Checklists – easy things to cut-and-paste – but is the inquisitor genuinely interested in one’s answers?

I generally ignore requests to answer lengthy checklists, unless I’m fairly certain that the enquirer is genuinely interested in the responses given, and not using them merely to impress and/or intimidate.

The following checklist was served on me a couple of days ago with a preamble that was both scornful and supercilious – so I chose to ignore it. But since Dan Porter is pressing me to respond, I shall reluctantly do so, but if folk wish to have further amplification or clarification of points, I will now insist that they post their question to me here on my own site. New comment that appears on Porter’s will be read, but I shan’t go out of my way to respond immediately unless as I say posted here.


1. The image does not penetrate below the topmost two or three fibrils of the yarn

If the sepia-coloured Shroud image does not penetrate below two or three fibrils of yarn, as we are told (and which I have no reason to disbelieve) then why should a sepia-coloured scorch image, also faint and scarcely visible, not have the same superficiality?

I have shown that one can scorch just one side of a thread (see this morning’s posting) comprising probably scores of fibrils, without scorching the opposite side. That is what one might describe as superficiality at a macroscopic level, an essential first step.

Lacking as I do a microscope, I cannot check for superficiality at a microscopic level, but I see no reason why a scorch image should not show the same superficiality, especially as it represents pyrolysis from the outside of the fibrils/fibres initially which is the first-encountered location of those sensitive hemicelluloses of the primary cell wall that are more prone to pyrolysis than the highly crystalline celluloses of the secondary cell wall.

If anyone who has a microscope disagrees, then they are at liberty to check that assumption. All I would ask is that they check across a serial series of thermal imprints, starting with easily visible, right down to scarcely visible, and not report on any one single image (not that anyone would ever dream of selecting data that just happen to support their argument)

Prediction:  the faintest images will not penetrate the topmost two or three fibrils of yarn. Repeat:  a scorch can be as faint or superficial as one wishes, at least down to atomic and molecular dimensions ( 1 to 10nm say).

2. The discoloration of the fibrils themselves, presumably from dehydration and oxidation, is between 200 and 600 nanometers thick (billionths of a meter/metre).

No, that is not a fair summary of the scientific facts, implying as it does a spurious degree of accuracy and precision. That figure is based on STURP members having stripped the image layer off the Shroud and finding it was too small to resolve under a light microscope. 200-600nm is the presumed upper range.  I have no difficulty with that range, since it is the same ballpark as the thickness of the primary cell wall of plants, which would seem to me to be sufficient on which to imprint an easily visible image. (I have shown that a single layer of colourless epidermal cells from onion can take an intense scorch image without an underlying sheet of linen being affected – and it might, just might,  be the outer cell wall  (200nm?) that was acquiring that image.

3. The medulla of the fiber/fibre is clear in both image and non-image fibrils

That merely indicates that the crystalline cellulose in the interior of the fibril can be unaffected at temperatures that produce a scorch on the PCW hemicelluloses. That should not occasion surprise. Cellulose is far more resistant to pyrolysis than the chemically more reactive hemicelluloses.

Again, I invite those with a microscope to repeat the STURP studies on scorched linen fibres, checking the entire range of image intensity.

Prediction: it will be possible to produce faint scorch marks on linen, comparable in intensity to the Shroud image, without appreciably affecting the cellulose of the medullas of the fibres.

4. The image can be removed from a fibril with adhesive tape.

But was that true when the Shroud image was first formed?  Who is to say that ageing and other insults have not reduced the adhesion of the image layer?  Personally I know little about the interface/transition zone between primary and secondary cell wall at the molecular level, but would predict that ageing would weaken rather than strengthen it, having some acquaintance with flaking paint, flaking stucco, flaking gilt … the technical term is “delamination” as I recall…

5. The image doesn’t fluoresce in UV light.

Sorry, but unless you know why the 1532 burn marks fluoresce under uv then you cannot invoke that as evidence against the Shroud image being a scorch. In any case, there are large chemical differences between intensely charred linen and faint scorches, the presence or absence of (fluorescent) benzenoid aromatics – the precursors of microcrystalline graphite, aka carbonised linen  –  being one of them. See my earlier posting on the subject of fluorescence, and why it is little more than a  ‘pseudo-scientific’ mumbo jumbo to play that fluorescence card.

6. The halftone effect evident in the image is from striated color/colour patterns.

The halftone effect may be associated with striated colour patterns, but one cannot assume a cause-and-effect relationship. Both may be manifestations of a third unindentified factor. I have proposed elsewhere an hypothesis that accounts at least for the half-tone effect in terms of exothermic, self-sustaining pyrolysis of hemicelluloses (the pyrolysis of celluloses not only having a higher activation energy, requiring a higher temperature to initiate, but is said to be endothermic and thus not self-sustaining).


There now. That’s another chore completed.

But what makes me think I’ll have the same checklist dropped on me in a month or two, or  six months time, probably by someone else deploying cut-and-paste, also trying to look terribly well clued up in Shroudological polemics, but probably not in the slightest bit interested in the answers one gives?  Uncharitable thought? You betcha, but not as uncharitable as the steady stream of corrosive comment that emanates from The Other Site by those who resent hearing the authenticity of the Shroud challenged,  who routinely fall back on  dog-eared, hand-me-down checklists,  like the one above, bereft of any original thought or observation – in an attempt to score cheap debating points at the expense of the opponent.


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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