To all those who persist in claiming that the Shroud image is far too superficial to be a simple heat scorch: I say they are 100% wrong – with some help from WD40 – no uv laser beams needed.

At the end of this admittedly uptight preamble, there are 7 photographs that I hope will demolish once and for all ENEA’s Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro’s handy fantasy that a heat scorch can never be superficial.  Readers may recall that claim being repeatedly cited, mantra-like, as the rationale for he and his ENEA colleagues firing off their uv laser beams at linen, generating all those lurid headlines from Dec 2011..

Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural

The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes.

Paolo later tried to defend that fantasy of his with a belated ‘single-shot’ experiment using a hot coin, reported to the Other Site.

From Feb this year on (which I reproduce here in the belief it constitutes “fair use” – if only that my name appears in the title…)

Yet despite singling me out by name for being mistaken in my views, he could not even be bothered to respond to my and others’ comments.

My main complaint was that he had employed too high a temperature, so it was not surprising that his scorch was too deep and penetrating (“not superficial”). Why did he not explore a wider range of temperature, instead of putting all his eggs into the 230 degree C basket (10 degrees higher than the reported pyrolysis temp of hemicelluloses as he himself acknowledged, citing my own literature search).

Had I read his protocol more closely, I  could also have pointed out that he kept his hot coin pressed down on the linen  (apparently, on close reading, with a means of keeping it at 230 degrees?) until it produced an intense scorch – so it was hardly surprising he obtained the result that he did.

Since that intervention/slapdown of his in February,  I have been producing a drip feed of data that says a heat scorch (direct contact, conduction) can be as a faint and superficial as one wishes, right down to the limit of visibility. The problem has been in demonstrating that superficiality is not just at the level of whole threads, but individual fibrils fibres in those threads, of which there can be scores if not hundreds. It would take very careful work with a microscope, which this retired science bod cannot find in his kitchen laboratory (I’ve turned out all the cupboards, and cross-examined the missus closely in case she’s had a lapse of memory in the utensil-acquisition department).

Here below, as I say, is  a series of pictures obtained without using a microscope that to my mind (admittedly in its twilight  phase) proves beyond all reasonable doubt that a heat scorch can be superficial, not just at the thread level, but that of the individual fibrils fibres too.  Enjoy.

Paolo di Lazzaro: kindly stop promoting that superficiality myth of yours. It never made sense on theoretical grounds (see my previous post) and is now rendered indefensible on experimental grounds too.

Amazing, isn’t it, the way these people speak with such authority on scorching when they have scarcely examined it as a credible mechanism,  instantly dismissing it airily on phoney theoretical grounds – and then having the cheek to say the onus is on critics to do the experiments.  Call that science?  I called it Mickey Mouse science from the word go – and got a lot of flak for doing so. But I say, without fear or favour, that it IS Mickey Mouse Mouse science – and unless someone is prepared to blow the whistle on this kind of pseudo-scientific guff (agenda-driven for the most part – the agenda being to push Shroud authenticity – to promote mystery enigma, magic – the current Vatican-line) then science itself becomes the victim – reduced to a laughing stock by all those who casually or shamelessly blur the distinction between science and magic, and in some cases, science and theology).

Nope Dan Porter – the Disney tag is not a personal attack on an individual as you would have folk believe. It is a robust defence of science. If I have an agenda – then it is this – to defend the reputation of science and of scientists, real scientists that is, those who sometimes labour away for years, decades, sometimes an entire career, never reaching the public eye, because they are scrupulously adhering to the scientific method, and not taking short cuts to attention, publicity, fame or glory.

That’s what science is about – patient, plodding, unseen unglamorous beavering away at the margins of ignorance, trying this, trying that, having good ideas, occasionally bad ones, all grist to the mill,  but always eschewing the default human tendency to assert  a subjective view and then quickly move on. The latter is ANATHEMA to science.  Scientists do NOT move on – they stay focused on a problem… continuing to question, probe, review, criticize.  That’s why they are despised by some, at least on internet forums (“obsessional geeks”), to which I say  – look at the modus operandi of Sir Isaac Newton, probably the greatest scientist who ever lived  (more so in my view than the theoretician Einstein, vast intellect yes,  but someone who never did a single lab or astronomical observation).

Newton, had he been  living today, would instantly have been branded an “obsessional geek”.  Yup, 350 years on, science in the UK has been described as ‘ghettoized’. But it needs to be if it wants to progress. Here’s an alliterative analogy off the top of my head to conjure with – the Golden Ghetto – the kind that Newton inhabited in mid 17th century Britain  when forced by the epidemic of plague in her then flea-ridden rat-infested cities to abandon his studies at Cambridge and retreat to his grandmother’s Lincolnshire farm.

Long live the Golden Ghetto, I say.  For scientists at any rate, retired ones included, it focuses the mind, it avoids distractions… Communing with the natural world is something entirely different from ordinary everyday life.  On a different planet? Nope, still on Planet Earth, but fascinated by the latter, and often more interested with that earth and its wonders, animal, vegetable and mineral, than all the ephemeral  interminable, repeatedly-going-over-the-same-ground chit-chat of the (allegedly) highly evolved lifeforms that exist thereon.

Anyway, having got that off my chest, here’s that experiment that shows just how wrong one particular Italian scientist is about homely scorching:

Place two stripped-out threads onto linen, then “brand”, i.e. thermally imprint with a heated template to produce a light scorch on both threads and linen background.

As above, close-up view…

One of the threads removed. Note the way it protected the underlying linen from scorching. Further evidence that a scorch can be highly superficial and non-penetrating, at least at the whole-thread level… What price obligatory reverse-side scorching?

Take that lightly-scorched thread, lay it on a sheet of glass, and add a few drops of WD40. Gently tease out the individual fibres with toothpicks  or similar.

Close-up of the teased-out fibres. Can you see any scorched fibres? There must be some there, but are they outnumbered by non-scorched fibres? Or are they all unscorched-side up? Maybe they can be seen from the other side of the glass?

Here’s what you see when you hold the glass up to the light, and look through the glass from the opposite side. obviously not an abundance of scorched fibres, but maybe one needs to look more closely…

Here’s the reverse side in close-up. Apart from making it easier to tease out the individual fibres, the WD40 sticks them to the glass as a bonus. There is still no sign of scorched fibres – though they are no doubt in there somewhere. It would appear that only a minority of them were scorched, the most superficial ones, with underlying fibresunaffected.

Message to all those who state categorically that scorching can never be superficial: stop the empty theorizing. Do what I have done:  acquaint yourself with chemical theory (thermodynamics of spontaneous/non-spontaneous reactions, standard/non-standard states, Arrhenius activation energies, reaction kinetics, difference between continuous and discrete variables – time and temperature being the first of those), then confirm predictions by experiment if you feel you have to, or, in my case, coerced into doing so, and you too will find that heat-scorching can be as faint and/or superficial as one wishes, right down to the limits of visibility.

If you want to model the Shroud image, start with conventional energy sources – like conducted heat. Put your lasers away, and stop playing to the gallery…  Yes, I know it’s hard: Shroudology has a reputation for playing to the gallery, but you cannot be a gallery-player and scientist at the same time…  Oh , and kindly stop imagining your results could “prompt a philosophical or theological debate”.  If that is your intention, then keep that for books – not (allegedly) scientific papers. the same goes for that fellow countryman of yours – Guilio Fanti – Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who concluded a recent paper of his (one I have heavily criticized for making claims that are not in his results) with a section  headed “Theological Considerations”. Kindly stop compromising the objectivity of science. Kindly learn the difference between “seeing is believing” and your “believing is seeing”.

Postscript; the evidence that the Shroud image is vanishingly thin rests on those sticky tape samples taken and examined under the microscope by two now-deceased members of the original STURP investigating team, i.e.  Raymond N. Rogers and Alan D. Adler.  We are told that the body image could be stripped off, but that the coloured “ghosts” left behind when image fibres were pulled out were not resolvable under the light microscope. From that qualitative observation has come the much-bandied around, ‘quantitative’ 200nm guesstimate of maximum image thickness, based purely on what one can see in a microscope that depends on visible light., or rather, in this instance CANNOT see.

But here’s an oddity. There’ s a map showing where the sticky tape samples were taken from, e.g. the wrist close to the bloodstain, the one labelled 3EF.

But when one examines that region and other sampled regions with Shroud Scope (high-resolution Durante 2002 photographs) there is no obvious sign of any rectangular shaped area that is denuded of body image,  at least that I can see, despite being assured that the image was easily removable with sticky tape.

Can someone, anyone, explain?


Update: Sunday 16 Sep am. The comment  that follows this intro has just appeared from Paulette on the Other Site. She was presumably not aware of this posting when she wrote it. Had she been aware, she would not have suggested the “teasing out” experiment reported here that I performed yesterday morning. Anyway, here’s her comment, with less of the ad hom that is customary from that lady – a science teacher – apart from that totally unnecessary flat-earther analogy.  I addressed the question of “burden of proof” above, so have little patience with those who accuse me of the very thing of which they themselves are guilty. Enough said: over to Paulette:

September 16, 2012 at 5:21 am | #18

As I wrote before, if Colin can get his complaint about shroud science before the Royal Society it will be wonderful for shroud science.

It does seem to me, however, that what Colin is doing, in trying to argue that a faint image is superficial is very unscientific. For the jpeg he has created ( ) he provides the following caption. “Effect of decreasing temperature v contact time on scorch intensity and likely degree of superficiality”.

Likely? Why not examine it with a microscope?

“Lacking as I do a microscope,” he writes, “I cannot check for superficiality at a microscopic level, but I see no reason why a scorch image should not show the same superficiality . . .” He then invites others to disprove him. “If anyone who has a microscope disagrees, then they are at liberty to check that assumption.”

This would be like a man who upon looking at the surface of a vast lake declares the world is flat and invites anyone who has the means to disagree. This is not how science is done. The ball is in his court. Who does he think he is fooling? He goes so far, doing half of an experiment here and half of an experiment there, without even a microscope, to say that his hypothesis is worthy of being called a theory. Such arrogance is astounding.

Dr. Colin Berry, PhD, lifelong chemist, retired biomedical researcher, “previously Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at FMBRA,” certainly knows someone with access to all manner of microscopes to examine his linen experiments. He could mail his samples to any number of people. Would he trust capable people in the shroud community. If not, there are any number of scientists at CSICOP or JREF who would be delighted to help him. He could, with an index card and a thumb tack, or with the power of Twitter, find dozens of capable college students who would be delighted to prepare some photomicrographs in order to advance the cause of skepticism.

Colin could tease apart a lightly scorched thread and see if the image is confined to the top two or three fibrils. He could show us how he is able to remove the discoloration with adhesive tape. And, of course, with photographic images of the coloration, he could show us how truly superficial, and on a scale like the shroud, a heat produced colorization is.

Colin alludes to the work of others in his draft of a letter to the president of the Royal Society to complain about the state of shroud science. He alludes to the work others. That is fine. Let me just mention two.

Dr. Nicholas P L Allen was quite convinced that the image was a proto-photograph. He explained how “after immersion in an ammonia solution, most of the silver is removed from the linen cloth, and the resultant straw-yellow image is formed not by the presence of silver but by a structural (chemical) alteration to the linen (cellulose) itself. He championed his hypothesis. He did the work to satisfy himself and to try an convince others. Unfortunately, the full-sized image he created does not meet all of the characteristics of the image on the shroud and very few people buy into his hypothesis. Nonetheless, curiously perhaps or because of human nature or something like that, I think he still believes he is right. But he is to be applauded for his efforts.

Dr. Luigi Garlaschelli argued that a forger used powdered ochre and a combination of three techniques (frottage, free-hand and bas relief rubbing) to form the image. He thought that trace amounts of humic acids, salts and other organic compounds in the ochre chemically etched the cloth leaving an image as the powdered ochre fell away over time. Unfortunately, the full-sized image he created does not meet all of the characteristics of the image on the shroud and few people buy into his hypothesis. Nonetheless, curiously perhaps or because of human nature or something like that, I think he still believes he is right. But he is to be applauded for his efforts.

By way of contrast Colin writes, “Let me now briefly explain why I feel the time has come for RS members to get involved – as adjudicators between a broad separation in to two rival camps – the major pro-authenticity camp that rejects any idea of the Shroud being a thermal scorch, and the “voice crying in the sindonological wilderness” camp – with a present membership of 1 – name appended at end – that says the Shroud image IS simply a thermal imprint, due to direct contact and passage of conducted heat between template and linen.” Curiously perhaps or because of human nature or something like that, I think he believes he is right even though he can do little more than say it seems likely, dare others to prove him wrong or claim to be the new Isaiah of shroud science.


That Nicholas Allen idea about ‘proto-photography’ is not testable, if, as stated above, it makes the qualifying assumption that the key ingredient – photosensitizing silver – has been washed away leaving no trace in the fabric. If an idea is not testable and thus not potentially falsifiable – then it is not a scientific idea. (Yes, I see that Paulette says “most of the silver”, but that too is unscientific, if one is not prepared to be more specific as to the precise amount, like whether it is one or several orders of magnitude above tiny virtually non-existent background levels).

But in any case I was careful to state in that first draft to the RS (previous posting) that my list of key hypotheses re image formation was by no means exhaustive. However: one thing’s for certain – I would have omitted Allen’s idea,  lacking as it does the crucial criterion of falsifiability.

Colin Berry


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 Shroud of Turin and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s