It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science?

Updated 21st April with an “annotated” version in which I imagine myself to be Alan D Adler explaining his ideas in simpler terms, as if to someone on a web forum, while still trying to stay as close to his original version as possible in terms of content and interpretation  (not always an easy task, even for this PhD biochemist).  But first, the original version, with the annotated one tagged on the end:

Here is a passage from the revered STURP scientist Dr. Alan D. Adler (1931-2000). He is credited with having convinced many a wavering sceptic that it really is blood on the Shroud – albeit degraded blood in an unusual conformation, complexed with bilirubin.  He proposed the latter to  account, perhaps among other things, for residues still retaining their red colour after centuries of exposure to oxygen, moisture , microorganisms etc.

Alan D Adler

Alan D. Adler  is, or rather was, an acknowledged expert in the field of porphyrins, which, when  complexed with ferrous (Fe++) iron and linked to globin proteins, constitute the red pigment of oxygen-transporting erythrocytes (red blood cells).

His daughter’s refreshingly candid obituary.

I do not intend to comment here on the post, but invite those with some knowledge of blood chemistry and trauma physiology to ask themselves the question posed in the title. Is this science? In other words, I intend to take a back seat for now, but welcome questions, discussion and,  most of all, informed comment.

“… The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry of the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation (sic) change ;it no longer remains in the “met”form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is  known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds -the so-called high spin, high iron porphyrin. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all of this. There is an extraordinarily high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin  in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis. In less than 30 seconds the hemolyzed hemoglobin would run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, an exudate forms, and all the intact cells with bilirubin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin. So what one ends up with is on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin.You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.

In fact, we have been able to simulate the spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed when we first started doing the analysis that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right color and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence…”

From Alan D Adler : the Origin and Nature of Blood on the Turin Shroud

Now for that annotated version (see preamble added 21st April):

“… The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry of the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud.

We selected for study the smallest fibre components of the Shroud that were red, in other words stained with what one assumed was blood. (Some have asked why ancient blood should still be red – instead of black).  We applied a scanning technique that measures characteristics like absorption spectrum of near uv and visible light, since blood components have characteristic spectra (e.g. the so-called Soret absorption band of heme proteins  at 400nm).

(ed: it’s not immediately clear to me why the selected fibres had to be non-birefringent, since birefringence is simply a property of highly ordered arrays of  cellulose, and I don’t see why a fibril cannot be blood stained and have ordered cellulose).

(ed: The birefringence test was a reference, I now realize, to the  iron oxide debate, not cellulose)

It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood.

In fresh blood which is usually bright red (a little darker if de-oxygenated) the hemoglobin (ed: I shall stick with Adler’s US spelling) has iron in its ferrous form , i.e. Fe ++. On ageing, the iron oxidises to the ferric (Fe+++) form, and the blood stain becomes dark brown. The hemoglobin is now in the “methemoglobin” form. So why did the “blood” from the Shroud not show the expected absorption spectrum of methemoglobin?  How can one hope to convince anyone that it is blood if it does not look and behave like textbook methemoglobin, i.e. oxidised blood?

But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation (sic) change ; it no longer remains in the “met”form but goes to the para-hemic form.

Let’s emphasise that we are restricting comment now to a “film” of blood, so that what follows should not necessarily apply to what you may read about the “typical” properties of blood in situations where it has not dried out to a thin film.  Oops., “confirmation” is a typo. That should have read  ”conformation”. So, when blood dries to a film, the methemoglobin undergoes a further change to what I call the para-hemic form. It’s a subtle change, and one that you may have difficulty in finding elsewhere in the literature, since it is  a species of methemoglobin that I have discovered through my own extensive researches, and have decided this is the appropriate time to release into the public domain.

It is known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and liver to process the blood fast enough.

In fact, it’s a little more complicated than that. The change from methemoglobin to my “para-hemic” form is not just because blood has dried into a film, as my emphasis on “film” might suggest (ed: film being the only italicised word in the original). This para-hemic entity is something that is generated even before the blood escapes from an external wound. It is produced when the spleen and liver, which break down old red blood cells, are overloaded, giving time for methemoglobin to adopt this new conformation that I have christened the “para-hemic” form. You may ask why physiological considerations are intruding on what initially seemed a straightforward business of deciding if red stains on the Shroud were those of blood or not. But I want you to understand that there is “blood” and  there is “blood”. The blood on the Shroud would be different from just any old blood, as I am about to describe.

We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds -the so-called high spin, high iron porphyrin. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place.

The spectrum was wrong for blood. But there is an extensive chemical literature on the components of blood porphyrins in different oxidation states with which I am intimately familiar, and I was able to find a class of porphyrins in which the central iron atom was in precisely the right kind of electronic configuration to match, or at any rate resemble,  the “wrong” spectrum in Shroud blood. Ipso facto, the Shroud blood was not just any old blood, but a very special kind that I call “high spin, high iron porphyrin”. (The literature is highly specialized, so do not imagine you can simply google that term and find pages full of returns. In fact you may find none at all, given the abstruse nature of porphyrin chemistry).

What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all of this.

Apologies for introducing an extra dimension of clinical chemistry so abruptly. You see, one has now to consider what the body does to get rid of oxidised haemoglobin. Well, it’s a long story, but basically what happens is this. The haemoglobin is stripped of its globin and iron to leave the porphyrin, which is a cyclic tetrapyrrole. The ring is then opened, first to make a green linear tetrapyrrole called biliverdin, and that is then reduced to bilirubin, which is yellow or orange, depending on concentration.

There is an extraordinarily high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin.

There’s a lot of bilirubin in those blood spots, based on the purple color one gets with the Ehrlich diazo reagent. But please don’t ask me to put a figure on it. (Or waste time in discussing the units for bilirubin and methaemoglobin, whether in old-fashioned milligrams, or the SI (molar) units which are supposed to be standard in clinical chemistry in order to make any kind of sense to a chemist, but which are still slow to be adopted in certain parts of the world). Let’s not forget either that one is not dealing here with blood by the syringe- full, as normally arrives at the path lab,  but tiny scrapings of blood that have had to be made soluble with specialist chemical reagents like hydrazine. There is also a tiny question mark over the specificity of the Ehrlich reagent – substances other than bilirubin can also give a purple color – but let’s not get too bogged down in detail.

Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin in a person?

I trust I have not lost you there. I suppose I should have said a “hypothetical” person who has left a stain on fabric that has a special kind of methemoglobin which arises when red blood cells are  being broken down faster than the liver and spleen can cope with, producing an excess of bilirubin that in turn is being produced too fast for the liver and kidneys to excrete. Remember: we are dealing with some scrapings that are being related to a hypothetical scenario – one that might be described as acute haemolytic trauma. We are into new territory here – going boldly where no man has gone before – at least in the context of the Man on the Shroud….

One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely.

There may be any number of reasons why a blood sample has an elevated level of bilirubin. Malaria, a disease in which red blood cells are destroyed by parasites, is just one of them. Let’s discount that straight away.

But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis.  In less than 30 seconds the hemolyzed hemoglobin would run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood.

This is that hypothetical situation to which I was referring a minute ago.  Any insult to blood and red blood corpuscles can cause the cells to burst and release their haemoglobin “(hemolysis”) which for reasons stated results in a rise in plasma bilirubin levels. Let’s not get bogged down in figures for now: there are values in the literature for raised bilirubin (hyperbilirubinaemia) in a range of different haemolytic and non-haemolytic states. When I say “very high” bilirubin content I mean very high relative to normal healthy bilirubin content, possibly multiples, tens of multiples (who knows?)

If that blood then clots, an exudate forms, and all the intact cells with bilirubin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin.

It now gets a little tricky, so bear with me. We are now trying to imagine a scenario that would result in a blood stain that had so much bilirubin relative to methemoglobin (the special variety) that the spectrum one would expect of methemoglobin is replaced with an entirely different one.

The first step is to have the liquid blood with its high level of bilirubin and special methemoglobin form a solid blood clot.  After that has happened, one can then envisage a separation process. Any red cells that are intact will stay put, along with their associated bilirubin. (OK, some would argue that most bilirubin in blood is attached to serum albumin, not red blood cells, but there are times one has to think out of the box). But there is an exudate that leaks out – which will be free hemoglobin that has escaped from busted red blood cells, and serum albumin with attached bilirubin.  Yes, I know, it’s getting a bit complicated now, but let’s soldier on…

So what one ends up with is on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin.  You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.

I trust you see my point. You now have that high-spin methemoglobin – bilirubin complex that can explain why the blood still looks red after centuries of exposure to air etc. It’s the result of some very special physiology (trauma/acute hemolysis/liver overload etc etc) generating a very special and unusual kind of chemistry – special methemoglobin, masses of bilirubin – which under the mechanical straining influences of clot formation are forced together to make a chemical adduct that instead of looking brown, like old blood, is still bright red. (This adduct must also have exceptional chemical stability so as not to undergo further oxidation and degradation, but we’ll leave the details of that to another day).

In fact, we have been able to simulate the spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above.

We can reproduce in the test-tube what we think is happening in that sequence of events I have just hypothesised. Ipso facto, that sequence events explains why the ancient blood stains are red.

This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten.

It’s been a long and perhaps tortuous route between cause and effect, but we are now finally there. The ancient blood stains are red because they are from a man who was severely beaten.

No one would have ever dreamed when we first started doing the analysis that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure.

The Shroud investigators interpreted the markings as those from a man who had undergone severe trauma, but were unable to explain why the blood stains were still red.  I have explained why the blood stains are still red, by devising a physiological scenario that begins with a man who has undergone severe trauma. Begging the question?  No, there is a solid chain of reasoning here that depends on an intimate acquaintance with all possible oxidation states of free porphyrins, allied to a an enhanced form of jaundice physiology seen in athletes etc that causes mild elevations in bilirubin, greatly magnified here to take account of the multiple traumas of a flogged and crucified victim.

The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right color and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence…”

The explanation here can neatly account for some otherwise unexpected features of the blood stains, like their showing no red blood cells, like being low in potassium. It’s all to do with that complex clotting/exudation scenario I was talking about earlier.

******************************************************************

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About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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19 Responses to It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science?

  1. colinsberry says:

    Afterthought: tomorrow I might try adding a simpler version of Alan Adler’s account, one that is less intimidating to those without a specialist chemical background. I think it important that technical terminology should not be allowed to deter folk from appreciating the kind of reasoning that has been employed in that argument, so as better to decide for themselves whether it’s a scientific argument or whether it is something that, whilst showing a degree of ingenuity, is not in point of fact scientific (at least without additional supporting data).

  2. colinsberry says:

    Annotated version now added to the post. Some of it is may not be crystal clear – especially the section on clotting/exudation, where I had difficulty in following the train of argument or where it was leading (I wonder if there was not a typo in the original with “bilirubin” being entered when maybe methemoglobin was intended)

  3. colinsberry says:

    Anyone tempted to think I make too much of Adler’s ingenuity and creativity, or over-rate the impact his ideas had on impressionable or receptive minds, needs only to read the following, written this year by Barrie Schwortz no less:

    By Barrie Schwortz
    ©2012 STERA, Inc.

    The Prelude
    Speaking on the telephone with Dr. Alan Adler, STURP blood chemist, was always something of an adventure and every conversation was a truly unique experience! (Anyone who knew him can verify this). Sometime in mid-1995 I was having one of my regular telephone conversations with him, not realizing that this conversation would ultimately prove to be one of the most significant in my life.
    At the time, I was still not completely convinced that the Shroud of Turin was authentic (and it was eighteen years after I had held it in my own hands)! Although the STURP data had clearly proved that the Shroud was not a painting or a photograph or a scorch or a rubbing, we had been unable to determine a mechanism that could create an image with those specific chemical and physical properties. However, based on the data we did have, I didn’t believe for a moment that the Shroud of Turin was a medieval “hoax!” I stayed abreast of what was happening in the Shroud world, but there were still many unanswered questions and one of the most important ones was that no one had ever properly explained, (at least to me), why the blood stains on the Shroud were still reddish in color.

    When the Shroud was first put before us in 1978, Vern Miller and I stood side by side over the cloth and we looked very closely at some of the dense red blood stains found there, and then at each other. I guess we could both see the doubt in each other’s eyes, since we were both nodding slightly to the negative.
    We had each noticed the red color of the stains and we both believed that old blood was supposed to turn black or brown over time (and Vern had much more forensic experience than I did). If these stains were that old, why were they still red? Truthfully, at first glance, the stains did not really look like blood. We discussed it quietly and agreed that this observation cast some serious doubt on the validity of the stains.
    In my case, it was the last serious piece of the puzzle that kept me from accepting the Shroud as authentic.

    Now, eighteen years later, the subject of the red blood came up during this conversation with Al and I told him it was something of a “deal breaker” for me. As I look back on that conversation today, I am puzzled as to why I had never asked him about this before. He was the most logical person to have discussed it with as he was the top blood expert on our team and had done the chemical analysis that proved the blood was actually blood. Yet, for some reason, it never came up until that moment. I guess the 1988 radiocarbon dating results had pushed everything else off the table.
    It was then that Al Adler gave me the answer! He explained that extended torture, like that suffered by the man on the Shroud, causes the breakdown of the red blood cell walls and the flooding of bilirubin (an enzyme produced in the liver) into the bloodstream. Apparently, blood of that nature will remain red forever! There it was: a simple, straightforward answer from the expert.

    I can’t remember exactly how long after that conversation I took to reflect on everything before making the decision that there was only one answer possible about the Shroud: it had to be authentic. I remembered Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s axiom spoken through the lips of Sherlock Holmes, “If you eliminate all the possibilities, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is most likely the truth.” Based on that logic, there was only one answer possible. I had spent years studying the science of the Shroud and its image. After all that time, the scientific evidence had actually convinced me the Shroud
    of Turin was authentic! It was really something of a shock.

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:rxL–eXYIN0J:www.shroud.com/pdfs/history.pdf+&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgQDszi3KmF4NqTFinZapIwZRWArV6p2gt5XAgyAfDJjW2ACuBkIvEQllH-ViXXdySJfT81xNr0nXduuuYyn_GWfsGXECYUBD_PPwafNwqYQXZc04kiSWkkMKFTyOVeO-WHEt2G&sig=AHIEtbQpfS7Ew9_byx9jLKUTN0amJr0gAQ

  4. Pingback: Was Adler’s Analysis Science? « Shroud of Turin Blog

  5. colinsberry says:

    Message to MPH: enough is enough .I have consigned that last comment of yours to the WordPress trash bin. Now if you don’t mind kindly stay away from my site. Thank you.

  6. Pingback: What about sodium as Na+, that seemingly forgotten marker for blood and extracellular fluids inTurin Shroud research? | Let's take a closer look at those straws – the ones still clutched at by Turin Shroud investigators

  7. Charles Freeman says:

    Dear Colin, Good to find your website. I am an historian who has worked extensively on medieval relics ( Holy Bones, Holy Dust, How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe, Yale, 2011- reviews on Yale’s US website). If you think the pro-Shrouders’ science is crazy, you should see their history! The attempt to find a narrative for the Shroud from 30 AD to 1350 is just hilarious. They confuse images of the living Christ with the Turin Shroud, they end up in hopeless non-sequiturs, at one point Thomas de Wesselow, the author of a new book The Sign, who claims a PhD in art history, confuses three different images/ burial cloths, each documented separately, into one, our friend the Turin Shroud.
    I think the presumption must stand that the 1988 radio-carbon 14 dating is broadly right until someone comes up with a coherent reason for overthrowing it . Of the hundreds of relics from Christ’s life, Passion ,Crucifixion and Burial – right up to the stone that was rolled away, let alone bodies ( two of them) of Mary Magdalene and most of the clothes of the Virgin Mary, that littered medieval Europe, none have yet been found to be genuine so the Shroud would be a real first!
    I have been doing some battles on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com with The Sign (you will find my review and I have commented on others), but I think I am becoming a bore on the subject and must get back to real history. So this is just to wish you well!

    • colinsberry says:

      Thanks for calling by Charles. I’ve been an admirer of your comments on The Other Site these last two or three weeks (please don’t go, at any rate not just yet – you come as a breath of fresh air, with a welcome hint of carbolic vapour).

      You bring an academic rigour that is so often lacking in Shroudology – in stark contrast to the other kind of rigor, single-issue rigor mortis so frequently on display there.

      Re historians: there are those who, like yourself, have ideas, and then write books, and there are those who write books (for a living) and then have ideas, naming no names.

      Thank goodness for Kindle, which spares me having to part with double-digit money only to find I have bought yet another “Tale of Mystery and Imagination”.

      • Charles Freeman says:

        Thanks, Colin. Ian Wilson’s Edessa Image theory is so way out that when I saw someone who had actually done some original research and seen through it, I felt it important to support them. (Although I don’t know what else Yannick believes he is spot on with this one.) There is no evidence that anyone took much notice of any of the competing burial shrouds during the Middle Age, yet the Shroud community assume that if even a cloth is mentioned it must be THE SHROUD. As you say, they have got everything the wrong way round. If someone notices that the Shroud ‘s face has similar features to Byzantine iconography, then it is worth investigating whether Byzantine images were the inspiration. In the Shroud community,it is assumed that all the icon painters were copying the image on the Shroud ( but opening the eyes and putting on some clothes on it)! I doubt whether one can really turn this round. Good luck, Charles.

  8. colinsberry says:

    My first acquaintance with the Shroud was back in the late 70s. It was a big feature in the Sunday Times magazine, coming close on the heels of the David Rolfe “Silent Witness” documentary, and the Mandylion connection was one of the several persuasive aspects of the article. Thirty or more years on I am able now to see how this myth has come about, and it has numerous compelling aspects that have contributed to its staying power. I am presently preparing a post on that negative image that transforms into the ghostly luminous positive that I suspect has turned a lot of minds – initially my own included.

    For now, I’d simply ask this. How could an unattractive negative image have been framed as the fabled Manydlion, and then enchanted the early Church to the extent of inspiring the iconic image of Christ, when no one had ever seen the positive image, only achieved in 1898 with silver-salt photography? What’s more, there is a logical contradiction here. We are constantly told that no medieval artist would have attempted to paint a light/dark reversed negative, which is true (few modern artists attempt it either), yet we are asked to believe that a negative image (which I believe to be a branded “scorch” off hot metal or ceramic) was “seen” through the eyes of pre-medievals as if magically transformed into an image of a haunting soft-focus image of Christ.

    I agree with you entirely. The Wilson hypothesis may have hit the jackpot in terms of book sales through accounting for a huge 500 year (?) gap in the history, but it never made sense to this science bod in “pre-photography”/scientific terms either , and I am glad that a respected historian like yourself has established that the history is bunk too.

    PS: My two sons both did history degrees. I like to think that some of their father’s respect for history (with respect for primary sources) rubbed off on them…

    • Charles Freeman says:

      David Rolfe actually did a review of The Sign on Amazon.co.uk. It didn’t come across clearly what his position was but I replied to it, alongside a fascinating character called Trini who has it in for me. I wonder why. There are two books still to be written on the Shroud.
      One is to suggest that it may have originated in the East, even as early as the seventh-eighth centuries, drawing on Byzantine iconography, possibly coming into Europe with the Crusaders, in the same way that many other relics are known to have come. I suspect others have researched this but there is a mass of documentation to explore. The cloth may originally have been woven in Arab workshops even, as the Veil of St.Anne ,the mother of he Virgin at Apt in the Vauclose is known to have been ( the Arabic lettering is still on it and it was four years old rather than 1100 as it needed to be when it was brought back).
      The second is to explore the fiascos surrounding ‘scientific’ research. If you trawl the websites it is amazing how many bits and pieces of the Shroud are flying around.
      How did Raymond Rogers get material for his 2005 paper? He is good enough to tell us himself in his ‘peer-reviewed’ paper.

      ‘On 12 December 2003, I received samples of both warp and weft threads that Prof. Luigi Gonella had taken from the radiocarbon sample before it was distributed for dating. Gonella reported that he excised the threads from the center of the radiocarbon sample.’

      Now this is fifteen years after the radio-carbon 14 sample was taken and Gonella was present but apparently not authorised to take any sample himself, but clearly he was able to do so, or at least provide what Rogers assumed was original material.

      Then sadly Rogers died and attempts were made to get hold of his material by another STURP member.

      ‘When I first received the materials from the Rogers family, I noticed that one important sample was missing, Raes #1, the apparent end-to-end spliced thread that Rogers had identified. More than a year passed before I received the contents of Ray’s computer and it was only then that I discovered that Ray had given the sample to several of his LANL colleagues for scientific analysis just two weeks before he died. Fortunately, Ray had included their names, so I immediately contacted Bob Villarreal at the lab, introduced myself and asked him about the missing sample, which of course he still had in his possession. At that point (and much relieved that I had found the sample), I asked him if he would be willing to continue the work he had begun several years earlier with Ray. He enthusiastically agreed and over the past year I made some additional samples available to him and his team. This paper presents the results of their analyses of those samples.’
      Then in an interesting interview online Shroud researcher Joseph Marino tells us that he has an actual relic from the Shroud, although he was disappointed to find that it was only from the backing cloth.
      Who is charge of distribution of fragments of the Shroud? It seems that you have to sign up as pro-Shroud before you are allowed to have any. How does anyone keep a check on what is where and whether it is being contaminated or not? I assume that most of these come either from the Raes sample- but how has that got into the public domain so that Rogers got hold of some?- or the 32 pieces of sellotape taken in the frenzied five day examination of the Shroud in 1978 in a hall where fragments of pigment were apparently floating down from the ceiling frescos. The 32 pieces of sellotape was then passed on to one Walter Mccrone and we all know how that ended. There IS a book here!

      • colinsberry says:

        You’ve reminded me that it was your comment that alerted me to the strange, not to say questionable, provenance of That Thread from the Middle. In fact I copied it to file, the highest accolade this science bod can pay a non-scientist (now upgraded to honorary scientist).

        There is indeed a book that desperately needs writing, before the entire world goes mad with New Age pseudo-science. Maybe it needs dual authorship (fronted by a published historian with a no-nonsense scientist in support role). Oops, sorry, that’s the opportunist part of me getting above himself…
        .

        • Charles Freeman says:

          I am more than honoured to accept the upgrade! I used to be an International Baccalaureate examiner in critical thinking skills and I had to know how scientists, worked, or attempted to work, to find the truth. Alas a tempting offer but I am very tied up with my own projects- a third edition of my Egypt, Greece and Rome and two book proposals I am working on already.Still we might have got somewhere.
          I only got into this because I was so infuriated by the nonsense that was being passed around and I suspect you are the same. The Da Vinci code world is not really my favourite habitat.

          • colinsberry says:

            I don’t know about you, Charles, but I knew most of the answers in advance to Dan Brown’s conundrums, simply though reading for interest, and thought the entirely literary device of the granddaughter having to follow an IQ obstacle course was too ludicrous for words. My dismay at the advance of New Age Impressionabilty was confirmed on a visit to the Louvre with hordes of Da Vinci Code tourists ticking off one more stop, presumably the New Age Pyramid, on their supposedly ‘historica’l trail of the grand-daughter and then that of the preggers post-Crucifixion Mary Magdalene who landed up in France, just in time to found the Merovingian dynasty…

          • Charles Freeman says:

            Sorry it is CARGILL.

          • Charles Freeman says:

            Colin, I have to confess I have a very wicked side to me. But once you have read about Tabor do you think it is worth our friends getting in touch with him to see if he can find them an ossuary with the Turin Shroud on it, with in Hebrew ‘This is the Turin Shroud ‘on it? Wilson would have to rush out a new edition.

  9. Charles Freeman says:

    P.S. It would have to be by someone passionate about the care and preservation of ancient textiles whether they are two thousand or seven hundred years old. Looking at it from such a perspective the treatment of the Shroud and material removed from it has been outrageous -EXCEPT for the procedures for the 1988 testing which seem to have been within normal scientific parameters (filmed, textiles experts, a conservationist, representatives of the testing labs all observing the process) though I leave that for you to judge.

  10. Charles Freeman says:

    I loved the Hebrew letters blog. Do you have the right glasses to see these things, I certainly don’t but if you look long enough at the internet images I assume the Hebrew lettering will be clear so long as one doesn’t get any blobs in the wrong places ,then all you need to do is get your Beginners Guide to Hebrew, work out a phrase, find a biblical equivalent and once again scholarship moves forward.
    You need to go onto Robert Carsgill’s website. He has had a wonderful time outing James Tabor and his mates who have found a tomb with the earliest evidence of Christianity, The Jesus Discovery. A crude drawing of an amphora on a base was interpreted by them as a fish with the head of Jonah coming out of it. They were murky photographs and every time Carsgill challenged something of theirs, a new photo appeared with slightly different lines drawn on it. At the end, wait for it, they reinterpreted what had once been seen as a stick body of Jonah as the Hebrew letters J O N A H. You couldn’t make it up!

  11. colinsberry says:

    This comment has just appeared on Dan Porter’s shroudofturin site. I shall address only key points right now, since I’m busy on other aspects:

    June 22, 2012 at 5:25 am | #22
    Reply | Quote

    To «anoxie»

    If you have any doubts on scientific questions concerning bloodstains my advice is not to ask Dr. Colinsberry because he’ll always provide misleading answers with the aim of discredit the Shroud.
    You had better read previous excellent post on this blog concerning Shroud bloodstains by medical immunologist Dr. Kelly Kearse.
    My husband is a medical doctor and he read all Drs. John Heller and Alan Adler’s papers on blood issue in their book «The Orphaned Manuscript».
    This book contains several papers by these investigators most of them published in «peer reviewed» scientific journals and the conclusion is crystal clear, Shroud red stains are not red ochre and vermillion in a collagen tempera, actually they are blood.
    Inasmuch, Professor Adler and Dr. John Heller did nor perform just the Hydrazine test that Dr Collinberry described in a very confusing way.
    They actually tested not one but several samples from red stains and also studied red stains from human blood on fabrics as controls.
    The finding of hemoglobin characteristic spectra, other spectrometry data, detection of blood proteins, bilirrubin and other blood components enables them to conclude that there is indeed blood on the Shroud.
    Italian forensic investigator Professor Baima Bollone obtained similar results working with material collected from other locations on the Shroud.
    BLOOD ON THE SHROUD IS NOT A GUESS IT IS A SCIENTIFIC FACT.

    kindest regards
    Maria da Glória

    Centro Português de Sindonologia

    My reply: Kelly Kearse’s contribution, which I was the first to commend, was primarily about the methodology of ABO blood testing, it touched only briefly on the protocols used for the Shroud, so who is being misleading here?

    re Alan Adler’s protocols: it’s easy to be impressed by lists of the tests he did perform to confirm “real” blood, albeit degraded. But one has to be a specialist in the area of tetrapyrroles, whether cyclic, like the porphrins, or linear like the bile pigments, to know that uv.visible and fluorescence spectra alone do not provide proof positive. For two years I was a bile pigment specialist, working on Philadelphia on the phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, and teamed up with a then major drug company (SKF) to use state-of-the-art methodology for identifying bilirubin photo-derivatives. key among those were initial thin layer chromatography, followed by derivitization to form volatile TMS-derivatives, followed by mass-spectometry. We were not content to look just for finger-printing fragments – we regarded detection of the molecular ion as our goal.

    That was in 1972, well before the STURP studies, but nowhere have I seen Alan Adler using such rigorous methodology to confirm that he was detecting porphyrins, as distinct form substances with porphyrin-like spectra and fluorescence. Nor have I seen any real evidence for the existence of bilirubin, apart from diazo-reactivity and fluorescence. Why no chromatography? Why no mass spec? Why inflict a quirky conjecture involving a trauma induced bilirubin and “para-hemic” methaemoglobin to explain the permanent red colour of the “blood”? That is not science – that is daydreaming and pure fantasy.

    So sorry, Madam, I am not taking lectures from you or anyone else on scientific methodology and credentials (though I thank you for pointing out that I hold a doctorate) .As for your suggestion that I “always provide misleading answers etc”, it is your own partisan position that is shown up here, not my own, as anyone reading my EXPERIMENTAL postings over the last six months, invariably backed with ample photographic evidence and couched in moderate language should prove beyond all reasonable doubt.

    Colin Berry aka sciencebod

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