Calling All Physicists: This Means You, Rhys Davies!

Be gentle with SA. This post contains an embarrassing confession of (one of) my intellectual shortcomings.

     Alas and alack! My dinosaur-sized brain is hopelessly incapable of understanding the labyrinth of mathematical and statistical calculations contained in this (what I must believe is a) foundation argument for dealing with the (very real) likelihood that sediments samples used for OSL dating

1) may not be of uniform age, or
2) may not have been uniformly ‘bleached’ (and trapped electrons thereby effectively ‘zeroed’) by solar radiation or heat prior to burial. 

The article:

R.F. GALBRAITH, R.G. ROBERTS, G.M. LASLETT, H. YOSHIDA, J.M. OLLEY. 
OPTICAL DATING OF SINGLE AND MULTIPLE GRAINS OF QUARTZ FROM JINMIUM ROCK SHELTER, NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: PART I, EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN AND STATISTICAL MODELS.”
Archaeometry 41, 339–364, 1999. 

I know that the scientists who wrote this were sincere, and were trying seriously to overcome some pesky obstacles with which they’d been confronted.  
     Nevertheless, I believe that in their endeavour (and that of those that rely on it for their OSL age determinations) lies the soft theoretical underbelly of all claims for the temporally anomalous antiquity of modern human behaviour at Blombas Cave (if not for others of their ilk).
     So, I’m asking any of you who are, or who know a physicist, mathematician, or statistician, to please come to the rescue of this hapless archaeologist, and the discipline of archaeology, which from my perspective, is and always has been more or less at the mercy of numerical wizardry.
     What we really need is a plain English account of what’s going on. Thank you.

One thought on “Calling All Physicists: This Means You, Rhys Davies!

  1. I retired long ago. Brain cells have deteriorated with time and alcohol (you might have been responsible for some of that!), however send me more details and I'll see what I can do. Rhys

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