Granite Geek

Conversations about science, tech and nature with David Brooks, reporter for The Concord Monitor and blogger at Granite Geek.

Via Pixabay Creative Commons

A hike in the White Mountains might be your antidote to a life dominated by screens, buzzes and dings. But a cell phone can be lifesaving if you've lost your way on the trail. In fact, the Civil Air Patrol uses cell phones to help find lost hikers. NHPR's Peter Biello spoke with Granite Geek David Brooks, a reporter for the Concord Monitor, about this technology.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

First, what is the Civil Air Patrol?

NWS

During last week's oppressive heat, you may have found it particularly hard to cool down at night. Over the past several decades, our nights are getting, on average, warmer. 

Granite Geek David Brooks of the Concord Monitor spoke about why with NHPR's Peter Biello.

(This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

via Wikimedia Commons

Many Granite Staters go fishing for that feeling of getting back to nature. Some of those hopeful for a catch succeed in part because those lakes and ponds may have been stocked with fish by the Fish and Game Department.

Granite Geek David Brooks of The Concord Monitor spoke with All Things Considered host Peter Biello about this decades-old practice of dropping trout from helicopters into remote ponds in New Hampshire.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Solar panels have been generating electricity in New Hampshire for decades. But how many from decades ago are still in use today? Granite Geek David Brooks has been searching for the oldest, continually-used solar panel, and he spoke to NHPR's Peter Biello about one possible contender. 

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

David, you wrote in the Concord Monitor today about the panels used by Ralph Jimenez and Linda Graham since roughly 1979 we think?

Michael C. Rygel via Wikimedia Commons

We say we're in the Granite State, but actually New Hampshire's rocky foundation is less than half granite. What are those other rocks? And how did they get there? For answers we turn to Granite Geek David Brooks. He's a reporter for the Concord Monitor and writer at GraniteGeek.org. He spoke with All Things Considered host Peter Biello.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

So what, if not granite, is underneath us here in this so called Granite State?

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.

In the fight to prevent the spread of Lyme disease, you have a few options to keep that ticks away. You can wear long pants and tuck them into your boots. You can check yourself thoroughly after you come in from the outdoors. And you can do as Granite Geek David Brooks has done: hide so-called “tick tubes” in your yard like so many Easter eggs. All Things Considered host Peter Biello spoke with Brooks, a reporter for the Concord Monitor, about how tick tubes work.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

If you hike up Mount Kearsarge you are likely to see several names carved into the granite. One carving is a square with seven names and the initials USCS and the date 1872. That carving was done by a team known as the United States coastal survey and it's meant to memorialize the work they were doing, which was to build an early modern map of New Hampshire.

For more on this we turn to Granite geek David Brooks who has been writing about this for the Concord Monitor.

PSNH

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can change from one form to another. One of those forms is heat. And now an entrepreneur in New Hampshire says he has found a way to make use of the heat given off at power plants to increase the efficiency of those power plants and generate more electricity.

Granite Geek David Brooks, a reporter at the Concord Monitor, joins All Things Considered host Peter Biello to explain how this works.

(This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.)

Granite Geek: 'Deep Fake' Videos a Latest Tech Scare

Feb 13, 2018
NHPR File Photo

  This is All Things Considered on NHPR. I'm Peter Biello. Photos are easy to fake given how common programs like Photoshop are now. New technology is making it easy to fake videos. That is, it is becoming very easy for video editors to graft the image of your face onto someone else's body. And that is problematic, especially if your face ends up on the body of someone doing something offensive or illegal.

Sam Evans-Brown for NHPR

When it comes to trees, New Hampshire is rich and with such abundance you might imagine that the logging and milling industries in the state are flourishing. But that is not the case. The industries that used to buy these trees and the products made from them are in decline.

But new uses for the wood are out there, and in his column in the Concord Monitor this week, Granite Geek David Brooks writes about how these new uses could provide a boost to the timber industry. 

Wikipedia

Fifteen years ago this week our regular guest David Brooks discovered Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Back then it had a mere fraction of the articles that it has now. But one of the early entries was for the city of Concord, New Hampshire. David recently tried to track down the person who created that page for Concord and his search led him to someone who prompted what's considered the biggest controversy in Wikipedia's early history.

Wikimedia commons

Recently the New York Times reported the story of a former Navy pilot from Windham, New Hampshire who, while on a routine training mission, saw something strange that he could not identify.

It was an aircraft he thought was a 40 foot-long oval - it was a UFO. But was it a being from another planet? Granite Geek David Brooks says, "Probably not."

He joined NHPR's Peter Biello to talk about why.

Intriguing: Top 2017 Science and Tech Stories

Dec 20, 2017
Allegra Boverman, NHPR

We discuss the top stories in science, technology, the environment and energy in New Hampshire in the past year.  From the eclipse that captivated the nation's attention to the biofabrication industry gaining steam in the Manchester Millyard, we look at top stories nationally and in New Hampshire, including extreme weather, solar power, and a bitcoin bubble.  Plus intriguing discoveries in outer space and in the human body.


Flickr CC

At least 19 schools in New Hampshire get some of their energy from solar panels. And the panels in operation at Hopkinton Middle High School may be the oldest. 

Installed in 1999, these panels at the school don't work as well as they used to but they still work.  All Things Considered host Peter Biello speaks with Granite Geek David Brooks, who has been reporting on old solar panels in New Hampshire.

So what prompted you to try to find some of those old solar panels and schools in the state.

Flickr Creative Commons | PSNH

Electricity generated for New England - whether from clean or not-so-clean sources - all gets dumped in to the same pool of electrons. So when we draw from that pool, how can we be sure we're getting power from a clean source?

Granite Geek David Brooks will be discussing this as part of the NH Science Cafe taking place tonight at the Draft Sports Bar in Concord, and he joins NHPR's Peter Biello with more. 

pixabay.com

Cancer has traditionally been treated with some combination of radiation and chemotherapy. But these treatments, which often cause pain and take a great deal of time to complete, don't necessarily increase the quality of a patient's remaining years.

But new treatments are emerging that approach cancer in different ways, and Granite Geek David Brooks is here to discuss them.

Listen to the conversation:

Peter Biello / NHPR

Look at portraits of the nation's leaders and you'll see a particular trend come and go over the years: facial hair. For decades facial hair is in, and then, suddenly, for decades more, it's out. But why? Granite Geek David Brooks recently noticed this pattern in the photographs of the mayors of Concord, which are displayed along several flights of stairs at City Hall, and he says a particular invention may have something to do with the trend. He spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

Roman Mager / Unsplash

A mathematician working as a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire made a discovery that surprised many in his field, given his position at the university and his life story.

Yitang Zhang grew up in China under Mao’s cultural revolution and worked a variety of low-wage jobs before he made his mathematical breakthrough.

Roychan Kruawan / Unsplash

Tomatoes: from your garden, they are full of flavor. They even smell good. Tomatoes from the grocery store, however, might lack that same intense taste. Depending on what variety you buy, the tomato may have been engineered or sprayed to be heavy, not flavorful. Tomatoes are sold by the pound, after all.

A new bit of technology may help some farmers create a tastier tomato. Granite Geek David Brooks has been writing about this tech for The Concord Monitor and spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello about it. 

NASA

The eclipse is coming, and eclipse enthusiasts have been planning their viewing parties for months now, but they recieved troubling news over the weekend. Eclipse viewing glasses that don't meet safety guidelines are said to be flooding the market.

Concord Monitor columnist David Brooks has been keeping track of these sun-gazing safety hazards, and he spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello.

Peter Miller via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/eVrdee

Comedian George Carlin once said, “Baseball is the only sport that appears backward in a mirror.” In The Concord Monitor this week, Granite Geek David Brooks has been writing about what it would be like to turn America’s pastime on its head. Instead of running to first base, what if batters could choose to run to either first or third base?

Brooks spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello to defend this modest proposal.

Paul Scott via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/8bUHaa

You may have seen ads posted on your community cork board for something called citizen science. It’s a trend in scientific research that allows regular people to help out with professional-grade studies by reporting data about their own backyards.

Tuesday at 6pm in the Draft Sports Bar in Concord, Concord Monitor columnist David Brooks will host the Science Café. He and a panel of scientists will talk about this innovative approach to research, and he spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello for a preview.

What exactly is citizen science?

Joy Jackson / Unsplash

It’s easy to say that you want to use less electricity and even easier to just dream about doing something to generate it in an eco-friendly way. But how often do those well-meaning impulses translate to action?

Flickr, Aranami

Some people might like to be surprised when they check their mail boxes. But for those of us who would rather know what's in there ahead of time, the U.S. Postal Service now offers to email recipients a photograph of a letter before it arrives.

Concord Monitor columnist David Brooks has been trying out this collaboration of new and old mail services, and he spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.

What is this new service called?

Flikr Creative Commons / blmurch

Over the past century, heavy rainfall and snowstorms have grown more frequent and more severe in many parts of the U.S.—including the northeast—as a result of our warming climate. In a study published last month, researchers from Dartmouth College, University of Vermont, and Columbia University investigated exactly what those changes looked like here in New England.

fellowdesigns / Morguefile

In the early 1990s, a group of engineers, architects, planners and designers attempted to figure out what it would take for electric vehicles to thrive in Keene. And their ideas came pretty close to what emerged in other locations across the country more than two decades later.

When I was in high school, I had a chemistry teacher who liked to blow things up. Mix a little of this chemical with that chemical, light a match, and then—bam! Smoke, flames, and a whole room of teenagers saying, “Wow, cool! How did that happen?”

The shock of the explosion—even a small explosion—was enough to compel a group of teenagers to pay attention to a lesson about, for example, formulas and atomic weight.

Huy Phan / Unsplash

Over the past few decades, birth rates across the world have been falling. Retirees are growing in number while the number of young working people is relatively flat. And that’s a problem if you need those workers to in some ways help pay for the rising cost of aging.

The Insitute via Flikr / https://flic.kr/p/bjqoJR

The science fair has been a staple of science education for decades. But recently the loss of Intel, the computer chip giant, as a sponsor of the International Science and Engineering Fair is prompting some soul searching about the purpose of this educational mainstay. Do these science fairs, complete with a tri-fold poster board, really help students learn the kinds of things that prepare them for today’s science-based challenges?

Zvonimir Cuvalo via Flikr / https://flic.kr/p/QQarge

During winter’s dark months you may feel a little bit down. It’s common for people to feel sadder during the winter months, but that sadness isn’t always considered seasonal affective disorder, which is the official term for depression brought on by the cold winter days.

Concord Monitor reporter David Brooks is hosting Concord's Science Café all about seasonal affective disorder, and spoke with NHPR’s Peter Biello about the disorder and how it’s nothing like your typical case of “the winter blues”.

This transcript has been edited for clarity.
 

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