Northern California Science Writers Association

Stiff, Spook, Bonk and More: Science Meets Humor

  • Tuesday, April 12, 2016
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Bacheeso's in Berkeley
  • 0


  • Member and one guest
  • For student member only. Guests pay non-member price.


Mary Roach, a Bay Area resident and long-sought NCSWA speaker, is a celebrated author of six – very soon to be seven -- popular books. She specializes in popular science and humor, in books such as “Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife” (2005), “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” (2010) and “My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places.” And out soon is her new book, GRUNT:  The Curious Science of Humans at War.”

Mary is just about fearless in pursuit of her stories – an unflinching observer and writer. In her first book, “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” (2003), she covered subjects like vaginal weight-lifting, an amputee bowling league and the question of how much food it takes to burst a human stomach.

She followed meteorite hunter Ralph Harvey to polar regions of the world to study space debris and uncover clues about their space origins. She also consulted neuromuscular experts (for her 2013 book “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal “) to analyze the ability of the human jaw to break down food and protect the mouth while chewing food. To study the reproductive effect of sexual arousal in pigs (for her 2008 book “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex”), she studied a pig researcher's experimentation techniques in order to identify if there was a positive correlation between stimulation and quantity of offspring.

Though she now primarily writes books, she has written for various publications, including Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired and The New York Times Magazine. She also reviews books for The New York Times.

Of her work, she has said, “I often write about science, though I don't have a science degree and must fake my way through interviews with experts I can't understand.”

We are in for a lively talk.

Where: Bacheeso's, 2650 Telegraph Ave. @ Derby in Berkeley, about a 20-minute walk from Ashby BART. 

When: Tuesday, April 12, 2016

6:00 .p.m: Enjoy a no-host bar (beer and wine only)

7:00 p.m: Buffet

8:00 p.m.: Speaker

Bacheeso's is known for its fresh approach to Mediterranean food. The dinner buffet will be brimming with 20 or so dishes, including vegan, vegetarian and meat offerings. Help yourself to Mediterranean staples like falafel, hummus and tabouli, along with lentil soup, a smattering of chicken and lamb dishes, mousaka and a variety of salads and desserts. The owners strive to prepare as much as possible with local organic ingredients. 

Cost: $25 for members (each member may bring one guest at that price), $35 for nonmembers, $15 for students.

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