Stephen Jones BSc. Grad Dip.Ed persists in his mistaken belief that the Shroud image is a photograph. (Where’s the scientific evidence?)

Image  and caption accompanying Jones’s current posting. It’s to kick off a new multi-instalment series he tells us, one that will no doubt have us (yet again) on the edge of our seats, like all his previous multi-instalment series….

“Note that the Shroud’s image is a type of photographic negative”?

Reminder, Mr.Jones: “photo-” is a root that means “light”. On what grounds do you base your assumption that light was involved in capturing that image? If it was light, then what served as imaging system (converging lens etc) or photographic emulsion? Who or what did the chemical development – or was it a digital photograph?

Someone who parades his scientific and educational qualifications should know better than inflict his assumptions or beliefs on others without supplying evidence to back them up.

For the record, I  have consistently maintained on this blog that the Shroud image is not a photograph, but a THERMOGRAPH. The difference between Jones and myself is that I have successfully modelled crucial aspects the Shroud image (negative character, superficiality, encoded 3D information)  using heat conduction from direct contact with a hot template, aka scorching (see banner). Repeat: the Shroud image has the expected characteristics of a thermograph – a contact scorch – NOT a photograph, not even a negative photograph. Yes, I know these are just words, but words matter.

It is because the Shroud image is  most probably a scorch imprint from a template with some 3D relief that it is light/dark reversed, i.e. a “negative”, but not, repeat NOT a photographic negative, even if it behaves like one. Entities can behave like something else without being that something else. A whale may look at first sight like a fish, but is NOT a fish – example carefully chosen for the benefit of Stephen Jones, BSc (Biol).

Stephen Jones (to my mind, irresponsibly, for a science teacher)  perpetuates his “photographic negative” error without bothering to explain how some mysterious proto-photography in his putative radiocarbon-defying 1st century AD tomb could produce any kind of image.  Why a negative image, or indeed, why any kind of image without the paraphernalia of the photographic studio?  He continues to use that blog of his to promote an evangelising agenda with what can only be described as junk science, yet flaunting his so-called scientific and educational credentials. From where I am standing, his understanding of the scientific method and of basic scientific concepts would appear to be essentially zilch …


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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27 Responses to Stephen Jones BSc. Grad Dip.Ed persists in his mistaken belief that the Shroud image is a photograph. (Where’s the scientific evidence?)

  1. Hugh Farey says:

    I wonder if you’re not flogging a dead horse here? If Stephen Jones believes that the image on the shroud was created by cellulose degradation as a result of light, then I’ve no doubt he will explain how, just as you explain how it might be as a result of heat, and others have championed various other parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum. The terms positive and negative are clearly relevant to the image, and unless we are thinking of electric charges, the association of those words with the word ‘photographic’ is surely metaphorically acceptable, however the image was formed. I suppose “a type of” may be considered too dogmatic, but to say the shroud is similar to, or in some ways resembles a photographic negative is fair enough. I look forward to your examination of Stephen Jones’s ideas about how the image was formed (for all I know he might concur with you!), and can’t get very exited about the exact meaning of “a type of,” I’m afraid.

  2. colinsberry says:

    Are you seriously suggesting there is some kind of equivalence between my THERMOgraphy, patiently and systematically documented over the last 9 months, and Jones’s sloppy unscientific use of the term PHOTOgraphy? There is a world of difference between those two terms and image-forming mechanisms.. THERMOgraphy offers a explanation for the negative character of the Shroud image, encoded 3D information, confinement to the more superficial parts of the weave etc. PHOTOgraphy explains nothing. It is merely a lazy (and erroneous) assumption that Secondo Pia’s positive photographic image must have been derived from a PHOTOgraphic (pseudo)negative.

    If Jones is dying to unveil a new theory of proto-photography, then let him do it sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I shall give short shrift to Jones or anyone else who bandies around a term that I consider to be highly misleading (and self-serving too, if the user feels it excuses them from having to discuss the specifics of image properties and formation).

    Btw: how can ordinary visible white light degrade linen? Or do you include ultraviolet in your reference to “light”? If so, how was that uv radiation brought to a focus in a way that could produce an image? These are all questions that I have addressed in earlier postings, with the conclusion that I see no role whatsoever for light or any kind of electromagnetic radiation where the Shroud is concerned (except maybe for generalised background yellowing of the linen over decades and centuries, but with no image-formation).

  3. Hugh Farey says:

    I don’t know how or whether ordinary light degrades linen or not. I guess most “ordinary white light” includes a fair amount of UV anyway. Some years ago I soaked a handkerchief in potassium dichromate and shone a focussed photographic diaposive slide on it for a couple of hours. The image was very clearly visible (brown on yellow), but then I washed it, ironed it with a hot iron, boiled it and generally tried to remove all traces of the experiment, but the image remained, albeit so faint that the BSTS were unable to reproduce it in their journal. it had, of course, a negative quality about it, in that the lighter areas of the photo changed the colour of the cloth least.
    I certainly don’t believe that the image on shroud was formed like that, nor by hanging a life-sized image (or real dead person) outside a pin-hole camera the size of a room, or any of the other photographic ideas currently in circulation, and of course it is true that in any of these cases the image is technically formed by the reaction of the sensitive chemical with the linen, not by the direct energy of light rays. (A similar experiment can be performed by shining a very contrasty slide onto a large leaf and carrying out a standard school-level starch test with iodine).
    I have to say that I don’t look forward to Stephen Jones’s photographic evidence (if so it be) with any great hope of being convinced; however, I still have difficulty with the hot brass statue idea, although the bas relief variation is quite compelling.

  4. colinsberry says:

    Hmmm. I’d need to know exactly how those chemical-imprinting tests were done, and what precisely was the role of light and/or filters and stencils (if any) before venturing any comment, far less criticism.

    As for hot brass statues, I’ve never been terribly keen on that idea, unless there had been one of a crucified Christ that had been damaged, say, and for which someone was attempting to find a use as an alternative to selling for scrap.

    I suspect there is more mileage with thermal imprinting from sections cast with Plaster of Paris. They could have been made from a real corpse (in theory a living subject too) using death mask technology that has been around probably for millennia. The temperatures needed are nowhere near red heat, btw: somewhere between 200 and 250 Celsius, probably nearer the latter, being sufficient to produce a reasonably distinct sepia coloured scorch.

    If one is a medieval forger, one does not go to the trouble of producing a one-off thermal imprint, outwith conventional artistic practice, unless there is a compelling reason to make the image LOOK LIKE A SCORCH. As I’ve said before, I believe the “unique and relevant” answer to that conundrum lies in the Templar connection, especially with De Molay’s gruesome execution (and preceding crucifixion?) and that of De Charney and other leading Templars. That order may have been stripped of most of its vast wealth, but there were probably still funds, or maybe later donations, that were available for creating a unique and compelling memento, with the focus on HEAT. A scorched memento may have been considered an apt visual metaphor, given that roasting/burning at the stake left nothing at the end to which mourners could pay their respects except charred fragments and ashes (and some sources say they were usually removed by ghoulish spectators taking them home as souvenirs).

  5. Hugh Farey says:

    Moving on… (I’m just adding this comment to this page because it’s your latest, not because my query had much to do with the above).

    I’ve been looking at the close-ups from Shroud Scope (thanks very much for alerting me to it), and wondering how much of the marking we see is due to discolouration of the cloth, and how much is simply shadow due to the profile of the weave. Presumably the photos were taken under the best possible lighting conditions, but if there were no shadows at all, then the patches of recently sewn-on cloth to cover the burn-holes, not having any distinction in coloration, should appear a uniform plain white, which they don’t. Some of the crease marks on the shroud, with higher highs and lows than the ordinary bumpiness of the linen threads, would cast more prominent shadows, and perhaps distort an interpretation of the marks associated with them. Has anybody discussed this, do you know?

  6. colinsberry says:

    I think it unlikely that shadows would intrude on modern close-ups views, e.g. the Durante 2002 images that I use from Shroud Scope. The pictures I have seen of the photography set-up show several overhead spotlights – not much chance of shadow there surely, without lateral lighting. I’ve seen mentions made to some features showing up better with raking light, but they are the weird and wonderful ones – flowers, coins, writing etc etc, and invariably they come from Enrie and other photographic negatives with light/dark reversal. I have no truck with those – it’s the sepia as-is Shroud image for me or nothing.

    But why are you concerned anyway on this score? What kind of artefact did you have in mind? One that suggests something is present when it’s not, or one that suggests that something is absent when it isn’t?

  7. Hugh Farey says:

    Take, for example, the top right hand corner of the photo of the enlarged head section of the Durante image on shroud scope. I’m supposing nobody thinks there was any “image making” mechanism there, but the individual threads are clearly differentiated in lines of dark and light. I’m wondering what the dark lines are. Are they on the top of each thread, or in the valleys between the threads? If on the top, then has there been some sort of uniform degradation of the entire shroud, even without any reference to image-formation; and if in the valleys, then presumably there’s a lot of gunk down there, which would play a significant part in the interpretation of anything else that might have formed thanks to scorches, chemicals or whatever to make the image. Or are they, literally, optical illusions?

    Somewhere in your blog you reproduce an extreme close-up of some threads with ‘blood’ on them (Mark Evans: Dense blood stain, scourge mark on back). If one ignores the blood, one appears to to be looking at a wall of hairy bricks. If however, I blow the photo up to full screen, and then walk backwards away from it, then the vertical shadows between the bricks seem to become more prominent, and one sees two broad diagonal bands each made of closely spaced short vertical black lines. Needless to say, there are no such diagonal markings on the photo.

    So, if all the diagonal bands observed on the shroud are observable in a similar way, then they are optical illusions, not real markings, so what would the image look like without them? That’s what I was getting at.

    • colinsberry says:

      There’s been a sudden change in your style and persona Hugh. You are now probing at a much deeper level of detail than previously. That’s OK – I don’t mind detail, in fact I revel in it, but must now take stock of your interest in the minutiae of image characteristics.

      I shall go back and have another look at the non-image areas and the detail you say they show. Hopefully I’ll be able to respond with something sensible – but there again I may not. For now I would just say this: one can put fresh linen under a lens and see fibres, weave patterns without there being any image. I assume that is due not just to shadow effects that you but suggest but also due to differences in reflection and even refraction. As a general observation, I might also point out that you have still not said why you are taking this particular line – what is it leading up to? Is there something in my observation and /or interpretation to which you have taken exception – and if so, is it on scientific or some other grounds?

  8. Hugh Farey says:

    It’s just struck me that of course none of the diagonal stripes are actual diagonal markings on the cloth, as three quarters of the visible thread actually runs horizontally, or rather transversely across the shroud, and the longitudinal warp threads (in the three to one twill) only appear as squares, occupying the other quarter of the visible cloth. Presumably the back of the shroud reverses this, and the other three quarters of the warp is visible, the threads running longitudinally from one end to the other, and only one quarter of the weft.
    I believe in the early days (probably round about the STURP examination) there were attempts (or was an attempt) to “remove directional markings” or something similar, by means of the very limited editing software then available. The object of that was to try to prove that there were no brush strokes, and so that the image was not a painting. However I am not aware of any attempt to remove the “shadows between the threads” (ALL the diagonal stripes of the herringbone pattern) to see more clearly what image really lies on top of the threads.

  9. Hugh Farey says:

    No agenda. I’ve done experiments of various kinds on pieces of cloth for 30 years (heat, light, UV, acids, alkalies, myhrr, aloes, sweat, you name it) without convincing myself that I know how the image was made. However I have never had access to the high-definition (although sadly not high enough for what I want now) photography of Shroud Scope, and it really has just struck me that we’re all working from pictures, with all their optical imperfections, rather than the artifact itself. I don’t even know if all the diagonal hatching (shadow, reflection or refraction) is actually visible at all in some lighting conditions. Part of the clarity of your scorch from the mask in your banner above comes from the exposure of the cloth so that the individual threads which are not scorched are hardly visible; it may be that the shroud would look very similar if it was photographed in the same way. It should at least be much easier to differentiate scorch marks (if so they are) from liquid flows (if so they are) which would be expected to follow the ridges and furrows of the threads.

    As for my fascination for minutiae, there are a steadily decreasing number of fields open to original discovery by independent researchers with no facilities, and any original discoveries i have made are indeed extremely minute. The Shroud is not something I’ve thought much about for a few years, as I’ve been concentrating on the history of the Olympic Games recently, but again, delving into some tiny details to try to derive original research from them.

    Here’s another bit of minutiae, for example. The famous crease across the neck of the shroud has a sort of dip, or shallow V, almost in the centre, in a light patch of the beard. Is that V real, or is the shroud lightly creased vertically at that point, and we are looking at the horizontal crease going down one side and up the other? If the V is real, then why is it there or how did it get there? It may be trivial, but it’s the sort of thing that absorbs me.

    If you’ve found my entry on the BSTS meetup site, you’ll know that I’m a Catholic and a Science teacher, and might have thought I was a “let’s-try-and-invent-some-science-to-explain-a-miracle” sort of scientist. Nothing could be further than the truth. In common with most orthodox Catholic theologians who have faced up to miracles (including the Pope, according to the second volume of his life of Jesus) I fully expect the accounts of what happened physically to be thoroughly explicable in conventional scientific terms. Theologians are now exploring how (and why) these events affected the people who witnessed them and how they were used to illustrate a new (and better?) life style; they are not (mostly) bothering about the science. There are still fundamentalist Creation and Miracle (and Shroud) so-called scientists, but they are not theologians. (Nor Scientists, of course).

  10. colinsberry says:

    OK, I hear what you say, Hugh.These are all details that we can and should discuss, pooling our respective observations and interpretations. yes, I too would like even higher resolution photographs of the Shroud, but am grateful that Mario Latendresse alerted me to the Shroud Scope pictures when he did. I’m surprised that so little use has been made of them so far. When did you hear of their existence? Not from my posting surely, given they have been available since the middle of last year (as I recall)?

    However, with some 125 postings now on the Shroud, I am in no mood to let the details, interesting though they are, cause me to take my eye off the ball.

    I am now wholly convinced there was a systematic attempt by key members of STURP and many others to eliminate contact scorching aka thermal imprinting as an image mechanism with scarcely any attempt at serious scrutiny. We now have the unedifying sight of so-called scientists lining up to say that it fails to match a superficiality criterion (<200nm) – one that rests on little more than one man’s failure to see something well when immersed in adhesive tape ‘goo’ under a light microscope. More so-called ‘scientists’ have since piled in, claiming without a shred of theoretical or experimental evidence that a scorch can never be as superficial as the image on the Shroud.

    That so-called scientists should engage in this kind of misinformation, nay, DISINFORMATION, is quite simply scandalous. I think it time that I redrafted that letter to the Royal Society that I mooted earlier. I was far too neutral and polite in that first draft. I want to convey my disgust and contempt at the way in which pseudo-science is STILL being used to promote the authenticity agenda.

  11. Hugh Farey says:

    So, following my usual modus operandi, I ask myself two questions:
    1) How could someone come to the conclusion that the marks are not scorches, when prima facie they look very like scorches?
    2) Why might someone have a vested interest in the marks not being scorches?

    The answer to the first lies in the chemical structure of cellulose, about which I know little, and its appearance in polarised light, about which I know nothing. I haven’t read the original papers in any detail, but there seems to be some confusion between threads (being the long thin stuff the weaver used), fibres (being the little twisty bits that make up the threads), and cellulose molecules. It is obvious that threads can be scorched on one side, you can see that with the naked eye. I think it is obvious under a microscope that fibres can be scorched on one side, or at least damaged more in one place than another, although I haven’t been able to verify that personally (yet); but I know nothing about the molecular composition of each fibre, and would need to read the original papers more carefully than I have done so far to see if the polarised light experiments really do preclude scorching, which I doubt. As I understand it, cellulose is a fairly elaborate and extensive network of sub-components (glucose units), which can surely be damaged in some places without affecting others. Heating it is not, I surmise, an all or nothing affair – unlike, say, heating a single glucose molecule, which cannot but cause total decomposition.

    As to the second, I suppose that if I were wedded to a photographic or chemical or burst-of-cosmic-rays origin, I would cling to any evidence, however tenuous, that the marks are not scorches. Nothing else springs to mind, but perhaps you have better ideas than I.

    Anyway, my next job is to try to understand Ray Rogers’s “Radiation Effects, Aging and Image Formation” whose abstract concludes that “the image could not have involved energetic radiation of any kind; photons, electrons, protons, alpha particles and/or neutrons.” That seems quite dogmatic!

    You may hope, and I wish you well, that positive evidence alone is enough to establish a theory; but in practice, I think, it is usually necessary to disprove negative evidence as well, especially if it comes from a reputable source.

  12. colinsberry says:

    As I’ve said previously, there is a method of testing whether the Shroud is authentic of not that does not involve the controversial radiocarbon dating. It requires going back to Square One on the question of what was acquired first – the image or the blood. If the Shroud is authentic, then blood came first – one can be totally categorical about that. (The converse however is not true – the Shroud could be a medieval forgery regardless of whether the blood or image came first, although image first makes life simpler for the forger).

    Yes, I know that “blood first, image second” is received wisdom, but it is based on a single finding with protein-digesting enzyme that while suggestive is far from conclusive. Shroud Scope images suggested to me a while ago that image may in fact be UNDERNEATH blood. If so, and that can be confirmed, then we have an interesting opportunity to test authenticity, inasmuch as one can search for better tests that establish which is underneath which (even though we are still uncertain as to the precise chemical nature of either the image or the authenticity of the blood).

    I mentioned the Royal Society earlier. I am minded now to include in my letter a request that it invites its members to suggest new and novel means of determining whether blood or body image came first, preferably using instrumentation that causes minimal damage to the Shroud. Turin-custodians willing, that could be a means for breaking the present impasse.

  13. Hugh Farey says:

    There are two places where your imaging software might help with the blood/first body first problem. I had a go myself but iPhoto (all I’ve got) is not subtle enough. It seems to me that the drop of blood right at the end of the distinctive 3 shape on the forehead has a light patch in the middle, which could be as a result of a thick encrustation peeling off. The other place is at the back of the head, where, to be frank, the blood stains look as if they have bubbles in them – again, light patches which may be the result of thick bits coming away. If there was no body image (scorch, if you like) under them, then the colour should be perhaps pale pink (???) being the stain left behind by the blood, and nothing else. If there is an image under them, then it should be darker, a combination of the brown image and and pink blood residue. Another place to look for pale spots in the blood might be the dribble from one of the feet, which clearly continues into places where there is no image.

    Back to Rogers. The paper I quoted does not seem to me to concern scorching at all, being all about nuclear radiation, specifically from thorium. How comparable the results of nuclear radiation are with lowish temperature scorching I don’t know. Having irradiated some flax for a week with thorium, it would have been pretty simply just to scorch a bit for comparison, but that was presumably not the object of Rogers’s exercise. His conclusion that, when examined under polarising light, image and non-image threads look the same (although one photo is very blurred) may be significant in terms of emitted particles, but I don’t think his paper establishes that it is relevant to scorching, at least not to me, or, presumably, you!

    There is a lot in the literature claiming that scorching always damages the medulla of flax fibres, and that the shroud fibres do not show such damage, but I have not found a paper that substantiates that yet. I’m a little perplexed as to the use of the word medulla, which (although it’s perfectly clear what it means) is usually applied to animal rather than plant material.

    Finally, I spent quite a happy time last night scorching cloth and looking at it under a 400X microscope, but it was all cotton, which isn’t really comparable, so I’m going to raid a tablecloth today…

    • Adrie says:

      Hello Hugh,
      You’ve scorched some cloth that was all cotton. Did you happen to see any green-yellow or other fluorescence on it? It may help us to know whether the green-yellow fluorescence on scorched linen (partly) derives from scorched cellulose, as cotton is pure cellulose.
      Thanks for all your information!

      • Hugh Farey says:

        Hi Adrie,
        Sadly, all the cotton I’ve got is already fluorescent, presumably treated to be whiter than white! However I notice that coloured shirts are not (presumably it interferes with the colour), so I’ll have a go with an old shirt!

  14. colinsberry says:

    What one needs to remember is that crystalline polysaccharides that feature multiple inter- or intramolecular hydrogen bonding initially “melt” or partially melt, causing phase transitions that can be detected by DSC (or by Rogers’ birefringence). But they can subsequently recrystallize on cooling, returning to something like their original structure, or “retrograding” like starch to new ordered structures that still retain a high degree of crystallinity. I personally am not au fait with phase changes in cellulose, but suspect that so highly ordered and chemically resistant a substance retains or even REGAINS – most if not all of its native crystallinity up to temperatures that are not too far short of those that produce pyrolysis and scorching , i.e. close to 300 degrees C, but the latter are some 60-80 degrees higher than those that pyrolyse the hemicelluloses of the PCW.

    Rogers claim that temperatures that pyrolyse linen must irreversibly modify cellulose is I believe a matter of some conjecture. It might have carried more weight if he had mentioned the PCW and its more susceptible hemicelluloses, instead of putting all his speculative eggs in Pliny’s starch fragments/soapwort surface-impurities basket, thus creating that theoretical basket case 😉 known as the Maillard browning theory.

    Selective scorching of the PCW hemicelluloses not only explains why cellulose can escape modification, provided that a temperature is chosen that gives just a faint scorch, but at one and the same time accounts for the exceptional superficiality of the Shroud image, and faint scorch marks in general, if confined to the PCW.

    I agree by the way that medulla is somewhat imprecise as a term, especially as the centre of the fibre core is hollow, but the alternatives with selected chemical or botanical terms all seem somewhat long-winded.

  15. Hugh Farey says:

    Fun with Linen. Not finding any in the house I ebayed a piece and have spent a day happily experimenting in my school laboratory, with a Bunsen Burner, a couple of microscopes and a UV lamp. Firstly, I cannot, at any temperature, scorch the stuff without making it fluoresce. This was quite exciting for me as most cloth these days fluoresces anyway (probably being treated with something) but the linen wasn’t/didn’t until I heated it. Placing a hot spatula on it, in the dark, illuminated only by the light of a Bunsen burner and the UV lamp, produces a dark scorch, of varying depth, surrounded by a clear halo of pale green fluorescence, which also fills up the scorch area itself, except where it is charred to carbon. Carrying out the experiment you suggested, of repeatedly placing the hot object against the cloth until nothing seems to occur, shows that even when the scorch is barely visible, or even not visible at all, the fluorescence is quite clear.
    Next, trying to compare linen with cotton, it seemed to me that the cotton did not conduct heat as well as linen, because, after pulling apart some charred fragments under a microscope, it was easier to obtain banding (the threads not coloured where they passed underneath others, but charred where they were on the top) with cotton than with linen. A very good effect could be produced even on linen, however, if instead of heating a spatula, I used a pin, and rolled it gently over the surface (instead of pressing down with the spatula).
    Remarkably, the most shroud-like markings I could make were when, so that I could find them more easily, I drew a circle around one with a fibre-tipped pen. Astonishing. The ink remained only on the topmost fibres (and, when a fibre was examined under high power, only on one side of some fibres), and clearly didn’t flow into the dips where the threads pass over and under each other, except very occasionally when it seemed to stain a few individual fibres and turned up on the other side of the cloth. I don’t know how big ink particles are, but nothing particulate could be resolved at 400X. The marks were blue, of course…
    Lots more experiments suggest themselves to me, but I thought I’d let you know how I got on before I go to the meeting tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll find out about the ‘conspiracy of silence’ about scorches, Maillard reactions and such like. I’ve not heard that you’ll be there, but if not, and you’d like me to raise anything specific, and scientific, I would do my best (if I could understand the chemistry!). I believe Thomas de Wesselow will try to explain how Christian belief in the resurrection was really founded on a dirty corpse-wrapping… And of course, I wish him luck…

  16. colinsberry says:

    Those are some interesting results you describe there Hugh, and I would want to ponder them before rushing into any over-hasty responses.

    The crucial one for now is the fluorescence. You say you it was green. The fluorescence around the Shroud 1532 scorch marks was described by one of the STURP team as red, as I recall. I also wonder what kind of chemical change, could produce any kind of fluorescence – if indeed it is chemical, whether green or red if it appears at temperatures below those that produce visible scorching. Suppose it’s simply an effect of dehydration? Is adsorbed moisture acting as a fluorescence quencher? Drive off the moisture – and up pops the fluorescence due to modern linen additives – fabric brighteners etc. ? Suppose you simply place in an oven set at 100 degrees C? Does that produce green fluorescence? Have you seen red fluorescence at any temperature?

    Nope, I shan’t be there tomorrow at Beaconsfield, and to be candid won’t be hankering to be associated with the BSTS either – not while one of its members is harrying, sorry “challenging” Richard Dawkins – or anyone else for that matter – to prove the Shroud is a fake. That is not how science works. Science, at least in its preliminary stages, is not helped either by having folk, least of all “gifted amateurs” attend conferences with a view to hammering out “consensus statements”. Shroud studies are over-burdened with too much unchallengeable dogma as it is, without crystallizing it into consensus statements. (Example: the bald statement in the consensus statement that blood preceded the body image, based on a spot test with enzyme under the microscope).

    Thanks for inviting me to pose a question. I could pose a lot – dozens in fact – but prefer for now to blend into the background – doing nothing that might give credence to the accusation made elsewhere that I am an attention-seeker. Moi? An attention seeker? I am simply a humble seeker after truth…

  17. Hugh Farey says:

    I was puzzled by the reference to red fluorescence too. My scorched linen, lit by an ordinary 200W bayonet-fitting UV lamp in a very ordinary desk lamp, fluoresces a pale greeny yellow, very like, as it happens, fingernails and teeth, which also fluoresce the same colour. However, although I’ve been out all evening, I came back and couldn’t resist looking at a sample under the lamp, and dripping water over it to see what happened. It looked to me as if the scorch fluoresced slightly less brightly, and you may have something in your re-hydration idea. More amazing was the blue ink, of which there was a scribble by sheer chance on the sample, which did not apparently fluoresce at all when applied, or when dry, but bright pink (!!) when it was dripped with water and spread out over the cloth. It is all terrifically exciting, and I do urge you to get a UV light yourself; I day say they’re easy enough to find on ebay or similar, although mine is quite old.

    Two clarifications; 1) I cannot be positive that there is no visible scorch at all when the fluorescence appears, it may just be too faint for me to distinguish it. 2) I was the second person to comment on the Dawkins Challenge (see shroud-enigma), saying that although it would no doubt be entertaining, I could think of no sensible reason why, or even how, an evolutionary biologist might sensibly take it up.

  18. colinsberry says:

    I can’t speak for your linen, but the yellow-green fluorescence of human tissue is easily explained – it’s at least partly due to water-soluble flavin compounds – notably riboflavin. I could tell you a story about that – and the formative role it played in my early days as a biochemical researcher (take away message: beware colleagues who have fixations, “tunnel vision” etc, and never underestimate the role that serendipity plays in research – thus my belief that any research is better than no research, no matter how barmy the working hypothesis).

    Any chance of your providing a brief debrief (so to speak), here or elsewhere, after you get back from Beaconsfield? No hurry. Have a cup of tea first. 😉

    Here’s wishing you a constructive day…

  19. Hugh Farey says:

    Latest playing about…
    Comparing contact (conduction?) scorch marks to non-contact (radiation?) scorch marks.

    If I heat a crucible lid to red heat and drop it on linen, it makes (of course) a charred black rim, and a radiated heat non-contact brown scorch in the middle – about 3mm from lid to linen. If I do the same with a spoon, the scorch is about 3cm wide, corresponding to a radiated distance of 3 or 4mm. If I heat a spatula for ten seconds or so, and press it on the cloth, I make a mark which superficially looks very similar. At least it’s the same colour.

    However, under the microscope it is obvious that the contact marks are very specific, just on the thread-fibres which have been in contact, and definitely not continuing into the places where the fibres go underneath other threads, while the radiated marks are much more even, and, when the threads are separated, it is difficult (read impossible) to see any difference between places directly exposed and places where the fibres passed under others.

    Why this should be I can’t really say. I guessing that under radiated heat the fibres are able to conduct the energy away and discolour all the way along, but in contact they can’t. Something to do with the suddenness of the arrival of the heat?

    Back to UV. I made some marks by pressing a hot spatula along a strip of linen, then cut the linen in two longitudinally, dividing all the marks in two, and washed one half in slightly soapy water then left it to soak for an hour, then dried it and put it back with the untouched half for comparison. Sadly, although the scorch marks seem to have been somewhat scrubbed off, the UV fluorescence is apparently unchanged. Can you think of anything else I might do to get rid of it?

    My camera is not good enough to adjust for focussing in the dark, and still pictures are disappointing; however a video-camera seems to be able to manage a bit better. Would you like me to send some screen shots of these experiments? I have found an email address from an earlier post, and would be happy to do so if you’d like.

    Next, the BSTS meeting was interesting (particularly as there were life-size photos to pore over), and although in principle extremely controversial, very polite! David Rolfe did not pursue the Dawkins Challenge at all. He read out a goodwill message from Ian Wilson (now living in New Zealand) with interpolations of his own, from which two new movements came to light. Someone in America is reviewing the pollen sample slides, both those taken by Max Frie and those by other members of the STURP team, with a view to explaining the rather different interpretations different people have made of them; and also (quite exciting) a mould for making Lirey/Cluny pilgrimage badges has been found. I didn’t know about that, but immediately Googled “Lirey pelerinage moule” and find a photo of it as the front cover of a book – still only published in France as yet. It does not seem to be the mould for the famous badge, but certainly for one very similar.
    Thomas de Wesselow then expounded in detail why he thought the two components of the shroud image, image and blood, were “technically, stylistically and conceptually” incompatible with 14th century art or forgery (I know you and many others disagree, and he did not reveal anything blindingly new, but he set out his arguments clearly and with many illustrations), and then went on, perhaps more diffidently, to explain why he thinks the shroud and The Risen Christ were in fact one and the same, and thus the foundation of Christianity. I found that difficult to take, I must say. Christian or not, to found a lasting worldwide religion on the basis of a stained sheet seems quite a tough deal to me – probably more of a miracle than bringing a man back to life!
    Finally a medical lady whose name I didn’t catch ran through the image as pathology, with some real Roman nails and a flagrum mock-up based on the famous remains found in Pompei. It was interesting for me as I had only seen these things on telly before, but not revelatory; and Tony Luby, a teacher, explained how he used the shroud in his RCRE classes.

    That should be enough to go on with!

  20. colinsberry says:

    Thanks Hugh. That’s very good of you to get back so quickly. I’ve placed a link on David Rolfe’s site so as not to hog your prompt and timely missive

    I’ll get back to you later re your latest experiments. I’m busy going through Thibault Heimburger’s scorch experiments right now – see The Other Site – but have to say I am not hugely impressed with his choice of template(s) – which have led him to conclude his paper with what I regard as an over-hasty rejection of scorching based on an exceedingly poor choice of hardware.

    Am fascinated to hear about the Lirey mould, but have so far not been able to track down an image. Any possibility of a link?

  21. Hugh Farey says:

    Try, and search for ‘Autour du Saint Suaire’ which is the beginning of the title. I’ve just read Heimburger’s article, and it doesn’t seem to contradict my experiments. I do agree with him that getting graduations in colour is very tricky, and that pressure makes a difference, but agree with you that spatulas are not ideal templates. I’m beginning to think that conductivity might be very important. Somewhere you suggest a plaster mould, and I think I might try to find something other than metal to experiment with now…

  22. colinsberry says:

    Thanks. I’ll give that a try.

    His template was basically just two tiers of metal, separated by a shallow vertical ridge. There was no subtlety there – no smooth rounded contours around which the linen could drape, and he was not always pressing into a soft underlay. Is it any wonder that there is excessive contrast between the images intensities of those two planes? To reject scorching with so minimalist a template does not strike me as scientifically-prudent – given the kind of work I have been publishing these last few months – see banner – where there is no problem whatsoever re excessive contrast between adjacent planes. In any case, folk have often pointed out that the prominences of the Shroud face, especially nose, chin, beard etc are exceptionally well-imaged … it’s simply a case of managing the template, pressure, underlay etc to get an acceptable image. Yes, I agree re conduction probably being crucial. Having a poorer heat conductor like plaster may also assist “manageability”. Back later. Chores to attend to.

  23. Max Patrick Hamon says:

    “I believe the “unique and relevant” answer to that conundrum lies in the Templar connection, especially with De Molay’s gruesome execution (and preceding crucifixion?) and that of De Charney and other leading Templars. That order may have been stripped of most of its vast wealth, but there were probably still funds, or maybe later donations, that were available for creating a unique and compelling memento, with the focus on HEAT. A scorched memento may have been considered an apt visual metaphor, given that roasting/burning at the stake left nothing at the end to which mourners could pay their respects except charred fragments and ashes (and some sources say they were usually removed by ghoulish spectators taking them home as souvenirs).”

    Just wishful pseudocryptohistorical thinking by and imaginary historian.

  24. Adrie says:

    Great Hugh! I’m curious.

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