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.
  • Keystone Controversy

    February 20, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Last week in “2012 The Year Without a Winter” I explained that in order to limit atmospheric carbon dioxide to 450 parts per million, the goal set during the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, we need to leave half of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.   I also noted my skepticism that, […]

  • 2012 The Year Without a Winter

    February 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    When I moved here from Pennsylvania 11 years ago, this is what I was hoping winter would be like.  Maybe sweater weather in the morning and the evening, bracketing crisp, cool 55 oF afternoons.  Having been here for a while now, I know this year is not normal.  So what better time could there be […]

  • Chapelboro 2050 Part IV: The Good Dirt

    February 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

    This is the final installment of a four-part series on changes I expect to see in the Chapelboro by 2050 as a result of reduced resource availability.  To start at the beginning check out “Life on Two Wheels”, “A Farewell to Lawns”, and “Get into the Zone”.  This week I’ll get to the root of […]

  • Chapelboro 2050 Part III: Get into the Zone

    January 29, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    This is the third in my series of columns about how I expect life in Chapelboro to be different in 2050 as a result of reduced energy and resource availability.  If you want to start at the beginning check out “Life on Two Wheels” and “A Farewell to Lawns”.  This week’s entry, as you may […]

  • Yes, We Have No Bananas

    January 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    A business trip to Dubai this week has disrupted by Chapelboro 2050 series.  I anticipated that Dubai would make great fodder for a Common Science blog illustrating the ephemeral nature of our illusion of constant growth and progress which owes its tenuous foundation to our rapid drawdown of our once-and-gone supply of petroleum.  The city […]

  • Chapelboro 2050 Part II: A Farewell to Lawns

    January 16, 2012 at 12:06 am

    If you have been reading my blogs you will know that I expect a reduction in the amount of available energy per person to be the dominant factor in world events in coming decades. As energy becomes scarcer and, therefore, more expensive, I expect many of the energy-inefficient parts of our daily lives to fade away, […]

  • Chapelboro 2050 Part I: Life on Two Wheels

    January 9, 2012 at 1:41 am

    In my final column of 2011, “A Year From Now You Will Wish You Had Started Today”, I summarized a number of significant and troubling trends in our energy and food supplies which I believe will dominate global events over the coming decades. Wandering a bit into the political realm (as I do from time to […]

  • "A Year From Now You Will Wish You Had Started Today"

    December 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    When I started this blog in the spring I had several goals. I wanted to provide the scientific background to local, national, and world events in an engaging way. I wanted to promote discussion of science and technology issues in the community. I also felt the need to sound an alarm, because everything is about to change. The next […]

  • Biofuels Part III: Ethanol, It's Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

    December 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Last week in “The Secret Life of Vegetable Oil” I reviewed biodiesel both from a technical and a food-versus-fuel perspective.   This week I tackle the other major biofuel, ethanol.    Ethanol production is quite simple. Find some sugar, feed it to some yeast, and they make the ethanol. The most straightforward way to make ethanol from crops […]

  • Biofuels Part II: The Secret Life of Vegetable Oil

    December 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

    In last week’s blog, Biodiesel Basics, I covered the following key items:   Essentially all plants and animals store energy by making a class of molecules called     triglycerides, more commonly known as fats and oils. Vegetable oils can be burned as fuel in diesel engines but they get too thick to use in cold weather. […]