Mike Baillie: exchanging data with the Germans

Mike Baillie remembers sharing tree ring data with German dendrochronologists in the early 1980s, to establish an agreed European oak chronology to 7272 years before present.

Listen to the full interview track and all other tracks from this interview on British Library Sounds

By 1982 we felt we had the Irish chronology complete and given that the Germans were now suggesting that they had chronology back to 2000BC we thought this was the time to contact them and exchange data.  And that was interesting because it [laughs] – it’s [laughs] – I’m not quite sure how you would normally describe this in real life but imagine you were buying a diamond off someone and you were paying for the diamond with a large sum of cash, and you’ve got the – the diamond in an envelope and you hand it across and the other person grips the envelope and you hand them the cash in your envelope and they grip it and at some stage you’ve both got to let go of the [laughs], and exchange.  Well it was almost like that with the data, we didn’t give them all the data, we selected 1,000 years of data, 1000 to 2000BC and we exchanged that.  And this is the days when faxes were as fast as communication got really [laughs].  So there were – there was no internet back in the early ‘80s, so we waited for a very short period of time and we got a eureka comment telex through from Germany saying that this chronology is – that this 1,000 years of chronology matched and so in 1984 Pilcher, Baillie, Schmidt and Becker published an article in the journal Nature saying that there now was an agreed European oak chronology back for 7272 years.
  • Interviewee Mike Baillie
  • Duration 00:01:53
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 8/21/2012
  • Shelfmark C1379/85

Related Audio Clips

The following clips are short extracts from an in-depth interview.
To listen to the full interview visit http://sounds.bl.uk

Related disciplines