By Jeff Danner Jeff has worked in both the chemical and biotech industries and is the veteran of thousands of science debates at cocktail parties and holiday dinners across the nation. In his Common Science blog, Jeff aims to make technological and scientific concepts accessible to all.
  • Scientific American May 1987

    October 11, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    When you are an engineer and the author of a weekly science column, it influences the gifts that you receive. This year for Father’s Day, my family gave me a copy of Scientific American® from May of 1987. What caught their eye was the cover story, Predicting the Earth’s Climate.  They knew I had often […]

  • Frozen Shoulder

    October 4, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    In the summer of 2010, when I was 44 years old, I was clearing some brush and experienced a sharp and unfamiliar pain in my right shoulder. I have always been quite active, so I am accustomed to a wide variety of aches and pains and consider myself to have a high-degree of pain tolerance. […]

  • Cold Fusion Part III: Conclusion and Implications

    September 27, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    This is the conclusion of a three-part series on cold fusion. Part I covered the science and Part II discussed the history of efforts to entice atomic nuclei to fuse a low temperature, a potential pathway to nearly limitless and clean energy. I would be pleased if you followed the links and started at the […]

  • Cold Fusion Part II: History 1869 to 2015

    September 20, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Last week in Part I of this three column series, I discussed the science of cold fusion. I had been considering writing about cold fusion for some time. Then last month the U.S. patent office issued a patent for a fluid heater to Italian inventor Andrea Rossi that, as we will discuss further below, purports […]

  • Cold Fusion Part I: The Science

    September 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Last month Italian inventor Andrea Rossi was granted a U.S. patent for a fluid heater. At first glance, that’s not a particularly gripping opening sentence for a lively or interesting science column. But there is more to the story, a lot more. First off, the heat source in Rossi’s invention is purported to cold fusion. […]

  • Oxygen Free Atmosphere versus Holding Your Breath

    September 6, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Twice a year I head to my home town of State College, Pennsylvania to give a presentation to freshmen Chemical Engineering students at Penn State University entitled, “What a Chemical Engineer Actually Does.” It’s a fun trip for me. I listen to an audio book on the drive, visit with my parents while my mom […]

  • Coal Ash, How Dry is Dry?

    August 30, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    This week’s column assumes that the reader is familiar with the fact that Duke Energy has been tasked with closing or upgrading its coal ash lagoons across the state of North Carolina following a massive coal ash spill into the Dan River near to Eden, NC. If you are not familiar with the background, I […]

  • Pollinator Update

    August 23, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    In the spring of 2014, I published a three-part series on the importance of pollinators – bees, butterflies, wasps, hummingbirds and a variety of other insects – and highlighted the alarming rates of decline of their populations. (Here are links to those columns, Part I, Part II, and Part III.) I also described my own […]

  • Alkali Burns at Pine Gate Apartments

    August 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    As was previously reported by the news department at, on July 8th, 10 people and 3 pets who reside at Pine Gate Apartments in Chapel Hill received chemical burns when they came in contact with an alkali-based paint removal product called Stripper Cream. As I was following the incident, I was reminded that popular […]

  • The Science of Hail

    August 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    It’s summer here in the Southern Part of Heaven and that means it’s time for hail storms. So I thought a column on the science of hail would be timely. Plus, my wife recently asked me a question about hail and my explanation was a bit disorganized, so I hope this one is an improvement. […]

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