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.
  • 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 […]

  • Common Science: Fungi of the Future

    October 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Last week in Part I of this series, I discussed some of the unique properties of fungi – yeasts, molds, and mushrooms. This week, I’ll explain why you will be hearing more and more about fungi in the future, particularly in the areas of agriculture and environmental remediation. Fungi play several critical roles in food […]

  • Your Sister the Mushroom

    October 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    I previously published a column called “Your Mother the Plant” in which I discussed the nearly identical structures of chlorophyll, which absorbs carbon dioxide for plants, and hemoglobin, which absorbs oxygen for animals like humans.  This striking similarity is an echo of the time long, long ago before the evolutionary divergence of plants and animals.  […]

  • Bacteria and Obesity, A Surprising Link

    September 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    As a chemical engineer, I am naturally drawn to write columns about energy and manufacturing.  However, if you have been reading my columns for a while you will have noticed that I keep coming back to topics concerning the vital importance of maintaining a healthy population of beneficial bacteria within us, particularly within our gastrointestinal […]

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