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Nerdwrap: Vegas overrun by influx of brainiacs

Vegas has officially gone to the nerds -- and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

While our fair city isn’t exactly known as a gathering place for great minds (great bodies? Yes. Great brains? Not so much), Vegas has recently seen a peak in its smart people population.

It’s almost like a small-scale CES: The annual Consumer Electronics Show, which takes place in January, has a similar surge-in-smarts effect on the city.

The recent boost in brainpower started last weekend, when the annual hacker convention, Defcon, took over Riviera.

And while the Palms is usually known as a place to check out boobs, not brains, the tech-savvy citizens of Diggnation are currently setting up camp and will broadcast a live episode of the popular Webcast tonight.

The nerdiness will continue tomorrow, when the oh-so-hot-and-fashionable nightspot, Tao, hosts a Twitter-based “tweasure” hunt at the club.

Competitors will use the popular microblogging tool to find virtual clues, then take digital pictures of what they find throughout the night in hopes of winning the very real $5,000 cash prize.

While events like Defcon, Diggnation and the Tao tweasure hunt attract nerds in droves, there’s a difference between nerds and geeks. Unlike geeks, who can be socially inept and awkward, nerds are smart and savvy.

And if this week’s surge in nerd is any indication, nerd just might be the new black.

Instead of high-waisted pants paired with suspenders, today’s nerds wear cleverly sloganed T-shirts and designer jeans. Sure, some of them wear big glasses with plastic frames, but there’s no tape involved.

Steve Urkel, eat your heart out.

Sources at the Artisan hotel said Saturday night’s Defcon party demonstrated that nerds know more than computers: They know how to party, and how to tip, too.

Despite having a fully sponsored open bar (a practice that any bartender will tell you often attracts in a room full of cheapskates and serious tip deficit at the end of the night) the hackers were as generous as they were thirsty.

Bartenders walked away surprised at the end of the night, with both smiles on their faces and record tips in their pockets.

What’s more, while actor Ashton Kutcher has his fans and critics, too, “nerd” is rarely the first word used to describe him.

“Demi Moore’s husband,” maybe; “Star of the new movie, ‘Spread’,” perhaps. But he’s also an Internet sensation and will join Diggnation hosts Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht for tonight’s broadcast.

Yet Diggnation isn’t all stars, style and sass, and while nerd and geek are two different things, there is some crossover.

“Heard there is a Star Trek convention here in Vegas this weekend,” Rose, who graduated Vo-Tech High School and attended UNLV prior to launching his now-successful Internet start-ups, said.

“If you come in costume to tonight's Diggnation, we'll bring you on stage,” he offered.

Rose has nearly a third of Kutcher’s Twitter fanbase, with 1,131,400 followers compared to Kutcher’s 3,065,300.

The former “That 70s Show” star is the most popular person on the microblogging site.

Immediately following his Diggnation debut, Kutcher will return to his Hollywood roots and walk the red carpet outside Brenden Theaters at the Palms for the premiere of his new movie.

While Kutcher’s “Spread” co-star, Anne Heche, is not on Twitter, she will be at tonight’s Vegas premiere. Moore might put in an appearance, too, though her presence has yet to be confirmed.

Kutcher’s worlds of Internet and Hollywood will further collide this evening as the Diggnation and Spread crews are expected to ascend and attend what promises to be a Red Bull-infused party at Ghostbar.

As far as tomorrow twitterific night at Tao is concerned, it, too, will be a fashionable affair. The “worship Thursdays” crowd will be out in full force amid the tweasure hunters and who knows, both crowds may be equally dressed to impress.

The club maintains a dress code, after all, and while it’s not stated in the official rules, pocket protectors aren’t generally permitted.

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Melissa Arseniuk

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