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 Case of the Missing Propane

    February 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Over the past few weeks, I have seen many stories about propane shortages in the United States. As a result of these shortages, prices for propane have nearly doubled from around $2.20 per gallon at the end of last year to over $4.00 per gallon this week. This situation struck me as quite odd. We […]

  • A Tale of Two Spills

    February 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    On February 2, 2014, a storm water drain at a retired coal-fired power plant near the North Carolina-Virginia border ruptured, which allowed more than 80,000 tons of coal ash to spill into the Dan River. The Dan River is the drinking water source for many communities and is a primary feeder to Kerr Lake Reservoir. […]

  • Keystone Pipeline Update

    February 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

    With the recent release of the State Department’s report on the Keystone XL pipeline, I thought would review some of the key issues for this topic. The Keystone XL pipeline is intended to transport diluted bitumen, a low-grade, impure form of crude petroleum, from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and […]

  • My First PC Weighed 25 Pounds

    February 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    My children like to make comparisons between the technology I had growing up and what they have today. In the course of a recent conversation on this topic, it occurred to me that, having been born in 1966, I have lived through the entire evolution of the personal computer and the internet. The internet got […]

  • West Virginia Chemical Spill

    January 26, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    On January the 9th, 2014, 7,500 gallons of a chemical called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) leaked from a Freedom Industries storage tank into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia, polluting the drinking water supply for over 300,000 people. The tank had not been inspected by regulators since the early 1990s. The other day a friend […]

  • We Can Afford More Math Textbooks

    January 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    As an engineer, I have had a lot of math education in my life, everything from multiplication tables to systems of partial differential equations.  I was quite successful in these classes due in part to the good fortune of innate ability, but also, I firmly believe, because for every class I had a textbook of […]

  • 2014 Predictions Part II: The Negative

    January 12, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Last week I set out my predictions for five positive science and technology news stories that I am expecting in 2014. This week I’ve got predictions for four negative ones. As with last week, each prediction begins with an imaginary headline. 1. Hurricane Cristobal to be Second Category 4 Storm to Hit Pensacola this Month […]

  • 2014 Predictions Part I: The Postive

    January 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    I decided to kick off the year with my predictions about what I expect to be the most significant science stories of 2014 – five predictions for positive stories this week and five negative ones next week. Each topic begins with an imaginary headline for the story. I’ll report back in December to let you […]

  • Common Science 2013 Index

    December 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Below is my third annual index for Common Science on Chapelboro.com.  I’d like to thank my readers for their support and for all of the interesting questions I have received from you at commonscience@chapelboro.com.  Just follow the hyperlinks below to read any of this year’s stories. And if there is a topic you would like me […]

  • Smog, The Desolation of Shanghai

    December 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    The news last week contained many pictures like the one above of a monumental smog enveloping the city of Shanghai, China. The smog resulted in many problems: construction projects were halted, public events were cancelled, and the city’s reputation suffered. Chinese authorities were ridiculed for trying to find a silver lining in the smog by […]