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Nashua;76.0;;2014-07-12 22:36:30

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 »

Ransomware/malware takes down computer system for Durham police department

Todd Selig, the town administrator for Durham, N.H., just sent out this email (I've edited it slightly): While the takedown earlier this week of a major malware-spewing botnet has crippled … Full story »

"Pop-up bus service" that alters routes based on rider data is tried in Boston

I've never understood why buses aren't a bigger part of the public transportation system. They're so much cheaper to create than trains or subways; why don't cities don't just flood … Full story »

National Trail Days tomorrow - grab a hazel-hoe and hit the woods

Geeks, as a rule, aren't drawn to team sports - Ultimate Frisbee excepted, for some reason - but despite the stereotype they're not averse to individual or group sports and … Full story »

Terrafugia says it's just $30 million from producing that flying car

Boston Business Journal reports that Terrafugia, the Woburn, Mass. firm that has been working on a flying car / "roadable aircraft" for eight years, is getting close ... as long … Full story »

Since 1984, Northern New England has warmed the most of any part of the U.S.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Northern New England is warming faster than any part of the country, an analysis of federal temperature records shows. Northeastern states have gotten the hottest in the … Full story »

Online-only charter school in Maine isn't proving much of a draw so far

I've written a lot about online college degrees lately, since they're starting to shake up higher education, but the issue arises in primary and secondary school, too. Maine, for example, … Full story »

There are worse ways to start your workday than splashing in the river ... for science!!!

Today is the first day for the Souhegan Watershed Association's annual summertime river-quality sampling. A couple dozen of us volunteers go out at 8 a.m.-ish every other Tuesday and gather … Full story »

NH coal-fired plants may not be too pressured by EPA carbon rules

New Hampshire's two coal-fired power plants (counting the two Schiller Station units as one) may not be too prssured by proposed EPA limits on carbon emissions by utilities, as long … Full story »

Google's driverless car-ish pod thing will change (a) everything, (b) a little, (c) nothing

The driverless pod-mobile that Google demonstrated last week is so cool that it's hard to think rationally about whether it's a silly toy, a minor advance, or the end of … Full story »

What will new EPA carbon limits do to NH coal-fired power plants?

The big question for New Hampshire that resulting from today's announcement of stricter carbon-emission rules is this: What will this do to our coal-fired power plants: the two 50-MW plants … Full story »

In today's unsurprising news, electric cars don't produce harmful magnetic fields

Electricity and magnetism are two sides of the same coin, so it's not entirely unreasonable to wonder if sitting in an electric car for long periods would subject you to … Full story »

The U.S. is using less oil & gasoline that we predicted just 4 years ago

The White House is entering major-league debate mode in preparation for President Obama's expected announcement of caps on power-plant carbon emissions (which will have repercussions for PSNH's coal-fired power plants, … Full story »

Report: We don't need no stinkin' gas pipeline! (But we do need stinkin' Quebec hydropower)

An environmental group has issued a report arguing that New England can solve its potential energy shortfalls without building controversial natural gas pipelines. Hooray, say pipeline opponents! However, the report … Full story »

NH argues with itself about climate science more than guns, abortion or GMOs

A statewide survey of NH residents by the Carsey Insitute found people with different political affiliations - Republican, Democratic, Independent and Tea Party - differ more on climate change than … Full story »

Opposition kills wind farm proposed near Newfound Lake, Mount Cardigan 

The Union-Leader reports that Iberdrola, the Spanish wind giant that has a couple wind farms in N.H., has abandoned plans for one near Newfound Lake because of opposition, including the … Full story »

My crummy standing desk is the least-crummy standing desk in the newsroom

The Telegraph newsroom has becoming something of a standing-desk haven this year, as several of my colleagues following my healthy example. But since we have no money to buy desks, … Full story »

1-gigabyte fiber-to-the-home from little-ish TDS in little Hollis, N.H.

TDS Telecom, which owns a bunch of formerly small and independent phone companies around the country, on Tuesday rolled out its first 1-gig FTTH service in New Hampshire - in … Full story »

Construction firms do the electric slide for cheaper bridge replacements

Bridge construction is not a sexy topic, but it's got a lot of very serious engineering involved - so bridge construction with a sexy-ish name ("slide-in" or "lateral-side" construction) has … Full story »

Clouds forecast here for first-ever Camelopardalids meteor shower ... of course

I long ago gave up expecting anything from meteor showers - too many nights spent with the kids lying in the grass, shivering, seeing little; or whipping up expectations only … Full story »

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (what a great name) gets UNH research treatment 

The NH Agriculture Experiment Station at UNH is pondering the interaction between plant roots and soil microbes, including a type of symbiotic fungus that lives with roots called arbuscular mycorrhizal … Full story »

Science Cafe on organic gardening - hooray for moles, poop and clover

Moles are good (they eat grubs). Clover is good (fixes nitrogen). Compost (with or without poop) is good, for obvious reasons. But don't get carried away. That was the message … Full story »

PSNH installing smart-ish meters

PSNH is installing meters at its 550,000 customers that wirelessly transmit usage data, so readers don't have to hop out of the truck and read the dials. They're not really … Full story »

Nashua to get more electricity from the rotting stuff in its landfill

Decomposing landfills release methane. Methane can be burned for useful purposes, such as to generate heat or spin a turbine to make electricity. So generating heat and power from landfill … Full story »

Transmission line carrying Quebec electricity through New England moves ahead (no, not that power line)

TDI New England has filed a Presidential Permit application with the United States Department of Energy, formally requesting authority to construct the New England Clean Power Link electric transmission project. … Full story »

Rubik's Cube - ah, the memories

Don Himsel got some good stuff from people reminiscing about their inability to solve Rubik's Cube - in today's Telegraph. … Full story »

More 'geeky' degrees being issued by NH university system these days

The University System of New Hampshire says it graduated approximately 1,416 students will earn their diplomas in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, a 12.2 percent increase over the … Full story »

Rocks from space killing dinosaurs, and maybe us, at Science Pub in Lebanon this Thursday

Science Pub at Salthill, the Upper Valley version of science cafe at a very nice Lebanon bar, will be discussing one of the best attract-laymen science topics this Thursday evening: … Full story »

Rubik's Cube turns 40 - maybe in another 40 years, I'll solve it

Rubik's Cube turns 40 today, as you probably know from the can-you-solve-it Google Doogle. (The rest of the world didn't learn about the cube until 1980, but Rubik created it … Full story »

One Harvard MOOC took so much work the professor got a year off to do it

The Globe has an in-depth look at Harvard's push into free massive online courses (MOOCs) in the paper today. It's not just hand-waving about the future of the medium (like … Full story »

Vermont Yankee needs more room to store spent fuel rods

Like anybody getting ready for retirement, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant (set to shut by the end of the year) is tidying up and preparing for a quieter future. Next … Full story »

NH likely to get its own anti-patent-troll law (for what that's worth)

New Hampshire should become the 10th state to have its own anti-patent-troll law, as soon as Gov. Hassan signs SB303 (titled "An Act relative to bad faith assertions of patent … Full story »

Hey, mysognistic geeks: Two Maine lighthouses are for sale

Geeks are supposed to be loners who prefer dealing with the rest of humanity via computer screens rather than in meatspace. (Is "meatspace" still a cool term or has it … Full story »

'Tandem' doesn't mean what you (by which I mean "I") think it does

I recently wrote about a three-wheeled electric bicycle called the Elf, which I described as "a recumbent bicycle with the tandem wheels in front instead of in back." Bzzzzt - … Full story »

Ticks in the north, brainworm in the south - moose in NH are in trouble

A despressing story in the Concord Monitor today about resdults from the first year of a collared-moose study, showing that a staggering "64 percent of the calves collared for a … Full story »

DEKA gets OK for next-generation prosthetic arm

DEKA Research and Development in the Manchester Millyard has gotten FDA approval for its DEKA Arm, a next-generation prosthetic limb that is "the first prosthetic arm that can perform multiple, … Full story »

My map of alternative energy in the region - is it getting outdated?

Six years ago, in 2008, I created a Google map highlighting large-scale alternative energy projects in and around New Hampshire. (It is linked in the righthand rail, or you can … Full story »

Woods Hole loses autonomous sub; probably crushed by deep-sea pressure

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says it lost its remotely operated vehicle Nereus at 6.2 miles deep in the Kermadec Trench near New Zealand. Scientists say a portion of it … Full story »

Paranoid or clever? Spray fake DNA around so that people don't know you were there

There's a scene in the fine Boston-bankrobber movie "The Town" in which the robbers splash liquid with DNA on their getaway car before torching it, to fool police forensics. Now … Full story »

A three-wheeled electric bike inside an anime pod (no more need be said)

Sometimes my job is fun. My column this week - about a local woman who owns an Elf, a three-wheeled electric bike that looks like an anime come to life … Full story »

Pregnant women don't count as two people when it comes to carpool lanes

In at least two cases, pregnant women have tried to claim their fetus as a second person in order to use a carpool lane on the freeway - "I'm eating … Full story »

GMOs should be encouraged, but requiring labels for them is just fine

Vermont has become the first state to mandate labeling of foods with GMOs, which will trigger a lot of court fights. (New Hampshire rejected a similar bill this spring.)  The … Full story »

Dartmouth: 'Rock snot' in rivers is natural, not imported

The recent appearance of the freshwater algae known as “rock snot” on river bottoms worldwide is caused by a native species responding to changing environmental conditions rather than by accidental … Full story »

Dartmouth professor's photo-testing technology evolves to detect authenticity of pictures

I first wrote about Hany Farid, a computer science professor at Dartmouth, back in 2003, concerning his mathematical calculations to expose manipulation of photographs. Since then he has founded a … Full story »

Climate change vs. snowmobiling - guess who wins?

I've been writing about how climate change will alter New Hampshire for well over a decade, so I didn't jump on the recent IPCC report detailing current and upcoming effects. … Full story »

Wet blanket news of the day: A pickup truck swimming pool will break your truck

There is apparently a trend that I've missed (that's Missed Trend No. 472 ... this week) in which male owners of full-sized pickup trucks install a bed liner, fill the … Full story »

Shelby Lyman (but not a reader) overlooks a simple checkmate

Shelby Lyman is one of the stars of the American chess scene, both as a chess master and as author of the most widely read newspaper column about the game, … Full story »

I keep seeing 12:34 on my computer clock. Cue the numerologists!

At least once a week I notice that the clock on my Windows computer at work says 12:34. (that's p.m.; I'm not at work at midnight) My attention is drawn … Full story »

Acupuncture for dogs is placebo by proxy - owners are the vector 

Acupuncture does good for some people, particularly by relieving pain, because it channels the incredibly powerful placebo effect: If we think we're being helped, we often help ourselves in ways … Full story »

Peepers are deafening, but spotting one is almost impossible

My Telegraph column today concerns a "citizen science" project to spot and count reptiles and amphibians around New Hampshire. You can read it here. The other night I had to … Full story »

One thing you have to say about Boston: It has a TON of free science talks

The founders of Science Cafe New Hampshire, Dan Marcek and Sarah Eck, were spurred mostly because they couldn't find similar activites to attend. You know: Entertainment that assumes you're not … Full story »

Those crazy Vermonters are mandating 100% composting

If you're going to be a place like Vermont, you might as well be Vermont to the max:  Two years ago, lawmakers passed Act 148, also called the Universal Recycling … Full story »

Even wind farm-loving Maine doesn't love all wind farms

Maine is the onshore-wind capital of the Northeast, with 431 megawatts installed in wind farms scattered around the mountain peaks of its northwest and west. (N.H. has 171 Mw installed; … Full story »

Second emerald ash borer outbreak found in N.H. (boo, hiss!)

State forestry officials have confirmed a second infestation of emerald ash borer in Merrimack County, an area about 3 miles long by 2 miles wide on the border between Canterbury … Full story »

Fun in Newfoundland: Waiting for a blue whale to explode on the beach 

There's a website called HasTheWhaleExplodedYet, keeping watch on a blue whale that washed up, dead, on a Newfoundland beach. Gases from decomposition are building up, and it will eventually explode. … 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: September (we take the summer off)

TOPIC: To be decided

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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