Of course heat can produce a superficial coloration – I ask those who say it can’t to do my simple experiment

Yes, naming no names (at least for now) there is a simple way of demonstrating that heat CAN produce a superficial coloration, contrary to those who trumpet otherwise.  So attempts to dismiss the Scorch Theory (yes, THEORY) as the means by which the Shroud image was produced on the grounds that heat cannot produce a superficial scorch, above or below the oft-quoted 200nm thickness,  are not just an assault on common sense, as I have long maintained, but lack any kind of scientific rationale or experimental justification. Repeat: a scorch can be as faint OR superficial OR both simply by adjusting the main experimental variables – temperature (obviously), or contact time, or contact pressure primarily. Why am I having to state the obvious?

Don’t believe me? Well here’s an experiment that anyone can do in their own kitchen. I have just this minute done it, taking snapshots at each stage. Look at the photographs, read my captions, and, as I say, if you are in any doubt as to my conclusions above, then I urge you to repeat the experiment for yourself.

Incidentally, photographs of my own experiments are copyright, and should not be reproduced elsewhere without my permission. They are available, free of charge, for genuine research purposes, though I reserve the right to be the judge of that.

Step 1: tease a single thread from the edge of a linen sheet

Step 2: lay the thread on top of a sheet of linen with a floor cloth or similar as underlay, then find yourself a small metal object to serve as template – I used a pencil sharpener…

Step 3: Heat the template, then serially “brand” the single thread and the underlying linen, as shown above.

Step 4: place treated thread under hand lens. Illuminate well. Locate scorched regions. Then rotate thread through 180 degrees. Is there scorching on the opposite side? If yes, then a scorch is not superficial at the level of the thread. If no, as I have consistently found, then YES, a scorch IS or CAN BE superficial at the level of the individual thread.

The above experiment shows that a scorch can be superficial, at the level of the individual thread, and  is a counter to those who claim otherwise, e.g. based on a one-off experiment with a heated coin.

Whether the faint AND superficial scorch above is more or less than 200nm in thickness, affecting only part of the individual FIBRILS, of which there may be scores or hundreds per thread, I cannot say. But then neither I doubt can anyone else, given the absence of SYSTEMATIC studies on scorches, linen and depth of pyrolysis.  The 200nm figure that is bandied around as a “criterion” for modellers to achieve is  an estimate based purely on STURP members being unable to discern/resolve the cross-sectional profile of a stripped image layer under a light microscope. It is NOT based on actual direct measurement. One cannot make a criterion from a number that was not measured directly, and which still cannot (apparently)  be measured by present technology. So I will continue to assert that a scorch can be as faint or superficial as one wishes, with no scientific grounds for thinking that a scorch has to be more than 200nm in thickness and, ipso facto, (wait for it) of no relevance to the Shroud of Turin.

Obviously I would like to see if that view is falsifiable, but the onus of falsifying does not rest solely on the originator of a hypothesis.

The immediate imperative is not for me to (attempt to ) falsify my own hypothesis. The chief imperative at present is for those who trumpet that a scorch can NEVER be “superficial”  to desist from doing so,  as they do a disservice to science in making an assertion for which they lack a single shred of hard scientific evidence – or indeed any plausible theoretical model to underpin so counter-intuitive (and some might say self-serving) a claim. It’s time to stop misusing that “s” word ( “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone,”it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” ). Reminder: science is concerned purely with propositions that are testable. One should not attack a theory or even hypothesis for allegedly lacking features that are not measurable or testable by present technology.


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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