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Nashua;51.0;;2014-08-30 06:10:54

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 »

Gentlefolks, start your tools: The state's only Maker Faire returns this Saturday

The DoverMini Maker Faire, at the Children's Museum of NH in Dover, returns this Saturday, Aug. 23. Tickets are $10 in advance, via the website. It will have the obligatory … Full story »

Talking about ticks and Lyme disease on NHPR - the magic of radio

Yes, that was me this morning talking about ticks and Lyme disease with Laura Knoy, the host of New Hampshire PUblic Radio's "The Exchange" talk show. But I wasn't at … Full story »

Comcast's not a TV company with Internet, it's a broadband company with TV 

Comcast has 21 million broadband Internet subscribers, more than AT&T or Verizon, and far more than any other cable firm, reports Leichtman Research Group of Durham. In fact, they say, … Full story »

A "salmon cannon" that can shoot 40 fish a minute over a 7-story building

Moving migrating fish around dams isn't easy. Many dams have ladders and elevators and ramps (the best place to see them in action locally is at Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester) … Full story »

Private pilots can't swap rides for gas money, says FAA (i.e., no Uber for Cessnas)

Startups that allow owners of small plans to split the cost of flights qualifies as compensation to private pilots, the FAA has decided, which is prohibited without a government air … Full story »

Unusually wet or unusually dry - that's become usual

I got 2.22 inches of rain in about 12 hours at my house yesterday, which I believe is the most rain I've ever measured in that short a period time … Full story »

3D printing comes to my local library

A local library - Wadleigh Library in lovely Milford - has just gotten a 3D printer for public use, which is very cool. This a thing, says the British magazine … Full story »

Rutland, Vermont to see nation's first solar & battery microgrid

A project being built on a closed landfill of Rutland, Vermont, is being touted as "the first project to establish a micro-grid powered solely by solar and battery back-up, with … Full story »

Internet service problems show why UNH has been an IPv6 evangelist for 2 decades

A small but growing number of sites are having Internet connectivity problems due to old routers whose IPv4 addressing space is full, reports ZDnet. Many Internet providers — including Level … Full story »

First woman Fields Medal winner doesn't break all barriers: She's from Stanford

The first woman to win the Fields Medal, commonly described as mathematics version of the Nobel Prize, does research in topology and dynamical systems - which means that, as is … Full story »

In Milford, a talk about particle physics research via spacecraft

The public library in Milford will host a talk tonight (Tuesday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m.) by UNH physics professor Eberhard Moebius - who is no relation to the strip, … Full story »

Gary Kasparov is clobbered in his run for president of world chess federation

As the NY Times, and virtually no other major media outlet, reports, Gary Kasparov - the greatest chess player of modern times, although Magnus Carlson is a serious rival - … Full story »

In the unsettled energy world, an old, oil-fired power plant is suddenly valuable again

Tux Turkel of Portland Press-herald reports that an old, oil-fired power plant on the Maine coast, just the sort of pollution source that natural gas was supposed to push aside, … Full story »

Tesla drive-unit problems show that even a wonder-car can be human

UPDATE: Another Elon Musk cool project, SpaceX, is also facing a real-world issue: Laid-off employees suing, claiming that it snuck around existing labor laws. LA Times story here.  The Tesa … Full story »

Got 2,001 pounds of food waste? Stay away from Massachusetts landfills

After October, Massachusetts institutions that generate more than a ton of food waste per week can no longer put it into a landfill. As NPR reports: 1,700 some-odd supermarkets, schools, … Full story »

Mass. firm that makes big flywheels for electricity production returns from financial brink

Back in 2011, I wrote an enthusiastic article about a company just over the Massachusetts border from here called Beacon Power that was making flywheels in units the size of … Full story »

Tidal power in Maine, on edge of Bay of Fundy, is still in the works

Drawing electricity from the strong and regular movement of tides has long been a dream, especially along the northern Maine coast where tides are high. I've been writing about it … Full story »

Apocalypse sooner: Bad positive-feedback warming news from Siberia

Just to start the day off as depressingly as possible (that way, it gets better over time), let's contemplate the very real possiblity that a positive-feedback climate warming loop has … Full story »

Vermont has 30 times as much solar power as New Hampshire (don't even ask about Massachusetts)

New Hampshire had 1.5 watts per person of solar power installed by the end of 2013, according to a new report from Environment America (PDF here). Is that a lot? … Full story »

The Ig Nobels are already sold out, six weeks in advance

I remember when the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was a small affair, delighted to get coverage even from a small New Hampshire newspaper. Now it's a global phenomenon, touring Europe … Full story »

Hey localvore foodie - my local farm is a fishing boat!

The area’s local-food movement has learned to embrace everything from arugula to pork to raw milk in recent years. The question now is whether it will also embrace cape shark, … Full story »

NHPR's "The Exchange" to discuss electric cars tomorrow, with some Science Cafe NH guests

The Science Cafe NH in Nashua about electric cars - one of the most popular ever, with an overflow crowd - will be sort of re-enacted on the N.H. Public … Full story »

Google barge update: Now it's just barge, not Google

An update from yesterdays post: The Portland Press-Herald reports that the mysterious Google Barge, with its four-story structure built of shipping containers, isn't going to be a glamorous tech store … Full story »

The mysterious Google Barge leaves Maine, still pretty mysterious  

The Google barge being worked on in Portland, Maine's harbor is heading for an "ocean voyage," but that's about all anybody knows for sure, reports the Bangor Daily News. The … Full story »

PSU professor finds first wooly mammoth fossil in NH - a tooth, but a very cool tooth

By Bruce Lynde,PSU News Services Manager Nearly ten years ago, Plymouth State University biology professor Fred Prince was fly-fishing on a remote stream in Campton, when a strange object caught … Full story »

New England has a lot more tornadoes than I thought

Massachusetts has had 159 tornadoes since 1951, according to the Tornado History Database, and New Hampshire has had 87 of them. Most were small, of course - this isn't Kansaa … Full story »

California says: For crying out loud, don't fly drones over wildfires we're fighting! 

The LA Times reports that folks fighting wildfires in California "encountered a civilian-piloted drone over the weekend for the first time while fighting a large wildfire" and "banished ir from … Full story »

Logarithms turn 400 this year (that's 10^2.6020599913)

Logarithms are a way to do multiplication by adding, which is a lot less work than doing multiplication by multiplying. Scottish mathematician John Napier presented them to the world 400 … Full story »

Hopefully, it's in the nonfiction section

The Merrimack town library has the state's first public seismograph. We're not exactly California in New England (or even fracking-quake-spurred Oklahoma) but it's interesting.  I leanred about it from this … Full story »

Liquified natural gas plant for NH on hold

This is more a business story than a geek story, but I just got back from 10 days vacation WITH NO INTERNET (aaaaah ... delightful) so I'm a little behind. … Full story »

GraniteGeek is going to hide under a rock for a week or so - see you then 

I'm about to go on vacation with the family and doing it tech free (without paying for a Tech-Free Camp, thank you), so GraniteGeek is going to enter another land … Full story »

Electricity from leaky landfills is bigger than solar power in NH

Nashua is in the process of signing a new contract with a company called PPL to operate the electricity-generating system at the city landfill (story here), currently sized at 800 … Full story »

Government can improve with A/B testing, which is good: unless they experiment on me, of course

The tech world loves A/B testing - basically releasing two versions of a product or website or marketing campaign out into the real world and seeing which one does better. … Full story »

Teaching chess in school is a good idea - but where will you get the teachers?

This is a week for celebrating chess (as in my column today, anticipating the first junior Womens Championship, taking place at UNH-Manchester this week) so it's also a week for … Full story »

Texas Medical Board files 202-page complaint against cancer "cure" being used in NH

The Texas Medical Board has issued a 202-page complaint against Stanistlaw Burzynski, the Houston-area doctor who has been peddling a cancer "cure" for three decades. He hasn't actually curing anybody … Full story »

Graduating science PhD's face a surprisingly stagnant job market

Slate has a long and well-researched piece about the job prospects for graduating Ph.D.s in science fields in the U.S., tracking not just employment and unemployment but also post-docs, academia's … Full story »

Is the next-but-one China lunar probe a manned moon-landing practice run?

China plans to land Chang'e 5, a lunar lander that would return samples to Earth, in 2017. That would be very cool - more moon rocks! - but Wired says … Full story »

Australia decides patent for "circular transportation facilitation device" (i.e., wheel) was a mistake 

Marc Abrahams, who is the mind (if that's the right word) behind the Ig Nobel awards, reports that the Australian patent office has decided it was a mistake to issue … Full story »

We don't have mountain lions but we do have bobcats - although how many, again?

I know a few people who have seen bobcats in New Hampshire. Unlike mountain lion sightings, however, these are often accompanied by photos - because bobcats, unlike the other big … Full story »

Northeast is behind the U.S. curve when it comes to ditching landline phones

We in the Northeast like to think of ourselves as urbane and sophisticated and with it (dare I say "hep"? "groovy"?), yet we're national laggards when it comes to ditching … Full story »

NH firm tries to expand bitcoin ATM industry with open source code

Lamassu, the Manchester-based bitcoin ATM company, has created open-source software for "back end systems" of bitcoin ATMs, in hopes of goosing the whole business by creating more uniform standards and … Full story »

Peer review scandal - like fake Amazon reviews, except for scientific papers - is very bad

I assume that all online reviews for books, hotels, restaurants, etc., are fake, because there's a strong upside to faking them and almost no downside. Businesses realized long ago that … Full story »

Needle in haystack? Try finding moons around planets outside the solar system

The New Hampshire Astronomical Society does some interesting stuff: On Friday, July 11, they'll host a talk by David Kipping, a NASA Carl Sagan fellow at Harvard University and principal … Full story »

BBC told: Don't invite fringe cranks on science shows for 'balance'

In a really lovely memo, BBC Trust on Thursday published a progress report into the corporation’s science coverage because it has been criticised for giving too much air-time to critics … Full story »

Unproven cancer cure for Hudson girl - compassionate treatment or medical profiteering?

My column in The Telegraph today tackles a difficult subject: Whether all the energy, hope - and money, lots of money - being gathered to help a 12-year-old Hudson girl … Full story »

Can a dog sniff out hard drives? Rhode Island police say that their dog can 

The Providence Journal has a long but not very fact-filled article about police efforts against child pornography which includes an astonishing piece of information: The Rhode Island state police have … Full story »

Who needs pick-your-own and hay rides when you've got oyster-bed tours?

New England has seen a huge increase in the number of farms in the past decade, but most of them are tiny - hardly farms by the giant-wholesale-monoculture standards of … Full story »

Uber, the ride "sharing" company, may be coming to Portland, Maine

Uber, the company that allows ride "sharing" (to use the wod loosely) as a sort of peer-to-peer alternative to taxis, is recruiting drivers in the Portland, Maine, area, says the … Full story »

DNA analysis of Bigfoot hairs shows they actually came from (insert joke here)

In a bid for free publicity that worked quite well, Oxford University in Britain ran DNA tests on samples of hairs collected by people who wwere certain the samples were … Full story »

Stop the presses: Using energy more efficiently saves businesses money! Who knew?

A report about energy efficiency pushes by Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. says they saved about $1.1 billion in costs in 2012 - including Walmart saving $71 million and … Full story »

At last, something fun with the World Cup: Guessing relative populations

The World Cup is lots of fun, except for the soccer part. All those countries mashed together in eye-popping costumes - it's awesome, even if they can't think of anything … Full story »

Hey, Telegraph: Maybe you should put tick repellant in your ink

One way to avoid getting bitten by Lyme-disease-carrying ticks is to wear clothing that has been soaked with permethrin, a synthetic insecticide that is very effective at repelling ticks. I … Full story »

Study: 3,000 people exposed to measles because of one kid in a vaccine-shunning family

The 2 1/2-year-old child of a family in Minnesota that thinks vaccines are dangerous brought measles back to the U.S. from Kenya, eventually exposing 3,000 people to the disease. Happily, … Full story »

There's a long, skinny strip of NH where you can't fly drones

Following up onreports that National Parks won't allow drones, I discovered that despite our lack of national parks this rule does ban any drones in a couple unexpected places in … Full story »

Demanding bitcoin via snail-mail - does that seem odd to you?

I have a story in today's Telegraph about a Manchester pizzeria that is among at least four around the country who received an extortion letter in the mail demanding one … Full story »

Portsmouth's science cafe turns into a science-at-sea sailing event

One of the goals of the founders of Science Cafe NH three-plus years ago was to spread the wealth - get other science-related discussion groups going. They succeeded wildly: the … Full story »

Any Nashua-area Aereo customers out there? Call me!

Any Nashua-area-ish Aereo customers out there who want to talk about the service, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has presumably killed it? If so, call me: 603-594-6531. Meanwhile, the … Full story »

Genetically modified bugs - a good way to fight Lyme and West Nile (or maybe not)

As I noted in a recent column, fear of tick-borne Lyme disease has led my wife and I to bathe ourselves (OK, not literally) in the insecticide permethrin. This is … Full story »

National Geographic's next global atlas will show a lot less Arctic ice

Mankinds inadvertent alteration of our planet will be starkly visible in the 10th edition of National Geographic's Atlas of the World: The map will show a lot less Arctic sea … Full story »

Amish rethinking their anti-vaccine stance because - surprise! - measles exists  

As Kaiser Health News reports, some Amish communities in Ohio are rethinking their religious/philosophical opposition to vaccines because ... The largest outbreak of measles in recent U.S. history is underway. … Full story »

Don't fly your drone in a national park - they're banned (but not in White Mountains)

The National Park Service has banned drones from all parks while it figures out whether it's possible to balance the enjoyment of nature's wonders with poorly operated buzzing things overhead. … Full story »

A visit to a "resurrect the chestnut tree" plantation in N.H.

Resurrecting America's chestnut trees fromn the fungal blight that virtually eradicated them in not an easy process. Researchers have been cross-breeding trees, using the resistant Chinese chestnut, for decades - … Full story »

Military drone crashes are more common than we thought; what does that say about civilian drones?

The Washington Post has found that military drones crash far more often than has been suspected, as reported in a really excellent series of stories that you should check out: … Full story »

Don't sell wood pellets for heating - just sell the heat itself

Switching to "biomass energy" - burning wood for heat - is proceeding slowly because it's expensive to switch your fossil fuel furnace for a wood pellet/chip furnace. But what if … Full story »

Mass. eyes mandatory time-of-day pricing for electricity as power grids wrestle with change

The electric grid has gone from being a boringly static infrastructure topic - like the highway system, but without cool cars - to being a vital and changing component of … Full story »

Studying how to save endangered species sometimes helps fight invasive ones

Remember gypsy moths? A decade ago we feared they would wipe out our forests - I, and many others, wrote stories about the pitter-patter of poop pellets falling from the … Full story »

Warwick Mills in New Ipswich can spin spider silk into cloth

NEW IPSWICH - Warwick Mills, one of the first textile mills to be built on a New Hampshire river back in the days when flowing water was the industrial power … Full story »

Cheap wood boxes for trade cost us a fortune from tree-destroying bugs

Cheap wood pallets and boxes are great for transporting materials cheaply in immediate dollars, but they have an wildly expensive unintended consequence: They are also great for carrying bugs like … Full story »

If putting fluoride in water is so great, why don't more places do it?

Science Cafe Nashua on Wednesday will discuss public water fluoridation. We'll focus on the science, of course: how does it prevent cavities? how is it added to the system? what … Full story »

Full moon on Friday the 13th! (for certain definitions of "full moon")

The moon was full at 4:11 a.m. universal time today, Friday the 13th. Pretty cool. Unless you're on the west coast, in which cae the moon was full before midnight … Full story »

A clever design for a flexible, not overly expensive standing desk

Standing desks are a good idea (as I've mentioned) but they're also trendy, which means there are lots of expensive variants out there.   BoingBoing pointed me to a very … Full story »

Genetically modified chestnut trees might return this giant to our forests, faster

After the American chestnut tree was virtually wiped out by an accidentally imported fungus, attempts began to breed a resistant variety by cross-breeding the few remaining samples with Chinese chestnuts, … Full story »

Please, please, please let this be true: Fungus fights poison ivy

I am a poison ivy martyr. I get a horrible rash from the slightest contact, but I'm lousy at telling it apart from all the other low-lying, multi-leafed, ivy-ish plants. … Full story »

Spam links sneak onto NH tech firm's website

A friend of mine was recently checking the website of a Well-Known New Hampshire Technology Firm (which will remain nameless at his request, for various reasons) using Lynx, the venerable … Full story »

Online college courses at EdX mostly attract people from outside US

About three-quarters of students who take massive free online college courses hosted by the Harvard/MIT platform EdX are from outside the U.S., reports the Boston Globe. The whole MOOC thing … Full story »

NASA autonomous moon robot challenge returning to WPI

Eighteen teams of citizen inventors from several countries (although not New Hampshire) will compete in the 2014 NASA Centennial Challenges Sample Return Robot Challenge June 11-13 at Worcester Polytechnic Institute … Full story »

It hit 118 degrees in Delhi yesterday ... I was a little warm last night, myself

Most of us are very good at contemplating people who are better off in some way and feeling bad about our inferiority - but one of the secrets of happiness … Full story »

Electric cars/trucks will be just a tiny part of NH power usage for decades

The state Office of Energy and Planning is in the process of developed an update of the state Energy Plan, which will be the topic of many public hearings over … Full story »

Durham police remove Cryptowall malware from system, but reinstating that much backup isn't trivial

Cryptowall, the variant of "ransonware" that cropped up as soon as the feds squelched CryptoLocker, has been removed from the Durham, NH, police department's computers - and no ransom was … Full story »

Good environmental news (is that allowed?): N.E. lakes rebounding from acid rain

FROM UNH News Service: Research funded by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture indicates that lakes in New … Full story »

A good unit of measure for climate disaster: Ice Age Unit

Leave it to Randall Munro's frequently brilliant xkcd web comic to give us a good unit of measure for quantifying climate fears: The Ice Age Unit, equivalent to 4.5 degree … 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, September 17 (we take the summer off)

TOPIC: Marijuana, the biology of what it does and doesn't do to us.

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


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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