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Nashua;76.0;;2015-07-05 20:57:45

Recession's drag on people moving into NH may be ending

You've probably heard the quote "demographics is destiny," expressing the idea that pretty much everything - war, peace, economics, social change, popular music, whatever - is driven by changes in … Full story »

Even in far northern Maine, the "wilderness" is controlled by people 

We hear how removing dams from rivers can hugely increase the number of alewife (a small anadromous herring that is important in Northeastern river ecology) which make the runs back … Full story »

Can you identify good aquatic weeds vs. bad aquatic weeds?

Whenever I'm out paddling and spot vegetation - in other words, whenever I'm out paddling - I always wonder if it's a good weed or a bad, invasive weed that … Full story »

I missed a good aurora-spotting chance last night - ARGH!!!!

The Northern Lights were seen as far south as Georgia last night, due to a big space storm. I missed the news and didn't go out spotting - argh!!!! If … Full story »

Feds consider cracking down on "no medicine is more medical than some medicine!" homeopathy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commissionis holding hearings on homeopathy, the enormously profitable industry that sells water which it claims has medical properties because it has … Full story »

Recycling is stalling, and complex economics is why

The Washington Post had an excellent look at the economics of recycling in the U.S. that was reprinted in many papers that subscribe to the Post's news service, such as … Full story »

CRISPR, a powerful tool for genetic manipulation, raises lots of questions

The brilliant radio show Radiolab did a great job recently explaining CRISPR to us laymen - you should listen to it here. For those without a hour to listen, here's … Full story »

Science Cafe on probiotics was a hit, even if the word "poop" was never mentioned

Last night's Science Cafe NH was, as co-founder Dan Marcek noted, the start of our fifth year, incredibly. It discussed probiotics and gut bacteria in general, which meant that people … Full story »

Wednesday is now Prince Data Center Day

I didn't grow up here, so I don't have "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day" burned into my neurons like many folks in New England. But I still thought of that … Full story »

Real mathematicians use blackboards, which is why they're dismayed as a chalk company goes under

My anonymous source within the research-mathematics community* tells me that real mathematicians love blackboards more than whiteboards or computer tablets. Apparently they can scribble ideas in many colors while thinking … Full story »

Electric engineering community takes aim at a major problem: Squirrels

About 45,000 people lost power in Southern California last week because a squirrel got electrocuted in a substation, causing a big honkin' short-circuit.   This is not unusual, as it … Full story »

Probiotics - the science of gut bacteria - is on the menu at Science Cafe on Wednesday

Maniuplating our gut bacteria to improve our health is probably the interesting thing happening in medicine these days - which is why it will be the topic of Science Cafe … Full story »

Steampunk is coming to Nashua - put a gear on it!

Steampunk fans may want to head to Nashua on Saturday for the inaugural Steampunk City, a festival involving things steampunkish to raise money for the city's makerspace. To get you … Full story »

Weather Channel produces videos warning of climate change that are aimed at Republicans

The Weather Channel has produced a series of short, stark videos warning about the effects of climate change that are explicitly aimed at people who don't believe the issue is … Full story »

Even the southernmost bit of NH is the international border as far as the feds are concerned

I was wandering through a nice Vox feature called 37 maps that explain immigration when I found the above map, from the ACLU, showing the 100-mile limit used by federal … Full story »

At WPI, moon-rock-collecting robots compete for $1.5 million in prizes

WPI in Worcester, Mass., is hosting host the fourth Sample Return Robot Challenge this weekend, with $1.5 million in prizes for team that meet certain goals in developing robots that … Full story »

School-top cell tower eyed for killing fish in an aquarium ... really?

Since radio waves don't penetrate water, and since cell towers send their signals out rather than down, the idea that a cell tower atop a high school might be killing … Full story »

Great analysis of PSNH divestiture from Mooiman's "Energy In New Hampshire" blog

If you want to understand the financial details underlying the debate about whether PSNH should sell off its power plants, may I suggest the latest post from Franklin Pierce University's … Full story »

Firefighers + hoses + rubbernecking flying machine = damp drone

Firefighters are not shy and retiring, especially when the adrenalin is pumping after a big fire. If you fly your drone over a big house blaze that has been brought … Full story »

As TV stations ponder streaming media, WMUR to be part of newscast stream  

WMUR in Manchester and WCBB in Boston, two ABC stations, will be part of a local-newscast-streaming-media service launching the fall. The free, ad-supported service is an example of traditional broadcasters … Full story »

What should you teach in Algebra I class? That's a harder question than it seems

If there's any subject in which it should be straightforward to figure out what to teach in public school, in which order and at what level of complexity, surely it's … Full story »

"Major in math. You can coast the rest of the way."

More than a decade ago I wrote a semi-joking "thumb-sucker" of a column (that's a derisive term for a newspaper column that uses no reporting and usually involves the writer … Full story »

Going on hiatus for a few days

I'll be hither and yon for a few days, so GraniteGeek will be on a short hiatus.< … Full story »

Are wood pellets 'dirtier than coal' for electricity production? In some circumstances, maybe

Using wood pellets made from hardwood trees cut down in eastern North Carolina and Virginia forests will produce two-and-a-half times more carbon pollution than continuing to burn coal for 40 … Full story »

Latest anti-vaccination disease rebirth is diptheria, back in Spain after 30 years

A 6-year-old child has been admitted to hospital with the first recorded case of diphtheria in Spain since 1986. Health authorities have confirmed that the little boy had not been … Full story »

Talking about bats and white nose syndrome on public radio

If you want to hear the dulcet tones of NHPR's Peter Biello and my less-dulcet tones as we discuss some new hope for improvement in white nose syndrome and bats, … Full story »

I was standing when I read the "it's important to stand at work" article - honest

I can honestly say that I was standing up at my desk when I read this piece in the Washington Post, which starts: Experts now say you should start standing … Full story »

It was c-c-c-cold getting river samples for bacteria this morning

Today was the start of the annual testing of the Souhegan and Merrimack Rivers for bacteria and dissolved oxygen, overseen by the Souhegan Watershed Association. My family and I have … Full story »

Small signs of hope for bats in New Hampshire fighting white-nose syndrome

I've been writing about white-nose syndrome wiping out bats in New Hampshire and the rest of the eastern U.S. for a half-dozen years. Today's column in the The Telegraph is … Full story »

Italian scientists prosecuted over devastating bacteria outbreak in olive groves

A bacteria outbreak that is destroying the olive industry in southern Italy, caused (say researchers) by contamination from imported ornamental plants, is being blamed by some of the academic researchers … Full story »

Science on Tap is all about lasers, June 9 

Science on Tap, the "science cafe" run by SEE Science Center in Manchester, has a neat-sounding event before it goes into summer hiatus: Laser technology.   "The technology is used … Full story »

That oily sheen on the water in the ditch might be due to bacteria, not your neighbor

"We receive numerous questions and complaints about oily substances on the water's surface. The culprit is often iron bacteria and is not an actual oil spill." So says the state's … Full story »

Attempt to bar Uber in Portsmouth put on hold by judge

From the Portsmouth Herald (whole story is here): PORTSMOUTH — A Superior Court judge rejected a request for an emergency order that would have barred Uber drivers from working unregulated … Full story »

Merrimack 3-D printing firm expands into China, big time

Solidscape, an area pioneer in building 3-D printers for small businesses, is about to expand greatly in the Chinese market, selling its printers to jewelers with a local partner and … Full story »

"Betty Hill’s Last Hurrah – A Secret UFO Symposium in New Hampshire"

If you can't get enough about Betty Hill and New Hampshire's most famous alien abduction - and who can? - then you should read this great article by longtime skeptic … Full story »

Talking tick-killer robots on the radio

Yesterday on the local All Things Considered I discussed the Tick Rover robot with Peter Biello (you can listen or read the transcript here), following up on my Telegraph column. … Full story »

Uh oh, gearheads: Cars, like farm tractors, are getting harder to work on because of software secrecy

A few weeks ago I wrote about FarmHack, the hackers-meet-farmers movement prodded in part because tractor manufacturers like John Deere were limiting in-field repairs by owners, citing all the computer … Full story »

Bobcats are pretty good at avoiding car traffic, not so good at avoiding harsh winters

Even as the state cancels a proposed bobcat hunting season because last winter took a population toll (Telegraph story here), UNH researchers are analyzing the ways that the species is … Full story »

If this was Texas, the X's would be a sign of Imminent Government Takeover!

When A Merrimack resident started finding big X's painted in roadways in town, what did he do? Brought them to Science Cafe NH for clarification, of course! And as this … Full story »

Dean Kamen's latest invention: A crank-fired water pistol. (Yes, I want one)

Long before the Segway, Dean Kamen made his fame and fortune developing interesting ways to move fluids, specifically with the first portable drug infusion pump, which was revolutionary. His latest … Full story »

Did they say "paranormal" or "appearing normal"?

I don't know what to say about this, so I'll just copy the press release: Business and property owners who would like to have their buildings featured at Rochester's UFO/Paranormal … Full story »

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 »

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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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