Sunday, December 21, 2014
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Nashua;33.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/ovc.png;2014-12-21 18:10:34

Getting set to be on stage tonight in Manchester to talk about M.C. Escher

UPDATE: Only two people at the show, which drew about 30, said they had read at least part of Godel, Escher, Bach. I was surprised.  There will be four people … Full story »

Finally, one of those stupid state-comparison lists that's actually good! (It involves Santa)

I have ranted several times in print and in this blog about the plague of publicity-seeking lists created by websites, usually selling real estate, that rank states as "most livable" … Full story »

Can wood stoves - the ones that burn whole pieces of trees, not pellets - enter the 21st century?

Yesterday my house was heated almost entirely by the basement wood stove and the living room pellet stove (the oil-burning furnace kept it livable overnight). The pellet stove was effortless … Full story »

Ralph Baer, who invented the first home video game when an engineer at Nashua, has died at 92

Ralph Baer, who led the team that developed the first home video game, sold as the Magnavox Odyssey, has died, according to the gaming site Gamastura, which cites people close … Full story »

Why isn't PSNH a big booster of electric cars?

I will be participating this morning in a panel discussion about electric cars at a PSNH conference. I was invited because of our Science Cafe NH about electric cars earlier … Full story »

Potential laws: Accept bitcoin, regulate drones, and make the mastodon (or maybe mammoth) the state fossil

This is the time of year when state legislators file LSRs, which are holding patterns for future bills. Literally hundreds of them are filed - there are 400 state representatives, … Full story »

Two cautionary tales about people getting ahead of the green-energy curve

The world - our children's and grandchildren's world - needs us to switch away from traditional energy sources, fast. But sometimes people can do it too fast, as a couple … Full story »

How does 3D printing work on the space station, without gravity to hold layers together?

The first 3D printed object in space has been made (it's a cover plate for the 3D printer itself - how meta), which raises a question I've had since the … Full story »

My M.C. Escher fanboy-dom: in print, on radio and soon, in person

The dual shows about M.C. Escher running in Manchester at the Currier Museum of Art and the SEE Science Center are cool, which is why I wrote about them in … Full story »

Crazy is the new weather normal

New England, including me, continues to shake off the surprisingly destructive Thanksgiving snowstorm - a big branch fell on our Civic and dented the roof badly; nobody taller than 5'2" … Full story »

MIT's still pissed about losing the Ig Nobels to Harvard, so they got ...

The Festival of Bad Ad-Hoc Hypotheses, or BAHFest, founded by the guy who draws the web comic "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal." The Wall Street Journal wrote about it (here) and … Full story »

Sex, violence and advanced math - three things to alarm people

In a tongue-in-cheek (at least, I think it's tongue-in-cheek) warning attached to a movie review of "The Imitation Game," the Alan Turing movie, the NY Times channels xkcd* with the … Full story »

More debate about prostate cancer screening, the topic of our last Science Cafe

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the last Science Cafe NH, which discussed medical screening, was the admission from the three physicians that sometimes they ordered tests which weren't recommended … Full story »

Pope-mobile? What about the poop-mobile!

Getting energy from human waste is not a new idea: Nashua, for example, is one of many cities that has an anerobic digester at its wastewater treatment plant that not … Full story »

Huge N.Y. Army base gets 100% of electricity from wood - is that good?  

Biomass energy - burning wood to produce electricity - is controversial within the green-energy field. Although it seems like a no-brainer to replace oil/coal with wood, because the latter sucks … Full story »

And the best sentence in today's Boston Globe is ...

From the story about MIT's football team: Quarterback Peter Williams has thrown for just over 957 Smoots this season. … Full story »

Is that a wet bulb on your thermometer, or are you happy to see snowmaking?

Ski areas hereabouts have started to open despite the lack of natural snow, thanks to the technology of hurtling water into cold air so that it crystalizes. Snowmaking is a … Full story »

Can't get enough ballot selfies? Hear me on "The Exchange"

If it seems I can't shut up about "ballot selfies," then here's more confirmation: Yesterday's The Exchange started with me babbling - er, informing the world - about it. Here's … Full story »

Last night, we heard the perfect Science Cafe sentence

Last night's Science Cafe NH in Nashua was the usual full house at Killarney's Pub. The discussion was about medical screening, and how much of it is too much. The … Full story »

Google engineers: Even best-case renewable energy adoption won't fix climate change

You want to read something depressing? Read about a discussion by Google engineers exlpaining why the company stopped funding R&D in renewable energy. Here's a tidbit: Even if every renewable … Full story »

Science Cafe in Nashua tonight (Wednesday) - can there be too much medical screening?

Can there really be too much screening for cancer? Yes, although how much is too much - that's a tough question. We'll be discussing it in four hours at Science … Full story »

Rooftop solar electricity: Cost-competitive with coal, oil in all 50 states by 2016?

Solar power is wicked expensive, right? Well, the falling cost of solar panels and, more importantly, falling "soft costs" for installation and permitting, plus an increase in financing options, is … Full story »

Drone operators can be fined or charged for operating 'recklessly'

The government has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate the remote-control aircraft recklessly, a federal safety board ruled Tuesday in a setback to small drone operators … Full story »

Aspirin a day may prevent a second heart attack, but apparently not the first one

Aspirin really is a miracle drug that accomplishes all sorts of surprising things. I take a couple a week to reduce the risk of skin cancer, which is a problem … Full story »

Ebola's scary, but the flu is actually a whole lot scarier

Interesting science cafe in Lebanon this Thursday (they call it Science Pub), comparing the medical risk of Ebola with influnza. It's a bit of a drive but this could be … Full story »

Vermont's solar boom: Government support meets eco-geekery

The weekly newspaper Seven Days has an excellent long look at the components of Vermont's solar-power boom: As I've noted before, that state has about 30 times the per-capita solar … Full story »

Honeywell sued over employee medical screening (maybe we'll discuss this at Science Cafe) 

Honeywell has been sued by the federal government because it requires employees and their spouses to take certain medical screening tests. The company says it is a way to encourage … Full story »

As the climate changes, spring’s early arrival alters Gulf of Maine  

Over the past eight years, the date that scientists use to mark the transition to spring based on water temperature has gotten earlier by roughly two weeks for oceans off … Full story »

Restoring rivers vs. retaining history - a debate swirls around Milford's downtown dams

The rivers of New England are littered with dams (this 1999 study counted 3,789 of them, but I bet it missed lots of little tiny ones). There are big dams … Full story »

Red Cross says it has emptied me of blood 6 times over

I'm scheduled to donote blood today, as I do every 8 weeks. The Red Cross scheduler, who called to remind me, said their records show I have give more than … Full story »

Maine considers ranked-choice voting - a.k.a. "instant runoff" ballots

Democracy is a big fat kludge, a clumsy, taped-together hodgepodge of a system aimed at figuring out what's best for society. (Churchill's comment that "Democracy is the worst form of … Full story »

Are PSNH rates stable because of its generating plants? Professor says no

Mike Mooiman, a business professor at Franklin Pierce University, has a blog about energy in New Hampshire that is quite interesting. His latest post is more about finance than technology … Full story »

Where did the advertisements go?  

Google's Doubleclick ad server is down, which means that a gazillion web sites (including this one) are suddenly without advertisements. Before you celebrate, remember that the tiny amount of money … Full story »

The ban on cod fishing is a complicated exercise

As you've probably heard, the federal goernment has put a six-month hold on cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine as of tomorrow, because stocks of the once super-abundant fish … Full story »

At 11 a.m., humanity will land on a comet ... on a comet?!?!?

At about 11:03 a.m. our time, the European Space Agency ship Philae will land on the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.   Landing on a comet ... who'd'a thunk it? Phil Plait has … Full story »

What the Internet is for: Searchable database of 16,000 public toilets in Australia

The Australian government has established a searchable database of 16,000 public toilets in that country.It's called The National Public Toilet Map and it's brilliant. It's searchable by location or attributes … Full story »

I got to use "the rut" in a lustful sense in a story today. Thanks, deer!

This is my favorite headline for a story of mine in a while: "With deer hunting season starting Wednesday, it’s acorns vs. lust" The story is about tomorrow's start of … Full story »

FAA: Flying drones over crowded stadiums could land you in jail

The FAA is cracking down on people flying drones over stadiums - during football games, usually - because of safety concerns. The Washington Post writes about in today's paper, noting … Full story »

What if that big new natural-gas pipeline came through NH instead of Massachusetts?

As I reported in Saturday's Telegraph (read it here), energy giant Kinder Morgan has filed several possible alternatives for the huge (2.2 billion cubic feet/day) natural gas pipeline it wants … Full story »

Study: Wind turbine noise can be irritating but there's no medical "syndrome"

A study from Health Canada states the obvious: "Wind turbine noise did not have any measurable effect on illness and chronic disease, stress and sleep quality. ... However, the louder … Full story »

What if passenger rail came *almost* to Nashua but not quite?

As part of my job I sometimes interview bosses and CEOs in the Nashua area, and I can say that without exception, these folks would like to see passenger rail … Full story »

Protests set in Mass., Vt. (but not NH) against FCC "net neutrality" rules

The FCC has proposed rules about "net neutrality" that many advocates say fall short of what's needed, handing too much power to large ISPs - in this case, cable companies … Full story »

More 'ballot selfie' blathering - er, I mean, discussion

I recently talked about my favorite election-day story, the illegality of the "ballot selfie," with NH Public Radio's Brady Carlson, as was aired last night (listen to the two-minute tidbit … Full story »

The sound of (post-election) silence

If I didn't have to work today, I'd just stay home and listen to the telephone not ring. … Full story »

It might be November, but ticks are still active

I did some leaf raking this morning (I'm working the night shift because of the election) and when I came back in, I found a tick crawling on my face. … Full story »

A post that is as far away from politics as I can think of

I will vote today, as I hope you will, and tonight I'll work the late shift for the election at the newspaper. Then I can forget about politics for a … Full story »

"Spring forward, fall back" was a city-by-city choice not too long ago

The Telegraph's Dean Shalhoup had a story over the weekend about how daylight saving time was city-specific in New Hampshire as recently as World War II. It's fun reading - … Full story »

'Ballot selfies' are back in the news - ACLU sues NH to overturn law against them

The state chapter of the ACLU has sued over New Hampshire's strengthened law against taking a "ballot selfie" - photographing your completed ballot and posting the picture online. I write … Full story »

Bird migration can look like rain clouds on weather radar

New Hampshire has some bird migration pathways - most notably the raptors that can be seen from Pack Monadnock each fall - but nothing like they have in the Midwest. … Full story »

The definitive list of haunted sites in New Hampshire

There aren't any, of course. … Full story »

Crash-test dummies are getting fatter, too

A major manufacturer of crash-test dummies is redoing its line to "represent thicker waistlines and large rear ends of Americans. The new model of Humanetics has been developed after studies … Full story »

In Maine, a two-headed snapping turtle is thriving, and eating with both heads

The Bangor Daily News reports today: A two-headed snapping turtle found on Sept. 22 is still alive and eating from both heads, thanks to Kathleen Talbot, who has been caring … Full story »

Nashua to install electric-car charging station at city garage

The slow spread of electric-car charging stations in New Hampshire has reached Nashua, with Wednesday’s opening of the first city-overseen unit in the Elm Street parking garage. The charger is … Full story »

NHBR: Papers show GTAT bit off more than it could (probably) chew with Apple contract

New Hampshire Business Review (which mostly calls itself NHBR these days, much to the confusion of NH Public Radio fans) has been all over the bankruptcy of GT Advanced Technologies … Full story »

The first banner ad graced (so to speak) web browsers 20 years ago today

The first web banner ad ran 20 years ago today, on Wired.com - from AT&T. The Internet History Podcast has the details. I know what you think of banner ads … Full story »

Will at-home screening for colon cancer increase false positives and unnecessary treatment?

A new test that looks for cancer-related DNA in human stool (the bodily fluid, not the furniture) is raising the bar on the debate about how much medical screening is … Full story »

Air temperature? If you're de-icing roads, you really care about pavement temperature

New Hampshire held its first-ever Salt Symposium on Wednesday for private contractors that apply salt to keep parking lots, driveways and sidewalks clear, siging them up for voluntary certification program … Full story »

Don't expect to see much, if anything, of tomorrow night's partial solar eclipse 

Even if clouds don't get in the way, we probably won't see much if anything of Thursday's partial solar eclipse, because it will occur just as the sun sets in … Full story »

NH will finally get (probably) a multi-megawatt solar farm

A developer has gotten thumbs up from the Manchester City Council to put a 3.2-megawatt solar farm atop the long-closed city landfill, the Union-Leader reports. (PSNH considered doing something similar … Full story »

No NH cities are part of push for municipal fiber-to-the-home broadband 

No New Hampshire cities are among the 32 who have signed up to push for their own gigabit Net connections as part of a program called Next Century Cities, which … Full story »

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 »

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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, Jan. 21

TOPIC: To be announced

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

PAST TOPICS:

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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