Granite Geek

Conversations about science, tech and nature with David Brooks, columnist for The Nashua Telegraph and blogger at granitegeek.org.

Chris Alban Hansen / Flickr Creative Commons

Imagine a future where all of New Hampshire’s power comes from renewable sources. That’s all power: for your radio or computer, of course, but also for your heating and cooling systems and your car. A new study spells out how that could be made a reality by the year 2050. David Brooks of the Nashua Telegraph and Granitegeek.org spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.
 

Who conducted the study?

GSFC / Flickr Creative Commons

Mapping New Hampshire’s forests is tricky business. There’s a lot of land to map, and the satellite images that scientists use to augment data from other sources have significant limitations. Nashua Telegraph columnist and writer at Granitegeek.org David Brooks caught up with a few UNH researchers trying to track how human behavior has changed the forests. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.

What are these images good at showing us?

Maena / Morguefile

Probiotics are bacteria that help you digest, but they can also lead to digestive problems like inflammatory bowel disease to diarrhea, and there are also indications that they could be related to less obvious ailments such as allergies. Pros and cons of probiotics are at the heart of the next Science Café this Wednesday in Nashua.

xandert / Morguefile

A law to ban “ballot selfies” had its day in court yesterday. Challengers say prohibiting voters from taking pictures of their ballots and posting them on social media sites is a violation of free speech. Proponents of the law say it prevents voter fraud. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with David Brooks, a reporter for the Nashua Telegraph and writer at Granitegeek.org
 

Sgarton / Morguefile

White Nose Syndrome is a fungal disease that has been contributing to the deaths of vast numbers of bats in northern New England. But scientists have found that a bacteria in the soil has been linked to some bats’ ability to survive this disease. For more on this, we turn to David Brooks. He’s the author of the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and he blogs at Granitegeek.org. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.
 

How does white nose syndrome kill a bat?

Jim Gathany / PD-USGOV

Tick season is upon us. It’s time to take precautions against these little potential carriers of Lyme Disease. And while you’re tucking your pant-legs into your socks, one little robot is waiting to comb through your backyard and capture and kill these little critters. For more on this, we turn to David Brooks. He’s the author of the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and many a geeky blog-post at Granite Geek.org.

Granite Geek: The Tech That Makes Trains Stop

May 19, 2015
jppi / Morguefile

Last week’s deadly Amtrak derailment outside of Philadelphia has prompted serious scientific inquiry into the nature, effectiveness, and cost of the safety mechanisms in use in some of these trains.

For more on a braking system that could have slowed the train down is David Brooks. He writes about science in his weekly Granite Geek column for the Nashua Telegraph and Granitegeek.org. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.

What is this breaking system called and how does it work?

N.H. Lags Behind In Solar Power Production

May 12, 2015
charlesa46741 / Morguefile

New Hampshire lags behind the rest of New England when it comes to solar electricity production. But with the arrival of California-based SolarCity, there’s reason to believe New Hampshire could catch up. For more on solar power in the Granite State, we turn to David Brooks. He’s the author of the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and he writes at Granite Geek.org as well. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.
 

Click / Morguefile

In this high-tech information age, farming equipment is becoming more computerized, which means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to fix their own tools. Enter Farmhack.org, a New-Hampshire based website that’s tilling the Internet for solutions to tricky farm problems. David Brooks, author of the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph, spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.

So how does Farmhack work?

Granite Geek: We're Overdue For A Tornado

Apr 28, 2015
npclark2k / Morguefile

The Granite State gets lots of “weather”—and by weather, we usually mean snow. This winter we saw a lot of it. What we don’t see a lot of? Tornadoes! All of the New England states get about seven per year on average. But one meteorologist says we’re due for one soon. David Brooks has been writing about tornadoes this week in his weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph.

David, you spoke recently with a meteorologist who says we’re “overdue” for a tornado. That sounds kind of scary. Should we be scared?

hubbardcalgaryroofing / Morguefile

Finding a contractor to fix something in your house or remodel a room can be tricky. If you live in or around Nashua, Portsmouth, Durham, and Barrington, however, your search for the right contractor may have gotten a little easier.

The website BuildZoom has compiled all the data collected in these locations on every single remodeling and construction project over the past ten years. David Brooks, the author of the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and GraniteGeek.org, spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello. 
 

Natalia Curtiss via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/LBtNR

It was 1623 when European settlers established their first fishing colony in the area around the Piscataqua River.  That was nearly 400 years ago – and yet the period between then and now is just a small part of the human history of the area we now call New Hampshire.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

Life on New Hampshire’s Isles of Shoals isn’t always the same as it is for those of us on the mainland. But a solar energy project there may point the way toward the future of energy all over the region.

Werner via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/L36Ox

It’s time to talk about cats.

Yes, it’s hard to believe that in the internet era, where Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat have become celebrities, and seemingly every third item we see on Facebook is a cat video, that we’d need to spend more time on felines.

Rob_ / Flickr CC

Recently Eversource Energy, formerly known as PSNH, announced it would sell off its power plants. That would make New Hampshire’s electricity suppliers separate from its electricity producers - at least for a while. A new bill in front of the State House would make it easier for electric utilities to own what are called “distributed energy resources,” which refers primarily to solar power.

Stanley Zimny via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/KsGVQ

The idea of building a road is pretty straightforward – you build a path and let vehicles go on the path.

The reality is, of course, is way more complicated. How many lanes does the road need, and in which directions? Which signs are necessary – and which are distracting? Does the road make it too hard for vehicles to get through – or can it actually be too easy?

Don O'Brien via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/JJrqM

For people, winter has pros and cons - but for cars, this kind of weather is not ideal.

David Brooks writes the weekly Granite Geek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and GraniteGeek.org. He spoke with All Things Considered about the effects of road salt on cars in winter - and the simple and not-so-simple ways we might stop those effects before they start.

 

Alexey Kljatov via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/JBzMe

After spending weeks and weeks surrounded by snow piles that are several feet high, it’s easy to forget that those huge piles are made of tiny snowflakes. And no two snowflakes are alike – or at least that’s what we’ve all heard.

Craik Sustainable Living Project via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/HEy2x

This is a time of year when heating bills usually go up, and some residents consider alternative energy sources for their heating.

Proponents of geothermal heat say their systems ought to be a bigger part of New Hampshire's energy landscape.

The prospects for geothermal - that's the topic of this month's Science Café discussion, which takes place Wednesday, January 21st, at Killarney's Pub in Nashua.

e_monk via Flickr/CC http://ow.ly/HgJDR

Medical professionals have a hard time getting people to come in and get screened for various cancers and diseases.

What can be even harder, though, is finding the right screening test.

A large-scale, nearly decade-long study of two screening methods for colorectal cancer is underway. It’s  known by the acronym CONFIRM.

Momotarou2012 via WikiCommons/CC - http://ow.ly/GTPHG

New Hampshire has plenty of state symbols. The state rock is – no surprise - granite; the state fish is the brook trout. Our state tree is the white birch; our state insect, the ladybug; our state gem, smoky quartz, and so on.

Unlike many other states, New Hampshire does not have a state fossil – at least not yet.

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These days many stoplights will start changing to green when the intersection detects a car or truck. But some of these intersections don't detect motorcycles, at least not regularly. And a bill before New Hampshire's legislature would let those otherwise stuck bikers ride on through red lights.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

We all have our holiday traditions – family dinners, decorating, songs, presents... or, in one particular case, doing calculations about some of the most famous parts of the holidays.

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M.C. Escher has been all over Manchester lately (or, at least, his work has been). The Currier Museum of Art has been featuring Escher in an exhibit that runs through January 5th.

Leo-setä via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/ETla1

Mother Nature looks ready to unleash some snow on New Hampshire ahead of Thanksgiving. That's not great news for travelers, but it would be good news for New Hampshire ski areas - though, of course, they already have the technology to make their own snow no matter what’s coming down from the sky.

voting booths
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

If you check your Facebook feed on this Election Day, there’s a chance you may see a friend post a “ballot selfie” - a photo taken in the voting booth of a completed ballot.

If that friend lives in New Hampshire, posting that photo might not be such a great idea. Such photos are illegal in this state – at least for now.

Michelle Souliere via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/DtUCm

Ancient archaeology is the kind of thing that, with the right find, can quickly capture the public’s attention and fascination.

And yet a New Hampshire group that studies ancient stone structures is turning 50 this week – and few Granite Staters have heard of it.

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The next big digital frontier seems to be wearable technology. One example that comes to mind is the newly-announced Apple Watch, but what if the device in question wasn’t a device per se, but electronics built into what you’re already wearing?

You know the election season is gearing up when pollsters and survey researchers start calling residents, trying to gauge where the electorate stands on the issues and the candidates of 2014.

Politicians are, of course, quick to remind us that the only poll that matters is the one on election day, but there’s some evidence that another method, used regularly in the UK, may provide a clearer picture of where a campaign is headed than a traditional poll.

Hadley Paul Garland via Flickr/CC http://ow.ly/C7DIV

Humans can't see ultraviolet light - but many types of wildlife can. And a man in Nashua is researching whether that difference may help humans and wildlife better co-exist in the future.

David Brooks writes the weekly GraniteGeek science column for the Nashua Telegraph and Granite Geek.org.

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