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The sharpest of edges

Observatory agate smI am looking at this piece of agate, but thinking about flint (which is not so dissimilar in many ways, both are crystalline forms of silica). Flint is a feature of this part of the world, found in the chalk deposits of the South Downs. I grew up around here and have a personal connection with flint: a long scar on my right hand from the time when a piece of flint nearly made it all the way through my hand from back to front. When flaked, flint can produce the sharpest of edges, far finer than steel. Our relationship with this glass-like material goes back a long way, but is also timeless in that the sharpness of the blades that we made all those years ago haven’t been bettered. For this reason a flint tool is a very good representation of humankind, something that should have been included alongside the Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft, which has now left our solar system heading out into deepest space. I am interested in flint for that reason: highly earthbound but at the same time curiously appropriate for space travel. Must see what I can do with flint.

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