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.
  • Biofuels Part I: Biodiesel Basics

    December 5, 2011 at 2:56 am

    Some of my readers may be aware that in addition to writing Common Science for, I have occasionally been filling in for D.G. Martin on Who’s Talking. If you are not familiar with Who’s Talking, it’s on AM 1360 WCHL every Tuesday through Friday evening at 6:15 PM with a rebroadcast at 10:00 pm. You can […]

  • Advice to My Nephew on Whether to Study Science or Engineering

    November 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    I am posting from St. Louis, Missouri this where we are visiting family for Thanksgiving. My nephew here is in his senior year in high school and is trying to decide where to go for college. He’s a good student and is trying to decide if he wants to study science or engineering. I’m often asked about […]

  • Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

    November 21, 2011 at 3:47 am

    In my very first Common Science blog on I told you that had perhaps the best high school chemistry teacher ever, Mrs. Ciolkosz. In this week’s blog I am going to share with you something she taught me. But, first this quick review.   Last week in “Your Mother the Plant” I discussed the process […]

  • Your Mother the Plant

    November 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    When I told people that I was going to start writing a weekly science blog for, the reactions I got ranged from rampant enthusiasm to overwhelming skepticism. When I told the skeptics that I was planning to lead off with a two-part series on photosynthesis, their concerns, to say the least, were not assuaged. But if […]

  • It's Getting Crowded in Here

    November 7, 2011 at 4:37 am

    Last week’s announcement that the world’s seven billionth person was born has prompted a barrage of news coverage, most of it lacking in any cogent analysis. In today’s blog you will get the Common Science view on this landmark starting with a story from a Petri dish.   If you took Biology in high school or […]

  • iPads, Priuses and Neodymium

    October 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    A common frame for discussing differences in culture between the United States and China is short-term versus long-term thinking. The theory is that we worry primarily about the next quarter or next year while the Chinese are planning for the next decade and the next century. I am generally skeptical about these sorts of generalizations, but this […]

  • The Saudi Arabia of Denial

    October 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

    “The United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal.” This claim has become routine for presidential candidates, including Rudy Giuliani, Rick Perry, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. There is some truth to this statement. The United States has estimated coal reserves of 260 billion tons which, at current usage rates, would last about 200 years. If that were […]

  • Entropy and the Local Economy

    October 16, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Entropy is a word that is used far more often than it is understood. But if you want to understand how manufacturing activities drive economic growth differently than service functions, you need to understand entropy. So to get us started, here is a really, really short Common Science lesson on thermodynamics, which govern pretty much everything in […]

  • 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 […]