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Nashua;42.0;;2014-10-31 08:08:06

Twinkle, twinkle little Chinese skylantern, how I wonder what planet you're from

I had fun in my Telegraph column today about a report earlier this month from a family that saw some overhead lights and decided it was a UFO. They spotted … Full story »

Smartphones? Ipods? They got nothing on transistor radios (turning 60 today)

The first transistor radio went on sale today, 60 years ago, as I learned from TreeHugger. It was called the Regency TR-1 and you can read some history from the … Full story »

Closing Vermont Yankee will cost $1.24 billion ... if nothing goes awry

Shutting down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will cost $1.24 billion over a decade, says the owner. But remember: Renewable energy is way too expensive. Here's the AP story. … Full story »

Uber, which profits when you moonlight as a taxi driver, arrives in Manchester

Uber, the summon-a-car-by-smartphone firm, starts in Manchester today, reports the Union-Leader. Kudos to reporter Mike Cousineau for not using the misleading "sharing economy" tag. Uber is cutthroat capitalism at its … Full story »

AMC puts electric-car chargers in White Mountains (no, not at Mizpah hut)

For one second when I saw the announcement, I thought Appalachian Mountain Club was putting electric car charges at some of its High Huts. While an intriguing idea that would … Full story »

"I try to avoid the public. But I can’t avoid it completely right now."

Great interview in the Nautilus quarterly with Tom Zhang, the unknown UNH math professor who has become reluctantly famous for his work on the twin-prime problem. It gives a fine … Full story »

Did that can of soup just talk to my grocery cart?

Quite a techno-fest at last night's Science Cafe NH, where the topic was printed electronics. Telegraph veteran Dean Shalhoup has an excellent writeup in today's paper - an impressive bit … Full story »

New Makerspace opening in Keene, and maybe Peterborough

A new makerspace is opening in Keene early next month, I learned from this Union-Leader article today.   It's called "Make It So" and will be downtown, at 12 Eagle … Full story »

E.O. Wilson loves alien-invasion movies, but says aliens will never invade

E.O. Wilson, biologist extraordinaire, loves movies about alien invasions, including the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg version of War of the Worlds. But he didn't like one thing about it: The aliens … Full story »

US approves first mussel farm in federal waters, off Nantucket  

Growing shellfish is a - dare I say it? - win-win for the environment and economy: They clean the water and provide localvore tidbits. But it's hard to do this … Full story »

Another advance for Vermont line carrying Quebec hydropower (take that, Northern Pass) 

The folks behind Northern Pass must be gnashing their teeth in jealousy: The proposed high-power transmission line from Quebec through Vermont has just gotten the presidential go-ahead, necessary for crossing … Full story »

Harvard Bridge lighting will be homage to the Smoot measurement

If a prank is embraced by the establishment, is it still a prank? I asked that question a number of years ago when the MIT Museum first held a display … Full story »

A Science Cafe for the engineers tomorrow night: Flexible and printed electronics

Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be our 30th Science Cafe NH - the topic is flexible and printed electronics. As always, the panel is crammed full of knowledge:  Craig Amiento, professor of … Full story »

NY Times ends chess column - don't worry, the Sunday Telegraph still has one 

The New York Times is ending its chess column, as I learned from news-watcher Jim Romenesko.   Have no fear: Shelby Lyman's chess column still runs in the Sunday Telegraph. … Full story »

Biologist extraordinaire E.O. Wilson in Portsmouth tomorrow night (Tuesday)

NHPR has a live event called Writers On a New England Stage that doesn't usually snag my interest, but tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 14) they're featuring E.O. Wilson, who's that rare … Full story »

Does the Jevons Paradox (as seen at urinals) mean LEDs don't reduce energy use?

When it comes to saving energy, the Jevons Paradox is the monster lurking under the bed. It's not a logical paradox like Zeno's, it's more of a disturbing realty about … Full story »

I love weird-colored lobsters and so do you, so here's a story

The Bangor Daily News has a story about weird-colored lobsters, including a very rare tan-colored one, being caught this week. (The photo above isn't from the story; it's just a … Full story »

Boston and N.E. coasts are going to see plenty more high-tide floods by 2045 

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (not concerned pundits, lobbyists, activitists or journalists, happily) says that computer modeling indicates that by 2045, Boston and Portland, Maine, will … Full story »

Let's redraw US state borders rationally: Give us all equal numbers of Dunkin' Donuts

Slate, the online magazine, has been having fun with a program that calculates borders for the 48 contiguous states based on goofy factors, like number of baseball players born there. … Full story »

'Rosaceous crops' snag UNH part of a $10m DNA-study grant (mmmm, strawberries!) 

From UNH News Service: NH Agricultural Experiment Station scientists at the University of New Hampshire are among those who have been awarded a $10 million, five-year federal grant to develop … Full story »

Pre-dawn lunar eclipse - well, part of it - visible tomorrow morning

Oct. 8 UPDATE: It was pouring at my house this morning; the weather gods did not cooperate.  If you get up before dawn tomorrow (Oct. 8) you can see at … Full story »

"Amateur scientist and philosopher" solves Zeno's Paradox (I love cranks)

Back when people mailed things - you know, in the mail - I would occasionally get crank submissions from amateur physicists. They almost always proved that Special Relativity was wrong, … Full story »

What do you do with a power plant that's shut? Send in the cruise ships!

The Salem News in Salem, Mass., which has the best logo of just about any newspaper, has a story about how cruise ships are lining up to dock at the … Full story »

NHPR revisits Science Cafe about marijuana on "The Exchange" talk show 

The two panelists who graced Science Cafe NH last month to discuss the science and biology of marijuana were on the NHPR talk show "The Exchange" today to continue the … Full story »

Too many postdocs chasing too few biotech jobs in Boston

The Globe had a great story Sunday about how there are too many postdocs - people with Ph.D.s but no permanent job - in Greater Boston, especially in biotech. Postdocs … Full story »

Mass. database guru wins National Medal of Technology

Charles Bachman, one of the pioneers of computer databases, is among those being awarded this year's National Medal of Technology by President Obama. He lives in Lexington, Mass., where he … Full story »

Connecting college students with careers wins 2014 TechOut (and $50K) 

From NHHTC: A technology company that helps students get the most from their college campus career centers, called uConnect, secured the top prize at the 2014 TechOut competition. Manchester. Gemr … Full story »

'Predictive market' sounds so much more sophisticated than 'betting parlor'

My telephone rings off the hook each night with political polls, so I wish they could be replaced with "predictive markets" - i.e., bets on winners. My Telegraph column Monday … Full story »

Northern Lights to disrupted flights: Portsmouth Science Cafe to discuss space weather

The next science cafe in New Hampshire (the state with the highest per-capita science cafe rate in the US!) comes Wednesday, Oct. 8 at the Portsmouth Science Cafe, in the … Full story »

Would folks oppose a new pipeline if it carried beer?

There's quite a controversy in Massachusetts and a bit of New Hampshire over proposals to build a new natural gas pipeline. But what if the pipeline was carrying beer? As … Full story »

Antarctica has lost so much land ice that Earth's gravity has shifted (a tiny bit)

Climate change does weird things at the poles, where its effect is strongest. For reasons that baffle even folks who undestand this stuff, Antarctica sea ice is at a record … Full story »

A new source to check online rumors, from a long-time expert in news corrections

If you're a reporter you've heard of Craig Silverman, who has made a name (and at least a partial living) analyzing corrections and errors by newspaper and broadcast journalists. He … Full story »

Scaring off wildlife with invisible light (well, invisible to us)

This is why there was a ray gun pointed at a pond wit 14,000 rainbow trout: Nashua entrepreneur seeks to scare away wildlife from wind farms, planes, hatcheries, even mussel … Full story »

The most typographically difficult sentence in New Hampshire law

Writing a story about "spice," the synthetic marijuana that is causing law enforcement and health-care headaches, I discovered the most typographically interesting sentence in the New Hampshire Revised Statutes Annotated … Full story »

Why is there a ray gun pointed at a pond filled with 14,000 trout?

It was a lovely cool morning morning today when I took the above photo of a weird-looking contraption that is shooting invisible rays (whoa!) at a rainbow-trout-filled pond at the … Full story »

By land or by sea: Competing plans to improve electricity grid between NH and Boston

New Hampshire Business Review has a nice article about two competing plans to create new electricity-grid connections between Southern New Hampshire and Boston: One by land (in existing rights of … Full story »

Four NH hotels to offer charging stations for Teslas, other electric cars

Four "upscale" inns in New Hampshire are setting up Tesla charging stations for electric cars. These aren't the fast 480-volt Supercharger stations being built along turnpikes, so we're not talking … Full story »

India puts a cheap but useful spacecraft in orbit around Mars

This is probably the most important number involved with Mangalyaan, the Indian spacecraft that entered Mars orbit yesterday, as reported by the Washington Post: India’s $72 million Mars orbiter is … Full story »

Yes, I miss manual typewriters

OK, this is really stupid and not worth $309, but I am sorely tempted to buy one: A Bluetooth-connected keyboard that looks like, and hopefully feels like, a manual typewriter. … Full story »

NSF suggests entrepreneur try crowd-funding - is that good or bad?

I'm doing a story about a local entrepreneur trying to develop and interesting technical system (let me finish the story and then I'll tell you about it). He received an … Full story »

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant begins ramping down  

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station will cease operating by the end of the year; its owner says it doesn't make enough money to keep going. The Brattleboro Reformer reports that … Full story »

New Jersey wants the source code from a MIT student who helped create a bitcoin miner

In a case that has legal, if not technical, similarities to the Aaron Swartz disaster, a zealous prosecutor is going after an MIT student because be helped create an interesting … Full story »

Automated ("robotic", if you will) milking parlors can free up dairy farmers

Vermont Public Radio has a story about an automated milking parlor at a large-for-New-England (450-head) dairy farm in Orford, N.H. The cool part is that the cows can be milked … Full story »

A VGo 'telemedicine' robot (featured in Science Cafe in April) will be on Dartmouth football sidelines

Nashua-based VGo will provide a “telemedicine” robot on the sidelines of Dartmouth College’s home football games, as part of a remote concussion assessment pilot project. The program started at the … Full story »

More on the interesting (but illegal) phenomenon of Instagramming your own ballot

I've reported several rtimes on "ballot selfies" - my term for taking a picture of your completed ballot and posting it online, which is illegal. Now the attorney general's office … Full story »

Ig Nobels are tonight

The Ig Nobel awards get handed out tonight at Harvard's stately Sanders Theatre. I didn't get a ticket before they sold out, so this will be only about the fifth … Full story »

Tech-Out finalists are from Manchester, Manchester, Manchester, Manchester and Hampton

Tech-Out, a three-year-old $100,000 contest for tech start-ups in New Hampshire, has announced the five finalists this year. There's a definite Queen City theme among them: Attic Gem/gemr of Hampton, … Full story »

Does the government have a patent on medical marijuana research? No. But sort of yes

An interesting assertion was made by an audience member at last night's Science Cafe NH in Nashua, which had two hours of absolutely superb discussion about the biology and chemistry … Full story »

UNH mathematician Yitang Zhang wins yet another award - a MacArthur "genius" grant

UNH mathematician Yitang "Tom" Zhang has an irresistible story. He worked in a Subway shop and as an accountant after getting a Ph.D. in math, before being hired by UNH … Full story »

Tomorrow (Wednesday): Science Cafe in Nashua about marijuana

Science Cafe New Hampshire returns to Nashua tomorrow after our summer hiatus. We're tanned, rested and ready, so let's eat, drink and be knowledgeable.  The topic will be the science … Full story »

My old iPod is cooler than your old iPod - because it's from H-P

The fact that Apple is no longer producing the iPod classic - the last clickwheel version of the music player - has led to much historical thumb-sucking about the impact … Full story »

Any excuse to climb an old tower is a good excuse

One of the area's more interesting buildings, Western Tower in Manchester (aka Weston Observatory, not to be confused with Boston University's Weston Observatory, which is in Weston, Mass.), will be … Full story »

Woody Guthrie never sang about our flood-control dams

New Hampshire has a couple dozen flood control dams, built in the 1960s and 1970s, that virtually nobody knows about. These aren't Grand Coulee-type flashy dams (hence the lack of … Full story »

No aurora from atop Pack Monadnock, darn it  

There must have been 50 people who walked up to the top of Pack Monadnock after dark last night - including a Peterborough cop, who drove up (much to many … Full story »

Big solar storm - maybe tonight I'll finally see the Northern Lights!

A big solar flare on Wednesday means that there's a chance of Northern Lights tonight (Friday, Sept. 12), as Sky and Telescope reports. I have never seen the aurora, and … Full story »

'Ballot selfies' are even more illegal now than last year in NH 

When I rehashed an earlier piece about "ballot selfies" - posted pictures of your own completed ballot - I didn't realize something: The Legislature strengthened the law on the issue … Full story »

UNH testing a balloon to measure gamma rays from supernova

By DAVID SIMS, UNH News Service: Starting today at NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, space scientists from the University of New Hampshire will attempt to … Full story »

Candidate quote of the primary (from a GraniteGeek perspective, anyway)

Election nights have dead time for reporters (and candidates), since polls close at 7 to 8 p.m. but results don't trickle in until 9 p.m. at the earliest. So we … Full story »

NH Senate primary result squelched hope for switch in climate-change attitude

If I may break the "no politics!" rule in GraniteGeek, there is one depressing takeaway from Tuesday's primary: The stomping of the only Republican in the state (and perhaps in … Full story »

Why is it illegal to post a photo of your own ballot? Here's why

I am fascinated by the issue of why it's illegal to take a picture of your own filled-in ballot in the voting booth and post it online - creating a … Full story »

The head is used for bait; the tail is used for my dinner

I'm getting a half-pound of fish each week from the state's Community Supported Fishery (I wrote about it last month). It's like a CSA, except instead of getting whatever vegetables … Full story »

Time to find that pogo stick: Annual 'human-powered vehicle' festival comes to Nashua River

I have never actually seen anybody on a pogo stick - have you? My best chance of making such a sighting may be an event set for Saturday (Sept. 13): … Full story »

'Bridge in a backpack' fast-construction system is, when you get down to it, a series of tubes 

A relatively quick (two weeks vs. a few months) method of building a traffic-carrying bridge is being rolled out, using carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubes to hold concrete and act … Full story »

Portland schools nix public online classes to compete with online charter school

The school superintendent in Portland, Maine, wanted to offer some "virtual" (online only) classes to compete with the state's first virtual chater school, but other city officials nixed the idea, … Full story »

In Worcester, it's OK to sing 'Electric Avenue' when you take the bus

Worcester, Mass., is rolling out (so to speak) the region's first electric buses - six of the $1 million machines are on the road, as the Worcester Telegram reported last … Full story »

Study: Gulf of Maine is warming 8X faster than global ocean average

New Hampshire Public Radio reports on a study by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute that says the Gulf of Maine - basically all the water from Cape Cod up … Full story »

Surviving an ice bucket challenge with liquid nitrogen - because: Chemistry!

A Canadian chemist took the "ice bucket challenge" - dump some ice water on your head and give money to ALS research - but gave it a s twist: He … Full story »

Tracking ospreys from NH to Brazil, and back

From NH Audubon Society:  On Thursday, September 11 at 7 p.m. the McLane Audubon Center in Concord will host Iain MacLeod, who will describe Project OspreyTrack, a multi-year project using … Full story »

Those ice bucket challenges may help Maine's lab-mouse-breeding facility

Jackson Labs, one of the nation's best-known breeders of mice for laboratory experiments, may benefit from all those "ice bucket challenges," reports the Portland Press-Herald: The lab distributes thousands of … Full story »

If New England cottontails had better eyes, maybe they wouldn't be endangered

The New England cottontail is in trouble because its favored habitat - scrubby land, not developed land or groomed fields or woodlands - is increasingly rare. But the almost identical … Full story »

Vermont biologists asks bear hunters to save them a tooth (ursine, not human)

From Associated Press: The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking the state’s successful bear hunters to submit a tooth to biologists so they can collect information about the … Full story »

Manchester science museum & art museum join hands over - who else? - M.C. Escher

The geekiest of artists has to be M.C. Escher, he of the beautifully drawn optical illusions. (Yes, I had an Escher print on the wall of college dorm room - … Full story »

Bigger is better for wind turbines, so UMaine tests a 180-foot-long blade

The Univeristy of Maine's Composites Center ie one of two places in the country that can do stress tests on a 180-foot-long wind turbine blade, reports the Bangor Daily News. … Full story »

The power of Nature: Ripping my porch apart

We have a lovely wisteria plant growing up over the railing of our porch, which overlooks a dugout basement, so it's kind of on the second floor. The plant looks … Full story »

N.H. veteran G4 Communications (which started as a BBS) purchased by NY firm

New Hampshire Business Review reports: FirstLight Fiber of Albany, N.Y. announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire G4 Communications, one of New Hampshire’s oldest Internet service providers, … Full story »

Public electric vehicle charging station comes to Keene, via Antioch University

Antioch University New England in Keene has installed an electric vehicle charging sation, which is say si the only publicly available charging "within a 50-mile radius of its campus." (The … Full story »

Even in the digital age, the sound of typewriters can drive deadline (says Rupert Murdoch)

OK, this is weird. The British paper Independent reports that The Times of London has installed speakers that blare the sound of typewriters, as a spur to meeting deadline. To … Full story »

States with medical marijuana see fewer opiate overdoses

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says states that legalized medical marijuana had fewer deaths from opiate painkillers that similar states which didn't legalize it. Check … Full story »

Vermont high-power line from Quebec moves ahead

A project similar to Northern Pass that would bring a gigawatt of electricity into New England from Quebec hydropower has taken the next step ahead. The project, called New England … Full story »

A flying 3D printed bald eagle! What could possibly go wrong?

Anybody with a garden or berry bushes who has tried to keep birds from eating everything in sight knows that those fake birds of prey - plastic owls and hawks … Full story »

Keeping the region's power grid operating requires an 'extraordinary machine'

Franklin Pierce professor and energy blogger Mike Mooiman took a course on Wholesale Electricity Markets from ISO-New England, the non-profit that oversees operations of the region's electricity grid. Despite the … Full story »

Rhode Island creates electric car license plates to alert EMTs, firefighters

Electric cars and hybrids may be the future of individual transportation but they're worrisome for the folks who respond to accidents. The latest energy in giant battery packs can be … Full story »

The graphics are good at Exeter UFO Festival, even if the information's a bit suspect

New Hampshire's Seacoast has been a UFO hotbed for many years, dating back at least to Betty and Barney Hill (the nation's first alien abductees, as a state historical marker … Full story »

Except on Cape Cod, courts are rejecting the idea of 'wind turbine syndrome'

The news and advocacy site Climatecentral reports that a study of 49 court cases in five countries involving claims of "wind turbine syndrome" - the claim that there's something specific … Full story »

U.S. agrees with wikipedia: Humans can't copyright a monkey's "selfie" 

ArsTechnica reports on the latest step in an important story, that of the monkey selfie: United States copyright regulators are agreeing with Wikipedia's conclusion that a monkey's selfie cannot be … Full story »

Why is small solar power booming, but small-scale wind power isn't?

Small-scale solar power is booming but small-scale wind power is a dud. I've always assumed this is because of technology: Wind power scales by size (bigger rotor arms = much … Full story »

As I told you in June: Fly no drones over the Appalachian Trail!

The National Park Service has made clear something that I reported in late June (my Telegraph column here, my NHPR piece here): You can't fly drones over the Appalachian Trail. … Full story »

Study finds sea plankton, of all things, living on the surface of the space station  

It's pretty obvious that nothing can survive long when exposed in space, what with vacuum, radiation, cold, zero gravity and the like. Or maybe not. As the Russian news agency … Full story »

UNH tackles analysis of strawberry DNA, with its eight (eight?!?) sets of chromosomes

By Lori Wright, UNH News Service: At the NH Agriculture Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA), scientists have been instrumental in … Full story »

3D print a 2 million-year-old skull - at Milford library or elsewhere

After doing a column about the new 3D printer at Milford public library (read it here) I stumbled on a great example of the use of "additive manufacturing":  The public … Full story »

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About this blog

David Brooks has written a science column for the Nashua (N.H.) Telegraph since 1991 - yes, that long - and has overseen this blog since 2006.

He chats weekly with New Hampshire Public Radio about GraniteGeek topics, around 5:50 p.m. on Tuesdays. You can listen to old sessions here.

Contact:   E-mail or call 603-594-6531.


Free, informal get-togethers at a bar that feature discussion among the audience (everybody is welcome) and experts in various fields. Check the website here.

NEXT CAFE: Wednesday, Nov. 19

TOPIC: Medical testing - how much is too much?

Location: Killarney's Irish Pub, 9 Northeastern Boulevard (Holiday Inn, just west of Exit 4 on the turnpike).



October: Flexible and printed electronics. September: The science of marijuana. June: Fluoridation in public water. May: Organic gardening. April: Tele-medicine, or doctoring from afar. March: Bitcoin - what is it? February: The science of allergies. January: Electric cars.

Multiple sclerosis. October: Genetically modified organisms. September: Aquaponics. June: Flying robots (drones!) May: PTSD and brain tauma in veterans. April: Cats vs. wildlife in NH. March: Mosquito-borne disease. February: The science of brewing. January: 3-D printing, with MakeIt Labs.

"Dark skies and light pollution" with Discovery Center. October: "The science of concussion." September: "The science of pain management." June: "Arsenic in our environment." May: "Invasive species in New Hampshire" April: "Nanotechnology in business and the lab". March: "Lyme disease in NH". Feb: "Seasonal Affective Disorder." Jan: "Biomass energy"

Nov.: "Science of Polling." Oct.: "Digital Privacy." Sept: "Vaccinations." June: "Future of Food." May 2011: "Climate Change"


Alternative power map

Click here to see my alternative-power Google map showing large-scale solar, wind, hydro and nuclear plants in N.H., plus intriguing alternative-power items.

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