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Nashua;52.0;;2014-10-24 14:02:02

Air temperature? If you're de-icing roads, you really care about pavement temperature


From Mass. DOT

New Hampshire held its first-ever Salt Symposium on Wednesday for private contractors that apply salt to keep parking lots, driveways and sidewalks clear, siging them up for voluntary certification program and discussing research about best practices. I would have attended but had to cover a political event - bleahhh - so I'm doing a follow-up story.

One of the issues with deicing, I have learned, is that icing applications change due to air temperature, but what *really* matters is pavement temperature, which can differ from the air by as much as 8 or 9 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature determines whether the sodium chloride will turn to brine, as is needed to melt ice, and therefore determines how much salt you should apply.

Turns out, infrared thermometers exist that can be attached to the outside of a plowtruck to measure the temperature of the pavement ahead, with readouts in the cab. Cool!

There's no real change in the chemistry of de-icing salt, but there is a recent legal change: A new state law gives liability protection to private plowtrucks if there's an accident after they salt a location. It is based on the law which provides liability protection for ski areas.

Don't expect to see much, if anything, of tomorrow night's partial solar eclipse 


This screenshot from an animation created by NASA shows that the shadow of the moon moving across the Earth during Thursday's partial solar eclipse will be visible in this area just as the sun sets, as shown by the shadowed half of the globe.

Even if clouds don't get in the way, we probably won't see much if anything of Thursday's partial solar eclipse, because it will occur just as the sun sets in southern New Hampshire.

I grabbed a screen shot of an excellent GIF animation from NASA, spotted via Bad Astronomy on Slate, showing the sunset shadow moving down toward us as the eclipse shadow moves east toward us. It's hard to see exactly, but it looks like we will miss it.

If you can get high up enough to see over obstacles to the west - maybe climb a fire tower - you'll probably only see the smallest sliver of moon cut into the sun.

Better luck next time. Which will be Aug 21, 2017, according to an eclipse calculator that I found. But that should be a good: We'll be right in the middle of a long, full solar eclipse.

NH will finally get (probably) a multi-megawatt solar farm

A developer has gotten thumbs up from the Manchester City Council to put a 3.2-megawatt solar farm atop the long-closed city landfill, the Union-Leader reports. (PSNH considered doing something similar years ago - closed landfills are common sites for solar farms.)

Financing still need to be completed; construction might begin next year. If so, it would be the first multi-megawatt solar facility in New Hampshire, although a 1-megawatt farm is being built at the Peterborough Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The dump is right next to I-293; you've probably noticed the methane pipes sticking out of the ground as you drive past. That leads to a question, as the story noted:

Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann asked about the possibility of solar glare, particularly for drivers on I-293. Ouimet said drivers going north would not be able to see the panels and southbound drivers would only see the back of the installation. He added that the panels are designed to be “anti-glare.” Due to glare problems, the solar array at the Manchester airport had to be repositioned earlier this year at a cost of $1.9 million.

No NH cities are part of push for municipal fiber-to-the-home broadband 


No New Hampshire cities are among the 32 who have signed up to push for their own gigabit Net connections as part of a program called Next Century Cities, which launched this week.

The project is basically an attempt to help cities organize for municipal fiber-to-the-home, out of concern that local cable/phone providers are never going to do it. It's collaboration, not funding. From the website:

The caliber of Internet networks required for cities to compete, grow, and thrive in the 21st century will largely not be achieved through the copper wire networks of the 20th century. Cities and their leaders recognize that the present and the future will be based on fiber-optic, gigabit networks that can deliver speeds at hundreds of times the current national average.

There are also outside factors that impact the ability for cities to succeed. Towns and communities struggle with limited budgets, laws that restrict their opportunity to build/support a network that fits their needs, and even market pressures.

No New Hampshire or Vermont cities are among those who are participating so far. Boston and Portland, Maine, have signed up, as have tiny Leverett, Mass. (population 2,000, out in the Berkshires) and small coastal Rockport, Maine, which has built a mile of still-dark fiber to serve Maine Media College and its downtown, and wants to do more.

Twinkle, twinkle little Chinese skylantern, how I wonder what planet you're from


Look at all the alien spaceships! (Wikipedia photo from a Thailand festival ... don't do this in New Hampshire, please.)

I had fun in my Telegraph column today about a report earlier this month from a family that saw some overhead lights and decided it was a UFO. They spotted them through the moonroof while zipping along the Everett Turnpike, which what enough for them to draw mockups of the flying "craft." Boy, you can't get much more reliable than that!

The report was picked up by a couple of local websites, who shall go URL-less here. I poked around and found that at about the same time, a city-owned cemetery near the turnpike had problems with an illegal party that had released Chinese sky lanterns - those small paper balloons carried aloft by heat from a small candle suspended beneath them. The lanterns look very cool but are illegal to release untethered in N.H., for obvious fire-supression reasons.

I can't say for sure they are what the UFO family saw, since the timing is uncertain, but it's certainly a more entertaining explanation than the likely reason of "airplane lights" (the road goes right next to Nashua airport, and is under a major flight path for Manchester-Boston Airport).

Smartphones? Ipods? They got nothing on transistor radios (turning 60 today)


Wonder where Apple got the idea for the iPod wheel?

The first transistor radio went on sale today, 60 years ago, as I learned from TreeHugger. It was called the Regency TR-1 and you can read some history from the creator here.

While this was a bit before my time, the idea of a "transistor radio" was still a stand-in for "cool new techno-thing," like smartphones/watches/glasses today, when I was a kid in the early '60s. No more going to the hardware store to test the tubes from your stereo with these babies - and they were so small!

Incidentally, I can still sing most of a parody of "Ten Days of Christmas" in which the partridge-in-pear-tree line is "Jap-a-nese tran-sis-tor ra-di-o". Now it will be stuck in my head all day.

Closing Vermont Yankee will cost $1.24 billion ... if nothing goes awry

Shutting down Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will cost $1.24 billion over a decade, says the owner.

But remember: Renewable energy is way too expensive.

Here's the AP story.

Uber, which profits when you moonlight as a taxi driver, arrives in Manchester

Uber, the summon-a-car-by-smartphone firm, starts in Manchester today, reports the Union-Leader.

Kudos to reporter Mike Cousineau for not using the misleading "sharing economy" tag. Uber is cutthroat capitalism at its best or worst, depending on your point of view - it doesn't share anything that it can keep for itself. Ask Lyft.

AMC puts electric-car chargers in White Mountains (no, not at Mizpah hut)


For one second when I saw the announcement, I thought Appalachian Mountain Club was putting electric car charges at some of its High Huts. While an intriguing idea that would be kind of stupid, since you can only reach the huts on foot.

Turns out they're installing a Clipper Creek HCS-60 electric car charger at both the Pinkham Notch and Highland visitor centers. You know - places along paved roads.

Much more sensible. Here's the AMC announcement.

UPDATE: If you're a tool-wielding primate who wants to get into electric vehicles big time Artisan's Asylum, a big makerspace in Somerville, Mass., has a class tonight (Friday) on how to convert a fossil-fuel car to electricity:

Interested in converting your car to all-electric drive using the latest lithium battery technology? In just a couple of hours, learn how to plan your own conversion project, set a realistic budget (both time and money), find the right components, and design vehicle performance to match your ride objectives. We will cover motor and controller options, recharging, charge ports, wiring design, battery pack layout and mounting systems, transmission adapters, DC-DC converters, fuses, safety considerations, and vehicle performance.

Did that can of soup just talk to my grocery cart?


Joe Junze, president of SI2 Technologies of North Billerica, Mass., answers an audience question during Wednesday night's Science Cafe New Hampshire held at the Nashua Holiday Inn. With him are panelists Craig Amiento, UMass-Lowell professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Chris McCarroll, director of engineering at Raytheon.

Quite a techno-fest at last night's Science Cafe NH, where the topic was printed electronics. Telegraph veteran Dean Shalhoup has an excellent writeup in today's paper - an impressive bit of journalism, since he wrote it on the fly, on deadline, as the panelists were speaking in acronym- and geek-speak-laden sentences.

One consensus is that printed electronics will first be seen in normal life via cheaper and more powerful RFID tags - for example, replacing barcodes with RFID tags so that the can of soup can check itself out as you stroll out of the grocery store, or that a bridge can be covered with stick-on sensors to gauge its safety in real time.

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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, Nov. 19

TOPIC: Medical testing - how much is too much?

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



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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