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Science Cafe Concord discussed electric cars on Tuesday – it was a full house, despite the snow – and I think the best part came from a 97-year-old audience members who recalled starting his dad’s Model T, which required hand-cranking the engine, and setting the choke and spark by hand. He had questions about how feasible it was to power electric cars with rooftop solar panels, so this is a man who handles future shock with aplomb.

Unfortunately I was in moderator-mode at the time, taking microphones to people so they could ask questions, rather than reporter-mode, so I didn’t get his name. D’oh!

If you haven’t attended a science cafe in Concord or Nashua, you’re missing out. This week’s event was a perfect example of how well they work: The casual atmosphere in a bar and the mix of audience members – some engineers or electric car owners, some new to the whole idea of electric cars – made for a fascinating discussion. Panelists answered questions about everything from details of the upcoming all-electric Chevy Bolt (for sale in N.H. by May) to whether electric transportation does or doesn’t help, environmentally. (It does but it’s not a slam dunk, by any means.)

A video will be posted by ConcordTV when they finish the editing, probably in about a week. You can watch some past cafes there, too.

In February, both Nashua and Concord will discuss Seasonal Affective Disorder – “winter blues” – while in March, Concord will discuss New Hampshire’s demographic dilemma, a.k.a. the “silver tsunami”.

And speaking of science cafes, another series is starting in Portsmouth, with discussions focused on environmental issues. Called the Piscataqua Science Cafe, it’s hosted by Sam Evans-Brown on NH Public Radio.
It has no connection to Science Cafe New Hampshire, except for the belief that it’s fun to talk about interesting topics while surrounded by beer. The first one is next Wednesday, Jan. 25:”What people should know and why they should care about glaciers,” at The Portsmouth Brewery, 56 Market St., Portsmouth. Free.

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