Why Blog?

i-bc0c5de5cc245df95bbbfccf3db6b0d3-XmasTree.jpgMy dear scibling and fellow big-nose European Bora, over at the one Sblog that comes before Aard in the alphabetical list, has “tagged me with a meme”. That is, he has handed me a coat of chainmail. No, he’s sent me a chain letter, with a blogging assignment. I usually don’t bother about these things because a) I’m afraid to scare readers away, b) I don’t find them very fun to write myself. But this time, the question is one that might actually be interesting to some people, and somebody posed it to me face-to-face recently. Why do I blog?
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Ask a ScienceBlogger

Seed has just revamped and re-launched the “Ask a ScienceBlogger” feature on the Sb front page . This time only one blogger answers each question. With a heavy dominance around here for bloggers in the life sciences, we’re unlikely to see many questions that I’m equipped to answer with more than a silly joke or two. Unless you, Dear Reader, send them some rundkvisty questions! Here’s the address: askablogger@seedmediagroup.com. Figure out questions that the Seed people may believe that a large number of readers would like to see answered — then they might pick your suggestion.

Pigeon Holes of Time

i-2426c0d97ef449b715fd876d57509df2-ottarshogen-400.jpg
Early Vendel Period baldric mounts from the Ottarshögen barrow, Vendel parish, Uppland.

Archaeological periods are defined by artefact types. For instance, the Early Neolithic of Sweden is defined by the appearance of Funnel Beaker pottery, thin-butted flint axes and pointed-butt axes (and a long list of other things). Before these types appear, the period has not begun. When they cease to be produced and are replaced by other types, we are no longer in the Early Neolithic. This means that archaeological chronology is largely structured around long lists of artefact types with as stringent definitions as possible, allowing us to place each closed find in its own pigeon hole. Such relative chronology is our backbone, and various techniques are used to fix the calendar dates of each pigeon hole in absolute chronology. This is tricky for many reasons, and absolute chronology is constantly refined (though the changes made to it become smaller and smaller over the decades as more and better data become available).
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