exploration advocates.

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Science Fiction Nerd, Writer Nerd

William S. Burroughs (American novelist and essayist) was born on February 5, 1914

William Seward Burroughs II (also known by his pen name William Lee) was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. A primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author, he is considered to be “one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the 20th century.” His influence is considered to have affected a range of popular culture as well as literature. Burroughs wrote 18 novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. He also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.

Computer Nerd, Game Nerd, Inventor Nerd, Technology Nerd

Nolan Bushnell (American engineer and entrepreneur) was born on February 4, 1943

Nolan Key Bushnell is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News “Innovator of the Year” award, and was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is currently on the board of Anti-Aging Games, but his latest venture is an educational software company called Brainrush that is using video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan, who is co-founder and chairman of Brainrush, believes that Brainrush will be his biggest success.

Television Nerd Event

The IT Crowd (British sitcom) premiered on February 3, 2006

The IT Crowd is a British sitcom by Channel 4, written by Graham Linehan, produced by Ash Atalla and starring Chris O’Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson and Matt Berry. The “IT” in the show’s title can be pronounced as either the word it /ˈɪt/, as in “the ‘it’ crowd”, or as the letters IT /ˌaɪˈtiː/, as in the abbreviation for information technology. Set in the London offices of the fictional corporation Reynholm Industries, the show revolves around the three staff members of its IT department, comprising two geeky technicians, a genius named Maurice Moss (Ayoade) and the workshy Roy Trenneman (O’Dowd), headed by Jen Barber (Parkinson), the department’s ‘Relationship Manager’ who knows nothing about IT. The show also focuses on the bosses of Reynholm Industries: Denholm Reynholm (Chris Morris) and his son Douglas (Berry). The comedy premiered on Channel 4 on 3 February 2006, and has run for four series of 6 episodes each. A fifth series has been commissioned. The show was the third successful sitcom creation of Graham Linehan, following Father Ted (co-written with Arthur Mathews) and Black Books (co-written with Dylan Moran).

Female Nerd, Science Fiction Nerd, Writer Nerd

Ayn Rand (Russian-American novelist and screenwriter) was born on February 2, 1905

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982. Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She supported rational egoism and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. She promoted romantic realism in art. She was sharply critical of most other philosophers and philosophical traditions. The reception for Rand’s fiction from literary critics has historically been mixed and polarizing, with extreme opinions both for and against her work commonly being expressed. Nonetheless, she continues to have a popular following, as well as a growing influence among scholars and academics. Rand’s political ideas have been influential among libertarians and conservatives. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings.

Writer Nerd Event

The Oxford English Dictionary was first published on February 1, 1884

The full title of the first volume of the dictionary was A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; Founded Mainly on the Materials Collected by The Philological Society; the 352-page volume, words from A to Ant, cost 12s.6d or U.S.$3.25. The total sales were a disappointing 4,000 copies. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, is the premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully-bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes (plus later supplements), and the second edition in twenty volumes. As of September 16, 2010, the editors had completed the third edition from M to rotness. With approximately 600,000 words, the Oxford English Dictionary is the longest official dictionary; as stated by The Guinness Book of World Records.

Game Nerd

Brad Rutter (biggest winner on Jeopardy!) was born on January 31, 1978

Bradford Gates “Brad” Rutter is the biggest all-time money winner on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! and the second biggest all-time money winner on a game show. Rutter became an undefeated champion on Jeopardy! in 2000 and subsequently won an unprecedented three Jeopardy! tournament titles: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Following his third tournament win, in which he defeated Ken Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter surpassed Jennings as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows. Jennings subsequently regained his record by appearing on various other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (first aired on October 10, 2008). Rutter retains the record for Jeopardy! winnings with $3,470,102, and a pair of Chevrolet Camaros ($55,102 in five-day winnings, $100,000 and $1,000,000 and $2,115,000; see below), and $200,000 in his three tournaments and one exhibition respectively).