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.


Nerd Toys: Vintage Microscope

Some people like vintage cars, others like vintage computers, I like vintage microscopes.

I just received my AO Spencer Series 4 microscope. It's in good shape, and I got it because I don't see Series 4 models around much. Now that I have it though, I question the wisdom of my choice because I need to clean and adjust a few things but I can't find a manual for it anywhere.

There's a great microscope support group over at Microbe Hunter, so if you're into microscopy of any sort, you should take a look and consider joining their forum.


Real Life Nerds: World Record Spaghetti Marshmallow Tower

u/codesherpa's tower
Check out Reddit user u/codesherpa, who not only built what may be the world record spaghetti tower constructed within the restrictions posed by Peter Skillman's tower challenge, but also went to great lengths to explain the structural engineering behind his tower, and why he believes that it's unlikely anyone will be able to build one much taller than 65 inches.

The tower challenge can be seen in Skillman's TED talk, but the rules are pretty simple:
in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one meter of tape, one meter of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. (codesherpa is working at a slight disadvantage because he's using yards instead of meters, so his materials are a bit restricted.)

Taking the challenge seriously, codesherpa went home and tested ten varieties of spaghetti to determine which is the sturdiest, and engineered a design that maximized the structural integrity of his limited resources. If you read through the comments, codesherpa also explains the other different designs he tried, and the difficulties of working with a cat.

What makes this such a nerdy reddit post isn't so much the spaghetti tower, although that's certainly an enjoyable part of it, but it's codesherpa's attention to detail, meticulous planning, application of engineering knowledge, and iterative testing to accomplish a completely frivolous task. It's a delight to read the initial post and the discussion between users in the comments, and I think the world is better for having people like codesherpa who are willing to share nerdy experiments like this.