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: 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 […]

  • A World Without Fossil Fuels

    September 23, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Our world is dominated by fossil fuels. They make our electricity, heat our homes, power our cars, and are changing our climate. As a student of both science and history, I sometimes wonder what the world would be like today if there were no fossil fuels; no coal, no petroleum, and no natural gas. One […]

  • The Butterfly Effect

    September 16, 2013 at 5:51 am

    For a system to exhibit “chaos” as defined by physicists, four elements must be present.

  • The Rise and Fall of US Infrastructure Part III: Conclusion

    September 8, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    In Parts I and II of this series I covered the history and impact of the construction of infrastructure in the United States, as well as the dynamics behind its slide into its current state of decay.  In the near future we will need to get serious about making repairs and improvements, but before we […]

  • The Rise and Fall of U.S. Infrastructure Part II: The Fall

    September 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    In Part I of this series I reviewed the rise of infrastructure in the United States. This week we will explore the fall and how it came to be that the ASCE.

  • The Rise and Fall of U.S. Infrastructure Part I: The Rise

    August 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Infrastructure in the United States has fallen into a state of decay. Bridges are collapsing, roads are deteriorating, and aging sewer lines are leaking. The 2013 report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a grade of D+ and called for $3.6 trillion in infrastructure by 2020.

  • Could Caesar Eat Peanuts?

    August 19, 2013 at 5:55 am

    I recently had the chance to read through several months of Scientific American® magazine, one on a study conducted by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

  • The Caterpillar Effect

    August 11, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Last week my wife and I were in St. Martin and went to a butterfly farm where I learned something new.

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