“Heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration” says Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro. Oh yes it can – and here’s the evidence…

“Heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration” says Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro of ENEA (an Italian governmental research institute no less).

Link to The Other Site


Here, hot from the presses (literally!) is the result of the first experiment, performed yesterday, using my new clip-on oven thermometer.

It was carried out under the scrupulously-controlled experimental conditions only possible  in the “British Shroud of Turin Advanced Physical and Chemical Research Institute” (which others know more simply as “Colin’s Kitchen”).

Click to enlarge

Three metal objects were heated in the oven to 250 degrees C, then withdrawn with tongs and pressed into linen with a backing dampened floor cloth.  As you will see (with difficulty) the scorch images produced were barely discernible. (The easiest to see is that from the horse brass which lies “SW” of the metal).

Late addition: as above but with adjustment to brightness and contrast.

They could be said to be comparable to the superficial Shroud image which, according to Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro, could not have been produced by conventional means, thus justifying his “uv excimer laser beams” in widely-publicized model studies (recalling the “Flash of Supernatural Light” headlines from December 2011).

The dark ribbon in the lower right hand corner is a strip of the same linen that was KEPT inside the oven, and which began to char even before the temperature had reached 200 degrees C.

Why then did the linen under the hot metal not char like the strip that was kept in the oven? Why is the image so superficial?

The answer is self-evident. The metal may have been at 250 degrees on removal from the oven, but was cooling down rapidly on exposure to ordinary room temperature, and continued to do so when pressed into the cloth. Why? Because some of the thermal energy was being abstracted initially from hot metal  to expel some of the hydration shell of moisture that is always associated with linen  and with cellulosic fibres generally, even ones that may feel “bone dry. (Somewhere I have read that 20% or more of the weight of linen “as is” can be adsorbed/absorbed moisture – I will try to track down the reference). The linen cannot scorch until that hydration shell has been removed.

For now, I would simply say to Dr. Di Lazzaro that his experimental design was not a realistic representation of the conditions that would pertain if a medieval forger had been attempting to scorch an image onto linen, say from an inanimate plaster cast replica of a recently deceased person (see my latest “death mask” theory).

It would appear from the description of his ad hoc coin experiment – a welcome but somewhat nominal and dismissive response to my earlier researches on scorching –  that the temperature was maintained at 230 degrees C while the coin was in contact with the cloth.  (Quite how he managed to achieve that one can only speculate, but he was clearly operating at too high a temperature).

I may decide to add more to the end of this posting later. In the meantime, comments are as ever always welcome (with the proviso that the kind of ad hominem put-downs I routinely attracted on The Other Site will not be tolerated here. I am a retired scientist, not a theological polemicist…).

PS: This latest “scorch” experiment also provided some possible insights into the nature of the alleged “obverse-side image” on the Shroud of Turin about which more later.  Suffice it to say that it can make a difference whether one has the backing underlay (“floor cloth”) damp or dry. Oh, and the discoloration is confined largely to the crown threads, i.e. the most superficial part of the weave, exactly as expected of a contact scorch, exactly as described for the Shroud of Turin. (So why do the Italians persist with their wacky radiation theories (coherent uv light and/or corona discharge) when the late Raymond Rogers pointed out years and years ago that there was no conceivable mechanism by which electromagnetic radiation could produce selective coloration at a distance of crown threads, regardless of wavelength? So what’s changed in the meantime? Certainly not the laws of physics and chemistry).

Update: Friday 15:30 UK time

Here’s the response from The Other Site – entirely predictable in tone and content:

“What am I missing? Why does he say an image he creates with a heated object is superficial? He writes:

Why then did the linen under the hot metal not char like the strip that was kept in the oven? Why is the image so superficial?

How does he know it is superficial? Because there is no char? Does the “British Shroud of Turin Advanced Physical and Chemical Research Institute” have a microscope? Is he just guessing?

What is Colin Berry talking about when he uses the word superficial?”


Somewhat rich don’t you think? Di Lazzaro, Fanti and others bandy around the term “superficiality” as a challenge to sceptics, yet what is their meaning, their definition?  None, except to dredge up that ancient back-of-envelope estimate of Rogers that the image must be less than 200nm thick, since it is not resolvable under the light microscope. Have they done any determinations of the image thickness? None that I am aware of. yet they quite happily set up that “impossibly thin to be a medieval forgery” roadblock in order to justify their own forays into wacky high-energy radiation.

I come along today, and produce VISUAL EVIDENCE of a barely discernible image that clearly has produced minimal pyrolysis of linen carbohydrates, and straightaway get jumped upon by the Suave Propagandist for Shroud Authenticity, for failing to put a precise figure on the image thickness when NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE as far as I am aware has been able to do that previously.

It is a matter of commonsense,not science, that a light contact scorch due to brief contact with a hot surface can be as superficial as one wishes.  Let Dan Porter and others heat some metal, and then do a series of thermal imprints (“brands”) across linen. They will see scorches tailing off to invisibility. Are they seriously suggesting that the faintest scorch, at the limits of visibility, have to be more than 200nm thick? (That incidentally is the typical thickness of gold leaf, used a millennium ago to illuminate medieval manuscripts). Why? What is their evidence? What is so special about that 200nm figure to justify it being wheeled out each time I raise the subject of scorching and superficiality?  If they think my faint scorch in the photoograph above is more than 200nm thick, then let them prove it.

As far as I am concerned, that faint scorch is comparable in intensity to the image on the Shroud. As such, scorching by contact/heat conduction is the most probable means by which the Shroud image was produced, given the radiocarbon dating, and given that a simple heat scorch meets so many other criteria (negative image, encoded 3D properties, confined to the most superficial crown threads, the possibility of an obverse side image,  etc).

Enough of the pseudo-science Dan.  If you want to be taken seriously then match my REAL science with your own REAL science, and I don’t mean the fantasies of a handful of Vaticanised so-called Italian scientists.


And here’s the latest stinker from science teacher “Paulette”, up on her high horse as usual: “What in the world is Colin thinking? Where are his measurements? Does he even know what superficiality means?” (I shan’t bother quoting the rest in all its hair-curling smarter-than-thou hoity-toityness).

No, Paulette. I know nutheeng about superficiality. That posting by my namesake some months ago on the PCW and its hemicelluloses – the one that offered explanations for a lot of the peculiarities of the Shroud image – superficiality included – the one that I listed a short while ago as “my” most visited posting,  with some 800 hits to date, was not penned by me, needless to say, but by my identical twin brother Colin. Actually we are clones, but don’t tell anyone I said so…


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.
This entry was posted in medieval forgery, medieval hoax, Shroud of Turin and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “Heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration” says Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro. Oh yes it can – and here’s the evidence…

  1. Pingback: What is Colin Berry talking about? « Shroud of Turin Blog

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