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.
  • 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. […]

  • 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 […]