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Nashua;58.0;;2015-05-29 04:18:49

Ten gigantic spinning sawblades dangling from a helicopter! What more could you want? 

Forget computer-generated explosions in the movie theaters. This YouTube video from Haverfield Aviation, showing how it uses gigantic spinning sawblades dangling from a helicopter to clear vegetation around power lines, … Full story »

Using playing cards as a lifetime calendar

Today's interesting tidbit learned while shuffling through the Web looking for blog-postable material: A pack of cards has a peculiar embedded property, lurking beneath its surface: it functions as a … Full story »

Study: Extreme cold proves deadlier than extreme heat (but still not that bad)

A study in The Lancet, the most prestigious British medical research journal, found that extreme cold snaps kill more people than extreme heat waves, much to my surprise. As the … Full story »

Science Cafe reveals railroads' Achilles heel: Gypsy moth caterpillars

There's always at least one unexpected tidbit that crops up during the two hours of a Science Cafe NH discussion and makes my eyebrows rise. Last night it was this: … Full story »

There's nothing sharing about the "gig economy" that is being created

One time I was a guest on The Exchange show on NHPR and described Uber and other "sharing economy" companies as being capitalism at its most vicious. A listener thought … Full story »

Science Cafe about the technology of trains (and train brakes) is tonight

Tonight's Science Cafe about the technology of trains is timely in a way these events usually aren't, because of last week's tragic Amtrak wreck in Philadelphia. The topic, of course, … Full story »

Seacoast towns prepare for the pain of climate change

A piece in New Hampshire Business Review, written by the climate program coordinator at New Hampshire Sea Grant, talks about how a number of towns along the N.H. seacoast are … Full story »

A presidential candidate to support with all your (semi-robotic) heart and soul

If you haven't decided on a fave presidential hopeful yet, there's a new choice out there: Zoltan Istvan, a "transhumanist" writer who is running for president, according an email sent … Full story »

Science Cafe to discuss the technology of trains, including brakes

The topic of each month's Science Cafe NH is chosen long in advance, because it takes a while to round up panelists, so it's coincidence that this week's cafe will … Full story »

Middlebury College wants to use cow manure to replace heating oil

Middlebury College wants to use methane from cow poop to replace 640,000 gallons of heating oil a year. The Rutland Herald reports: The plant would convert cow manure from that … Full story »

A strong El Niño is coming: What will it do to our weather?

Although it can be hard to predict El Niño - the warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean with resulting weather effects around the globe - there is increasing evidence that … Full story »

Talking about diseased ticks and sick chickens on the radio

I'm going to be a designated hitter (see - I can do sports metaphors!) today on the Friday news roundup on NHPR's The Exchange. They'll be talking about politics and … Full story »

NH Electric Co-op tests effect of different pricing on people's habits

Scientific testing that's done in the lab, where you establish a control group, then make similar groups with which you alter as few variables as possible to see what happens, … Full story »

Would Nashua's Amherst Street still be Amherst Street if they - gasp - removed the jughandles?

At the March Science Cafe in Nashua, I was surprised when a planner with the Nashua Regional Planning Commission defended the judghandles on Amherst Street (Rt. 101A) in Nashua. These … Full story »

Tick-attracting robot shows hope in the battle against evil arachnids (see update) 

Ticks are attracted to the carbon dioxide that warm-blooded animals breath out, and usually attach themselves to hosts by standing up and waving their arms, grabbing a bit of hair/flesh … Full story »

Yellowstone ranger station now powered by 208 old Camry hybrid batteries

As I learned from Treehugger today, a ranger station at Yellowstone National Park is now powered by a 40-kilowatt solar array and 209 used Camry hybrid batteries that provide 85 … Full story »

Peregrine falcon eggs missed being hatched on Mother's Day, but not by much

The peregrine falcons atop Manchester's Brady-Sullivan Tower missed their chance for some holiday branding via webcam: Their eggs didn't quite hatch on Mother's Day, as we had hoped. But they … Full story »

"My son's autism is no more caused by vaccinations than his green eyes are caused by vaccinations"

Vermont has a high rate of parents who don't vaccination their kids because it, unlike New Hampshire, allows "philosophical" exemptions. (N.H. has an excellent childhood vaccination rate.) A bill in … Full story »

We have much less solar power than "dinky little cloud-covered Vermont"  

Was I tring to rattle a few people's cages in today's Telegraph column when I talked about "dinky little cloud-covered Vermont", considering that it's roughly the same geographic area as … Full story »

Is that a paper bag on your chestnut tree flower, or are you happy to see me?

There's something about putting individual bags over scores of flowers on a tree, to protect them from alien pollen, that tickles my fancy. That's why, above and beyond its biolgical … Full story »

For efficiency, controlling behavior is as good as (or better than) controlling technology

When we first bought our Honda Civic hybrid years ago, the technology cut our gas usage sharply, but so did the instanttaneous MPG readout. Like many people who first get … Full story »

Falcons in Manchester high-rise may hatch eggs on - yes! - Mother's Day

From NH Audubon Society: The Peregrine falcon eggs atop the Brady-Sullivan Tower in Manchester should hatch on or around Mother’s Day, according to Chris Martin, senior biologist at New Hampshire … Full story »

Trees vs. electrons

Like most people, I complain bitterly when the electric company cuts trees around power lines, making them look stupid - and then I complain bittery when trees fall on power … Full story »

Comcast's Internet customers now outnumber video customers (nationally, if not necessarily in NH)

The number of people who are Comcast customers for Internet has surpassed those who are customers for TV, at least nationally, according to an earnings report cited in the NY … Full story »

NHPR is interested in solar power's future in NH

NHPR's Exchange talk show chewed over solar power this morning, prodded by SolarCity's arrival in the state. The show has some intelligent pushback as well as informed coverage and questions … Full story »

Local geekery meets local food - what's not to like? 

Choosing good names for a company or organization or movement is hard - which explains all those stupid missing-one-vowel trademarks online. So let's tip a corporate-branding hat to FarmHack, the … Full story »

The last frost isn't here yet, probably

This is a confusing time of year heat-wise: It was 38 degrees F Saturday when I got up and pushing 70 by the afternoon. I woke up unday to find … Full story »

The Tesla home battery will be awesome and liberating! Or not

The long-expected announcement from Tesla that it will soon be selling "stationary storage" - batteries for buildings, not just in cars - has produced a lot of pondering about what … Full story »

Drones are here. Can drone graffiti be far behind?  

Attaching a spray-paint can to a drone doesn't seem too difficult, so it was inevitable that flying graffiti would come our way. Wired reports that, alas, it's here: In the … Full story »

NH high court upholds $9,300 charge for rescuing man from White Mountains

Geeks like to hike (i.e., I like to hike - and it's my blog) which is why I'm mentioning the latest move in a long-running rebate over how to pay … Full story »

New England solar can generate far more power than Vermont Yankee did, but it's hard to keep track of

ISO-New England, which oversees the power grid, says there is enough electricity generation lined up to handle this summer, when you include efficiency and demand controls. Fierce Energy has a … Full story »

The fractal nature of geometry

Remember how awesome fracals were, the first time you first learned about them? They're still awesome, even if they're gotten less novel, and you can be reminded of this at … Full story »

Growing 4 pot plants indoors is electricity equivalent of running 29 refrigerators

As oregon prepares to legalize marijuana and also tryies trim electricity use, it's hitting a roadblock, reports the East Oregonian:  Indoor marijuana gardens are well-known power hogs, but Oregon faces … Full story »

Solar panel leases finally come to N.H., as SolarCity crosses the border

SolarCity, the nation's biggest installer of solar panels on homes, mostly via leases and power purchase agreements - in the former, you pay a set monthly fee, in the latter … Full story »

Bitcoin's underlying technology - could it power a stock exchange, rather than a currency?

Many people, including me, think bitcoin's real value is not as a currency that the nasty government doesn't control, but as the demonstration of how peer-to-peer technology can created trusted … Full story »

Formula Hybrid contest (colleges build, race hybrid cars) at NH Speedway

The annual Formula Hybrid contest, in which colleges build and test their hybrid racers, gets under way today at the N.H. International Speedway. Thursday is the endurance event, which is … Full story »

Boston farm in a shipping container; Maine mill in a prison; robots working the fields  

A few not-really-related agricultre items today: I have noted in past posts the possibilities - and concerns - of indoor farming, growing plants on shelving under specially tuned LED lights. … Full story »

State's first public bitcoin vending machine is in - can you guess? - yes, Keene!

Lamassu, the New Hampshire bitcoin-machine firm, says that a thrift store has installed only the second public bitcoin vending machine in northern New England, and the first in New Hampshire. … Full story »

Study says autonomous cars would be used more, and thus might increase gas usage

One of the environmental advantages cited for autonomous cars is that they'd reduce the number of vehicles needed. Most cars and trucks are parked most of the time, but if … Full story »

Only one caller said my GMO shown on NHPR today was 'whitewashing'  

I hosted the NHPR call-in show The Exchange this morning with two researchers to discuss genetically modified organisms and genetic engineering in general. I've found that it's harder to make … Full story »

Electric unicycles and scooters - can they out-Segway the Segway?

Slate does a comparison test of four motorized scooters and self-balancing wheels in hopes to tackle the last-mile problem of commuters - getting from, say, the train station to the … Full story »

Congress finally say yes, it can support 21st century equivalent of Mom and apple pie

From my point of view, one of the most extreme examples of last year's Congressional partisan stupidity was the failure to pass a no-brainer of a bill giving incentives for … Full story »

That flying car they're building in Woburn? It's going to miss deadline and budget (surprise!)

I've long been enamored with the Terrafugia flying car (or "roadable aircraft," the term they used to prefer) being created in Woburn, Mass. It's just so gorgeous, even if the … Full story »

Government data plus profit motive equals - maybe better kitchen cabinets

My Telegraph column this week is about one of a number of companies trying to build a business based on available government data - in this case it's BuildZoom, which … Full story »

No sign of other civilizations' waste heat in 100,000 galaxies 

A search of 100,000 nearby galaxies - for certain definitions of "nearby" - showed no heat signature that by some suppositions would inevitably be associated with advanced civilizations. The research, … Full story »

Norway's going to kill FM radio and go all-digital; no plans for U.S. to follow suit

In January 2017, Norway will begin to turn off FM radio in that country, requiring everybody to use DAB (digital audio broadcasting), a European standard. DAB can send a lot … Full story »

Some big investors getting worried that fossil fuels might be a financial risk

We're avoiding the dull topic of politics today (see previous post) but we're not going to avoid another dull topic - finance - because it's important.   As FierceEnergy reports, … Full story »

A lawn-mowing Roomba has got radio astronomers angry

Today Nashua is the scene of a large spontaneous clustering effect - although it doesn't involve lattice gas or genetic drift in competing populations, which might be interesting. This one … Full story »

Wikipedia can't be trusted, redux redux redux 

I've been a regular editor/contributor to Wikipedia for a dozen years - my first Telegraph piece about the site is so old it's not part of our digital archive - … Full story »

We wondered if archaeology would be a good draw for Science Cafe - now we know

We wondered if archaeology would be a good draw for Science Cafe NH in Nashua. Well, last night's session "Who was here before the Europeans, and how do we know?" … Full story »

Tonight's Science Cafe: Who lived here before the Europeans, and how do we know?

After four years, Sciene Cafe takes its first foray into anthropology/archaeology tonight - 6 p.m., Killarney's, free (you know the drill). The state archaeologist and the head of the New … Full story »

Portland starts charging 5 cents for non-reusable grocery bags, paper or plastic

In the U.S., what economists call market signals - price - often work better than regulation, which is why Portland, Maine, has instituted a 5 cent charge for all non-reusable … Full story »

Mutated blister rust found in N.H., poses a threat to white pines

From UNH Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Forest Service (full report here):  DURHAM – A mutated pathogen feared to pose a threat to white pines has been positively confirmed as … Full story »

NHPR: Estimate animal numbers in the wild with poop-sniffing dogs, hunters, and math

Sam Evans-Brown at NHPR has a great piece on the methods used to estimate wild animal populations. You can read it or listen to it right here. A taste to … Full story »

Don't hide a gun in the toilet to take out your opponent - hide a chess-playing iPhone

You know that scene in The Godfather where Michael Corleone hides a gun in the cistern of a toilet so he can sneak it out during a meeting and kill … Full story »

UNH math prof won a Grammy, now he's a National Academy of Inventors fellow

Kevin Short, the UNH math professor who came to national attention in 2010 when he won a Grammy for signal-processing work that helped clean up the sound on a 1949 … Full story »

Opening the microwave too early makes the aliens appear (so think radio telescopes)

Yes, I reheat coffee in the microwave. Yes, I get impatient and open the door before the timer dings. But no, I don't near a radio telescope - so I'm … Full story »

Why did NH legislators reject a state fossil? Nothing personal against mastodons (mostly) 

Although it got lost in the kerfuffle over rejection of a kids' bill to make the red-tailed hawk the state raptor, last month New Hampshire state legislators also rejected a … Full story »

Professional chess games are getting longer, with more ties - but you still want to play white

What do you find if you data analysis of 650,000 chess games over several centuries? A guy named Randal Olson did it, and found games are getting longer (37 moves/game … Full story »

What happens if you build skis containing oobleck (non-Newtonian fluid)?

If you've ever mixed corn starch and water to make "oobleck," a name taken from Dr. Seuss books, you'll know how much fun this non-Newtonian substance can be. It's slurpy … Full story »

Hackers can raise dosage limits in a drug pump - that's not good

Little machines that pump drugs into our systems at set rates and times have been a big part of New Hampshire's tech scene since Dean Kamen moved up here after … Full story »

Massachusetts boosts its subsidies for electric vehicles

Massachusetts likes electric vehicles so much it has given rebates to help people buy 107 Tesla sports cars, which cost a minimum of $70,000. It's not just more middle-of-the-road Leafs … Full story »

Skyscraper indoor farms are a sci-fi idea whose time may, or may not, have come

Growing crops indoors, a staple of sci-fi novels, has become more feasible with the development of LED lighting that uses less energy and can be wavelength-tweaked to maximize plant production. … Full story »

Nashua teacher wins prize for supporting evolution classes

A Nashua high school teacher, Alyson Miller, is one of two teachers nationwide to get a prize from the National Center on Science Education because of their work keeping the … Full story »

Vermont site sells placebos - in pill form or as an app

SevenDays, the Vermont weekly, has a story about a researcher in Vermont who is selling placebos, openly marketed as being useless. In fact, you don't even have to take the … Full story »

Annual physicals are more ritual than science, so should we skip them?

Having an annual checkup from your doctor is a pretty sensible thing to do, right? I certainly thought so, but after last November's Science Cafe, which discussed the thorny issue … Full story »

People arrived in New England before the forests did

When the glaciers retreated from New England about 14,000 years ago, they didn't leave any trees behind. It takes a while - centuries, millennia - for trees to repopulate a … Full story »

Vermont is about to make recycling mandatory, statewide

In Vermont, transfer stations and drop-off facilities are already required to accept recyclables. Beginning July 1, trash haulers will have to do the same at no additional charge. Most significantly, … Full story »

A self-driving car but by Delphi (who?) just made it across the county, almost without humans 

Delphi, a major auto-parts supplier, says it built a car that drove from California to New York all by itself, except for about 1 percent of the time in cities. … Full story »

Hybrid car racing returns to NH Speedway, thanks to Dartmouth's engineering school

Car racing is a really dull sport, in my ever-so-humble opinion. Zoom, zoom, round and round, smoke and noise - yawn. The technology in the cars is often quite interesting, … Full story »

The Internet has ruined April Fools' Day, because every day online is April Fools' Day

Remember when pulling a public prank on April Fools' Day was clever? No? Well, you're probably under 30. It used to be surprising enough to be potentially fun, doing things … Full story »

New England's largest off-grid solar array set for Star Island

UPDATE: Oops. the presentartion is April 22, not April 2.   Star Island is about ready to turn on a 200-kilowatt solar array that it says will be the largest … Full story »

Gasoline use in U.S. continues to fall, although we may have started driving more

A survey at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute indicates that gasoline usage continues to fall throughout the U.S.  His findings show that gallons of gasoline consumed per person, … Full story »

As waters wam, smelt seem to be moving north, which means out of the Great Bay

It's been a couple years since New Hampshire's Great Bay has seen a good winter season for smelt - a small anadramous (breeds in fresh water, matures in salt water, … Full story »

When there's a veterinarian in the house, magazine covers are more ... um, varied

Deciding what article to play prominently on the cover of a magazine is a tough decision. The editor of Veterinary Medicine is obviously a pro. … Full story »

NH is almost in the top 5 for new precipitation-watching citizen scientists

UPDATE: We ended up No. 7, with 12 new people, or 9.11 per million residents. Vermont edged us with 6 newbies, or 9.58/ million; Maine had 8 newbies (6.02) and … Full story »

Why does snow melt around tree trunks?

Walking in the woods these days - although the snow is finally starting to disappear - you'll notice "tree wells" or areas around the base of trees in which snow … Full story »

Report says 30 percent of plant species living wild in New England are imported - 30 percent!

If you own or work with a field of any kind, you're aware of the problem caused by invasive plants. My property's bugaboo is black swallowwort, also known by the … Full story »

N.H. native wins Turing Award, the 'Nobel Prize of computing' - just as Google attaches a $1m prize

Michael Stonebraker, a researcher at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) who has revolutionized the field of database management systems and founded multiple successful database companies - and … Full story »

Feeding deer to 'help' them can hurt, if it's the wrong sort of food

When 12 deer died in the town of South Hampton recently, NH Fish & Game sent a couple to UNH for necropsy. (Today's word tip: "autopsy" means slicing up dead … Full story »

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 »

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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, June 17

TOPIC: Probiotics: Is "gut health" bacteria a fad or a new direction for medicine?

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



May: Trains. April: Who was here before Europeans arrived - and how do we know? March: How roads are designed. February: The science of sugar. January: Geothermal energy.


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.

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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