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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.
  • Dear God What is That Smell?

    February 10, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Let me start by relating a common occurrence in my home.  The scene begins with my son and me home alone.  Then my wife and daughter arrive, open the door, screw up their faces in looks of disgust and announce loudly, “Dear God what is that smell!?”  My son and I exchange looks of confusion.   […]

  • Bananas Will Never Grow in Barrow

    February 4, 2013 at 4:06 am

    It was not by chance that the first two Common Science columns I published when I started this blog in 2011 were about photosynthesis.  The capture of solar energy by plants is the foundation of the food chain and the ultimate source of nearly all of the earth’s energy.  Photosynthesis has also provided the oxygen […]

  • Perils of a Hyper Hygenic Existence

    January 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    A clear trend in U.S. society over the last several decades is a dedicated attempt to rid our world of “germs” through increased use of antibiotics in soaps, creams, sprays, and pills.  As time passes it is becoming clear that our quest for a completely hygienic world has some noteworthy downsides. For example, multiple studies […]

  • In Which I Reveal Myself to be a Luddite, at Least Partly

    January 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    “Hello my name is Jeff and I use hand tools . . . “   Long time readers will know that from time to time I write a column like this which is more personal than technical.  I have a confession to make.  For someone who makes a living in and also writes about technology, […]

  • Hemp, George Washington Grew It

    January 14, 2013 at 1:59 am

    With all of the critical economic and environmental challenges we face in the world and in North Carolina today, we no longer have the luxury of tolerating the foolish, inefficient and unnecessary ban of growing industrial hemp. Before everyone gets all excited, this is not a marijuana legalization column.  Hemp consists of a family of […]

  • A Follow-Up Question for Mr. Skvarla

    January 7, 2013 at 1:19 am

    “He arrives with . . . the view that global warming is still an open question.” I did not intend to start 2013 with a column about global warming.  However, when I was confronted with the above quote from the new North Carolina Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), John Skvarla, […]

  • Common Science: The Year In Review

    December 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Year two of Common Science has come to a close. Thanks for your support, you interesting questions and comments and your Facebook “Likes.” The year began with a four-part series called Chapelboro 2050 and finished with the history of nylons. In between, we talked about fracking, the Keystone pipeline, the Bronze Age, West Nile virus, […]

  • The Lesson of Nylons

    December 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Peruse any recent media report on the need for economic development, be it local, state, or national, and you will almost certainly find a call for the creation of more manufacturing jobs.  Unfortunately, after expressing the desire for more factories and production lines, rarely, if ever, is a plan laid out for how to make […]

  • An Ode to President Carter

    December 10, 2012 at 2:42 am

    My plan to write a column about methane hydrate has now blossomed into a four part series on global warming and the future of the plant.  Part I covered the science of methane hydrate.  Part II explained the reasons why we are on the path to exceed the U.N. target of limiting carbon dioxide in […]

  • The Greatest Invention of the 21st Century

    December 3, 2012 at 1:54 am

    “Berkeley is Berkeley but Cal Tech is Cal Tech” – Hamadri Das (1)   Want to win a Nobel Prize and also go down in history as the greatest inventor of the 21st century?  Then find the breakthrough that makes artificial photosynthesis a practical, large-scale reality.  Why you ask?  Read on. Last week’s column, “Methane […]

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