Stop Press: see my new Shroud site
The composite pictures above (added 9th March) showing three operational steps, and the 8 photographs below, would seem to this retired science bod to leave little room for doubt that the Turin Shroud Man IS a ‘scorchograph’. Don’t bother googling that term scorchograph. I coined it yesterday. A scorchograph is a thermal imprint obtained by lightly branding a hot, probably metal template, ideally bas relief, i.e. with a raised image, onto linen.
Click any photograph ONCE or TWICE for increasing levels of enlargement
Now let’s use the same 3D imaging software on the Turin Shroud sepia negative:
Let’s take a closer look at the face, first the Shroud image with contrast, then after the same 3D enhancement in ImageJ:
Conclusion: I see absolutely no reason for thinking that the Man on the Shroud of Turin is anything other than a scorchograph, produced by a medieval hoaxer using essentially the same technology as used above to obtain the thermal imprints from those coins.
A slight bas relief is all that is needed to produce an imprint of detail. Slightly higher relief, perhaps using the sand bed model proposed earlier, should be sufficient to capture a lot of fine detail (see also the banner at the top of the post, showing a similar 2D to semi-3D visualization from the scorchograph from a metal trinket).
I challenge anyone out there – in the world of science and/or the blogosphere – Dr.Di Lazzaro and his ENSA colleagues (with their busted flush radiation model), Dan Porter, Barrie Schwortz etc. etc.- to prove me wrong. But please read the preceding post before rattling off those same old checklists …
Postcript (added 29th Feb):
One can always discredit good science with bad technology. Want to discredit laser eye surgery? Simple – shine a laser pen in people’s eyes, blind them, at least temporarily, to warn them off lasers. They are being blinded in a metaphorical sense too. And that is what has been happening for years in the Shroudie literature where thermal imprinting by direct contact/conduction is concerned – it has been discredited and dismissed with wholly spurious claims that it produces excessively deep scorches, ones that “go through to the other side” or which are not as superficial as the real thing, or which don’t have encoded 3D information. On all counts – wrong, wrong, wrong. Just as a hot branding iron can be used on cattle to give the faintest or heaviest of brands, depending on how it is deployed, so can a hot metal template intended to produce an image on linen of a naked supine man with one hand crossed over the other. It ain’t rocket science.
Second postscript added 1st March
eureka-with-a-small-e moment! It was not a sand bed those medieval hoaxers used. Sand does not provide enough give – and moist sand does not provide sufficient cooling to prevent discoloration on the reverse side of the linen. I now think it was a bed of SNOW.
It seems obvious now, but here’s what led up to the sudden realization that snow ticks more boxes than sand. I was looking at the reverse side discoloration today through a lens, and realizing that it was totally different in character from the frontal side scorch. The latter is highly localised, mainly to the crowns of the threads, scarcely intruding laterally beyond the contact area, whereas the reverse side is a diffuse and very lightly toasted-looking colour. Why would that be I wondered. Then the penny suddenly dropped. I have so far been considering only 2 of the 3 methods of heat transfer – conduction (favoured) and radiation (rejected). But there’s a third method which I suspect caused the reverse side -toasted appearance – CONVECTION. When the hot template is pressed against linen, air in the pores of the linen becomes superheated, but can only escape by crossing the thickness of the fabric to escape on the far side (into my sand bed). En route it physically and then chemically dehydrates the fibres. By substituting snow for sand, I suspect, nay predict, that the secondary “roasting” from hot convected air will be much reduced. What’s more, snow will make for a much better medium into which the template can snuggle down to get optimal contact between cloth and template – not too little, not too much. Too little and there is insufficient 3D effect; too much and there is distortion through converting too much of the relief into a planar image.
Trouble is, I don’t have snow to hand to test this idea (the UK is having an unseasonably mild winter right now). I could probably use crushed ice as a substitute – to provide the cooling effect that will reduce “convection scorch”, but it won’t have quite the same give as snow for optimal wrap-around effect. Never mind – it is that reverse-side discoloration that is my main focus at present with a view to ticking one more box on matching model with Shroud (though let’s not forget that the latter also has a reverse side image of the face and hands).
Third postscript (still 1st March). Eureka! with a capital E. Here’s the secret: soak the linen in water, then place in a freezer. When rigid, quickly press the hot metal template onto the cloth before it has had time to thaw. The result is – or can be with judicious temperature control – a tan image on the top surface with very little discoloration on the reverse side. The top side image shows “encoded 3D information” using ImageJ software.
Who knows how the original Shroud was produced? Chances are we shall never know. But to those who say that the Shroud image has subtle characteristics that defy modern science, I say DO ME A FAVOUR. Here’s how it MIGHT have been done (and that’s all that I as a retired science bod am interested in demonstrating):
In the dead of a medieval winter, when there was snow on the ground and maybe a hard frost, a length of linen was laid out on the snow, and left to freeze solid. Then someone heated up a statue of the crucified Christ (or bas relief) – maybe a damaged one for which a use needed to be found- and when it was hot enough to scorch a test strip of linen, it was then placed face down on the linen, and pressed gently into the snow to get thermal imprinting by surface scorching, thus producing what I call a “scorchograph”. It was then removed, reheated, and the operation repeated with the reverse side on the other half of the linen.
I will upload some more photographs of this “frozen linen/snow bed technique” in the next day or two. I reckon that the fabled Shroud of Turin was simply somebody’s winter project (as I suppose is this series of postings).
Fourth postscript (2nd March)
Whoops, it’s even simpler than I thought. No need for frozen linen – simply place a piece of damp linen underneath before pressing the hot template onto the dry top cloth. That way one can get a tan image with virtually no coloration on the reverse side, yet the image still shows that “encoded 3D information” (rather more than was present, in fact, than in one of the artefacts used – a pencil sharpener!). but then I have alway warned about the risk of producing artefacts (pretty or otherwise) with 3D-imaging programs that can be instructed to read image density as elevation.
Sorry, Shroudie playmates, but for me at any rate there is no longer any mystery where the Shroud of Turin is concerned. It is simply a “scorchograph”, i.e. thermal imprint from a hot template, probably a metal statue or bas relief, or combination of the two.
I can now return to other matters of current scientific interest and controversy, closing up shop here and reactivating that “science buzz” site of mine.
Colin Berry (aka sciencebod)
Comments invited, by email (private) or below to the Comments thread
PS: at the risk of appearing immodest (a pointless attribute with which I have rarely been afflicted) I believe this to be the first time that a piece of start-to-finish scientific research has been reported in real-time on the internet, encompassing the postings on my new site here, and the 20 or so previous ones on my science buzz site (see side bar).