Saturday, January 02, 2016

Space Age Archaeology: A Retro-blog-spective

Just because it's the New Year, I've decided to make a list of my most-read posts from each year since 2004, when I started this blog.

2004: Flying Saucers at Woomera 

 In September, I was researching Australian space history at the National Archives office in Adelaide. This was in the days when you sat there for hours furiously scribbling notes in pencil until your fingers bled. One of the files I looked at was the (formerly) secret UFO file from Woomera. What I discovered in this file gave me pause for thought....

2005:  The Little Lemon

Racehorses and space. You wouldn't think there was a connection, would you? However....this is what happened when my father tried to name a racehorse after Laika the dog during the Cold War.

2006:  Space biscuits and recognition for space archaeology

Once upon a time in the dim past of internet history there was a lovely man called Nicey who ran a website devoted to tea, biscuits, and sit downs. It was called, appropriately, Nice Cup of Tea and A Sit Down. It was charming and funny and full of biscuits (proper Commonwealth biscuits, not the American version of the scone), and they loved space archaeology! I wonder what happened to him?

2007: Nostalgia for Infinity: exploring the archaeology of the final frontier

This was the abstract for a session on space archaeology at the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin, which I was convening with Beth Laura O'Leary.  The title incorporated the name of a spaceship that will be familiar to anyone who has read the works of Alistair Reynolds.

2008: A rocket cake to be proud of!

No-one doesn't love a rocket cake, and for some reason anything I post about space-related food and drink goes down a treat. Kudos to my friend Kaylene Manderson, who made this masterpiece!

2009: Quirky, yet methodologically sound: a review of Space Travel and Culture: from Apollo to Space Tourism.

Michael Allen wrote a review of this book, in which I had a chapter, and more-or-less called my contribution "quirky, yet methodologically sound".  I was enchanted.

2010: Space food: recreating an authentic space experience on Earth. A review of The Astronaut's Cookbook. 

I wasn't joking about the food-and-drink bit. Another book review, but this time by me, and I have a little digression into the history of Australia's monopoly on the manufacture of Space Food Sticks. Snap them up if you find them gathering dust on a supermarket shelf, because they went out of production last year. But whatever you do, do not attempt to actually eat one. They're not very nice.

2011: Consuming the Space Age: The Cuisine of Sputnik

Nicola Twilley of Good Magazine ran a week-long distributed online conversation about food-writing. I decided to write something about space food, and this was the result.  A little bit of history, a little bit of politics, a cocktail recipe, and the Sputnik Burger!

2012: Space-craft: rockets, jetpacks, and other DIY space paraphernalia

They don't love me for my unique insights into space history or brain-splintering forays into theory. What the readers of my blog really want is recipes and spacey things for kids. I'm cool with that, though. Here's some excellent things you can make, collected together from all over the internet, and yes, there is another cake.

2013: The Anthropocene in the Solar System

I didn't post much in 2013. I had left the university for a break to return to my first profession, heritage consulting. In April, I went to the Society for American Archaeology conference in Hawai'i, and managed to injure myself rather badly, necessitating a long 18 month rehabilitation. In May, I gave a TEDxSydney talk, and shortly afterwards, life took an even more unexpected turn which I'll tell you about one day over a beer. BUT there were other good things. The lovely brain-the-size-of-planet Matt Edgeworth invited me to give a paper at the Chicago Theoretical Archaeology Group conference on the Anthropocene (so sometimes someone does actually want me for my theories), and this was later published in the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology. You can read the abstract in this blog post, and the article here.

2014: How to avoid sexist language in space - Dr Space Junk wields the red pen

They asked for it, and I delivered. Not cakes this time, but what I hope is a practical guide to eliminating locutions like "manned mission" that reinforce the idea that women like/are like fluffy kittens and aren't really suited to the man's business of space. Which, incidentally, was exactly what a Russian cosmonaut trainer said in a public talk in Adelaide last year, so don't even try to tell me it's not an issue.

2015: How would lunar mining affect the cultural significance of the Moon?

Terrestrial mining is something I know a fair bit about. In my former career as a heritage consultant, I spent a LOT of time on mining sites, and in remote areas where mining exploration was taking place. My job was the make mining companies comply with legislation that was supposed to protect Aboriginal heritage places. In this excerpt from a forthcoming paper, I consider how these principles might play out in space.

I raise a glass of dry Australian sherry to you, dear readers! I feel that 2016 is going to be an exciting year in space.....

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