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.
  • The Flu: Epilogue

    October 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    I intended to move away from the flu after 3 weeks, but decided I left some things unsaid. Long, long ago, when I was applying for college, I wanted to study either history or chemical engineering. That may sound like and odd mix, but if you have been reading this blog you will have seen that the […]

  • Flu Season Primer Part III: The Flu

    October 2, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    This week’s entry brings us to the conclusion of my three part series on the flu. If you want to start at the beginning here are the links for Part I and Part II. The flu, with its predictable yearly visits, has become so familiar to us that we tend to forget that it is a truly […]

  • Flu Season Primer Part II: The Immune System

    September 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    When we left off last week in “Flu Season Primer Part I: The Virus” your immune system was about to mount a spirited defense to a viral infection. Your immune system protects you from all sorts of threats and invasions, including parasites, bacteria, allergens, insect bites, viruses and more. In this blog I will only address […]

  • Flu Season Primer Part I: The Virus

    September 19, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Flu season is upon us and the movie Contagion about a global epidemic is out in the theaters. So clearly it is time for a three-part Common Science series on viruses, the immune system, and influenza.    Viruses are frightening, but they are also fascinating. At the top of the page are illustrations of the HIV (top […]

  • Everything Comes from Oil, Everything

    September 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    It’s been awhile since I posted my most recent entry in my series on petroleum. If you want to start at the beginning, follow the links below.   1.     Nothing Matters More than Oil, Nothing 2.     Photosynthesis Part I: Oxygen Gets all the Press 3.     Photosynthesis Part II: Glucose Should Get a Better Agent 4.     Petroleum: 300 […]

  • It's a Theory That's Out There

    September 5, 2011 at 2:41 am

    I mentioned in an earlier post (A Science Question for Michele Bachmann) that science is often the first casualty of presidential politics. Here is an example. When Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry was recently asked about his views on evolution he responded by saying “It’s a theory that’s out there.”   Science-denying candidates like Mr. Perry […]

  • Earthquake!

    August 24, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Yesterday an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale struck central Virginia and was felt up and down the East Coast. I was sitting at my desk in RTP when I felt my office building begin to shake. At first I thought it was nearby construction activity, but then the slats in my window shade began to […]

  • The World's Greatest Cheat Sheet

    August 22, 2011 at 1:35 am

        In honor of Back to School Week, Common Science is publishing an homage to the world’s greatest cheat sheet, the Periodic Table of the Elements. Somewhere during the first week of high school chemistry (yes, I know some of you never had chemistry in high school but I try not to think about that) […]

  • To Frack or Not to Frack?

    August 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

    On July 19th, 400 people assembled in the Fearrington barn for an event called Fracking Bewareness to hear a cautionary message about the potential to drill for natural gas in North Carolina using a technique called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Fracking has been prominent in the national news over the last few years both because of dramatic […]

  • Electricity Production 101

    August 8, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Making electricity is easy. You take a coil of wire, you spin it near a strong magnet and you get electricity. Getting the coil to spin is, oddly, the more challenging part. I’ll explain this below, but first let’s talk about my childhood.   When I was a kid my favorite toy was a race track with little […]