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How does water evaporate from a Klein bottle, which has neither inside nor outside?

A Klein bottle is a 3-D version of the Mobius strip. It's a regular glass battle with the neck twisted back through itself, so that there is no longer an … Full story »

Nashua's makerspace will wallow in do-it-yourself digital geekery for Arduino Day 

Arduino is the open-source equivalent of Heathkit, the defunct do-it-yourself electronics haven from my youth. It's a hardware and software project, company and user community for designing and making digital … Full story »

Should power companies own solar power? Seems straightforward, but it's not

In a intriguing reflection on the changing technology of power production, the state Legislature is considering a bill that would make it easier for our electric utilities to own solar … Full story »

Hollis is a pretty rich town; to change energy habits, the rich should lead by example

A group of volunteers in Hollis - a well-off town, where every other adult seems to be either a business CEO or an engineer - has set themselves a lofty … Full story »

Solar eclipse is testing solar-power-laden Europe

The total solar eclipse is moving across Europe as I write this. This is the first such eclipse since photovoltaic solar power became such a big part of the power … Full story »

I must be smart because I have a "dot-science" URL!

Granite Geek has been dot-org since Day One because the dot-com was taken by a granite countertop company, although it's now occupied by a domain name squatter who has filled … Full story »

Unplayable parody of classical music gets played

On the assumption that anybody reading GraniteGeek likes complicated jokes and can read at least some music - geekdom has a high correlation with playing instruments, for some reason - … Full story »

Uber tells Portsmouth: Driver background checks? We don't need no stinkin' background checks!

Like all companies, Uber doesn't like government telling it what to do. So when the crowd-sourced cab service heard that Portsmouth wanted to require background checks for its drivers, as … Full story »

Science Cafe about how roads are designed the way they are (plus a sugar revisit on NHPR)

We've got a Science Cafe Nashua two-fer this week.  On Wednesday, Science Cafe New Hampshire in Nashua returns in the flesh at Killarney's for the latest monthly talk, concerning the … Full story »

NASA launches rockets carrying satellites w/UNH material to study magnetosphere

NASA reports: "An Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft onboard launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 41, Thursday, March 12, 2015, Florida. … Full story »

Pi Day Of The Century, right down to the Planck Time instant

Tomorrow, as you probably know, is Pi Day Of The Century - as long as you write calendars in the American rather than European style, that is. It will be … Full story »

Science doesn't know everything. Such as: Why does snow 'squeak' when we walk on it?

Scientific American tackled a subject recently that we've had plenty of time to contemplate this winter: Why snow sometimes squeaks when you walk on it. The answer: Nobody's quite sure, … Full story »

Subsidies available (but not many) for electric-vehicle chargers in NH

The state is offering rebates through April 3 for installation of DC fast chargers for electric vehicles along Interstate 93, south of Interstate 89. (Press release here) But since only … Full story »

Gloomily contemplate how climate change will harm our maple syrup industry - but do it over pancakes!

Climate change - or, as it's known in Florida, "random weather fluctuations that by sheer coincidence produce the same result as if human activity was altering the climate but it's … Full story »

Don't you wish you could have made accurate measurements of all the snow this winter? You can!

I bet you’ve been curious this winter about how much snow we’ve actually gotten. So why don’t you start measuring it officially?  A national “citizen science” program with the horrible … Full story »

Without checks and balances, bad things happen. For example: Herbal supplements

Although they are peddled like drugs and most people use them as if they were drugs, "supplements" are largely unregulated in this country, unlike drugs. Hey, they're organic! They're natural! … Full story »

Black carbon is a problem for glaciers, but good for clearing Fenway of snow

The Fenway Park groundskeeper is speading black sand on the snow inside the ballpark to help it melt on sunny days, taking advantage of the albedo effect which is providng … Full story »

State's first hackerspace, in Nashua, is looking to move and expand

MakeIt Labs, the state's first hackerspace, is looking to move a few buildings over from its current location in a dilapidated former industrial building, into a less-dilapidating former construction and … Full story »

Law outlawing "ballot selfies" stays intact so far, but court case is pending

A NH House committee has recommended killing a bill that would overturn the state's anti-"ballot selfie" law. That law makes it illegal to take a picture of your filled-in ballot … Full story »

A 26% reduction in snow volume equalled just 1% reduction in moisture

Last Monday, I checked the snow in my yard at a location where I make daily weather measurements for CoCoRaHS. I had 25 inches of snow, which I melted down … Full story »

Drones get OK for inspection of power lines

Helicopter pilots won't like this news, but Illinois-based ComEd has just gotten FAA permission to use drones to keep an eye on its cross-country power lines. Report from Smartgrid News … Full story »

U.S. will finally get an offshore wind farm - in Rhode Island waters

It looks like the U.S. is finally going to get an offshore wind farm, although not a particularly big one (30 MW). Deepwater Wind says it has gotten all the … Full story »

Genetically modified organisms to be discussed in a bar (with GMO beer, maybe?)

Genetically modified organisms are a godsend, a disaster, a biogeek's delight, just an extension of what mankind has done since agriculture began - or maybe all of those, mashed together. … Full story »

The joy of amateurs who "solve" high-level mathematics

If I had to be anybody except myself, I would like to be Underwood Dudley, the DePauw University mathematician best known for his books about mathematical cranks. His magnum opus, … Full story »

Tackle those free-floating ions the high-tech way: Wash your darn car

I spent $800 replacing rusted body panels on one of our cars this winter, so my column today in the Telegraph is heartfelt: It looks at the chemistry of rust … Full story »

In a way, Boston really did steal Alaska's winter 

It's hard for us in the East to realize it, but a majority of the U.S. geographically is having a warm, dry winter. Ski areas out in the west and … Full story »

LED lights find a big new market: Marijuana growers (maybe other farmers, too) 

The push to legalize marijuana could help the LED lighting industry, reports Greentech Media:  The overall LED grow-light module market is expected to move from $395 million in 2013 to … Full story »

What will a solar ecipse due to solar power? In Europe, cut output by 400 MW per minute!

New technologies bring new problems. Here's an interesting example: Europe uses so much solar power now that the March 20 solar eclipse will be a major issue even though it … Full story »

Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is getting so popular that there's now an online register

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has set up a voluntary online scheduling system for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, to help them know when the various shelters and campsites might be full. Here's … Full story »

Can real-time computer analysis make chess a good spectator sport?

Some fokls at the MIT Media Lab have a cool "playful" project in development, called DeepView, a pun on chess computer Deep Blue. They're trying to use statitics and game … Full story »

Northeast U.S. saw "unprecedented" sea level rise in 2009-2010

"Sea level change is a complex phenomenon, especially on the regional scale, where changes to the global ocean circulation can play a major role. The east coast of North America … Full story »

Zealand Falls Hut wants to relicense its hydropower dam (it has a dam?) 

I've stayed at Zealand Falls Hut in the White Mountains several times, and I knew about their solar panels and little wind turbine - but I didn't realize they also … Full story »

Measles kills toddler in Germany, which is also facing an anti-vaccination push

The U.S. isn't the only country facing a resurgence of measles due to people shunning vaccines. Germany has also seen an uptick, with tragic results, reports the BBC: An 18-month-old … Full story »

Did Farmer's Almanac really "win" the winter-prediction over NOAA, as the U-L said?

The Old Farmer's Almanace said this would be a cold winter with less-than average snowfall in New England. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration said the nation, including New England, … Full story »

All those snowflakes you've been shoveling lately - is each one really unique?

I was psyched to debunk the "every snowflake is unique" idea in my column this week ... and you'll never guess what happened next! You can find out by following … Full story »

As a retail currency, bitcoin seems to be stagnating

The long-term impact of bitcoin is likely to be the underlying technology, which allows trusted peer-to-peer transactions without a central authority. Its impact as a currency is less certain, and … Full story »

Warming Atlantic Ocean = more hurricanes for us

As the surface of the north Atlantic Ocean warms, more energy is released into the atmosphere through evaporation. This can lead to stronger, or at least different, weather patterns - … Full story »

Science Cafe will feature UNH researcher who led study linking obesity, chemicals

It's pure coincidence, but if you read or heard reports Monday about a new UNH study linking obesity and diabetes with flame-retardant chemicals used in carpets and elsewhere - you … Full story »

At midnight, Mt. Washington was colder than Greenland

Mount Washington Observatory is being cautious about the accuracy, but as of midnight a site called Weather Extreme said the summit was the second-coldest reporting location in the world, after … Full story »

FAA readies rules to let businesses fly drones - well, some businesses

The FAA is about to propose rules for drone usage by businesses. You'd have to get a license for about $200 and pass a written test, but wouldn't need to … Full story »

Maine wood-pellet industry struggles to keep up with growing demand

Wood pellet stoves are shifting from a niche novelty to an important form of home heating, but the industry of making and selling pellets hasn't caught up. The Bangor Daily … Full story »

50 years ago, LBJ - yes, LBJ - warned about carbon-caused climate change

I was a kid 50 year ago and remember LBJ mostly as the foil of Vietnam War protests. I missed his warning about carbon buildup in the atmosphere:  President Lyndon … Full story »

Court: Public Facebook pages can be threats

This story of mine is in today's Telegraph but it's not online because of network issues - so here's the whole thing to chew on, should you so decide: Posts … Full story »

Southern NH powerline option, not undersea link, chosen by grid operators

ISO New England has selected a plan to strengthen the electricity grid in the Boston region by boosting alternating current power lines through southern New Hampshire, including Londonderry, Hudson and … Full story »

Online classes are great, but not if you can't hear and they aren't captioned

The Boston Globe reports: Harvard and MIT are facing legal action over their increasingly popular online courses, which advocates for the hearing impaired claim are inaccessible because they lack effective … Full story »

Why are some smart, educated people so stupid about vaccinations?

One of the weird things about the vaccination debate is that some of the main shot-shunning culprits are the sort of people who are supposed to be immune to pseudo-science … Full story »

RadioShack stores are starting to close

Amid the tech nostalgia, RadioShack stores are starting to close. Three in Greater Nashua will be done by the end of the month - one is already shut. Here's my … Full story »

N.H. won't pull out of carbon cap-and-trade program RGGI - but no money for efficiency

The Union-Leader reports that New Hampshire will stay part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, although the payments will no longer be directed to energy efficiency programs but instead to … Full story »

Women suffer many more sports concussions than men

I didn't think much about sports concussions until Science Cafe NH did a session on it in 2013, but that was sobering - especially the college-aged panelists who talked about … Full story »

Even mathematics can't tell you the best snowblowing route for your driveway (it's NP-complete)

Have you ever wondered during your endless bouts of snowblowing this winter: "What's the most efficient route to clear my driveway?" Or maybe, while cutting the yard in summer: "What's … Full story »

Robotic zippers ... need I say more?

The "personal robotics group" at MIT has a Sartorial Robots section that includes work to develop a robotic zipper. Obvious jokes leap to mind, but there's a serious side: "Zipperbot, … Full story »

How do you spot neutrinos? Bounce them off Antarctica

If you're tired of snow and cold, consider Katie Mulrey, a 2008 Merrimack High grad who's getting her Ph.D. in Delaware. She spent the winter months in Antarctica, chasing neutrinos, … Full story »

I think that I shall often see / poems done algorithm-cally

"The Imitation Game" movie, a biography of computer pioneer Alan Turing, has brought forward much discussion about the Turing Test - the idea that computers are intelligent if you can't … Full story »

Today's New Hampshire surprise: We have an atomic energy policy

Almost every day this time of year, the New Hampshire legislature has a dozen committees holding hearings on literally hundreds of bills. Today the Science, Technology and Energy committee will … Full story »

Some of Alan Turing's code-breaking papers were put into a roof as insulation

I moderated a discussion about computer pioneer Alan Turing last night after a showing of "The Imitation Game" at Red River Theatres in Concord. One of the points brought up … Full story »

Study: NH has nation's highest rate of preschool measles vaccinations

On Sunday I reported how New Hampshire is doing pretty well for childhood vaccinations for measles and other diseases. Today a group called Trust for America's Health released a report … Full story »

DNA tests finds that "herbal supplements" industry cuts corners, big time

DNA analysis by the New York attorney general found that lots of store brand "herbal supplements" sold by Target, Walmart and others were, to be blunt, crap: They had little … Full story »

Look at all those large-scale solar farms! Just don't look in New Hampshire

New Hampshire and Maine are blank spots in a new government map showing solar farms with an output of one megawatt or more. Massachusetts has scads of them, while Vermont … Full story »

Are those rocks in your hubcap or is your electric car happy to see me? 

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2011 mandates the Department of Transportation to create safety standards for car manufacturers to create a sound that alerts pedestrians to the presence of … Full story »

How accurate is "The Imitation Game"? Find out Tuesday night

Just a reminder that tomorrow night is the Q&A with Alan Turing expert Terry Wardrop, who teaches artificial intelligence and computer at St. Paul's School and who has, among other … Full story »

The finest tourist attraction in New Hampshire

This is the first picture I took with my new smartpone* - at a convenience store just off I-83 Exit 33 in Lincoln, not far from the state marker for … Full story »

There's a UNH mathematician in the latest New Yorker - I bet you can guess which one

UNH mathematician Yitang "Tom" Zhang has now officially set the record for Most Unwanted Attention Devoted To New Hampshire Mathematician: He is profiled in the latest New Yorker. The article … Full story »

Invented laser, won Nobel Prize - but what's really interesting is that he owned Frog Rock in NH

Charles Townes, who won the Nobel Prize in physics for helping develop lasers, died this week. Among all the news reports about this interesting California man, none mentioned his New … Full story »

NH High-Tech Council pushing to build a tech community for girls and women

From NHHTC: The New Hampshire High Tech Council has created TechWomen|TechGirls, a new forum focused on building a strong community of women enthusiastic about technology and supporting efforts where girls … Full story »

Report: Biofuels (plants into liquid fuel) make little or no sense

The World Resources Institute has issued a report which says that deades of research into biofuels - turning parts of plants into liquid fuel as a replacement for petroleum - … Full story »

Tiny UNH satellites to be launched, probing microbursts in Earth's radiation belt

From UNH News Service: Two tiny (4x4x6-inch) satellites built in part at the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center will be launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base … Full story »

At a 13-1 ratio of water equivalence, no wonder the snow was so fluffy

I ended up with 14.5 inches of new snow in my yard - I am west of the heaviest snow - which melts down to 1.16 inches of water - … Full story »

Science pub on Thursday: "What to make of all those food studies?" 

Dartmouth isn't getting all that much snow from this storm, which is very coastal-centric, so they're already thinking about future events. On Thursday comes the monthly Science Pub in Lebanon, … Full story »

This is how bad the white-out is (embarrassing self-reported error follows)

Driving to work (the news never sleeps!), I was thinking "wow, the white-out is pretty bad - it's hard to tell what's going on" .... then I realized I was … Full story »

Chat at the Alan Turing movie has been postponed a week by the storm

New Hampshire is shutting its state liquor stores tomorrow because of the storm - egad!!!! - do you know it's going to be big. That's why Red River Theaters in … Full story »

A little nostalgia (but not too much) for BBS systems

OK, if I say "B-B-S" what sound do you hear? The beeps and boops, rasp and hiss of an old modem? Then you might want to read my column in … Full story »

Federal law would made municipal broadband harder to block  

Three U.S. senators have proposed a law that would prevent states or cities from blocking municipal broadband networks. Such blocking is usually political rather than technical, based on the idea … Full story »

After the new Alan Turing movie, a discussion about him, Engima Project, computers - Tuesday in Concord

If you're old enough to remember when the biography "Alan Turing: The Enigma" came out in 1983, you'll remember how startling it was. At the time, the public knew nothing … Full story »

Study: Uber drivers make a lot more than taxi drivers (but have more costs)

An article in the Washington Post (read it here) discusses a study that says Uber drivers make about $6/hour more than taxi drivers in 20 different markets, which is impressive. … Full story »

It's a good day when you learn a new unit of measure: The ton (no, not that ton)

Packed house for last night's Science Cafe NH on geothermal energy; at least 65 crammed into the room alongside Killarney's Pub to hear from drillers, installers and geoscientists about how … Full story »

No pigs were harmed to make that bacon-scented lottery ticket

Prodded by the bacon-scented ticket from NH Lottery Commission, I penned this sidebar for The Telegraph: What is it about bacon that smells so good, and how do they get … Full story »

Geothermal energy (as in heat pumps, not volcanoes) at this week's Science Cafe

How can you heat your home with 50-degree water from underground? That's the main question I expect to be asked tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 21) at the next Science Cafe NH … Full story »

Nashua clerk tells Uber drivers: Get a taxi license or you car might be seized

The Nashua city clerk, who oversees taxi licenses, has issued a letter saying that Uber drivers who don't get a special taxicab license could face fines and might even have … Full story »

Where are all the aliens? Maybe they killed themselves with climate change

My favorite answer to the question "Why don't you think time travel is possible?" has always been "Because there are no time travelers." If it is possible to travel through … Full story »

Darn, I missed this: Dramatic readings from science papers and patent applications

Argh! I forgot to read the Improbable Research blog for a few days, and I missed the announcement of a weird and wild event that happened earlier today at the … Full story »

How far can you see before the curve of the Earth hides things?  

The Mount Washington Observatory blog has a nice discussion about how far they can see on clear days (130 miles or so), which included some nice bits of math involving … Full story »

News groups are salivating over the idea of using drones to shoot video/photos

The Telegraph's chief photographer, Don Himsel, would love to use drones for news shots - sometimes I catch him sighing over websites detailing various 3-axis flying gimbal arrangements - but … Full story »

NH considers math education pathways other than just "calculus or bust!"

New Hampshire has established a task force to get more kids doing better in so-called STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) courses. I am looking through its report in preparation for … Full story »

NH doesn't want hunting with computer-assisted rifles - or with drones

NH Fish & Game has a public hearing on Jan. 29 to tackle some pretty geeky issues in terms of hunting. They want to:  + Ban the taking of wildlife … Full story »

Not-so-cold winter and some advance planning have kept energy prices in check

Union-Leader reporter Dave Solomon has a new weekly column about energy, called Power Plays. This week's column talks about how energy prices and availability are less onerous than feared this … Full story »

Whither New Hampshire airports, as New Hampshire aviation shrinks?

I'll be attending a meeting this evening about the state's plan for our 25 airports, a meeting I advanced today in The Telegraph. (Did you even know that N.H. has … Full story »

Bitcoin is dying, all hail bitcoin!

The dollar value of bitcoin has been looking like the price of oil lately: falling with no floor in sight: It went below $200 on Tuesday, about one-sixth of its … Full story »

Text to 911 allowed in N.H., but no :-( or abbreviations 4U, plz

New Hampshire residents facing an emergency can now send text messages to 9-1-1, as well as making a phone call to the number – although a voice call remains preferable.  … Full story »

Two infants, too young for vaccinations, get measles at Disneyland

Stories are more powerful than data when it comes to changing behavior (as came up during my stint on The Exchange last week), so here's a story that might give … Full story »

Big solar, big wind have become ordinary - I have to change my energy map

Five years ago I started creating a Google map of alternative-energy sites around New England, back when solar and wind power were just starting to get built. It's linked in … 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.

ggScienceCafeSidebar

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, April 15

TOPIC: Who was here before Europeans arrived - and how do we know?

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

PAST TOPICS:

2015:

March: How roads are designed. February: The science of sugar. January: Geothermal energy.

2014:

November: Medical screening; how much is too much? 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.

2013:
November:
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.

2012:
November:
"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"

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

ggScienceCafeSidebar

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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