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.
  • Please Stop Rotating the Scrabble Board

    April 5, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Several years ago, I took a test at the Museum of Life and Science designed to determine whether I was better at remembering things that I hear or things that I see. The results were what I expected: my visual memory is far better than my auditory. I have known since I was young, at […]

  • Salt and South Florida

    March 30, 2015 at 11:22 am

    In the spring of 2012, I wrote a five-part series on water. In Part IV: When the Well Runs Dry, I explained the process by which salty ocean water can infiltrate subsurface, fresh water aquifers and the problems that creates. Over the last couple of weeks, I have encountered several stories about salt water infiltration in South Florida’s Biscayne Aquifer.

  • STEM Jobs for the 21st Century

    March 22, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Lately I have noticed a growing trend to encourage people to pursue careers in STEM, an acronym which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I find this acronym, developed by the National Science Foundation in the 1990s, to be a bit clunky. My own personal definition of the word “science” has always been broad […]

  • Life on Mars? It’s All About That Methane

    March 15, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    The tantalizing possibility that life may exist on Mars has inspired both scientific exploration and popular culture for a long time. The question of whether we are alone in the universe has recently been reignited by some intriguing data from NASA’s Curiosity Rover, which has been trundling around Mars since 2012. Before we review that […]

  • State of Science, Technology and Industry from 1909

    March 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    My wife recently gave me a book titled Outlines of Industrial Chemistry that was published in 1909. It provides a fascinating look at the state of science, technology, the economy, and everyday life from 106 years ago. The book includes an extensive survey of the industrial topics of its day, including fuels, water purification, fertilizers, […]

  • Drug-Resistant Bacteria: Part II

    March 1, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Last week, in Part I of this series, I reviewed the major issues associated with drug-resistant bacteria and discussed the fascinating history of the discovery and uses of bacteriophages. Bacteriophages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria, were first identified approximately 100 years ago. This week in Part II, I will discuss how a discovery made […]

  • Drug-Resistant Bacteria: Part I

    February 22, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    For this week’s column, I am going to presume some knowledge on the reader’s part regarding the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If you are not familiar with this issue, let me recommend that you open a new browser window, do a Google search on “drug-resistant bacteria,” and then come back. If you are not […]

  • Woolly Mammoths and the Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette: Part II

    February 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Last week, in Part I of this series, I told you the incredible story of the Arctic journey of the U.S.S. Jeannette in 1879. After their ship was trapped in the ice for 21 months and then sank, the crew dragged their food and supplies over a thousand miles of ice while stopping at some […]

  • Woolly Mammoths and the Voyage of the U.S.S. Jeannette: Part I

    February 8, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    If you read my columns, you will have noticed that I enjoy embracing my inner nerd. In that spirit, let me share with you that my favorite author is Hampton Sides, who writes history books. Mr. Sides recently published a new book, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the […]

  • The Missouri River Aqueduct is a Bad Idea

    February 1, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    In the spring of 2012, I wrote a five-part series on water (Part I, II, III, IV, V). Part IV, When the Well Runs Dry, discussed human society’s dependence on the unsustainable extraction of water from underground aquifers, with a particular focus on the Ogallala aquifer which supplies the vast majority of water used for […]