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.
  • Common Science 2013 Index

    December 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Below is my third annual index for Common Science on  I’d like to thank my readers for their support and for all of the interesting questions I have received from you at  Just follow the hyperlinks below to read any of this year’s stories. And if there is a topic you would like me […]

  • Smog, The Desolation of Shanghai

    December 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    The news last week contained many pictures like the one above of a monumental smog enveloping the city of Shanghai, China. The smog resulted in many problems: construction projects were halted, public events were cancelled, and the city’s reputation suffered. Chinese authorities were ridiculed for trying to find a silver lining in the smog by […]

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest Part IV: The Frozen Man

    December 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    This is the fourth and final column in my series on sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). If you would like to start at the beginning of the story, here are the links to Parts I, II, and III. In addition to reviewing the pertinent science, this series also recounts the story of my father’s survival of […]

  • It’s The Extraction, Not The Emissions, That Matters

    December 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Since personal obligations have kept me busy this week over Thanksgiving, I will not be publishing the conclusion of the “Sudden Cardiac Arrest” series until December 8th. This week, I am reprising a column from September, 2012, with this new introduction, which I hope will help to shed some light on two recent, but seemingly […]

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest Part III: First Aid

    November 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    This is the third installment in a series on the science of heart disease set against the backdrop of my father’s experience of having and surviving a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). If you’d like to start at the beginning, here are the links for Parts I and II. Also, please note that the first aid […]

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    Sudden Cardiac Arrest Part II: Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest

    November 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Last week in Part I of this series, I reviewed the structure and function of the heart and let you know that my father suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in April of 2013.  Dad is fine and helping me write this series. This week, I’ll explain the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac […]

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest Part I: The Heart

    November 10, 2013 at 8:03 am

    On Friday April 13, 2012, I received a frightening call from my mother. She was en route to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA while my father was being transported there via helicopter. Earlier that afternoon, he had collapsed on the squash court from a sudden cardiac arrest. As I proceed with this series, I’ll […]

  • The Physics of Your Fireplace

    November 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    If you have a gas fireplace in your house, I have something surprising to tell you about it. The switch on the wall which turns on the flame is not connected to the electricity in your house.  Understanding how this switch works requires an explanation of both the thermoelectric and piezoelectric effects.  Who knew you […]

  • The Uncommon Core of the New Math

    October 27, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    In the early 1990s I was working at ARCO Chemical Company in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Times were good at ARCO, although that would change. We were making money, dress was formal, and we devoted time and resources to supporting the local community. As part of that effort, I was asked to host a group […]

  • How Engineers Spend their Spare Time

    October 20, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Since I started writing Common Science in April of 2011, I have averaged 50 columns a year.  Most weeks I have my topic selected by Monday, a first draft done by Wednesday and am ready to submit to my editor (she’s not hard to find) by Friday.  This routine keeps me on track to publish […]

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