Toy Steam Engine

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As a Christmas present for my eight-year-old son, I bought a miniature hammerworks and had the rubber gaskets (Sw. packningar) on my old steam engine replaced. The gaskets dried out years ago, so it’s never been possible to get the vapour pressure up in it. To my knowledge, Samuel had never seen a steam engine run before Christmas Eve.

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Harsh Criticism From An Unexpected Direction

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Here’s my reply to the reader’s question about the effects of being harshly criticised by a colleague you respect.

I was a highly independent grad student. Some might say obstinate and unruly. This was due to a combination of my personality, my tender age and the science wars of the 1990s. I came to the university of Stockholm as a science major right about the time that Northern European archaeology fell into its belated infatuation with post-modernism and went badly anti-scientific for a while. At age eighteen, after fifty pages of Ian Hodder’s turgid Reading the Past, I decided I would have none of it. Science is based in empirical observation and expressed in clear, succinct language, or it is not science. And non-scientific approaches to the past is the province of historical novelists, who manage quite well without critical theory, thank you.

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Settling In

Jeez, so much to learn, so many tweaks to do at the new site!

I’ve turned off comment authentication since people were having trouble with TypeKey. Comment away!

The RSS feed isn’t publicised yet, but it works: http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/index.xml (Thanks, Johan Jönsson!).

I’ll be posting in Eastern Standard Time, not because I’ve suddenly relocated across the Atlantic, but because most of the other Sciencebloggers become unfairly underexposed if people east of the US start blogging here on their local time in what passes for the small hours in that great country.

An Archaeologist in Lab Coat Land

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Dear Reader, I’m really thrilled to be on Scienceblogs! You see, I’m the first second or third scholar from the Arts wing that Seed‘s let in here. Archaeology was long seen as an adjunct to historical research, which is why it’s classed as a humanistic discipline and not a social science. We reconstruct societies lost in the mists of time. But our source material is concrete and hands-on: no parchment codices, no taped interviews or questionnaires. Historians dig through archives. Archaeologists dig stuff out of the ground and try to make sense of it. And we can only do that with the aid of methods nicked from the natural sciences.

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