Site banner: see how a simulated sweat imprint (my wet hand pressed down onto dark fabric) responds magnificently to 3D-rendering computer software (ImageJ) before and after tone-reversal (negative back to positive image). Remind you of anything? Like those supposedly “unique” and “encoded” 3D-properties of the Shroud of Turin body image? For a more realistic aged/yellowed sweat imprint, see the many postings on this site since 2014 obtained with the aid of my Model 10 (imprinting off parts, notably head and hands, of a real body (mine!) onto linen with white wheaten flour, followed by heat-development of the image to generate carbon-based and thus bleachable straw-coloured melanoidins via Maillard reactions between wheat proteins and reducing sugars).
The aim is a maximum of 15 entries per week, generally 2 per day. The primary source will be mainly the current postings and discussion on Dan Porter’s shroudstory site (a reversal of the previous oh-so genteel predator-prey relationship, ho ho 😉
Beware the cherry pickers who select facts helpful to their case, studiously ignoring the rest. Most of all, be aware of the purveyors of home-made “CHERRY JAM” (seemingly wholesome-looking preserve, but based on home-grown selected fruit, i.e. preconceptions). See previous posting for more on that “cherry jam”.
Some of the biggest names in sindonology are/were cherry pickers and/or covert or blatant manufacturers of cherry jam.
Table of contents (to date) in reverse chronological order. (That which comes last will be displayed first).
13th topic: Are the so-called “microscopic” properties of the “Shroud” image fibres really microscopic, or mere close-ups of macroscopic properties?
12th topic: demonstrating the speed with which hypochlorite bleach destroys the new model chromophore made by heating a white flour imprint (modelling you know what).
11th topic: is there a better name for the so-called “Shroud” of Turin? YES!
10th topic. Google seems to like my new style of posting!
9th topic: how did explosives safety-testing expert Raymond N. Rogers come to be coopted to STURP?
8th topic: Bother (tinged with relief): someone got there before me (sweat imprint hypothesis) – more than 30 years ago!
7th topic: More on the Gospel’s use of two terms for linen. Which fits sindonology’s “Shroud”? Is sindonology playing fast and loose with terminology, so as to suggest (without biblical authority) that Joseph of Arimathea’s “fine linen” was intended and used as final burial garment?
6th topic. Spotlight on scientist Barrie.M.Schwortz
5th topic: Whose book in the early 1980s might be said to have undermined the “tradition” of regarding the Shroud simply as an “imprint” formed on the linen used to receive a body from the cross, of manufacturing cherry jam?
4th topic: an altogther different explanation for why the man on the Shroud has fingers but no thumbs. No pathology needed in the medieval modelling narrative.
3rd topic: The mysterious Gematria. How does it work?
2nd topic: Why does this blogger write “Shroud” instead of Shroud?
1st topic: Why did obscure little Lirey near Troyes, France, came to host the first undisputed appearance of the “Shroud” double-image in European history?
STOP HERE FOR LATEST TOPIC
This week’s 13th topic
It’s rare for this blogger/retired scientist to start a topic with the final conclusion. But I’m making an exception on this occasion, to spare the reader having to plough through hundreds of words, wondering where they are leading.
Here’s a pointed conclusion: for those of us interested in modelling the “Shroud” body image at the microscopic as well as macroscopic level. Forget about those terms that are bandied around – half-tone effect, striations, discontinuities etc – all based on feigned detachment, unguided by any
model. Be content to show that your photomicrographs match the general look that one sees in the Mark Evans pictures. And what is the model that best suits that general look? Answer – contact imprinting off a template (human or inanimate bas relief or both). Yes, that forbidden word: contact. Look carefully at the Mark Evans pictures of the body image. Then look at the rust imprint on the Shroud. Spot the resemblance. Seek and ye shall find (imaging by contact, concentrated but not exclusive to the crowns of the weave – specifically the warp threads of the herringbone weave, each of which passes over 3 weft threads – the highest points in the plane of the weave). But don’t take my word for it. Keep an open mind.
In attempting to model the so-called “Shroud” of Turin, one can be fairly certain of beiing challenged in short order to produce evidence that one’s model has microscopic characteristics that match those of the “Shroud”. In fact, the faster one ticks off the ‘macroscopic’ features like colour, negative image, 3D-properties, water-resistance, lack of reverse-side image etc the faster comes the demand to address the microscopic. That’s odd in a way, since one would have expected the first question to be “Is your image as superficial as that of the “Shroud”, or “Is it as superficial as Di Lazzaro’s laser-scorch?”. Why is that one wonders? Might it be because one ‘s response might be “No, first you give me precise physical measurements for image layer thickness, and whether or not that includes the PCW, a hypothesized impurity layer or both”. Beware mantra-like intonations of the “200nm Shroud image layer” that in reality means that Ray Rogers couldn’t see it in his microscopic examination of ghost images left in his sticky-tape samples, or at any rate when attemping to view them edge-on. Thus was born the 200nm galloping guesstimate.
Anyway, the topic being addressed today is a tricky one, VERY tricky, and for the same reason as that allegedly superdupersuperficial image layer – namely that the closer one looks, the more it becomes a dissolving perspective. So today’s posting will be constructed in short instalments, with much laborious cutting-and-pasting which I prefer to do online. Please bear with me. I expect to have this Topic 13 complete by late afternoon, UK time. Watch this space.
The original plan was to do a critique – with positive v negative impressions- of the 2010 paper by Fanti et al (with many Shroud Science Group members comprising al. But that approach has been abandoned for reasons that will be made clear later. Better in fact to go back to this document that appeared in 2005 with an even longer and impressive line-up of leading sindonologists.
What did it have to say about those microscopic properties?
It makes references to 3 key “microscopic” features:
- discontinuities ( “discontinuous distibution ” of colour)
- coloured fibres immediately adjacent to non-coloured ones – an either/or effect which is abbreviated in shroud literature, some say misleadingly so, to the “half-tone” effect.
That list makes reference(mercifully) to just 8 Mark Evans photomicrographs, all conveniently numbered (Me 2, ME 08,ME 14, ME 16, ME 18, ME 25, ME 29) which are now all available full size (not just thumbnails) on Mario’s site, having appeared with little fanfare in January 2014. Quite how Mario is able to liberate these crucial pix from the copyrighted STERA archive is anyone’s guess.His pro-authenticity credentials of which he makes no secret probably helps. Or maybe he’s blackmailed STERA Prezzy Barrie M.Schwortz with a long-lens photo of the latter munching on a ham sandwich at a Saturday garden party in the company of a back-slapping Walter McCrone. There’s no crime in speculating… ;-).
Anyway: time to display the 8 cited Evans photomicrographs, without captions to start with (bar a summary of Mario’s labelling re magnification and location). The latter will only appear after this blogger has, yet again, tried to decide what each shows or, more importantly, does not show.
Click on photos to enlarge:
Late addition: part of the above picture enlarged, with some loss of defintion, naturally:
Overview: there’s a general supposition that a a model-free description of a system is bound to be more objective than one that relates to a particular model. What we see above gives the lie to that comfortable but flawed position.
Here’s another picture from the Evans archive that illustrates my point:
If the previous 8 pictures have noteworthy “microscopic’ features, then so does this one. There is some evidence of striation and discontinuities in the distribution of pigment. there is also a preferential location on the horizontal warp threads. One could be forgiven for thinking that this image was formed by a contact process, but with a difference: it’s a better more perfect distribution of pigment than before. In short, it’s too good. It’s too suggestive of an image that was formed by contact. Indeed it is. It’s the rust imprint left on the “Shroud” by round tacks, used to pin the fabric to a frame. It follows that its appearance under the microscope does not show evidence of microscopic structure. What we see is macroscopic structure seen close up that is not revealing anything that is unique. An “objective” report of the microscopic findings would be fairly useless and unhelpful to say the least, were there no history of the specimen. It would imply complexity that was apparent rather than real.
Overall conclusion: there aren’t micoscopic properties of the”Shoud” image as such. Under the typical range of magnification in the Mark Evans pictures, one merely sees close ups of the fibres, whose appearance is a function of whatever macroscopic process produced the image. That appearance is, broadly speaking, consistent with imaging via a contact process. Thare are no unique distinguishing features between one image fibre and another: the so-called half-tone effect is not self-evident in the 8 cited pictures and in all probability does not exist, there being apparent variation in image intensity between fibres, though difficult to prove without having data for individual fibres.
So next time I’m told that my modelled images must have the macro- AND microscopic properties of the “Shroud”, my reply will be that the appearance under the microscope need only be consistent with that of a contact imprinting process, one favouring whatever threads lie highest in the plane of the weave (warp threads in the case of the “Shroud”).
Last two topics on this posting tomorrow. One will relate how Alan D.Adler (“blood expert”) came to be recruited to STURP (though neither recruiter nor recruit made it to Turin to see the “too red” blood with their own eyes).
Change of mind. Putting together the ‘microscopy’ was like being back at work, albeit with a self-imposed deadline to meet, achieved after some 10 hours of work (+cleaning the car). Methinks I’ll draw a line under this, the first in my new 1 week-at-a-time posting style and have me a good old-fashioned day of rest.
Come Monday, there should be a new posting with a near identical ‘umbrella-style’ title, aiming again to add two snippet-style entries per day. Late insertion: Nope, on second thoughts, let this posting stay as the current one for at least a week, possibly longer, since adding a new one will simply take this site back to oblivion in Google’s crazy blogger-unfriendly algorithm. Yup, that’s it. Take a rest, take a holiday!
My new format blog has now appeared in a Google search of (shroud of turin) under the “past year” for the first time this week, being currently page 4
and rising. Pity I didn’t think of it a long time ago. The format suits my style and pace – eschewing as it does the “look-at-me” impression that can be created by closely-spaced new postings, all with the obligatory eye-catching title. Yup. expect this format to continue for a while to come, until there’s nothing more that can usefully be said that hasn’t been said before.
Am thinking of getting the microscope out again, and taking a close look at the model imprints from white flour at thread and fibre level. However there will be no attempt to report in real time, given the many different ways the ‘new’ technology can be deployed to give a final image that is almost anywhere on the spectrum between bold and scarcely visible. Those who attempt to ridicule on the basis that this or that image from this site doesn’t look anything like the (centuries old) TS please note. Your simplistic and carping criticism that has pretensions to being scientific is seen for what it is, namely anti-scientific, and will be politely ignored. Monitoring the effect of those many variants at the microscopic level will be a challenge. Who knows: I may even discover a genuine half-tone effect that I would then attempt to properly document instead of foisting with indecent haste onto the public domain …
Final entry (13th) onto this Week 32 posting now concluded. Thirteen is the sceptic’s lucky number!
This week’s 12th topic
This blogger posted a link to shroudstory a few days ago to that surprising result I obtained with domestic bleach when applied to the new model imprints (white flour + hot iron). (Chemical aside: why surprising? Because STURP said the “Shroud” image retained its colour after testing a large number of chemicals: only the rarely encountered and unstable diimide (HN=NH) generated by an in situ reaction between hydrazine, H2N-NH2 and hydrogen peroxide, H2O2 in boiling pyridine was able to bleach the TS image.)
Effect of thick bleach solution on roasted white flour imprint. Bleaching of both imprint and the discoloured background linen.
Commentator piero then asked how long it took to obtain that bleached area you see on the right. Reply: bleaching starts immediately, but it may take 20 to 30 minites to totally decolorize very brown areas.
After suggesting how bleach might serve as a chemical probe for the still mysterious Shroud chromophore (by inserting Cl-35 and Cl-37 atoms into its stucture – natural chlorine being an approx 3:1 mixture of those two isotopes and analyzing the products with mass spectrometry), piero came back with a long comment, most to do with his high hopes for a particular surface-scanning technique with an AFM probe, right at at the end of which was this:
It’s the final para in the yellow box that is of interest (am still trying to get the meaning from the first part – English is not piero’s first language). He’s expressing surprise and indeed doubt that bleach could work so fast. Good. It shows there’s someone else out there with a genuine scientific disposition, albeit with worrying signs too of geekishness but don’t take that too personally piero – the best scientists need to call on their inner geek from time to time.
I promised piero some results from a new test with bleach which was done late yesterday afternoon on a new flour imprint of my hand, including my watch face in the photography. Here are the results from 9 consecutive photos in strict time sequence:
Time now to see what’s in all those new comments on shroudstory that have appeared overnight. If they are anything like the stream of insults or imperious putdowns that appeared yesterday, I may simply ignore them, and get busy with Topic 13 – a tricky one- to do with the so-called “microscopic” properties of the “Shroud” image. I have been harbouring doubts as to whether they really are microscopic in the sense of showing fine structure that is invisible to the naked eye (or under a low power hand lens). They may simply enlarge macroscopic structure and thus be dependent upon imprinting macro-level technique – in which case they may have been over-hyped. We shall see, once the relevant Mark Evans pictures from MarioL’s superb sindonology site have been extracted from the archives and displayed.
This week’s 11th topic
This blogger has been racking his brain, or such parts of it that still manage to intercommunicate through accumulated swathes of useless information, for an alternative name for the Turin “Shroud”. Why? Because there is no biblical support for thinking that a length of fine linen (herringbone weave) would have been used, or intended to be used as a burial shroud, if as one reasonably infers, it corresponds with Joseph of Arimathea’s linen (sindon) deployed initially at the cross, then for transporting Jesus to tomb, there to be replaced with an entirely different linen (othonion/othonia). When I say “corresponds” there is no intended bias towards a pro-authenticity model, i.e. 2000 year old “Shroud” or one that is based on medieval modelling (a ‘fake’ shroud).
Surfing the murkier aspects of shroudology this morning (don’t ask) I came across this passage:
Most have heard of the Shroud of Turin that is believed to be the death cloth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Read more at: http://tr.im/QyYS3
Well well, it’s auto-attached its URL to my cut-and-paste. OK, so the provenance is acknowledged by default.
“Death cloth”! That’s it – neat, simple, non-committal as regards biblical chronology. Some might object to the air of finality that might be implied by that term “death”, to which the reply is: “Read your bible, go forward a page or two”.
Death cloth- yes, a bit ghoulish maybe. But isn’t that the overwhelming first impression the viewer gets – a ghoulish representation of a flayed and bloodied man bearing multiple blood flows. 1st century Jewish burial practices aside – real or imagined – the idea that fine linen would be deployed at the base of the cross to envelop such a ravaged corpse and finally, after transport to rock tomb, be used as final shroud, without cleaning up (yet applying oils and spices all the same) seems inherently improbable. The TS was NOT the burial shroud .It was at best a dispensable pre-burial shroud, NOT a burial shroud, later replaced by a clean one, probably supplied by nifty Nicodemus along with his instantly conjured up 100lbs of aloes and myrrh. So, to avoid confusion, to say nothing of deliberately misleading people as to the manner in which the body was transported and prepared for interment, why not call it a DEATH CLOTH for heaven’s sake (or for less celestial, more down to earth considerations).
This week’s 10th topic
This blogger used to have a regular moan at the low priority given personal blogs (worse for this WordPress site than his other Google-owned sciencebuzz site hosted on Blogger. Several suggestions were made, few if any of which appealed (not wishing to organize my life and site to suit the ever encroaching octopus-like Google that once admitted it “wanted to know everything that was on our home computers”). Briefly this site made page 10 as I recall of a Google search under (Shroud of Turin) and I stopped bothering about it and the other search engines. The truth will out, as they say, even if it takes months, years even, rather than days.
So imagine my surprise yesterday when, out of curiosity, I re-entered (shroud of turin) and used the time selector. There was nothing under “last 24 hours”, but there we were, under “Past week” with one of our graphics (that recent picture of Sam Pellic0ri, admittedly harvested by shroudstory giving it double exposure) staring me in the face. Indeed there were two entries for this site – home page and this specific posting. see the highlighted areas on this screenshot.
What’s more, we are starting to appear under the “Past month” filter. Last night it was bottom of page 2. This morning it had moved up a couple of places.
So what are we doing right that we weren’t doing before, right that is by the Google crawler? Answer: keeping the same posting going, updating it with new information from other sites, linking to those sites, and having them link back to one. In other words, one becomes a nexus of web links that was not the case previously when constantly putting up new posts, none of which had time to acquire critical mass before being replaced by another. Google can count, but can’t weigh, and even in its counting capacity, it sees only one thing at a time from a particular site, not the accumulated output from multiple postings.
Is one’s content spotted in this new format, if not relying say on the eagle-eyed Dan Porter to spot and use it (regarding which I’ve made no secret of mixed feeling)? it would appear so, given that “Carlos” on Porter’s site spotted an error with the position of hands in that modelling experiment described below, which incidentally I’ve rectified on that site, having first used a Spanish-English online translation to find what was wrong (one hand was too low – the pincer thumb should have been used to grip the wrist of the other hand – not the thumb).
This week’s 9th topic:
Raymond N.Rogers: his name is almost synonomous with STURP, and his ideas on the image being on an impurity layer, one he described as Pliny era (1st century) “crude starch” maybe accompanied by natural detergents – herbally-derived saponins – dominate the Shroudie literature to this day. Raymond N.Rogers for many is the chemical guru who somehow managed to marry Shroud authenticity with basic down-to-earth chemistry, eschewing miraculous imprinting, invoking instead plain old post-mortem processes (the smelly variety)
But his cv/resume – especially published work under Google Scholar- provide little or no clue as to how he came to be selected as STURP’s chemistry team leader. It’s something this blogger has puzzled for years, especially as it was doctorate-free Mr.Rogers (i.e. no formal training in research methods – not necessarily an impediment as regards doing good research, but hardly good window-dressing either).
It’s through reading John Heller’s book that that I’ve suddenly become aware of why Rogers was (or may have been) chosen.
Ray Rogers makes an early appearance in Heller’s book – page 6. Right at the top of the page we read:
Two names -Walter McCrone and Ray Rogers – were familiar to me.
Then, lower down, after the passage on McCrone, we read (my bolding):
“Because of his work on explosives, Ray Rogers was an eminent expert in thermal effects”.
There’s a lot more one could quote, all of it suggesting that Ray Rogers was your man if there are effects of heat/fire to be considered, like the one in 1532 that produced the conspicuous burn holes and those crude patches. Maybe folk thought he might have something useful to say about the effects of that fire (an unplanned ‘experiment’) on the neighbouring blood and image. Alternatively his “thermal expertise” might assist in understanding the mysterious Shroud image itself, which might to some eyes (mine at any rate) seem to have a scorch-like appearance. One could do worse, right. than recruit/coopt an “eminent expert in thermal effects”. He’d know all about the damaging effects of heat, on organic material especially, like linen, would he not?
There’s just one tiny problem, which only becomes apparent when one takes a look at his published work.
His experience with thermal effects was the result of harnessing a technique called differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to monitor the status of chemical explosives on storage. No. its nothing to do with heat coming out from incendiary or explosive material. It’s to do with inputting metered amounts of heat and monitoring the small thermal changes associated with ordered/disordered crystalline (or semi-crystalline) structure that one sees on a plot of heat evolved or absorbed with temperature. (Melting absorbs heat, crystallization releases it). (Late addition – all wrong – see below).
Here’s a typical DSC plot:
Rogers was deploying a technique that had more to do with physics than chemistry, and subtle physics at that to do with crystalline order. (All wrong – see below). DSC just happened to be a handy way of monitoring changes on explosives storage that might provide an early-warning of spontaneous detonation tendency (that’s my hunch – admittedly based on guesswork and a little chemical intuition).
Late addition: have been doing some further reading. DSC is and was pioneered by Rogers and others to monitor the kinetics of decomposition of ‘energetic materials, i.e. propellants, explosives etc, so it was in fact chemical reactions (not mere physical transitions) that were under study, albeit tiny amounts of material to avoid sending the lab and its staff sky high. Here’s the introduction to a paper in Thermochimica Acta ( a journal which Rogers help found and whose first paper was authored by Rogers) that gives a flavour of how DSC is used to measure energy of activation (the kick start energy needed to get chemical reactions over the initial energy hump):
Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is often used as a
characterization technique to determine the thermal behavior of
energetic materials (EMs). As new organic EMs are formulated, this
is an important test to determine thermal stability and ignition
Notwithstanding the relevance and value of DSC to the ‘energetic materials’ industry, understandably keen on its own survival and that of its customers (the military etc) it seems more than likely that Rogers was recruited on the basis of a misunderstanding – or at any rate a mislabelling of his area of expertise. That being the case, he did like most of us do when faced with a challenge that exceeds our knowledge and experience – he improvised. He did a pretty good job of that, at least where the analytical spadework was concerned that went into the 1981 summary. It’s post 1981 where things began to go off track – where ideas took root that lacked for hard analytical data – notably the conviction that there was a coating of “crude starch” on the Shroud, so crude as to behave more like sugar than starch, indeed chemically reactive so-called reducing sugar – able to give yellow or brown Maillard reaction with any free amines that happened to be knocking about. Rogers’ source of amines? Putrefaction gases and vapours from a corpse, capable of imprinting images across air gaps. Yeah, right. best we stop there.
This week’s 8th topic:
What is it they say about there being nothing new under the sun etc? Yesterday I shortcutted to near the end of John Heller’s book (arrived through Amazon the day before yesterday whose service for us researchers just gets better and better!). I could scarcely believe my eyes. There were all MY ideas (or so I thought) set out in one compact paragraph – the “Shroud” image being a contact-only imprint (heresy in some quarters), that one could model the process, maybe as a pro-authenticist but equally well as a medieval forger, and that it might take a two-stage process – initial imprinting, followed by accelerated colour development to get a yellow or brown end-result.
Who was the kindred spirit from all those years ago? Is he still alive (unlike so many of the STURP team). Yes, he too was a member of STURP, whose name cropped up a year or two ago in discussion with Hugh Farey about scorch fluorescence.
Heller’s book has a photo plate of the man in question. It’s copyrighted of course, but I’m inserting it here for research (non-commercial) reasons.
Answer: it’s Sam Pellicori, who I’m pleased to say is still very much alive, as a quick search – and this LinkedIn profile shows:
Coming next: my comment placed on shroudstory (though increasingly I ask myelf why I bother with that wet-blanket of a site, one that persistently evades the detail, trotting out the cut-and-paste words of this or that ‘expert’ to say in effect “You’re wasting your time and ours chum”).
Oops. Too big to do a screenshot. So here it is as cut-and-paste (hopefully most typos now corrected):
This week’s 7th topic
It’s back to the 2nd topic regarding the confusion over which of the two types of linen in the Gospel accounts was present at the time of image imprinting. Dan Porter has flagged up my posting, but done so in a most desultory way, omitting the main thrust of my argument regarding the appearance of both types in the Luke account (though I was pleased to see that Kim Dreisbach picked up on its significance over and above the scant references elsewhere to sindon v othoni, an antidote to some of his other biased remarks. Dan’s omission makes my posting look insubstantial but then it’s clear from Porter’s other comment this morning that he sees me as a lightweight. That does not stop him cutting-and-pasting my research and in-depth analysis, while rarely giving any of his own, so I shan’t be losing any sleep over his persistent attempts to portray me as an innocent abroad.
If you want to see sloppy scholarship, typical of sindonology, so-called scholarship that constantly begs the question, then take a look at the Diana Fulbright paper he cites, especially the photographc that accompanies the Porter posting (Fig 1 from Fulbright).
Look at Fulbright’s text, then look at the caption to Fig. 1. What one sees is a totally circular argument that “begs the question”.
“The body of Jesus. as a Jew of a religious family, would have been wrapped in a long sheet and tied with strips of cloth at the neck, at the wrists and feet, and at the torso, and as here, at the knees. (Figure 1)
Caption to Fig.1
” Body wrapped .according to the custom of the Jews. (Based on forensic analysis of the image on the Turin Shroud.)
Dreisbach too resorts to circular argument, to “begging the question” when deploying the term sindon as a synonym for “Shroud” in the same sentence.
“The Synoptic Gospels use the word sindon in the singular to designate the Shroud (Matt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46 (twice); Lk. 23:53).
For “Shroud” read “Joseph of Arimathea’s linen. The whole purpose of discussing the meaning of sindon v othonia is to find which is the “Shroud”. It’s a nonsense to prejudge the issue as Dreisbach has done.
Talk about putting the cart before the horse.
This week’s 6th topic.
Here is a article that has just appeared on EWTN News on STURP scientist Barrie M.Schwortz. I have highlighted in red all the words that refer to science, indicating how keen the article, interviewer and interviewee are for you to know regarding BarrieM. Schwortz’s scientific credentials. Some might think I should have chosen a different colour, having used red to flag up ‘cherry jam‘. More on that later.
The Shroud of Turin has different meanings for many people: some see it as an object of veneration, others a forgery, still others a medieval curiosity. For one Jewish scientist, however, the evidence has led him to see it as a meeting point between science and faith.
“The Shroud challenges (many people’s core beliefs) because there’s a strong implication that there is something beyond the basic science going on here,” Barrie Schwortz, one of the leading scientific experts on the Shroud of Turin, in an EWTN News.
Admitting that he did not know whether there was something beyond science at play, he added: “That’s not what convinced me: it was the science that convinced me.”
The Shroud of Turin is among the most well-known relics believed to be connected with Christ’s Passion. Venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Jesus, it has been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.
The image on the 14 feet long, three-and-a-half feet wide cloth is stained with the postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured and crucified.
Schwortz, now a retired technical photographer and frequent lecturer on the shroud, was a member of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project which brought prestigious scientists together to examine the ancient artifact.
As a non-practicing Jew at the time, he was hesitant to be part of the team and skeptical as to the shroud’s authenticity – presuming it was nothing more than an elaborate painting. Nonetheless, he was intrigued by the scientific questions raised by the image.
Despite his reservations, Schwortz recounts being persuaded to remain on the project by a fellow scientist on the team – a NASA imaging specialist, and a Catholic – who jokingly told him: “You don’t think God wouldn’t want one of his chosen people on our team?”
And Schwortz soon encountered one of the great mysteries of the image that still entrances its examiners to this day.
He explained that a specific instrument used for the project was designed for evaluating x-rays, which allowed the lights and darks of an image to be vertically stretched into space, based on the lights and darks proportionately.
For a normal photograph, the result would be a distorted image: with the shroud, however, the natural, 3-D relief of a human form came through. This means “there’s a correlation between image density – lights and darks on the image – and cloth to body distance.”
“The only way that can happen is by some interaction between cloth and body,” he said. “It can’t be projected. It’s not a photograph – photographs don’t have that kind of information, artworks don’t.”
This evidence led him to believe that the image on the shroud was produced in a way that exceeds the capacities even of modern technology.
“There’s no way a medieval forger would have had the knowledge to create something like this, and to do so with a method that we can’t figure out today – the most image-oriented era of human history.”
“Think about it: in your pocket, you have a camera, and a computer, connected to each other in one little device,” he said.
“The shroud has become one of the most studied artifacts in human history itself, and modern science doesn’t have an explanation for how those chemical and physical properties can be made.”
While the image on the Shroud of Turin was the most convincing evidence for him, he said it was only a fraction of all the scientific data which points to it being real.
“Really, it’s an accumulation of thousands of little tiny bits of evidence that, when put together, are overwhelming in favor of its authenticity.”
Despite the evidence, many skeptics question the evidence without having seen the facts. For this reason, Schwortz launched the website http://www.shroud.com, which serves as a resource for the scientific data on the Shroud.
Nonetheless, he said, there are many who still question the evidence, many believing it is nothing more than an elaborate medieval painting.
“I think the reason skeptics deny the science is, if they accept any of that, their core beliefs have been dramatically challenged, and they would have to go back and reconfigure who they are and what they believe in,” he said. “It’s much easier to reject it out of hand, and not worry about it. That way they don’t have to confront their own beliefs.”
“I think some people would rather ignore it than be challenged.”
Schwortz emphasized that the science points to the Shroud being the burial cloth belonging to a man, buried according to the Jewish tradition after having been crucified in a way consistent with the Gospel. However, he said it is not proof of the resurrection – and this is where faith comes in.
“It’s a pre-resurrection image, because if it were a post-resurrection image, it would be a living man – not a dead man,” he said, adding that science is unable to test for the sort of images that would be produced by a human body rising from the dead.
“The Shroud is a test of faith, not a test of science. There comes a point with the Shroud where the science stops, and people have to decide for themselves.”
“The answer to faith isn’t going to be a piece of cloth. But, perhaps, the answer to faith is in the eyes and hearts of those who look upon it.”
When it comes to testifying to this meeting point between faith and science, Schwortz is in a unique position: he has never converted to Christianity, but remains a practicing Jew. And this, he says, makes his witness as a scientist all the more credible.
“I think I serve God better this way, in my involvement in the Shroud, by being the last person in the world people would expect to be lecturing on what is, effectively, the ultimate Christian relic.”
“I think God in his infinite wisdom knew better than I did, and he put me there for a reason.”
That’s 20 references to science in the one article. Some might think that Barrie M.Schwortz and his interviewer want us to be in absolutely no doubt that Barrie M.Schwortz is a scientist. Am I being unfair? Some might think so. but wait a minute. i’ve overlooked to give the the title of that article.
There’s just one tiny fly in the ointment. Barrie M.Schworts is and never has been a scientist. He was not recruited to STURP as a scientist, meaning there should not have been that reference to “fellow scientists”. He was recruited as a Documenting Photographer. Quite what’s in his portfolio of photographs is anyone’s guess, given the copyright restrictions that Schwortz has placed on his work, even that of fellow Documenting Photographer Mark Evans (thanks to Thibault Heimburger for getting some of those crucial Evans pix released, being the basis for most if not all the claims for the Shroud’s allegedly unusual microscopic characteristics). Were it not for the photoarchive that appeared on Mario Latendresse’s Shroud Scope, based on the Durante 2002 photos, this blogger would have a mere tens or scores of postings only, not the hundreds he has accumulated over 3.5 years.
One wonders what a real scientist by the name of Barrie M.Schwortz in a parallel universe would have to say about the bowdlerized reference to the image’s 3D properties, making them out to be something near-miraculous, despite easily demonstrated with 2D imprints, even cartoons with no 3D properties. The latter are due to the way the differences in light v dark on the xy plane are converted to imaginary height on a new vertical z axis. Barrie Schwortz is not a scientist. Barrie Schwortz is a celebrity, certainly, but for all the wrong reasons. Barrie Schwortz is a purveyor of cherry jam. This blogger wishes to have nothing to do with Barrie Schwortz and his ilk with their peddling of cherry jam i.e. pseudo-science. I’ve now stopped highlighting science in red. This blogger is a retired scientist. He knows real science when he sees it, one who can spot immediately the pseudo-science that is promoted in the media, the article above being a prime example. that article had no business promoting Barrie M.Schwortz as a scientist. Were I a US citizen, I would be writing to that country’s equivalent of the UK’s Royal Society, urging that action be taken against those who pose as scientists in the media, while damaging real science with their cherry jam.
Late addition: Friday Aug 7. Have just posted this corrective to a spin-off article under my Disqus registration.
This week’s 5th topic
In the coming days, maybe weks, I’ll be quoting passages from a certain book that appeared in the early 1980s, one that has “Shroud of Turin” in its title. Never mind for now who wrote it. What interests me are the first few words on the flyleaf, two of which I have highlighted.
“For many years intense controversy has raged around the Turin Shroud. Tradition has it that this ancient piece of material was wrapped around Christ’s body when he was taken down from the cross, and to this day it bears the faint but inescapable imprints, front and back, of a full length human figure. Over the years there has been much speculation as to how the image was formed, with skeptcis saying it’s a clever forgery and believers calling it a miracle.”
Did anybody challenge that at the time? Did anyone protest that was a travesty, that the Shroud of Turin was not used until after the body arrived at the tomb, that the image was not necessarily an imprint, implying it was formed by contact alone, that an entirely different imaging process took place, one that could operate across air gaps, one that could be related to high energy radiation emanating from a corpse undergoing resurrection, or even, less magically, one undergoing post mortem decomposition, producing gases?
There’s no hint in that fly leaf that the notion of the Shroud imprint as a contact imprint being formed on Joseph of Arimathea’s linen challenged received wisdom in any way, that while there might be speculation about miracles, there were no conceptual difficulties where imprinting sooner rather than later, i.e. at the cross, was concerned. Yet here we are, over 30 years later, with this blogger repeatedly saying precisely what you see above – the “Shroud” being used to receive the body from the cross, and quickly acquiring an imprint from that body (real, or more probably as a result of medieval modelling) and what happens? It’s as if he had stood up at a meeting of Alcoholic Anonymous and said: “Hello, I’m Colin, and I like a glass or two from time to time”.
So what’s happened to make the received wisdom of the eafrly 80s become politically incorrect, or the theological or wacky pseudoscience equivalent thereof? The answer lies in the last of the three paragaphs on that flyleaf. We’ve all heard of a “bitter-sweet” experience. Well, that flyleaf, with the above quoted para coming first, made it a sweet-bitter experience.
“In this fascinating scientific detective story, xxxxxxxxx describes how , step by step, their tests forced them to conclude that the material itself is ancient, that the image conforms in every way to that of a man who has been crucified in the Roman manner, and that the blood stains are indeed human blood. They are convinced that the Shroud is not a forgery. The implicatiosn of this remarkable conclusion make this a book of extraordinary significance.
So who you may ask was the author (identity replaced above with crosses) with that ringing endorsement for authenticity? Not a member of the STURP team surely, given that its 1981 summary appearing a few moons earlier made no such claims,? The latter merely that the image had not been painted, but offering no explanation as to how it was formed, beyond being intrinsic to the fibres, probably as a result of chemical action.
If one knew who did make that claim for “authenticity”, proposing no mechanism, and thereby implying it was something far more subtle and less obvious than imprinting by contact, and not necessarily onto Joseph of Arimathea’s linen at the cross, then one might start to understand why the received wisdom of para 1 quickly morphed into something altogether more exotic having occured in the tomb. In other words, the process of embellishing the narrative to become what I now call ‘cherry jam’ was starting to occur in the arly 1980s, hot on the heels of the STURP summary that should have nipped such wild speculation in the bud surely. But not if that bud was one of many bursting forth on the bare wood of a tree, a particular tree, Prunus avium, aka the sweet cherry.
So the writer of that book could not possibly have been a STURP team member, could he, a model of reticence where the 1981 Summary was concerned, but quickly making the case for authenticity just two years later (yes, the book appeared in 1983)?. Think again dear reader. Think about bare wood, cherry blossom, cherry fruit and finally cherry preserve a progression occuring in the space of two years or less.
The author? Dr. John Heller no less, a medically-qualified biophysicist and yes, a leading and much cited member of the STURP team. It’s usual to read references to “Adler and Heller” or even just Adler alone, as if Heller were the junior partner. Not so, not when one looks at the chronology. Later today, I shall quote verbatim from Heller’s book, describing how Alan D.Adler came to be recruited to STURP. Be prepared for a surprise.
PS: Here’s a link to the 1981 STURP conclusions.
They say the “Shroud” is not a painting, they say the mechanism of image is not known. Nowhere do they state that the image cannot be of medieval origin. The word “forgery” is never used. So what business did a STURP team leader have in saying of his collaborators: “they are convinced the Shroud is not a forgery”. If that were the case, why did they not say so in the Summary, instead of writing a bland report, and then proceeding to hype it?
This week’s 4th topic
Dan Porter’s shroudstory site did a cover of a posting on this one regarding Robert Bucklin MD, STURP’s consultant pathologist. My posting was ostensibly about how his celebrated, or as I would say, notorious AUTOPSY report was based on looking at photographs of the “Shroud”, not the real ‘icon’ that is in Turin. Not many people know that, as Michael Caine was given to saying. This site tries to tell it the way it is. (Expect something soon on how Alan D. Adler, a physical/organic chemist specializing in porphyrins, came to be recruited to STURP and was immediately re-branded as a world expert on blood!).
Be that as it may, it did not take long for the comments to focus on those hands with fingers and no thumbs, and once again we saw the site descend into ‘cherry jam’ speculation about nails that cause flexure of thumbs, and whether that’s the result of mechanical damage to nerves or not. Needless to say, my original point is missed, namely that Bucklin and the rest of us are looking at a photograph of the “Shroud”.That does not entitle one to view the image on the “Shroud” as a photograph of a corpse. What if it’s not a photograph? What if it’s something entirely different, like, say, a contact imprint? If the latter, was the template a live or dead human being? Naturally, one likes to think it was live. Might there be evidence from the absence of those thumbs that the subject was live? Yes, I think so, but don’t expect it to be given much weight in the cherry jam speculation that dominates the postings and discussion on shroudstory.
Here then is the alternative ‘medieval modelling’ scenario which you won’t find elsewhere, bar those occasional papers from Prof Luigi Garlaschelli which have had a profound influence on this blogger’s thinking.
I believe the template was alive, and here’s why. Creating a notional sweat imprint to represent the body image called for a naked male (loin cloths would be hugely problematical). That required hands to be crossed over groin. But that is not a natural position for hands – they tend to slide down as one relaxes, and that’s the last thing one wants if taking an imprint, where the hands need to be kept in exactly the same place for the several minutes needed for imprinting. How can they be held in place? Answer: this set of pictures, taken just an hour ago, using my wife as volunteer, shows what’s needed:
This week’s 3nd TOPIC. Ever heard of the mystical Gematria? How come it can keep giving the same number 1128 for “Shroud of Turin” and lots of variants on that phrase?
This blogger had never heard of Gematria until yesterday, but thanks to a colourful character on shroudstory called David Hines, commenting on shroudstory, I do now, and have to say I’m impressed- but for all the wrong reasons, like knowing a little more about the use to which quirks of probability and statistics can be used and abused. (I’m still trying to suss out the flaw in the tortoise-and-hare paradox, you know, the one that says if the totrtoise is given a head start, the hare can never catch up: when the hare closes the initial gap, the tortoise has moved on a bit.When hare closes the new admittedly smaller gap, the tortoise has again moved on…)
What Dave was keen to demonstrate is that the number 1128 has a mystical significance, one that is linked to the “Shroud of Turin” -or as I now prefer to say: pre-Sabbath dispensible Shroud of Turin, as modelled by a medieval artisan. Sorry, I digress. if you’re numerophobic, don’t worry. Gematria is easy. You simply line up all the letters of the alphabet in order, then give them a value, starting with A=1, B=2, C=3 etc. You then write a word or phrase, add up the scores of all the letters, then multiply the total by 6 (don’t ask me why).
So for “Shroud of Turin” it is: (19 + 8 + 18 + 15 + 21 + 4) + (15 + 6) + (20 + 21 + 18 + 9 + 14) = (85 + 21 + 82) = 188. Multiplied by 6 we get the ‘magic’ number 1128. Why magic? Because one can write all sorts of short phrases that may (or may not!) be assoicated in one’s mind with “Shroud of Turin”, and when one scores them one finds they too add up to 1128 exactly. We are asked to believe that this is not accident, that it is proof that Someone or Something is signalling a presence through our language (or rather, a few select languages, English, the modern-day lingua franca being one of them).
To save time, I’ll now cut and paste Dave’s original comment re Gematria, and the replies I’ve posted, explaining how I think, correction KNOW it works. It ain’t rocket science. It’s merely an interesting demonstration of the Law of Averages, as it relates to letter frequency in typical written English, arising from a long alphabet in which more/less frequently used letters are fairly randomly distributed, and in putting phrases that use at least half the letters of the alphabet (give or take).
2nd instalment of Dave’s comment
followed by this PS:
Dave came back. It was another long comment that didn’t really add much to what he’d already said. So to keep this posting a reasonable length, here’s my (FINAL) reply. Sorry about the mischievous asides (though relevant to the “Shroud”)
This week’s 2nd TOPIC.
Why does this blogger now refer to the Turin “Shroud”? Why not just Turin Shroud? Answer: because the single sheet of linen in Turin was intended by a medieval entrepreneur, into the business of providing “relics”, to represent that used by Joseph of Arimathea to retrieve the body from the cross and transport it to the nearby tomb. That single sheet “sindon” must not be confused with the linen clothes (plural) aka winding cloths or bandages, Greek “othonion” that were used for final interment as described in the book of John. In other words, Joseph’s linen, imagined by our medieval entrepreneur to have captured a sweat/blood imprint, was replaced by those “bandages”, and indeed there is an illustration in the Humgarian Pray manuscript of that changeover in progress.
So why am I raising it again here? Answer: until today I had somehow got it into my head that the bandages/othonion did not get a mention until John. But in perusing an English/Greek bible today I find that’s not the case, that in fact BOTH types of linen are mentioned in Luke in consecutive chapters.
Now compare with the following chapter:
Conclusion: referring to the imprinted linen as the Turin SHROUD was probably the biggest semantic goof in history, and it’s had enormous consequences as regards the speculation that has grown up around the mechanism that produced the double image. I say it’s the result of a medieval project designed to simulate the sweat/blood imprint acquired during transport from cross to tomb in Joseph of Arimathea’s linen. It is NOT an imprint acquired on final burial clothes (winding strips) in the pro-authenticity narrative whether miraculously or naturally. Sorry, but the body was no longer in J of A’s linen so late in the proceedings if one reads the Gospels closely (in Greek as well as English). Horses for courses. Linens (different) for corpses, pre and post arrival at the intended final resting place, one for transport, loose, the other for final interment after application of ointments, spices etc (wound tightly).
This week’s FIRST TOPIC.
It places the spotlight on this comment that appeared a few minutes ago on shroudstory.
It makes a fundamental error that one sees over and over again, namely to imagine that because Lirey, the location of the first known appearance of the “Shroud” in recorded history, was and still is a tiny village, it must ipso facto have been geographically remote (“provincial backwater”) and historically insignificant except for the Shroud. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First the geography:
That’s about 13 miles from Troyes, the regional capital of rolling Champagne country, generally east of Paris, an easy day’s walk. Troyes is approx. 180km (110 miles) on a main route east of Paris.
Troyes itself has that magnificent cathedral (St.Peter’s and St.Paul’s) constructed between the 13th and 17th centuries. Here’s one its famous stained glass windows from our period of interest (14th century):
But there’s something else that put Lirey on the map, something that existed before the “Shroud” put in its first recorded appearance as that iconic ‘double-image’. Lirey was country seat (manor in English) of one of the most powerful and influential men in mid-14th century France, close confidante of the King (John II “The Good”), and said to be the prime mover in creating the short-lived Order of the Star. Who? Geoffroi de Charny, he whose coat of arms appears on the Lirey Pilgrims’ badge, alongside those of his formidable wife (widowed in 1355) Jeanne de Vergy. Lirey-the-Obscure? Nothing could be further from the truth, as the piqued protests addressed to the Pope in Avignon, not just from one but TWO consecutive bishops of Troyes were made against the public display of the allegedly “genuine” Shroud, first by Bishop Henri de Poitiers, then by his successor Pierre d’Arcis, writer of the famous d’Arcis memorandum.
More to come on this FIRST ENTRY later (including captions and attributions for the photos). New entries will be added to the top, i.e. reverse chronological order, as in the good old weblogs (Mark 1 blogs) of yesteryear that were intended, as here, to be seen as diaries, not manifestos.
As I said, more to come (from shroudstory):
Response (apols for typos):