Oral history of British science
Baillie, Mike (Part 8 of 8) An Oral History of British Science
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Queen’s University of Belfast and interviewee’s home, Belfast
Baillie, Mike, 1944- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 8: [1:35:08] Continued description of process of writing ETA, including reading of Arthurian tales and Celtic stories of hero Cúchulainn and god Lugh, interpreted by self as personifications of comets. Comments on work of early twentieth century scholar Roger Loomis. [8:04] Comments on tendency for present day scholars working on myths to regard myths as entirely fictional; own belief that 1628 BC Exodus and 540 AD death of Arthur are linked to cometary events. [10:58] Story of publication of ETA, including appendixes. Comments on lack of reaction to ETA from Celtic scholars. [15:29] Comments on reaction to ETA among scientific colleagues, including dendrochronologists. [16:44] Comments on reaction to ETA by enthusiasts for work of IV. [20:01] Brief comments on dedication to mother in ETA. Comments on interdisciplinary content of ETA; significance of particular dates in own reading of myths/biblical stories. [23:32] Comments on limited relations with scientists (including KB, CRU) pursuing dendrochronology in relation to climate change concerns. Detailed comments on reasons for own scepticism concerning use of dendrochronology in climate change research, including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] assessments. [30:06] Comments on scepticism of colleagues concerning own work on relations between tree rings and comets; opposition to environmental determinism in recent historical/archaeological research. [32:19] Comments on use of dendrochronology for reconstruction of past temperatures. [33:43] Comments on reasons for early retirement, 2005; lack of effect on research of retirement. [35:00] Positive comments on the internet as a research tool. Detailed comments on role of internet in supporting hobby-research in catastrophism of non-scientists; contrast with painstaking methods of research before internet. [38:29] Further comments on relations with amateur enthusiasts/hobby-researchers. [40:33] Story of reasons for writing book ‘Celtic Gods: Comets in Irish Mythology’ [CG] (2005), including relations with co-author Patrick McCafferty [PM]. [42:55] Comments on process of writing CG, including focus on graph reproduced as Figure 66. [46:13] Story of finding second-hand book containing drawings of comets produced by 19th century astronomers, many reproduced in CG. Comments on these images. [51:49] Comments on idea of ‘ritual ponds’ as impact craters discussed in CG, including detailed comments on formation of Portmore Lough, NI. [1:00:28] Comments on working relations with PM. [1:01:35] Comments on reaction to CG of Celtic scholars, with related story of meeting in QUB. [1:03:54] Brief comments on education/careers of daughters. Comments on extent of interest of daughters in own work. [1:06:41] Story of ‘Climategate’ (theft and publication of emails of climate scientists at CRU, UEA) from own point of view, including reflections on development of email communication, motivations of ‘climate change sceptics’, potential for dangerous future climate change. [1:14:07] Further detailed comments on future climate change. [1:17:32] Detailed comments on Freedom of Information [FOI] requests for QUB TRC data. Story of independent reproduction of TRCs using this data, confirming accuracy. [1:23:15] Comments on television programmes watched, including recent geological documentaries presented by Iain Stewart. Mentions David Attenborough. Comments on watching of romantic films, WW2 documentaries; reading habits, including preference for second-hand books. [1:27:57] Comments on experience of being interviewed for National Life Stories; development (from late 1960s) of interest in collecting antiques, with related stories.
Interview with Dendrochronologist, Mike Baillie