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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.
Scudellari’s comment is a classic example of fighting a straw man. Exactly what he presents as the refined and correct version is just what I have always understood the hygiene hypothesis to be, going only by what was reported in the popular press filtered through a little common sense. There may be some benefit in having it spelt out in tedious detail, but not much.
Experiments with water injection are nearly as old as the combustion engine itself and nearly all of them turned out to be failures. The reason was that they all tried water as an add-on to existing engines. Water itself adds nothing. What you can do, and what Lawler et al. are doing, is raise the compression ratio and its associated efficiency far beyond the maximum permissible for running without detonation and then suppress that with water. The water itself always worsens combustion quality, but some worsening from an otherwise unattainably high level is still a net improvement.
I have often criticised over reliance on and religious belief in computer models and shall probably continue to do so. Bassis and Chen however are two examples of well designed, simple, and comprehensible models that are actually helpful and explain a lot. But that’s not good enough for Vieli. He wants
“more-sophisticated models”, i.e. many-parameter ones you can neither understand nor control and whose output you have to take on trust.
The see-saw about the Ruddiman hypothesis continues with the latest resounding refutation by Stocker et al. So it wasn’t us humans after all. What then? They have to evoke a mysterious unexplained terrestrial source in two pulses coinciding with the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Unless and until the can come up with a better explanation I shall continue to believe those sources to be anthropogenic.
Schiendorfer tells a concise and seemingly convincing story of the about the breakdown of the Late Bronze Age and the descent into the Dark Ages. It is so coherent and well explained, if in atrocious English, that one would like it to be true. Unfortunately a conclusion is only as good as its premises and his main premise happens to be wrong. It’s still an open question where the tin of the first tin bronzes in the first half of the third millennium came from, but the main sources of the Late Bronze Age are well known and well documented. One of them was Cornwall and the second the African Lakes Region through Egypt. Both the Uluburun tin and the ingots found in the sea near Haifa came from there (Dayton 2003). The mines in Uzbekistan were active at the same time, but in far too small a scale to supply a meaningful part of the Mediterranean demand. If Schiendorfer’s blockade was active at all it might have worked in the other direction and forced Babylon to source its tin over the long land route from Central Asia. I hate trashing the well-written effort by a dedicated amateur, but those are the facts.
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