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.
  • Wood Pellets, Bane or Boon for NC?: Part II

    November 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Last week in Part I of this series, I discussed the science of wood pellets and the drivers behind the dramatic increase in their production in the southeast United States. The majority of these wood pellets are being shipped to Europe, particularly, the United Kingdom where they are supplanting coal as a fuel source for […]

  • Wood Pellets, Bane or Boon for NC?: Part I

    November 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Readers of this column may recall that I own 16 acres of property about 2 miles west of Carrboro that I operate as a hobby farm/pollinator reserve. Approximately 14 of these acres are wooded. Prior to 1992, this land was part of a 50-acre farm. There are stands of pine trees that have grown on […]

  • Sunscreen, A New Threat to Coral?

    November 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

    If you try to stay up to date on science news, you may have notice a number of recent stories about coral reefs being damaged by sunscreen. After seeing several headlines to this effect, I decided to investigate. My initial assumption was that the likely proposed mechanism for this problem would be that dissolved sunscreen […]

  • Improving our Local Food Web: Part II

    November 1, 2015 at 11:46 am

    In Part I of this series, I noted that our local farmers, farmers markets, and restaurants in Orange County constitute a vibrant local food web that provides us with a number of important benefits including nutritious foods and a reduced environmental footprint. Nevertheless, we should always be looking for further improvements. My recommendations for an […]

  • Improving our Local Food Web: Part I

    October 24, 2015 at 9:52 am

    In Orange County, North Carolina we take well-deserved pride in our local food web. We have innovative local farmers, numerous farmers markets and a host of local restaurants committed to using fresh, local ingredients. But we can, and should, keep striving for improvements. My recommendations for how we might do so, as you might expect, […]

  • 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. […]

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