Welcome to “Common Science” your Chapelboro home for discussions of science and how it impacts our lives here in our community.  My name is Jeff Danner, I am a Ph.D. Chemical Engineer (sorry no pocket protector) and have been a resident of Chapelboro now for 11 years.  I am 45 years old, married, have two children work in Research Triangle Park.  My career has allowed me to design equipment to make powdered milk in Denmark, to produce catalysts in Germany, to implement process improvements to make better fiberglass in Japan, to conduct experiments at the top of a 440 ft distillation tower in Houston, and now to work for a biotech company in RTP.

While my education and professional experience provide me with the background for this blog, the real basis is a lifetime of conversations around the breakfast table, at cocktail parties, and over family holidays.  From several decades of these discussions I have learned that people are universally fascinated by science and technology but are just as consistent in their memories of how much they hated their high school chemistry and physics classes.  My experiences were far more positive, though I will admit were certainly atypical. Both my high school chemistry and physics teachers were women.  My chemistry teacher used to jog home and let me drive her car home from school and my physics teacher was in a modern dance troop; more on them in later blog entries.

It’s unfortunate that so many people come out of their high school and college educations without an interest in and basic understanding of science.  Science is fascinating.  I must not be alone in this view as I think my TV package has at least 10 channels devoted to science and technology.  More significantly, the lack of a working knowledge of basic science by our elected leaders and voting public can lead to ill informed and, thus, poor decision making.  This has impacts globally, nationally, and also right here in Chapelboro.  Further, as we proceed through these blogs, you will find that it’s my view that we and our children are about to transition from a world of excess to a world of scarcity.  In this environment, knowing your Common Science will be increasingly important.

We’ll touch on large issues like petroleum, global warming, and food production as well as the less significant but still interesting items like a really frustrating argument I had with an old girlfriend about a chair.  I’ll review stories in the news (where the science reporting is often dreadful) to give you the real story and I’ll review local issues like water quality and zoning decisions.

In the upcoming post I’ll be inviting you to join in the conversation with comments, questions, or disagreements.  I’d do my best to respond during the week.  Enjoy.