Same old, same old from Dan Porter’s site – one rule for me, another for pro-authenticity Shroudologists…

Yup, the latest wheeze deployed by the enigmatic Dan Porter,  he who strives to make Shroudie websites America’s biggest growth  industry, is to accuse me of twisting the meaning of “superficial” to suit my own purpose. No, it does not just mean “on the surface of linen or threads”. It means on the surface of individual fibrils he claims, of which there could be scores or even hundreds per thread.

I have discussed the distinction between thread and fibril in the post that immediately precedes this one, and the tentative evidence on which  superficiality at the fibril level is based – notably that sticky tape experiment – no need to repeat it here.

For now I would just point out that Daniel R.Porter allowed Dr.Paolo Di Lazzaro to use that site of his to mount a broadside on my Scorch Theory, one involving new experimental data – one  heated coin at 230 degrees C that supposed to prove that superficiality was not possible with scorching.

I invite my readers to look carefully at Di Lazzaro’s account of that experiment, appended to the end of this post, and see what meaning he attaches to ‘superficial’. You will see that he too refers to superficiality at the level of the thread, not at the microscopic fibril level.

Did Dan Porter point out to his guest poster that superficiality has a special meaning in the context of Shroud studies – that it was far more rigorous than merely looking at threads or the two sides of fabric?  Nope. which is par for the course. Dan Porter’s raison d’etre is promoting Shroud authenticity. Yes. it’s done in a frightfully subtle, understated kind of way, but mark my words,  concepts of fair play and even-handedness play little or no part in that mission of his to promote mystery and “enduring enigma”, while  offering (surprise, surprise) a billboard for all the razzamataz that goes with it (e.g. those travelling Shroud presentations from Russ Breault and others).

To add insult to injury,  Porter has just re-published the whole of Di Lazzaro’s  attack on me, the one incidentally to which Di Lazzaro could not be bothered to respond to my courteous and reasoned response.

As I say in the title, there is one rule for me, another for his pals. Me, I have to meet the most demanding criteria of superficiality, based on a few half-baked, half-completed  STURP experiments with sellotape and a microscope. Di Lazzaro and others can get away with interpreting superficiality in ordinary everyday terms – coloration of visible threads, with no obligation to go teasing out of individual fibrils under a microscope. There is such a thing as “overkill”, especially where Shroudology is concerned, with its relentless quest to erect protective fences around itself to keep intruders like myself out of  its secret garden. “Overkill” plays a prominent part in Shroudology’s MO, the belief being that you can fool most of the people all of the time, and all of the people most of the time (apologies to Abe Lincoln) …

From Paolo Di Lazzaro, February 2012

Re-published by Dan Porter, September 8th, 2012  Link

Dear Dan and All:

I checked the idea of Colin Berry in the website you quoted.  In short, from a physics point of view, his model is untenable, especially concerning the depth of coloration. Let me explain why.

Berry wrote: “The scorching will initially be confined to those parts of the fabric that are in immediate contact with the hot metal; no air gap is permissible, since radiated heat will not scorch white linen. What is more, the scorch will be confined to the outermost fibres of the thread, because the scorch will tend remain trapped within the first-encountered fibres, rather than being able to “jump across” to adjacent fibres. Why is that? It is because the resistant cellulose cores that are unaffected are able to conduct away heat rapidly, bringing the temperature of the hot template down to below that which will induce scorching Is it realistic to suppose that cellulose fibres could conduct away heat without themselves becoming degraded? Yes. I believe it is.”

It is quite easy showing the above assumption is wrong, and it is one of the few cases where it is faster doing the experiment than to explain the theory. According with a paper quoted by Berry, the onset of pyrolysis in hemicelluloses is at about 220°C.  We have heated a 5-cents euro coin at about 230 °C in contact with a linen cloth. Just 5 seconds after the coin reached the max temperature the whole cross section of threads in contact with the coin was colored.  After15 seconds all the thickness of the cloth was colored and the round shaped image of the coin appeared on the opposite side. After checking in our Lab, we repeated this easy and small-size experiments in the RAI3 TV studios (GeoScienza) to demonstrate that heating linen cannot give a superficial coloration.

Postscript: from Dan Porter:

“I guess you can do that if you ignore or alter facts. However, the Drs. Jackson, Rogers, Di Lazzaro and Heimburger, all independently at different times, have adequately shown that such a theory, hypothesis, wild-ass-guess is wrong by pointing out that heat cannot form a physically superficial discoloration of linen fibers.

Think what you like about hypothesis v theory,  Mr.Porter. But I’ll tell you this for free: the statement that “heat cannot form a physically superficial discoloration” is unsupported by any kind of objective scientific data. It is in fact self-serving claptrap, and time will prove that I am right when I say that a thermal imprint (scorch) can be as faint and/or superficial as one wishes, right down to atomic and molecular dimensions. Can any of those gentlemen provide one piece of hard experimental evidence to demonstrate otherwise, or a theoretical foundation even for thinking there would not be a smooth continuum of image density down to zero discernible image?

What they seem to have forgotten is that energy transfer by thermal agitation (“conducted heat”) is a time-dependent process. If an image is more intense than one desires, there is always the option of reducing the contact time (or temperature), recalling that both are continuous variables that can be reduced in as large or small an increment as one desires.

I am frankly amazed that anyone with the most elementary science education could believe that scorching was some kind of all-or-nothing process. Would anyone dare place a hot iron down on a shirt, no matter how gingerly,  if that were even remotely true?


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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