The arrow of time – and entropy

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Here is a schematic representation of the arrow of time – and with it entropy – operating at the thread level in the Shroud (see previous posting for  likely changes at the individual fibre level).

OK – much simplified. It’s reckoned there are something like 200 retted bast fibres in each of the Shroud’s linen threads. Will try and track down the reference.

If one imagines the first diagram to represent a new scorched-on imprint, say from a heated metal template, possibly/probably a bronze statue  and/or  bas relief to represent a cruelly- tortured man (Knight Templar*?) –  one who could be mistaken for the  crucified Jesus  (especially after judicious applications of blood) and the last in the series above to represent how it might look after centuries of mechanical and/or other attrition – read wear-and-tear – then one has a ready explanation for some of the peculiar properties of the Shroud image.  (You know, the ones that are routinely trotted out reeled off by ‘sindonologists’  as evidence for how the Shroud image “cannot possibly be a scorch”).

Changes in the image at the individual fibre level were the subject of the preceding post, and the posting before that  warned of a peculiar optical illusion operating at the fabric level in  (what I dubbed  the BROIL mirage – due to Back Radiation of Incomplete Light). “Incomplete” was a sciency way of saying “coloured” that made for a questionably better acronym. Ouch.

I’ll be back later to list some of those peculiarities, ones  that I say are as much a reflection of  plain-old entropy as of original  thermal imprinting technology.  The latter was no doubt   “branding iron”- inspired, dreamed up by an imaginative medieval artisan, possibly a blacksmith with a mischievous and devil-may-care streak.

Oh, and I’ll  have to add an extra diagram to represent the way the so-called half-tone effect gives a more intense image despite having end-stage pale yellow fibres only. Those more closely-spaced fibres would have originally been underneath a more highly scorched first stage.

* See my recently updated manicured and brushed-up idea ( pretty pictures as well!)

https://shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/flow-chart-summarising-a-novel-hypothesis-for-how-the-shroud-of-turin-came-into-existence-and-fooled-generations-of-scholars/

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Light scorch to begin with. After ageing and associated fibre fracture and detachment, there remain only thinly dispersed yellow fibres in the top surface. Result: faint half-tone image.

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Heavy scorch to begin with  After ageing and more extensive fibre fracture/detachment, there are still many yellow fibres in the top surface. Result: a more intense half-tone image than above.  

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Afterthought: while I’ve said that this posting is addressed to events at the thread level, please note that there’s no suggestion that whole threads break off. It’s the more superficial, highly-scorched fibres of crown threads in the weave in immediate contact with the heated template OR IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT TO THEM that break off over time.

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Several signs here of fibre fracture to leave stumps. Copyright STERA Inc. Displayed here for research purposes only.

Several signs here of fibre fracture to leave stumps tufts.
Mark Evans Collection. Copyright STERA Inc. Displayed here for research purposes only.

So what are those subtle and/or peculiar features of the Shroud image that are attributed to a unique 1st century event in a Palestine rock tomb, but which I say are more likely due to a combination of contact scorching followed by centuries of gentle, slow motion disintegration?

1. Ultra-superficiality at the individual fibre level, i.e. the alleged 200nm image thickness, is explained. Many fibres initially had thicker image layers, due to the zone of pyrolysis extending deeper into the core than the PCW. But those heavily scorched fibres,  being mechanically compromised, have broken off over the centuries, leaving just those with highly superficial scorching with relatively unimpaired mechanical strength.

2. The ‘half-tone’ effect (always tricky to explain, whichever proposed mechanism (radiation, conduction, convection) is invoked – why should coloured fibres have immediate neighbours that are uncoloured?).

Attrition explains the half tone effect. Any fibre that has more than a certain degree of colour from scorching has broken off, leaving just the minimally coloured fibres, probably with scorching restricted to the hemicelluloses of the PCW.

3. Image fibres are weaker than non-image fibres, demonstrated by the fact that they were easier to strip off with  Rogers’ sticky tape in the flying ’78 STURP visit.

4. Attrition might be one reason why Shroud image fibres are non-fluorescent under uv light, if it were supposed that fluorescence was conferred by chemical changes occurring at temperatures above those needed for superficial scorching only. But I think there are other, better reasons for explaining lack of fluorescence that have been set out previously on this site. Briefly, unless one knows the precise chemical nature of the fluorescent species – their volatility, their proneness to oxidation, polymerization etc  –  then I personally do not see why lack of fluorescence centuries after the initial image-forming process can be held as a serious objection to any proposed mechanism of image formation.Fluophores are usually low MWt substances with plenty of conjugated double bonds. It would be a remarkable fluophore that would survive in fabric for centuries. (Yes, I know the 1532 ‘scorch marks’ still fluoresce, but they are not just  surface “scorches” – they are the margins of full-thickness burn holes, and have been far more heavily pyrolysed).

5. I don’t pretend to understand the ‘stochastic processes’ that G.Fazio and his colleagues say were necessary to obtain discrimination between image and background colour, nor the reason why that then requires a latency period of some decades for full image development. What I do know is there you will not find a single reference to post-production degradation of the image in the link to that 2013 paper above.  One wonders whether the random factors that operate in degradation have been conflated with those that he imagines operate in the latency period. Mechanisms of image formation will always be somewhat conjectural.  There  is nothing conjectural about the phenomenon of age-related decay. I have only to look in the mirror to be reminded of that. No doubt the distribution of age spots and wrinkles would also fit a ‘stochstic model’ with a long latency period.

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Feedback (from Elsewhere):

  1. March 12, 2014 at 7:53 am | #16

    Is there anywhere on the Shroud where the image penetrates deeper into the linen than in other spots? Is it not logical to assume that if the image is a man-made scorch it would have penetrated deeper in some areas — undetectable at the time but not so today. Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?

    • Yannick Clément
      March 12, 2014 at 10:53 am | #17

      Quote: “Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?”

      That’s the conclusion of the STURP team. The ultra-superficiality is present not only in areas very faint but also in most probable zones of direct-contact where the image is the darkest like the nose area for example… This simple fact, along with the bloodstains evidence, is enough to discard any hypothesis involving a man-made forgery. Can we move forward please?

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      “Zones of direct contact”

      Like, er, you know, atom to atom? What kind of mechanism transfers energy  directly, atom-to-atom? Think Physics 101.Think heat conduction (as distinct from diffusing molecules, radiation etc).

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      Update: 16:22

      David Goulet commented on Is Time the Secret Ingredient We Need to Consider?.

      in response to Yannick Clément:

      Quote: “Are we sure the image is uniform in its depth across the linen?” That’s the conclusion of the STURP team. The ultra-superficiality is present not only in areas very faint but also in most probable zones of direct-contact where the image is the darkest like the nose area for example… This simple fact, along […]

      The only way to move forward, given the lack of new data/tests, is to question and re-examine what we already think we know. I don’t expect Colin is going to find conclusive evidence to validate the scorch theory, but his experiments and thought exploration could lead to other insights. He may ‘accidently’ hit upon something revelatory that does move us forward. This is certainly better than standing pat waiting for Turin to allow new tests.

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      Yes, there may be an appearance of a random walk about scientific investigation, David, especially when folk look at the clock (or calendar).  But then the same might be said about bloodhounds, sniffing at this or that. We science bods learn to follow our nose… It’s all in the nose you see (the grey matter comes later).

      This blog, and its predecessor on my sciencebuzz site, began over 2 years ago as a challenge: to crack the enigma of the Turin Shroud.  To “crack” obviously means to produce an explanation that meets my own expectations of credibility which, if I’m properly humble, means it could be proved wrong by others in the fullness of time, armed with better evidence. My chief aim was to produce an account in real time of the manner in which the scientific mind – or rather just one in particular- tackles a problem. With no implied criticism of David, I do not believe that I stumble on truth by accident. I may do it by a circuitous route, but there is no accident about gravitating towards the right answer simply because one is exploring side-turnings on the way, simply to ensure that nothing is missed.

      David’s comments has given me all the encouragement I need to break off from the research and  to begin to catalogue the some 230 Shroud-related postings on this (mainly) and two other sites to show how I arrived at today’s posting, proposing that the curious Shroud image is a product of  both ingenious manufacture (by contact scorching) and time-related image degradation.

      It’s not been a random walk. It has always had ‘directionality’, as I hope to show.  Later, I may advance some quite adventurous ideas on what guides the scientific temperament, ones  that folk reading this blog are  probably unlikely to have encountered elsewhere. You see, it’s more than just head,  or even heart and head. Clue: primitive limbic centre of the brain. Sense of SMELL (metaphorically speaking), or as we would say now, intuition, or gut feeling.

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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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