Posting under construction. More to follow shortly – much more. Watch this space.
Yup, this posting will be written in bite-size instalments, over days, probably weeks.
Late insertion: when reading this oh-so-long-and-detailed exposition, please bear in mind the Three Laws of Sindonology:
First Law: Sindonologists who look at the Shroud long enough will almost invariably find what they are looking for and call it science.
Second Law: What sindonologists can’t explain will be called a miracle.
Third Law: Previous job descriptors (engineer, photographer, lawyer, cleric etc) will sooner or later be shuffled off, and a new Teflon-coated identity adopted: Shroud scientist.
STURP? Apols for the rejigged acronym in the title. Its real meaning was, of course, the 1978 ‘Shroud of Turin Research Project’, manned mainly, perhaps entirely by Stateside personnel. Think of it as a mainly technology-driven religion- driven Moon-landing enterprise (while trying to cast aside thoughts of the accident-prone Apollo 13!).
But see the 1981 STURP Summary, surely the most eloquent expression of ignominious failure ever, despite the invasion of Turin by a truckload of millions of dollars worth of hi-tech equipment and Ray Rogers sampling sticky tape. (Meanwhile the local medics and scientists – Baima Bollone et al- were allowed to excise whole threads – more on that tiny detail later!).
See my recent exchange (Recent Comments – margin) with host-friendly commentator Matt listing at least 27 objections to STURP’s clunky modus operandi, then and now.
Yes, even NOW, nearly 40 years on, STURP’s legacy continues to generate a never-ending series of so-called scientific conferences, invariably promoting Shroud authenticity (in spite of all the evidence for medieval forgery via whole-body imprinting) claiming to be an image of the REAL crucified Jesus, despite the 13th-14th century radiocarbon dating).
Even the local bishop at Troyes (Henri de Poitiers) , circa 1357, recognized the then Lirey-based Shroud for what it was, describing it as “cunningly painted”. (Nope, dear Bishop, not painted, but imprinted by DIRECT CONTACT between suitably imprinting-medium-encoated body of one, probably two head-to-head aligned – and very-much alive – adult males and draped-over linen).
The latest so-called ‘International Conference’ is scheduled for an obscure hard-to-find-on-the-map location at a retail park/sporting/exhibition centre at Pasco, Tri-Cities, Washington State, USA in July. It promises in its prospectus to add still more to the never-ending infusion of PSEUDOSCIENCE into the public domain. Yes, it drags on relentlessly, decade after decade, forever attempting to add further layers of ‘mystery’ to the oh-so-enigmatic Shroud of Turin.
Pasco conference organizers? A nuclear engineer (Bob Rucker) and legal attorney-turned Shroud author (Mark Antonacci), the two having teamed-up to push the pseudoscientific agenda that there was a miraculous outburst of energetic nuclear particles (neutrons etc) from Jesus at the instant of resurrection, leaving an image on a linen ‘burial’ shroud. (Shame there’s no indication in the Gospel account that Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen, delivered to the cross, and used to stretcher a crucified man to a nearby rock tomb, was ever intended as more than a means of dignified transport, concealing blood and nudity, and NOT as the final burial shroud).
More to follow.
Afterthought (added 6 June): here’s my mental image of the typical organizer of a Shroudie pseudoscience congress:
(Sorry about that: don’t know what came over me…)
Further instalments will be date and time-stamped.
Still April 7, now 20.00 UK time
Here’s a link to my comment listing the 27 points to be addressed in this posting.
I’ll start on Matt’s choice of ‘top 5’ tomorrow.
Saturday 8th April, 07:00
Item 8 (Matt’s first choice) from my list of 27 objections to STURP
“The ‘just a painting’ nonsense from someone with no scientific credentials -and scarcely any significant ones as a historian either. Shame on’ History Today’ for allowing that shallow, ill-informed nonsense into the public domain.”
“And did you know there used to be a Man in the Moon, and the Moon was made of green cheese. But after the Man had eaten all the green cheese, he went off elsewhere, leaving the poor old denuded Moon that we see today? Prove me wrong. Until you do, I’ll continue to write magazine articles, like the one I did for ‘History Today., which will give me and my previous books greater exposure than they would otherwise have to say nothing of boosting my profile and reputation as a Mediterranean tour guide.”
Well, today’s media is choc-a-bloc full of fake news, so why shouldn’t I contribute a little of my own, if only to make a point?
Dan Porter’s last but one posting on Dec 13, 2015 was entitled “Watertight evidence” and focused on the ‘just a painting’ view of our ‘History Today’ part-time, non-academic historian, following in the footsteps of the equally if not more self-promoting Walter McCrone.
I get a brief mention in that posting:
“I, too, would like watertight evidence. But I doubt it will be what Charles hopes for. Colin Berry has certainly demonstrated how weak Charles’ argument is. I also doubt, even with watertight evidence, that the belief it is a painting will ever fade – no pun intended, Charles.”
(In passing, I also get two flattering mentions a couple of days later in Dan Porter’s very last posting too!)
Yes, I must have expended thousands of words on Porter’s site, addressing one point after another re the dreary fact-blind ‘just a painting’ notion, but don’t ever recall getting a single cogent answer, so I’m not wasting further time on it now, except to say this.
Adler and Heller made a key discovery while working on STURP’s sticky-tape samples, arguably the greatest one of the entire project, yet you wouldn’t know it. That discovery could have been used/deployed to shoot Walter McCrone and his equally uncritical modern day ‘History Today’ disciple down in flames, but wasn’t. Instead it was misinterpreted and deployed with incautious haste to float yet another dud theory, namely that the Shroud body image is simply a product of accelerated ageing via cellulose oxidation (why do images of chocolate teapots spring to mind?).
So what was the discovery? It’s one that will be getting a listing all to itself in my list of 27 points, taking pride of place later.
HN=NH + one or more susceptible -CH=CH- double bonds in image chromophore ->
– CH2-CH2- in now bleached hydrogenated chromophore + N2 (gas)
Inorganic (artists’ paint pigments) do not bleach with NH=NH. The only chromophores that bleach with NH=NH are those with -C=C- double bonds in their organic CARBON-BASED chromophore.
( A chromophore being the crucial chemical grouping responsible for colour, almost invariably a sequence of alternating -C-C- and -C=C- single and double, i.e. conjugated bonds making a system of so-called delocalised, highly mobile electrons easily activated by visible light with absorption of one or more specific wavelengths imparting colour via subtraction. Anything that destroys one or more of the -C=C- double bonds can be confidently predicted to bleach the colour, Adler and Heller’s NH=NH being a typical example. ).
RIP those wrongly-assumed INORGANIC paint pigments (iron oxide, mercury sulphide).
NH=NH, STURP’s strangely uncelebrated ‘magic bullet’ is of course “diimide” which gets the briefest of brief mentions on Page 199 of Heller’s 1983 book “Report on the Shroud of Turin”. The first 200 pages give a highly informative insight into STURP’s team members and their modus operandi. Shame then about the last 20 pages, where Heller gives up despairingly on the science, and suddenly, and- up to that point – uncharacteristically, ‘gets religion’. From that point on, it’s downhill all the way, especially when he prostrates himself before Robert Bucklin’s bizarre ‘ autopsy-via- enlarged Enrie 1931 fuzzy black-and-white Shroud image spread out on mortuary trolley), the one that shamelessly deploys the terms ‘bloodstains’ and ‘wounds’ interchangeably. Some autopsy!
Final paragraph, STURP Sunmmary, 1981:
Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.
We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.
(Late addition: Er, how could STURP be so adamant the image was that of a “real human form of a scourged, crucified man” having said in the same breath that it hasn’t a clue as to how the image was formed, that it remains a “mystery”? What right has one to view and interpret the Shroud image as if an autopsy photograph when it’s NOT a photograph, and indeed is something uniquely different from a photograph, of totally unknown origin? STURP’s 1981 Summary ends with an egregious logical non sequitur.).
Seems it wasn’t just John Heller who gave up on the science, opting instead for anything-is-possible mystery and religion. That same defeatist mentality and 11th hour paying of lip service to supernatural explanations afflicted those who penned the all-important Summary. But is that surprising, given that it was STURP’s initiator and team leader, PhD physicist John Jackson, who bestowed on us his miraculist “collapsing cloth” theory, still in sindonology’s so-called ‘scientific’ literature (see the program for July’s Shroudie jamboree in Washington State). .
Next point to be addressed (tomorrow) will be those co-called alternatives to radiocarbon dating deployed in an oh-so-polemical, authenticity-defending/promoting fashion, first by Raymond N.Rogers, STURP’s chemistry team-leader, and more recently by Giulio Fanti and his associates.
Sunday 9th April, 2017
Time now to address the tricky issue of where science starts and ends, and where propaganda takes over. Yes, we’re dealing with two permutations thereof today, namely Ray Rogers, STURP scientist-turned-propagandist and Giulio Fanti, mechanical engineer-openly-and-unabashedly-propagandist. (In defence of the second of those descriptions, I will be referring later to the most illuminating interview between Louis de Figueiredo and Professor Giulio Fanti).
First, a word of warning. The terms “propaganda” (used in my mischievous spoof title) and “propagandist” are generally taken to be pejorative. That is not the case, at least historically, where anything to do with the Roman Catholic church is concerned, which I need hardly remind folk is the owner of the Turin Shroud (while uncommitted, at least officially, on the question of authenticity).
So before proceeding further I would urge such readers who have chanced upon this posting to consult this splendid article on the subject of propaganda, or should I say, religion-prescribed, religion-blessed Propaganda with a large P.
I shall be adding further small instalments throughout the day.
Still Sunday, now 10:45
Here are questions I would have like to put to Raymond N. Rogers (1927 -2005) were he still alive, and were he to have granted me a polite, respectful but searching Louis de -F. style interview.
1. Would I be correct in thinking Mr.Rogers (may I call you Ray?) that you initially went in as a sceptic of authenticity, believing it to be some kind of medieval painting? Would that explain why you were content to use sticky-tape samples (unlike the threads that the independent Italian group under Baima Bollone insisted on having) and why you allowed Walter McCrone to hog ALL your mounted samples for month after month, keeping the likes of John Heller and later Alan Adler waiting?
2. As disenchantment set in with the quality of McCrone’s science, obstinately refusing to consider the image as anything other than painted with artist’ s red ochre, what was your fall-back position? Did you have one, or did you have to quickly think on your feet as to what the image might be if NOT a boring-old painting?
3. Was it your observation of apparent native cellulose crystallinity under crossed polaroids that made you reluctant to buy into any suggestion, notably that from Heller and Adler, that the image was merely oxidized cellulose? Was that what got you thinking that the image might not be on the linen per se, but on some acquired ‘impurity’ coating?
4. In developing that idea, you looked to Pliny’s writings from the Roman/biblical era and hit on the idea of starch and/or soapwort as being technological coatings used in extant linen manufacture from flax. Was that a wise decision, seeing as how it might be seen as adopting an uncritical pro-authenticity position, if not as regards the identity of the man depicted on the Shroud but the time in which he lived (which is surely tantamount to identifying him as the real Jesus, given the locations of bloodstains, scourging etc)?
5. What do you say to the suggestion that it might have been wiser to keep all options open at that stage, and that if entertaining ideas of there being an impurity coating that led ultimately to Maillard browning products (which some might see as making a hugely valuable contribution to likely image-forming mechanisms) you should have given serious consideration to a medieval forgery scenario? Might not your impurity coating have served as an imprinting medium? Might it perhaps not have been pure starch, but an impure version thereof (white flour?) that browns more readily, at least in a hot oven? Might protein have been as important as carbohydrate, the real source perhaps of amino-nitrogen needed for your Maillard reaction, instead of those gaseous amines (ammonia, putrescine, cadaverine etc) emanating from a smelly putrefying corpse? Wouldn’t white flour be a source par excellence of the other reactant needed for a Maillard reaction, i.e. reducing sugar, with its complement of free reducing sugars, starch-degrading enzymes etc, much better than largely intact enzyme-free non-reducing starch?
6. You’ve rejected the radiocarbon dating out-of-hand. . You’ve gone to considerable trouble to put that rejection on a scientific basis, through having been able via contacts in Turin to acquire linen threads surreptitiously snipped and retained from the 1988 sampling that no one even knew existed (despite the entire sampling having supposed to be recorded on camera)?
Leaving aside questions re breaks in ‘chain of custody’ let me ask you this. If you and others of similar view consider the “official” sample taken for radiocarbon dating was not representative of the Shroud as a whole, allegedly and not inconceivably a “repair patch” dating from medieval times, then why did you not immediately agitate for repeat testing from a wider range of sites? How wise was it to question the competence of those, textile experts included, who chose the sampling site, not just to confine damage to one corner previously sampled, but through believing the weave continuity with surrounding linen ruled out any chance of repair etc?
(Let’s break for coffee shall we, Ray, after which I have some more questions regarding the validity and reliability of your chemical clock substitute for radiocarbon dating, namely ‘vanillin loss’.)
Seven (7) (ed. numerical 7 won’t bold for some reason!): Here’s a passage from the 1989 Nature paper that describes the manner which the Shroud sample was taken and subdivided between 3 testing laboratories (Arizona, Oxford and Zurich) with representatives from all 3 labs present and many more observers beside. I’ve highlighted the final few words in red:
The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its 7 bottom left-hand edge and a strip (~10 mm x 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination. The strip came from a single site on the main body of the shroud away from any patches or charred areas. Three samples, each ~50 mg in weight, were prepared from this strip. The samples were then taken to the adjacent Sala Capitolare where they were wrapped in aluminium foil and subsequently sealed inside numbered stainless-steel containers by the Archbishop of Turin and Dr Tite. Samples weighing 50 mg from two of the three controls were similarly packaged. The three containers containing the shroud (to be referred to as sample 1) and two control samples (samples 2 and 3) were then handed to representatives of each of the three laboratories together with a sample of the third control (sample 4), which was in the form of threads. All these operations, except for the wrapping of the samples in foil and their placing in containers, were fully documented by video film and photography.
So why did you write in your recent 2004 paper in Thermochimica Acta that the samples were taken “in secrecy”. I quote:
“The shroud was separated from the backing cloth along its bottom left-hand edge and a strip (10 mm × 70 mm) was cut from just above the place where a sample was previously removed in 1973 for examination. The strip came from a single site on the main body of the shroud away from any patches or charred areas.” Franco Testore, professor of textile technology at the Turin Polytechnic, and Gabriel Vial, curator of the Ancient Textile Museum, Lyon, France, approved the location of the radiocarbon sample. However, the operation was done in secrecy, and no chemical investigations were made at the time to characterize the sample.
Was it your intention to suggest that all was not what it seemed or claimed to be, that there was some skullduggery afoot that casts a shadow over the final 1260-1390 dating? If so, should that not have been more fully documented?
8. Speaking of skullduggery, you describe, very briefly, the source of some of the linen used to support your claim for the radiocarbon sample being part of a repair patch as follows:
On 12 December 2003, I received samples of both warp and weft threads that Prof. Luigi Gonella had taken from the radiocarbon sample before it was distributed for dating. Gonella reported that he excised the threads from the center of the radiocarbon sample.
Would it not have been more accurate to state that it was those samples sent to you by insider Luigi Gonella, scientific advisor to the Archbishop of Turin, some 10 years after the radiocarbon dating that had been removed in secret, with no knowledge of their existence in the wider scientific community? Were you perhaps pointing the finger of suspicion in the wrong direction? Did you maybe let on in advance what you intended to measure with those ‘stray’ undocumented threads and were then’set up’ (not necessarily by Gonella himself, but person or persons in the later chain of custody)? Did you maybe become, unwittingly, a tool in someone else’s propaganda exercise? Did those folk then make dark whispers in your hearing that provoked you to add that dark and unsupported comment about an “operation done in secrecy” so as to deflect attention from the real skullduggery, namely a surreptitious removal of additional material in 1988 not in the agreed protocol, nor recorded on camera, then later used by yourself in all innocence to dismiss the radiocarbon dating?
9. Final question, Ray, for now at any rate. You concede that heat from the 1532 fire might have accelerated lignin degradation with loss of vanillin, making the Shroud seem older, much older, than the radiocarbon dating, i.e. 1st century, instead of 14th. But you then dismiss that on the grounds that you would have seen differences between one part of the Shroud and another due to uneven temperature distribution in the fire-heated storage casket, which apparently you did not observe.
But suppose there had been another form of heating that degraded the linen evenly at all sites on the Shroud, one that was nothing to do with the 1532 fire, that came earlier, i.e. when 14th century ‘forgers’ for want of a better term were creating the Shroud and its image? Has it not occurred to you that the Shroud body image may have been made using heat, e.g. using a hot oven to cause yellowing or browning via your Maillard reaction of an applied organic imprint, say white flour, and it was that heat that caused most of the loss of vanillin? You say yourself that the temperature-loss curve was exponential. Suppose the oven temperature was not just 90 or 100 degrees, the temperatures that you and your colleague tested, but much, much higher, say 180-200 degrees Celsius! You say yourself that temperature effects on reaction rates vary exponentially (each additional 10 degrees is said to double the rate of most chemical reactions, so raising from an environmental 20 degrees, say, to 180 degrees, would be expected to make chemical reactions, vanillin loss included, increase more than 65,000fold!).
Don’t feel you need to give an immediate answer Ray. Think on it for a while. Maybe that Geoffroy de Charny of Lirey and his wife were far smarter and more commercially-oriented (or merely strapped for cash!) than we or Shroud historians give them credit for. Or, alternatively, might the inspiration and brains have been supplied by one or more of those half dozen or so chaplains whom the de Charnys hired to staff their humble wood-built family chapel tucked away in their remote countryside location (but why so many staff????).
10. Finally (as an an afterthought): we have you Ray to thank for introducing the imaginative concept of the “impurity layer” into Shroud science, and indeed providing some microscopic evidence too (e.g. those “ghosts” left in your Mylar sticky-tape adhesive). However, could it be that your simple starch was not sufficiently IMpure and indeed not ideally ‘fit for purpose’ where Maillard reactions are concerned? (Thanks too for introducing Maillard reactions into the arena where the ‘mysterious’ body image is concerned).
Did you ever consider plain white flour as an alternative, in a medieval imprinting scenario, using that chemical cornucopia of ‘impurities’ to provide both the reducing sugar and the amino groups simultaneously? Might it have been that choice of semi-purified starch that led you down what arguably was the ‘wrong’ road towards a 1st century provenance, away from the radiocarbon dating? Might the textile experts finally be exonerated from your charge (and impressively forensic but possibly misinterpreted Thermochimica Acta indictment) of having failed to recognize the radiocarbon sample as a repair patch?
Thank you for time and patience, Ray.
Tomorrow, Monday, we shall take a look at that REAL interview with authenticity-promoting, take-no-prisoners arch-propagandist Professor Giulio Fanti.
He made some quite extraordinary claims in the course of that interview that fully justify my description!
He’s a clever man, highly clever, but despite initial impressions he’s NOT a genuine scientist. It takes more than the temporary donning of a laboratory white coat to turn an engineer into a scientist – much, much more.
Monday 10th April 2017, 08:00
Let’s now look briefly at Professor Giulio Fanti, not for his voluminous contributions to sindonology, disguised as science, but his real contribution to science itself. To find an answer to that crucial issue – science, not sindonology – one needs only to go to his final close-to-his-heart (NOT head!) signing off words in that interview with Louis de F.
Text to follow shortly (needing to be transcribed by hand from the anti-researcher, anti-C&P internet screed)
I will end this discussion by saying something about my convictions after studying the TS from many points of view for 17 years. The TS is a linen sheet that cannot be restricted to scientific studies. It goes beyond this because it is a man-made textile showing an image not made by human hands.
I will go even further by stepping out the realms of science for a moment. The TS is the only “photograph” that Jesus Christ left for us to remember how much He suffered for us, also showing, by means of a burst of energy used to impress the body image, that there is life after death.
First, let me say that this free-thinker has no problem whatsoever with the religion on display here (a variant of the one this investigator grew up with) nor with Professor Fanti’s clear statement of his beliefs in what was an informal (or at best, semi-formal) interview. Indeed his forthrightness is to be respected, though maybe not to be encouraged.
No, it’s not the religion per se that is the problem. It’s the manner in which he has taken a prior position on scientific matters that is clearly inspired and driven by his religious convictions. He says the image was “not made by human hands”? Where’s the scientific evidence for the intervention of any non-human agency? How can those of us who on a continuing daily and yearly basis continue to adduce evidence for medieval manufacture expect to get a fair hearing from someone who has taken an upfront position that will not hear of the TS being an artefact of human design and execution? Where’s the evidence that a “burst of energy” was needed to impress the body image, when I use 10 or 15 minutes of gradual heating from room temperature to 180-200 degrees C in a hot-air fan-oven to produce a Shroud-like negative image with 3D response in ImageJ software, with closely matching colour, image- faintness and fuzziness, microscopic properties etc etc
I shall now proceed to deal briefly with the other points that our clearly agenda-driven proselytizer of Shroud authenticity makes earlier in the interview, one that attempts to impose (not argue) a supernatural origin for the body image. As stated earlier, Professor Fanti is most definitely not a scientist. He is first and foremost a goal-directed engineer who merely uses SOME of the methods of science to give his work a superficial scientific-look, but he is essentially ANTI-SCIENCE. Indeed, if the truth be told, he is probably anti-scientist too (REAL scientist, that is), whether he realizes it or not. I suspect not, his judgement being clouded by his true-believer mindset. one that drives his real agenda, namely to use the ‘mysterious’ Shroud to argue for, nay “experimentally” document and demonstrate (to his own satisfaction) a divine one-off intervention into human affairs some two millennia ago in Palestine.
Still Monday, now 10:00
Fanti’s response to first question:
“Three different datings have been performed after proper calibration of the new methods based on opto-chemical analysis (Raman and FT-IR) and a multi-parametric mechanical analysis.
But there’s no such thing as a “proper calibration” of methods when based on spectral and other changes in the way an adventitious (“ragbag”) collection of detached linen fibres hoovered up from between the TS and its centuries old backing cloth, not if you know next to nothing about the conditions to which the linen has been exposed over the centuries, the 1532 fire especially (to say nothing of the proposed new-kid-on-the-block thermally-aided medieval manufacture).
This, needless to say, is a restatement of my critique of Rogers and his ‘vanillin clock’ except here we have two new clocks , one based (broadly speaking) on colour change, whether visible to the eye or not, the other on brittleness and other mechanical properties. (As for the third clock, or at any rate calendar, which gets a brief mention later, the one labelled numismatics, i.e. the study of coins, words fail me – well, momentarily).
Compare with radiocarbon dating, where the slowly disintegrating radioactive C-14 isotope could for all intents and purpose exist in a parallel universe, totally, and I mean TOTALLY unaffected by anything happening around it in our own real world. Not for nothing can one attach an invariant half-life to each unstable isotope ( 5700 ± 30 years in the case of C-14, which would be the same whether in liquid helium at -269 degrees C or a electric arc furnace at 3,000 degrees C, whether surrounded by inert helium or reactive atomic oxygen. No one should write off radiocarbon dating, and expect to be taken seriously if uncritically substituting a so-called chemical clock. It’s like replacing a laser beam cutter with a blunt and rusty handsaw from a carpentry museum.
Still Monday, 11:30
Response to Question 5:
I think that Dr.Flury-Lemberg did not find any evidence of reweaving. That means that the date is not a problem, the evidence of reweaving is. Perhaps her certainty has something to do with a patch in the site from where the 1988 sample was cut. According to the hypothesis I am working on, a thirteenth century patch is possible but it would be in a larger area, also including the site of the 1988 sample. …….. It appears she did not go beyond that area.
So, it’s no longer a repair patch. It’s a repair PANEL no less.
One has to think BIG if one’s to keep up those pressure on those dreadful Shroud sceptics with their ‘flawed’ radiocarbon dating.
Could we have estimates please on the size of the repair PANEL? Is it visible on Shroud Scope, maybe under raised contrast? Nope, I didn’t think so…
Still Monday, now 13:00
Response to Question 6:
“It has been demonstrated … that the 1988 radiocarbon is not statistically acceptable because of the presence of non-negligible bias. Considering this bias, the corresponding uncertainty of +/- 65 years must at least be multiplied by a factor of 100, this leading to a result without scientific meaning.”
We have now moved on to high comedy. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of statistics (goodness of fit, chi-square test etc) would know that, merely from eyeballing the data summary in the Nature radiocarbon paper by Damon et al:
Column 1, headed by the yellow box, are the data for the Shroud, obtained by the three different laboratories.
Eyeballing those means +/- scatter, i.e. 646+/-31, 750+/-30, 676+/-24, as the estimated ages of the linen in years, what would you estimate, dear reader, as the widest likely range, taking into account sampling error? My conservative estimate would be anywhere between about 600 and 800 years old, i.e. 1220 – 1420. That’s not too.different from the statistically-derived “official” estimate of 1260-1390.
But our mechanical engineer with a grasp of data and statistics say the real spread is 100 times greater, making a scientific conclusion impossible. How on earth one might ask did he arrive at a conclusion that flies in then face of commonsense (never mind statistics)?
Once can only guess, but guess I shall. It’s to do with that chi-square value of 6.4, boxed in red, which for the number of degrees of freedom in the data (just 2) means there’s a strong chance that the data from the 3 labs are not as homogeneous as might be the case if there had been just 1 lab, and if there had been random sampling by that one lab from the entire rectangle of linen, instead of being divided into three. Is that surprising? Of course not, there being three labs each using their own clean-up procedures, their own AMS equipment etc.
One might ask why the Nature authors even bothered doing a chi-square test, given the non-random sampling, the systematic differences in technique. They don’t say, but I would hazard the following explanation – they were hoping that the differences between labs and technology were so slight that the final data would return a much smaller chi-square value, giving huge additional kudos to the final data. Well, surprise, surprise, they didn’t achieve that goal, which some might consider to have been unrealistic anyway, but the idea that the chi-square value invalidates the entire data is just plain ludicrous. It’s a gift to the radiocarbon-trashing tendency, needless to say, because taking a worse case scenario they can claim there’s a systematic trend in the 3 means, e.g. 646->676->750 which if repeated across the entire length of the cloth would point to something seriously wrong with the AMS technology itself in principle (which there’s clearly not!) or with the linen itself, regardless of origin and subsequent history. Nevertheless, I’m frankly amazed, nay gobsmacked, that a Professor of Mechanical Engineering no less would put his name to so laughable (weepable?) a dismissal of the entire radiocarbon data on just one tiny (and largely predicable) statistical wart in the data, especially given the initial decision NOT to trust the dating to a single radiocarbon lab. Personally, this published scientist (and one time referee for quality peer-reviewed biochemical and biomedical journals) considers the agreement between the 3 labs to be remarkable, truly remarkable… Nuff said on that score.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 11th April) I shall address the claim, made back in Feb 2012 by STERA’s President no less , previously STURP’s Documenting (i.e. non-science) Photographer Barrie M. Schwortz, now re-invented by himself and others as a “scientist”, that my Model 2 (imprinting by direct contact with hot metal template) was a complete and utter waste of time (see Comments on that shroudstory posting). “All scorches fluoresce under uv” , didn’t you know? Nor does the Shroud body image fluoresce under uv” didn’t you know?
I checked out and reported on those uv claims for contact and other scorches on linen back at the tail end of 2015 (links to follow). Nope, all scorches do NOT fluoresce under uv, didn’t you know? And Model 2, while later abandoned, was not a waste of time, yielding as it did valuable insights into the negative, tone-reversed character and (brace yourselves for a cold water douche) the so-called greatly-overhyped “encoded 3D properties” of the Shroud body image.
That’s the great thing about models (aka working hypotheses) in science. They don’t need to be proved right, or even perceived ahead of time as right. They simply need to have predictive value,, expanding the knowledge base, providing – if one’s lucky – valuable new insights, even better, ever more sophisticated fact-friendly models…
Back tomorrow. (58 hits so far today, but not a single one as yet to this, my latest posting!). Thanks WordPress (more on that later), partly but not completely exonerating the internet search engines.
Tuesday April 11th 08:00
Let’s start with this comment (highlighted in blue below) which Barrie M.Schwortz addressed to this investigator in February 2012, a month or two after starting this project, having moved from Model 1 (“thermostencilling” with a disposable black radiation-absorbing charcoal sensitizer to scorching radiation) to Model 2 (imprinting by direct contact with a heated bas relief or other metal template). (Model 1 incidentally, while unrealistic in practical terms, flagged up the possibility of there having been an added substance that assists the formation of the body image, but which after a final wash leaves no trace of it having been a key ingredient – which was in a sense a prototype for my current Model 10 in which white flour is the sensitizing agent).
Oh dear. Pseudoscience does not come much worse than this.
Where’s the evidence that “true scorches on linen will always fluoresce in the red”. Is Mr Schwortz referring to the 1532 scorch marks on the Shroud itself, rather than controlled laboratory experiments? It would appear so, in which case one sees the start of a circular argument in which the 1532 scorch marks are dignified with the label “true scorches” which is a logical nonsense. There is nothing “true” about scorches acquired centuries ago under conditions that can only be guessed at (temperature, oxygen availability etc etc).
This investigator finally got round to checking out the appearance of experimental scorches under a particular long wave, relatively non-hazardous uv lamp, available commercially for detecting forged banknotes, having first determined its ability to detect fluorescence in a wider range of fluorophores (marker pens, quinine-containing tonic water etc).
None of my experimental scorches on linen fluoresced under uv, making a nonsense of the claim, nay mantra, that all scorches fluoresce under uv.
I guess it’s possible that a more hazardous uv lamp, delivering shorter more energetic uv, though more highly air-attenuated, might have evoked fluorescence, a possibility that emerged from discussion with BSTS Editor Hugh Farey who in his own experiments deployed a tungsten filament -based uv lamp in contrast to mine that has a small discharge tube, probably with mercury vapour.
There was also no fluorescence from my current Model 10 flour-derived melanoidin imprints, which I hesitate to describe as “scorches”, the term “stains” probably being a more apt description if, as I suspect but cannot yet prove, they are formed by seepage of a LIQUID Maillard reaction cocktail from the white flour/vegetable oil imprint at high temperature, which then polymerises to SOLID melanoidins both on and between the fibres of the linen.
What Mr. Scwortz describes were not experiments in the scientific meaning of the term, where one makes an attempt to control variables. They were scans, measurements, in situ, as-is comparisons where one simply looks for differences, and, if finding them, then faces the onerous task of interpreting them with little or no background information .
This is not the first time that Mr. Schwortz has confused a scan with a real experiment. See his attempts to deploy “quad mosaic photography” as a scientific tool, claiming that colour differences are due to significant differences in chemistry without as far as I’m aware a scrap of analytical evidence to back up that assertion. Methinks Mr. Schwortz should stick to the photography, stop posturing as if now a scientist by virtue of disseminating STURP findings on his “educational” globetrotting tours and STURP-derived media celebrity status which all too often consists of giving credence to some of STURP’s more egregious errors (like Alan Adler’s barmy suggestion that Shroud blood looks “too red” on account of “extraordinary levels of bilirubin”). No disrespect to the dead, especially the discoverer of the diimide ‘magic bullet’, but that bit of toe-curling pseudoscience regarding bilirubin that Schwortz disseminates as if established fact was based on zero quantitative evidence and third rate physical and chemical spot-tests, news of which Schwortz has described as having been a defining moment in his finally accepting Shroud authenticity. (Technical note: bilirubin is highly photosensitive to VISIBLE white light, notably the blue component thereof, and prone to rapid photodegradation via a self-sensitized singlet oxygen mechanism, so the chances of any blood-based bilirubin surviving for years, far less centuries, on a Shroud exposed even intermittently to daylight or even artificial light is essentially zero. This investigator’s very first published paper in 1972 was on model studies performed with Don Ostrow at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Medical School, with light- irradiated bilirubin (yes, BILIRUBIN) designed to elucidate the mechanism of visible white light phototherapy for neonatal jaundice, appearing shortly after Tony McDonagh’s discovery of its self-sensitized destruction via activated singlet oxygen. The first thing we did was to remove half the fluorescent light tubes in the laboratory!).
So why did the assorted scorch marks on the Shroud produce a red fluorescence under uv, while my model scorches do not. Here’s an experiment that may provide an answer:
Yes, the red or pink fluorescence associated with “scorch” marks on the Shroud are probably a property less of superficially-scorched linen, as might be produced with hot metal at 200-220 degrees C, but of the semi-charred margins of the full-thickness burn holes acquired in 1532. There are some chemical grounds for thinking that to be the case: when linen and other organic materials carbonize at high temperature, the end product – elemental carbon as charcoal- is in fact highly polymeric (planar sheets of microcrystalline near-graphite like material) which are also highly aromatic in character (fused rings with conjugated double bonds). It seems probable that some of the intermediate products of that polymerization are responsible for the fluorescence, instead of – or in addition to – fluorescence ascribed to the much simpler furfural.
No doubt there will be further attacks on the so-called scorch hypothesis, that term “scorch” being a proxy for any kind of thermal imprinting that requires a high temperature, inconsistent with 1st century rock tomb scenarios.
But let’s be hearing no more about uv fluorescence please. That is NOT a valid argument against the “scorch hypothesis” or for that matter any other thermal mechanism, whether direct contact (heated template, Model 2) or indirect (heated imprinted linen, Model 10). Sindonology really must make an effort to rid itself of these outdated mantras, often based on what can only be described as pseudoscience.
Still Tuesday: now 14:30
We’ve now reached Matt’s 4th priority from my list of 27 points where I find myself at odds with sindonology’s so-called science. In fact we now move on to the theophysics still around to this day from STURP’s founder, namely John Jackson PhD.
Yup, it’s even on the program for the Pasco pro-authenticity promoting shindig in July in Pasco:
Yes, look in the yellow box , where you will see: Evidence for Image Formation by a Cloth Collapse (Mark Antonacci) and “Problems with the Cloth Collapse Hypothesis” by Bob Rucker. The two are the conference sponsors by the way.
Sure, there are big problems with Jackson’s Cloth Collapse theory, Bob, but I doubt whether your objections are anything like mine. You see, mine are fundamental ones that go right back to Jackson’s starting point, set out in Mark Antonacci’s 2000 book “The Resurrection of the Shroud”. There, on page 218, we read that Jackson’s starting point was an experiment performed by medically-qualified Gil Lavoie.
Here’s Antonacci’s introduction to that section:
Dr,John Jackson, one of the founders of STURP who has studied the Shroud images for more than 25 years, proposed a model of image formation that accounted for more image features than any method had previously.. After many years of studying the cloth and its images and participating in numerous experiments testing the many methods proposed to explain the Shroud’s images, Jackson concluded that “we seem to have a situation where the set of observables is so restrictive that all hypotheses posed thus far must be excluded … often on the basis of multiple objection”
Jackson was the first to incorporate into a proposal the findings of Dr.Gil Lavoie, who first explained why some of the blood marks of the head in the man on the Shroud had been displaced into the hair. Lavoie illustrated in Figs 137-139 that the blood marks now seen in the hair all originated on the sides of the man’s forehead and face”.
I have shown “some” of those bloodmarks in the hair on a contrast-enhanced Shroud Scoope image, below left, and taken the liberty of reproducing the main part of Antonacci’s graphic displaying the Lavoie experiment (at last, a REAL experiment even if flawed – see below!) which led him to make those claims for the blood being allegedly ‘out of stereoregister’ with the image of the facial skin.
I could save myself a lot of time, simply with this cartoon, and moving onto the next issue:
Yup, if the cloth collapse theory-that-refuses-to-go-away was based initially on the Lavoie experiment, as Antonacci maintains, then what we see is a pyramid that is wider at its top than at its base – much much wider!
Why do I say that? More to come (yawn, sigh …)
Basically an objection to the realism of the Shroud image has been turned into an opportunity to push a particular mechanism of imprinting of body image, not via direct contact, as for blood, but by a mysterious (and one has to say wacky) radiation process capable of operating across air gaps AND having an altogether different geometry that is outside the realms of conventional science.
How was that achieved, step by step? Ingenious: first, make a bald assertion to the effect that the blood was not of course really on the hair, thus pulling the rug from under the objectors by agreeing with them re lack of realism. Then claim that linen had been wrapped around a REAL pro-authenticity head, allowing it to drape around the sides, which would then pick up blood allegedly from the sides of the face, or at any rate, some blood, and then display lateral distortion when the linen was laid flat. Then claim that by some mysterious process the linen became flat when the body image was later acquired, such that face blood then became out of stereoregister, appearing to be on the hair.
But there’s a flaw in that argument – a very serious one. A real face was used for Lavoie’s imprinting of blood (and a rather wide one too, but that’s by the way). Note the way the linen becomes puckered by the nose. In a medieval imprinting scenario one could not expect to imprint either blood or body image off a real face on account of the ‘awkward’ nose. Solution? Substitute a bas relief made from carved wood or moulded clay for the face with a stubby nominal nose (while continuing to use one or more real human volunteers for the rest of the body) as suggested several years ago by Luigi Garlaschelli (a view with which I’m now in agreement).
The use of a bas relief would account for several odd features re the Shroud face – the mask-like appearance with sharp cut-off at the cheekbones, the unrealistically lank hair – which would in any case be tricky to imprint off real hair, less so for rigid “hair” on a bas relief, the unsatisfactory look where the neck meets the torso, the chin crease, acquired maybe from pressing a bas relief down onto linen trapping a fold of imprinted linen instead of the regular geometry of pressing linen DOWN onto the rest of a recumbent subject etc etc.
Yes, apart from seeing the cloth collapse theory as galloping pseudoscience, I also view it as an inverted pyramid, balanced precariously on a narrow point that was Lavoie’s convenient assumption for the purposes of experimental modelling, namely that the face was imprinted off a real one.
So, returning to a medieval ‘forgery’ scenario, was the blood intended to be in the hair, as unrealistic trickles that might have elicited some scepticsm from cognoscenti? Yes, probably, because the chief priority was for the viewer to quickly note the correspondence between blood locations and the biblical account of the scourging, crown of thorns, crucifixion. Probably the majority of pilgrims viewing the Shroud, maybe from a respectful distance, would have been content to spot blood on the hair and t.hen thought to themselves – “Ah yes, the crown of thorns is missing, as expected, but one can still see the damage it did to the skin underlying the hair, the latter obscuring open, bleeding thorn wounds. More realistic blood-matted hair would be a lot more difficult to model, and would have made for a less striking image overall.
Wednesday 12th April, 07:45
Time now address the last in Matt’s shortlist of 5 from my 27 issues re sindonology and its modus operandi, past and present.
It’s numbered 20 in my list (see Recent Comments on posting immediately preceding this one):
20. Certain of the more over-hyped aspects of the “blood stain” story, like why the blood looks too red to be authentic blood (“extraordinary levels of bilirubin”) , the ‘blood-before-image’ mantra etc etc. Unrealistic scenarios re behaviour of detached blood clots etc
Incidentally, I inserted a new section this morning into the intro of this posting, namely my Three Laws of Sindonology:
First Law: Sindonologists who look at the Shroud long enough will almost invariably find what they are looking for and call it science.
Second Law: What sindonologists can’t explain will be called a miracle.
Third Law: Previous job descriptors (engineer, photographer, lawyer, cleric etc) will sooner or later be shuffled off, and a new Teflon-coated identity adopted: Shroud scientist.
I could have added a fourth regarding the so-called Evidence of the Blood:
4th Law of Sindonology: Any and all attempts by sindonologists to provide a non-miraculous explanation for the blood marks on the Shroud can be guaranteed to cause eyes to glaze over within minutes, seconds even,
Indeed, my advice to anyone wanting to get a quick handle on Shroud blood could do a lot worse than consult Mark Antonacci’s 2000 book, page 30, more to follow shortly.
Still Wednesday, now 09:30:
Passage from page 30, Antonacci, “The Resurrection of the Shroud”:
“For now, it is sufficient to state that the bloodstains could not have been encoded on the Shroud simply by direct contact between a bloody body and a linen cloth surrounding it. While this may seem to point away from the Shroud’s being an actual burial cloth, it may in fact point towards something truly miraculous.”
That refreshingly candid, we-still-don’t-know-all-the-answers passage is a summary of many, many observations regarding the behaviour of real blood, fresh, semi- of fully clotted when it makes contact with linen. Here’s another passage from the same book, citing a different writer, one Robert Wilcox:
“Paul Vignon and Pierre Barbet found, after many attempts, that it was impossible to transfer blood to a linen cloth with anything like the precision shown on the shroud. if the blood were too wet when it came into contact with the cloth, it would spangle or run in all directions along the thread. If it were not wet enough , it would leave only a smudge. The perfect-bordered, picturelike clots on the shroud, it seemed , could not be reproduced by staining.”
In short, the bloodstains on the shroud are seen as being simply too good to be true, even by arch-proponent of authenticity, Mark Antonacci, if that involved any direct imprinting via direct contact between blood on skin and linen. His own miracle-requiring mechanism is detailed later in the book, under the heading: The Historically Consistent Method, a development it seems of Jackson’s Collapsing Cloth. ( But with zero airgap existing between this scientist’s feet and terra firma, except when in bed at night dreaming, I shall not be giving serious thought to either of those two variants on a one-off miracle-requiring scenario, preferring to seek more down-to-earth explanations).
Coming next: Adler’s surprising, dare one say perplexing attempt to rationalize those too-good-to-be-true bloodstains, via “serum exudates from retracted blood clots”.
Still Wednesday, 13:00. Let’s bite the bullet, and start to patiently dissect that oddball single-author Adler narrative, the one that claims it’s largely cell-free, red (haemolytic) serum exuded from blood clots we see on the Shroud, NOT whole blood.
Here’s one of the more significant passages, nearer the end than the start:
Now we should remember that we are not looking at whole blood on the cloth; we are looking at exudate from a clot. When this fact is borne in mind, it begins to make sense out of a lot of things that were previously unclear about the blood marks on the Shroud. Under SEM (ed. scanning electron microscopy) we see clearly that there are very few, almost no cells in the “blood”. If in fact this is the exudate of a clot then there should not be many cells in it, as these would stay back in the clot. Furthermore, there should be no nitric acid (sic) because it should also remain in the clot. That is precisely what we find in the X-ray florescence studies . All of the evidence we have up to the present supports the hypothesis that the “blood” is the exudate from clotted blood.
Sound simple, yes, apart from that reference to “nitric acid” which one presumes is a typo? (What did he really have in mind?).
The blood clots, it retracts a little, releasing some serum that is coloured with a little dissolved haemoglobin that has escaped from red blood cells. It’s that coloured serum (soluble haemoglobin) that is responsible for the “bloodstains” on the Shroud – the clot remaining on the Man. Well, at least we have an explanation for why Adler consistently refers to “serum” fibres in his microchemical and other tests.
But hold on a minute. Are we really to understand that those prominent blood stains on the Shroud, the ones described as being “too red” are nothing more than contaminated serum, that the blood clots with most of the haemoglobin stayed behind on the body?
How does that square with Adler’s reference to there being a serum ring or halo around each so-called “bloodstain” on the shroud, if most of that “bloodstain” is in fact merely soluble, largely non-particulate serum, merely a coloured, near-transparent protein solution? Surely the entire stain would fluoresce under uv if most of it, bar a little haemoglobin contamination, were serum albumin and other fluorescent proteins?
So where did Adler get the idea that the blood is not whole blood, but mainly a serum exudate, and more importantly, WHY the need to make that counter-intuitive deduction?
Let’s look earlier in that same reprint and elsewhere and see if there are any hints, and more importantly, any further indications of what is beginning to look like a serious internal contradiction in the Adler narrative.
We read this highly (I consider) unclear ambiguous passage earlier. Can you , dear reader, spot what happened to the clotted blood on the subject during the imprinting process?
In the 1920’s Paul Vignon pointed out that one of the peculiar characteristics about the bloodmarks on the Shroud is that clotted blood is represented. No other artist had painted blood in clotted form; they usually showed free-flowing blood. The blood marks on the Shroud are all depressed in the centres, raised on the edges, and in the ultra-violet photography we can see around all of these a halo of exuded serum. In fact those haloes tested positive for serum albumin by the standard Bromocresol Green test (used by physicians to test for albumin in the urine) and they also gave a positive immuno-chemical test with albumin serum.
So, having been told there’s no clotted blood (aggregated red blood cells etc) on the Shroud, that the blood is merely a serum exudate from blood clots, i.e. a wishy-washy fluid, we’re now asked to take on board a version that is totally at odds with Adler’s description, with no attempt whatsoever to dismiss it, or to qualify it any way.
The 1920’s Vignon version states that the bloodstains ARE clotted blood, and we are invited to speculate on how an artist ever managed to represent clotted blood with a paint brush, seemingly taking Vignon at face value (and why not?) Maybe this unremarked upon clash of narratives will be resolved if we read on. Let’s hope so, but I have to say things are looking none too promising thus far, given the level of exposition skills on display in these quoted passages with their ambiguity and apparent self-contradictions.
Still Wednesday, now 16:15
Here’s a third passage from that Adler reprint. Reminder: we’re looking to see why he considered the blood on the Shroud was not clotted whole blood, but a ‘wishy-washy’ serum exudate. Was it Gil Lavoie MD who supplied the inspiration? Certainly Lavoie makes reference to ‘serum exudates’ in his experiments, but does he anywhere so much as suggest that that his experimental imprints onto linen comprised serum exudate only? Answer: NO!!!
Here’s the passage in question:
Recently, Gill Lavoie has done some experiments in which he studies the clotting of blood and its transfer onto a linen cloth. He put drops of blood on plastic sheets, leather, paper and other surfaces and then applied a linen cloth to it at various intervals in the clotting process. He found that, to produce imprints like those of the Shroud, one had to get the impression onto the cloth within about 2 hours in order for the impression not to be smeared. He also discovered something even more interesting: he did the experiment of letting the blood clots hang vertically, and found that a lot of the exuded serum dripped off. In sum he found that, to get imprints closest to what we have on the Shroud, the blood needed to clot in a vertical position, and it needed to be transferred to the cloth within 2 hours. This conclusion matches very closely what is indicated by other chemical and pathological evidence, i.e. that the individual whose image is on the cloth was wounded in a traumatic way, and held up with arms outstretched..
In fact, when one reads the Lavoie et al paper, there are references to exuded serum having a deleterious effect on imprinting of some blood clots!
“Blood on the Shroud of Turin: Part II. ”Gilbert R. Lavoie, Bonnie B. Lavoie, Vincent J. Donovan, and John S. Ballas. Shroud Spectrum International 8 (September 1983): 2-10.
Note that he and his associates are specific that it is a still -moist blood CLOT that is being imprinted, which if done before drying can produce a reasonable model of the blood CLOTS on the Shroud.
On reaching the end of the above passage, one is then back to where we came in, namely with Adler’s following assertion that invites no questioning (but today, someone is now questioning it).
Now we should remember that we are not looking at whole blood on the cloth; we are looking at an exudate from a clot.
So where’s the evidence for an exudate? It’s certainly not from the Lavoie experiments, where the photography indicates full strength blood intensity.
One can only suppose that it rests on that claim by Adler that there are scarcely any intact red blood corpuscles visible in Shroud blood. But that on its own is scarcely a basis of invoking ‘serum exudates from blood clots’ especially given the high degree of redness we see in the Mark Evans pictures of Shroud fibres encrusted with blood (or “blood”).
I say that what we are seeing is the bane of pro-authenticity-thinking – staying trapped within the pro-authenticity mode of thinking, failing to think out of the box, failing to consider medieval scenarios in which a blood substitute was maybe employed, one that was very red, more so than a serum exudate, very dense, and by no means “wishy washy” as Adler would have us believe, while nevertheless lacking ‘formed elements’ under the microscope.
So what caused Alan Adler to become so wedded to that notion of the bloodstains being mere ‘serum exudates’, indeed stating it as if established fact?
I believe the answer is staring us in the face. The lack of visible red blood cells under the microscope was a severe embarrassment to someone pressing for the Shroud “blood” to be seen as real blood, especially when there was Walter McCrone breathing down his neck, the latter with his misguided ‘just painters’ iron oxide and mercuric sulphide’ fixation. Adler needed to pull something from the bag and fast. He did so by invoking a cell-free serum exudate that hopefully might be sufficiently red to look like whole blood. But the chances of that being the case are essentially zilch, as anyone who has ever seen even strongly haemolysed blood serum or plasma will know. Paint it ain’t, that much is certain. Adler sadly also seems to have overlooked the logical flaw in referring to fluorescent serum haloes which would only be haloes if surrounding a spot of whole blood – a serum exudate would be predicted to fluoresce across the entire stain!
That’s enough for one day. So what might be the explanation for Shroud bloodstains, correction, clot-like markings, whether real, semi-real or fake, failing to have visible red blood cells?
Tomorrow, I’ll return to an idea mooted some years ago, one that intrigued and/or infuriated any number of folk on Dan Porter’s site. One of the worthies there, an immunology expert, even did a posting with a reference to ‘Brother Hirudo’ (yours truly) in the title (hint, hint).
Thursday 13th April
Yes, it’s almost 5 years, about the time of the London Olympics, that I provided a highly unconventional explanation for why the Shroud blood bore both resemblances and differences to real blood (even allowing for the effect of centuries of ageing). I suggested that the blood used on the Shroud had been harvested from well-fed medicinal bloodsucking leeches! See (or better still, read) these two postings from August 2012 on this site:
1st August 2012
4th August 2012
Incidentally, even some 5 years ago, I was expressing strong misgivings about Adler’s ‘serum exudate’ theory, wondering how he had come by it, and why he was so dogmatic in the way he presented it, my not caring for ‘science by edict’.
But that was by the way. Why did Shroud blood have an atypical porphyrin spectrum (which Adler tried to explain away with that bizarre explanation involving ‘trauma-derived bilirubin’)? Why is the blood still described as being “too red”, how did medieval artisans get round the tendency of freshly-drawn blood to clot rapidly if wishing to use it as a paint or imprinting medium? Resort to non-clotting leech digesta with lysed and semi-digested red blood cells could provide an explanation for all these, and more besides!
I now need to break off and do some more book research and internet searching. Why? Because while we keep hearing of the fluorescent haloes around blood stains, I don’t ever recall seeing a convincing photograph. The one generally shown is of the bloodstain on the wrist, but it’s only one small lobe in the corner which shows the halo, for which there might be an entirely different explanation (and indeed probably is!).
If anyone reading this knows of a good image of a fluorescent halo, one that extends 360 degrees around the bloodstain, or even a substantial arc of circumference thereof, then please drop a comment, or email, preferably with a link.
sciencebod01 (at) aol.com
Still Thursday, now 09:30
Nope, I haven’t overlooked this image that appears in one of the collection of papers in Adler’s ‘Orphaned Manuscript”. Here’s a screen grab with its caption:
But is that really a fluorescent halo around the bloodstain corresponding to the biblical lance wound? See the alternative explanation proposed on this site (i.e. that an area of the subject’s torso was masked before imprinting body image, such that there was a blank “canvas” available after the oven-roasting step onto which blood could be painted. Unpainted ‘islands’ could then be proposed to be water mixed in with the blood. The halo would merely be the result of the painter not going right up to the junction with the body image, an additional flagging up maybe of “water” as per Gospels in addition to blood.
Still Thursday, now 11:45
Am turning up some interesting detail from returning to Adler’s “Orphaned Manuscript” after a gap of several years.
Look first at the sections underlined in yellow (an appropriate choice of colour, as will become clear):
The background linen, presumably non-image, is described as having a “light greenish yellow” emission under uv. The borders of blood marks are said to show typical “yellowish fluorescence”. That does not sound too different from background linen. So who’s to say that the border fluorescence is NOT due to serum, but to ‘blank’ linen, with the colour maybe altered slightly by substances migrating out of the blood zone? Were checks done with known quenching agents for uv fluorescence to distinguish between genuine emission over and above background?
Why has a later passage been underlined in red? As I suggested some 5 years ago, we may be looking at an entirely novel and unexpected means of testing the authenticity of the Shroud – by looking for real scratches on the linen, as distinct from images of scratches? Yes, I suspect we may have prima facie evidence that it was not the Man on the Shroud who was subjected to scourging, but the Shroud itself.
The next step is to decide at what stage in imprinting with body image and blood the linen fibres themselves may have become superficially cut/nicked/scored with a “scourge-imprinting” tool, and then seek evidence that the linen that resides in Turin bears the corresponding mechanical damage to its fibres!
Still Thursday, now 13:30
OK that’s the first 5 of my 25 “issues” addressed, or at any rate touched upon. Thanks Matt for providing your priority listing. Any thoughts thus far?
Here’s the full list of 27, with Matt’s priority 5 scored through. Is there anyone else out there, or maybe Matt if he’s still looking in, who might wish to nominate the next 5 – or maybe provided points that are not in my list? If so, please say, preferably with a comment.
1. Dispensing with the cylindrical, wrap-around distortion objection to imprinting via direct contact.
2. Addressing the claim that blood not really on the hair, used in Trojan horse strategy to claim image and blood are out of stereoregister, then used to implicate radiation as imaging mechanism
3. Failure to recognize that ‘neck crease’ is no ordinary crease, failure to appreciate the clue it provides to imprinting mechanism that utilizes direct contact and applied pressure.
4. Failure to consider the evidence for thermal imprinting mechanism, indeed contemptuous dismissal thereof. Failure to do experiments with model scorch imprinting (3D, bas relief etc).
5. Failure of STURP to recognize that blood stains are too good to be true. Coroner Robert Bucklin’s inability to recognize that blood stains cannot necessarily be equated with wounds.
6. Failure to recognize that a subset of bloodstains – the scourge marks – are also too good to be true, with near-perfect imprinting of the metal bead tips of one or more Roman flagra.
7. The radiocarbon dating: why the opposition to repeat testing (St.Louis conference, 2014) coming from STURP team leader and other big shot attendees at Discussion forum no less.
8. The ‘just a painting’ nonsense from someone with no scientific credentials -and scarcely any significant ones as a historian either. Shame on ‘History Today’ for allowing that shallow, ill-informed nonsense into the public domain.
9. STURP’s failure to prioritize, to go to Turin with one or more positive models.
10. STURP’s failure to ensure proper sampling methods for blood and body image. Rogers’ fait accompli re “Mylar sticky tape” and the severe practical problems it posed for himself and others, notably those charged with blood testing.
11. STURP’s failure to properly characterize the presence of authentic human porphyrin, despite late recruiting of porphyrin specialist Alan Adler. Adler’s self re-invention as a physiology/medicine expert re blood clotting, liver metabolism etc. Ouch,
12. The premature embrace of radiation models, ones that go beyond any known science (like auto-emission of electromagnetic or nuclear radiation from a corpse).
13. The cursory attempt to dismiss any kind of imprinting by direct-contact, based on self-serving models.
14. Failure to grasp the implications of the negative image.
15. Gross overhyping of so-called ‘encoded 3D properties’. Failure to experiment with model imprints that would distinguish between 3D properties and 3D response in computer software programmed to read and re-map image density as height on an imaginary z axis with virtual shadowing as an optional 3D-enhancing extra.
16. Failure to recognize that the TS was seen by early viewers as a body IMPRINT left on J of A’s linen by SWEAT and blood, and could thus have been designed as such in the 14th century.
17. Failure by STURP and later sindonologists to recognize that the biblical account does not permit one to assume that the linen, whether authentic or not, was used and intended as a BURIAL shroud, when its purpose was probably for improvised ‘stretcher’ ‘/bodybag’ transport between cross and tomb.
18. Overhyping of alleged image superficiality, the justification for resort to radiation, lasers etc. Failure to place microscopic transverse sections of threads or even single fibres into the public domain, assuming (optimistically) they were ever part of the experimental protocol.
19. Attempts to use uv fluorescence or lack thereof – with no experimental data – as a means of dismissing the ‘scorch hypothesis’ (some scorches? all scorches? all thermal imprinting mechanisms?) . Meaning of “scorch”?
20. Certain of the more over-hyped aspects of the “blood stain” story, like why the blood looks too red to be authentic blood (“extraordinary levels of bilirubin”) , the ‘blood-before-image’ mantra etc etc. Unrealistic scenarios re behaviour of detached blood clots etc.
21. Heller and Adler’s failure to recognize the real significance of their important diimide bleaching finding. Its use to inflict an over-dogmatic identification of the image chromophore as “conjugated carbonyl” with an untested oxidation model, failing to recognize that double bond formation is achievable by chemical dehydration of sugars alone, not needing oxidation. Inappropriate unrealistic model for chemical dehydration (conc. H2SO4) that sidelined thermal dehydration. Assumption that cellulose is the only target for fibre coloration, ignoring other endogenous or exogenous compounds.
22. Rogers’ alternative Maillard hypothesis. Pros and cons. Inappropriate deployment of 60 degrees C in his model system, having claimed his Maillard chemistry would work at rock cave temperatures. Failure to make clear how starch can serve as source for “reducing sugar”; questionable substitution of dextrins (semi-hydrolysed starch) for starch in model system. How quietly tweaked self-serving models risk undermining research credentials.
23. Ill-judged attempts to substitute chemical for radiocarbon clocks by Rogers (vanillin) and Fanti (spectral changes, mechanical strength testing) all of which are invalidated if image formation required an oven-heating stage (accelerated ageing).
24. To be announced later.
25. Rogers’ inadequately documented claim for blood hydroxyproline as a marker for Shroud having not been exposed to heat. Likely confusion between blood and connective tissue collagen etc., between free and protein-incorporated hydroxyproline.
26. Rogers’ claim for crystalline supposedly ‘native ordered’ cellulose as a marker for Shroud linen not having been exposed to heat. Failure to recognize phenomenon of retrogradation (i.e recrystallization after ‘melting’) as pointed out by Adrie van der Hoeven.
27. The controversial involvement of microscopist Walter McCrone, with claims that the body image could be entirely accounted for as paint pigment, notably red ochre (iron oxide). Failure of STURP to shoot that down at the earliest opportunity with the diimide finding, allowing the mistaken notion to take root, surviving to the present day as the risible attention-seeking pseudo-scientific, pseudo-historical ‘just a painting’ dross.
Still Thursday, now 16:00
Have just sent this enquiry by email to the US Naval Postgraduate School, the one that awarded the STURP team leader his PhD in Physics:
I see you offer a PhD program for suitable qualified applicants ( I doubt whether I qualify just at the moment, or maybe at any time, but who knows what the future holds?)
Urgent question: can I take it as read that the Naval Postgraduate School is affiliated to one or more well-established universities? That would be necessary (yes?) in order to offer an internationally-recognized PhD (but I see no mention on your website!)?
I may have missed a link. If so, could you please oblige?
My older brother (Chris) used to be in the US Army (rank of Major) but that’s probably irrelevant to my question, merely thrown in for interest sake!
(Holder of Master of Degree Science)
Friday 14th April 08:00
Have had a form letter by way of reply from the Postgraduate Naval School. Ouch! If no proper reply is forthcoming in the next few days to my request for simple factual information, I’ll post the form letter. Talk about verbal, indeed sensory overload (nuff said for now).
To avoid misunderstanding, let me say immediately that I am not for one moment questioning the academic qualifications of the STURP founder and team leader. Indeed, having tracked down this reprint of one of his published papers from 1974, some 4 years prior to STURP, one can see a high level of physical and technical knowledge and expertise:
But doing doctoral research at a military academy, maybe (just maybe) with few if any links to the wider academic community, universities especially – how wise is that for someone who we’re told by John Heller in his book had chosen the Shroud as the subject for a prospective Master’s degree?
Yup, Heller begins Chapter 2 with the following:
Dr. John Jackson had first seen a photograph of the Shroud when he was 14. Later, in graduate school, he found two books on the subject and thought it might be a good topic for his master’s thesis in physics. When he told his faculty adviser what he had chosen as a thesis problem, the adviser was honestly bewildered.
Fortunately the issue did not have to be resolved , because Jackson found that , as U.S.Air Force lieutenant he could obtain his Ph.D. in physics at the U.S.Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, with all expenses paid. Since he was married, and had two small children, Jackson jumped at the chance.
Given that early fixation with the Shroud, it then comes as no surprise to read Jackson’s initial ‘true-believer’ response (page 39) to seeing a 3D-rendering of the Shroud image in Bill Mottern’s equipment.
“They placed the Shroud photo in the VP-8 and twiddled the dials, focus and rotation. Suddenly, both men saw, swimming up from the electronic fog of the screen, a perfect three-dimensional image of a scourged, crucified man.
Impossible! Ridiculous! Outrageous! Yes. But it was there! The two scientists just stared.
The positive photograph of the Man in the Shroud had the appearance of a two-dimensional face. The VP-8’s three-dimensional image was as stunningly different from the photograph as a statue is from a painting. The long hair, full beard and mustache , the serenity on the face of a badly battered, crucified man, came alive, giving Jackson and Mottern the eerie impression that they were gazing at an actual face of a man, not at a painting or a sculpture.
Finally, Jackson took a deep breath. “Bill” he said, “do you realize that we may be the first people in two thousand years who know exactly how Christ looked in the tomb?”
I wish I’d been there. I’d have counselled caution about taking any new imagery at face value if it’s been tinkered with in any way with IT, whether analog or digital. The brain can respond in curious and unpredictable ways to new imagery. I’d have gone further , and suggested they do what I did, some 5 years ago. Make a crude charcoal or other sketch of the Man in the Shroud, and process it exactly the same way!
Result, using modern digital ImageJ (not having access to a VP-8 machine):
Is that result not totally unexpected and indeed somewhat stunning? But it’s the software that did the trick – certainly not my inputted crude image sketch!
Still Friday, now 17:30
Those of you who have Windows 10 have a range of photoediting tools supplied as standard. Among them are various filters, one of which is called “Zeke”.
Something quite remarkable happens if one inputs Shroud Scope images into Zeke, especially if those Scope pictures have had a little contrast restored to them. (Yes, restored. Don’t ask!) . Recently I went through my entire gallery of contrast-restored Scope images and showed a before-and-after Zeke for each one (tacked onto the end of that 2012 posting). Here’s a typical example:
Amazing, yes? Not only is the “bitty” nature of the blood stains made very apparent, but we see that the body image too in the hair and forehead above is similarly “bitty”.
Real or artefact? Some of the more aggressive regulars on the International Skeptics Forum gave me a hard time recently when suggesting (under my ‘meccanoman’ pseudonym, starting at comment 19) that the bittiness of Shroud image was real (and entirely in keeping with my proposed Model 10, i.e. flour imprinting/oven-roasting followed either by washing OR, POSSIBLY, a new thought based on the Zeke pix – natural flaking and degradation).
What do folks reading this far into my current post think? Real or artefactual? If real, then how come this has not been spotted and/or reported before by the various scientific Shroud photographers? Have they or the powers-that-be been keeping something from us? Is this why the base frontal and dorsal Durante 2002 images supplied to Mario Latendresse for his Shroud Scope had been drained of their contrast – to prevent us seeing the bitty nature of the Shroud body image – i.e. not nearly as homogenous as we’ve been led to believe?
Saturday 15th April 10:00
Here’s a photomicrograph that appeared on Dan Porter’s site (in a posting way back in Feb 2012 that laid into my Model 2). I’m showing it before v after that Zeke filter:
The image (left) is reported to be a x400 magnification of Shroud image fibres, displayed to show the colorless central medulla. Precise provenance is unstated, but the context suggests it’s a colour plate from a Rogers’ publication which I’ve thus far been unable to track down.
Two points – one minor, one very, VERY major.
The minor one first: the Zeke filter is useful because it increases contrast selectively, allowing one to see particuate material more clearly. Note the way in which minute particles, barely visible within the blue circle, become clearly visible with Zeke. This filter does NOT introduce artefacts note.
Now the major one. Why is this image not better known, and recognized for what it is? It shows that the coloration on image fibres is not due merely to a supposedly ultra-thin image allegedly 200-600nm thick. It shows there to be particulate material, also reddish brown it seems, from which the ultra-thin film could have been derived (as per my much-derided flour-imprinting Model 10, which “no one believes” I’ve just been told by one of the International Skeptics’ Forum know-alls and, earlier, by a high-minded Spaniard philosopher as failing his essential ‘elegance’ test on the same site!).
There are two other contexts in which I’ve seen references to particulate material on individual fibres, requiring a microscope to be seen. One is the Walter McCrone claims that the image colour is due to minute particles of red ochre (iron oxide). Might he have been looking at the same particles that one sees above – but wrongly identified as an inorganic paint pigment? The other is a photomicrograph of some left-over fibres used for the Arizona radiocarbon dating which showed tiny attached particles, suggested however to be ‘mold spores’ but with no accompanying evidence.
With those exceptions that I know of, we’ve been told repeatedly that the Shroud body image comprises a continuous non-discrete coating, that in turn proceeding to spawn arguments for miraculous body-emitted radiation having caused chemical modification and yellowing of linen cellulose.
What if we have been totally misinformed? What if the initiating event was the arrival of reddish-brown particles (from roasted white flour imprint) that exuded a fibre-colorising liquid, making the Shroud body image dual nature (solid/liquid) at least initially?
I repeat: why is that (Rogers?) image with the adhering particles not better known? Has there been a deliberate attempt to keep that kind of image out of the public domain, with Dan Porter inadvertently allowing just that one to escape from the not-for-our-eyes archive? Is the Zeke filter allowing us to see the true nature of the body image as at least partially particulate? I say YES (and it will take more than handful of boorish know-alls on the Skeptics Forum to dissuade me of that conviction).
Still Saturday, now 13:30
Further proof of the usefulness of the Zeke filter as an empirical research tool has come from applying it to this image that appears on a University of Delaware webpage (in which the Shroud has apparently been incorporated into teaching material):
The first image from the Shroud body area is described as having “little or no visible particulate matter”.
Let’s see what Zeke might reveal, without employing any other independent control (colour , contrast, magnification etc).
Look closely at the Zeke image (right) and one sees there are in fact very fine particles in serial rows between the fibres that are for all intents and purposes invisible before applying the Zeke filter. They are most definitely NOT new artefactual morphology, since the largest ones are just visible pre-Zeke.
I strongly recommend, nay, URGE the use of Zeke or a comparable photoediting program for re-examining all images, macro- or microscopic, past, present or future, from the Shroud of Turin. A great deal of crucial detail appears to have been missed, or knowingly ignored. (“Oh, it’s probably just mould spores!”).
Zeke is described by Windows 10 as a “filter”, but seems also to operate like a contrast control, where intermediate hues become shifted to opposite extremes of the colour spectrum ( if comparable to another contrast control that I analysed back in 2015, i.e. MS Office Picture Manager, then the polarization involves a shift from midtone hues towards one or other extreme – blue versus yellow – comparable to black versus white in monochrome photography. Those hues that are darker than average become shifted to the blue, those that are lighter become shifted towards the yellow. As I say: colour ‘polarisation’.
Final instalment (Saturday 15th April, 17:15):
This photograph, taken just an hour ago in late afternoon daylight outside my back door, will be the starter for my next posting (in a day or two). It shows an approx half life-size effigy from which I took an imprint some weeks ago, using Model 10 (white flour/vegetable oil/ hot oven).
My digital camera then homes in to get close-up pictures of the imprint, not shown in this posting, before v after washing (closer v further respectively from the effigy).
The aim was to give the viewer here an idea of what the images REALLY look like, as if they themselves had been present in my back yard, viewing with their own eyes, getting a real idea as to the nature and quality of the image against a real-life background.
The question will be put: why do we not have anything comparable for the real Shroud image, despite STURP in 1978, despite the subsequent 2002 photography (Durante) that provided the images for Shroud Scope? Why do we have to put up with either:
(a) no realistic “everyday” (interpretable-via common-sense) photographs worth speaking of in the public domain or:
(b) inferior substitutes, ones that give no real idea as to the nature of the Shroud body image?
I do not believe this to be an oversight on anyone’s part. I have to say I believe it to be deliberate policy (for whatever reason), intended to prevent the layman (or current scientists such as myself) investigating and deducing the nature of the Shroud body image. In short, there’s been a conspiracy of silence.
It’s the investigator’s firm belief, based on 5 years of study and research, that we are being kept ignorant of the Shroud image as it might appear through our own eyes had we been a member of the 1978 STURP team. (The latter being a deeply compromised (pre-conditioned- to- authenticity ) largely self-selected fraternity of partisan and semi-partisan so-called ‘scientists’ who , for the most part (Ray Rogers excluded) were expecting and/or hoping merely to dismiss forgery outright with no real original ideas as to image formation. Shame about the fixation with ‘miraculous radiation’ from the team leader, probably a religion-based preconception from the word go.
Sorry, John Jackson, PhD (US Postgraduate Naval School, Monterey, Ca) but that is not the way science is done. Better to test and constantly question preconceptions, rather than quickly confirm them with what could be mistaken as a backing “STURP” seal of approval. (Again, thanks to the late Ray Rogers for flagging up a protest, even if his own “naturalistic” model based on post-mortem cadaveric decomposition in a 1st century tomb was pro-authenticity. It beats pseudoscientific release of high-energy radiation any day.
Update, Saturday 29th April 2017:
Here’s a message I submitted yesterday to the Quekett Microscopical Club, using its internal email facility.
Hello all you splendid Queketteers, amateurs and pros alike!
Is there anyone here among you interested in the Turin Shroud? I refer in particular to the ongoing problem as to how it acquired its faint allegedly enigmatic body image (negative, 3D properties, peculiar microscopic properties – like the so-called half-tone effect, colour discontinuities etc)?
Rarely a month goes by without some new mind-blowing scenario – pulsed laser beams, earthquakes, nuclear radiation, Da Vinci dabbling with proto-photography etc etc.
I’ve been attempting to model the Shroud image for some 5 years, and have settled on what I call Model 10, aka the roasted flour imprint. Yes, it’s mundane alongside the ones just listed, but there you go, that’s science bizz.
(Smear back of hand with vegetable oil, sprinkle with plain white flour from above, shake off excess flour, drape wet linen over flour-dusted hand, press linen firmly to capture a flour-imprint, suspend linen in oven, roast (approx 180-200 C) till the imprint turns yellow or brown, wash vigorously to remove surface encrustation of Maillard browning products, to be left with an ‘enigmatic’ faint sepia stain – a negative image of one’s hand and fingers that gives a 3D response in ImageJ).
It’s the microscopy that proving the problem – the cylindrical 3Dness of linen fibres, their light-refracting properties. Having a bargain-basement microscope that relies on a web cam to capture (blurred!) images on a laptop screen does not help either.
There are two possible solutions:
1. Invest in a better DIY microscope, hoping someone here can give expert advice
2. Seek one or more collaborators who’s interested in the Shroud, and willing to be supplied with my Model 10 fibres, maybe with a view to submitting a joint publication to Quekett’s own peer-reviewed journal.
I think my Model 10 is the answer, confirming medieval manufacture in accordance with the radiocarbon dating (1260-1390) but if the image fibres fail to match up to the microscopic properties described by STURP and other investigators, then I’m willing to publically concede defeat (that being an occupational hazard of being a scientist, in this instance long-retired).
Here’s a link to my specialist Shroud site:
(link to this site).
See also the recent thread on the International Skeptics Forum, where I participated as “meccanoman”.
Colin Berry (PhD)
Update: 1st May 2017
Yup, I added PhD to my name there, something I do sparingly in ordinary everyday life, online comment included. I use it to signal to new contacts that my interest in a topic is not frivolous.
I see that the initiator of the STURP uses his “Dr.” designation all the time, including the tagline on his own Shroud of Turin site:
That would be OK if he were to take a little time and trouble to recognize others may also have a doctorate, something he failed to do back in 2012 when addressing comments to me personally as “Mr.Berry” on Dan Porter’s site. But that was the least of my concerns at that time, John Jackson’s being the first of several “hit-and-run” attacks on my early thermal imprinting ideas (Model 2, the so-called “scorch hypothesis”). Yes, other big shot sindonologists took it in turns to make hit-and-run attacks (Barrie M.Schwortz, Paolo Di Lazzaro, Giulio Fanti and others) each attempting to rubbish my approach, then disappearing from sight, not bothering to respond to my replies.
Thinking of doctorates, and who is – or is not – entitled to award them, here’s the form letter reply I got from John Jackson’s alma mater, the US Navy Postgraduate School on 13th April :
Your email has been received. If you have already sent an email with a question answered on our website, please let us know your question was answered. When ordering your transcripts, please only order one per school; multiple copies of the same transcript slows down the processing of said transcripts and applications.
We will contact you directly if we need any additional paperwork for your application. You can log in and view you your transcript status, please do not email us for transcript/application status. We will not be responding to confirmation of application submission nor transcript receipt. Understand it takes at least 10-14 business days (from the date ordered) to process transcripts regardless of the method of transmission.
Email replies will be provided as quickly as possible. We prioritize them to make sure the most urgent emails are answered first. Please be patient with any delays; no response does not mean action isn’t being taken. Each additional email or phone call will slow all our responses. We often will fix a problem or expedite an issue before responding to an email. To reiterate, you will be contacted if you are missing anything from your application.
The Admissions Team
So, that was two weeks and 4 days ago, and there’s been no response to my specific question: are the doctorates you award accredited by a recognized university?
If I fail to get a reply to my specific question then I shall have to assume the answer is NO, and that John Jackson’s doctorate is one that does not need to be recognized by those of us who hold a real university-awarded PhD. John Jackson must not be surprised if in future I make a point of referring to him as Mr. Jackson (and not because of the way he addressed me some 5 years ago).
Update: Tuesday 2nd May 2017
Thoughts are now crystallizing about the leadership of STURP, after reading and re-reading John Heller’s account several times, and looking closely at the modus operandi of its “organizer” John Jackson, both in 1978 and more recently in 2014 at the St.Louis so-called Shroud “conference” (the one that made no provision for putting questions to each presenter, the one that put John Jackson as “moderator” of the final “Where do we go from here?” discussion (about which I’ll have more to say shortly).
It’s a good thing for those physicists with a practical engineering bent to be goal-directed. It can sometimes be a good thing for academic scientists too, at least in the short term if dependent on outside funding, needing to be seen to ‘deliver the goods’, however defined. But there’s an ever-present danger, namely that goal-directedness becomes tunnel vision. Time and time and time again, John Jackson has displayed clear signs of tunnel vision, as was displayed in his initial reaction to the VP-8 image-reprocessing (see earlier ) displaying no caution, no academic scepticism , to wit, that maybe all was not what it seemed to be. In short, he was instantly convinced that the Shroud image had to be authentic, based on the output from an improperly evaluated ‘box of tricks’, i.e. computerised software that simple converted image density to height on an imaginary z axis (elevating not just the facial prominences but the 1532 scorch/burn marks too, as I pointed out in 2012!). John Jackson should have been content to be Technical Team Leader, using his physics background, technical and organizational skills to get the equipment to its destination on time, hooked up to the local power supply etc. He should NOT have been Scientific Team Leader. That role should have gone to a genuine university-based academic with a distinguished track record in scientific research and discovery, preferably someone with a strong background in organic and biological chemistry. The capable, resourceful but academically-compromised Ray Rogers (lacking as he did a formal research degree) could have been chief analytical chemist, charged with co-opting specialists in appropriate disciplines, and having them involved at the planning stage, instead or being presented as they were (Adler and Heller especially) with sticky-tape samples long after they were harvested in Turin.
Yes, the emphasis initially should have been on CHEMISTRY, not physics. Adler and Heller’s discovery of the diimide bleaching effect should have been the cue for instantly switching the focus of research and allied hypothesizing from physics (dubiously-relevant radiation physics especially) to plain old organic chemistry. Ray Rogers should have been supplied with as much Shroud material as possible (fibres, ideally some of Baima Bollone’s whole threads) with which to pin down his tentative identification of the image chromophore as Maillard browning products (i.e. melanoidins). Rogers should then have been urged to widen the scope of his thinking as to the origin of the reducing sugars and amino-functions needed for Maillard reactions, considering not just his 1st century scenario (starch impurity coating and putrefaction amines), adopted some might consider with indecent haste, but medieval manufacture too. Who knows, he might even have considered plain white flour as the imprinting medium, supplying both ingredients for a Maillard browning reaction (provided a hot oven had been brought into the practical equation!).
Still Tuesday (pm, UK time)
The current theme being pushed, courtesy of a compliant media, in turn fed by the 24/7 Shroud-authenticity-promoting industry that never sleeps, are the so-called ‘coins over the eyes’.
Here’s a block of 4 sites listed on today’s (shroud of turin) search for the last 24 hours, all promoting the idea of those Roman-era coins being a genuine image feature:
So what got the coins-over-eyes narrative started?
Bless! It was our old friend, 3D-enhancing computer software (analogue VP-8 initially, now digital ImageJ etc). You see, there were approximately circular regions of higher- than-background image intensity at the centres of the eye-hollows, the latter framed by bony surround. Apply 3D-imaging software, and hey presto, those circular image regions plump up as if semi-3D- discs. Ipso facto they are COINS. Eureka! (See my earlier First Law of Sindonology at the start of this posting). Consult one’s numismatic catalogues, and/or call in friendly historical coin-experts, and , with the eye of faith, identify them (positively and unconvincingly) as Roman era coins, based on next to nothing as distinguishing features, bar a supposed crook-ended stick etc (which could just as easily be background image “noise” assisted by weave irregularities).
The show as they say, correction, never-ending-circus. must go on (24/7!)
Sindonology is an INDUSTRY, one that exploits the internet like few others…
Is it just about promoting Shroud-authenticity? Or is there a more sinister underlying agenda – namely to damage science by promoting pseudoscience?
Update: Wed 3rd May 2017
Why was STURP essentially a failure, telling us virtually NOTHING about the image chromophore, and indeed spawning a lot of inferior chemical speculation from the likes of John Heller and Alan Adler (“oxidized cellulose”, “conjugated carbonyls” etc etc)?
Answer: because the “organizer” was a physicist with an interest in radiation. His forte was energy rather than matter. Even without his religious leanings towards a miraculous explanation for the Shroud, that should have raised eyebrows (and indeed, almost certainly would have in a mercilessly sceptical, plain-speaking mainstream university environment, as distinct from military academy). The self-selection of a radiation physicist to initiate and lead STURP was (admittedly with benefit of hindsight) essentially a begging of the question, invoking as it did a miraculous self-emission of radiation, later expressed in the ‘collapsing cloth; theory (which Ray Rogers to his credit wasted no time in branding as unscientific).
Am I being too harsh? Didn’t some good things come out of STURP?
Answer: as regards the chemistry of the body image, virtually nothing of value came out, with the notable exception as stated already, namely the diimide bleaching which proved beyond doubt the chromophore was carbon-based, and that McCrone’s lengthy and distracting search for inorganic pigments was a complete and utter waste of time, resources and, most importantly, of the limited amount of linen fibre harvested by Roger’s sticky tape. The negative, ‘photograph-like’ image alone should have been sufficient grounds on which to dismiss the dreary ‘just-a-painting’ nonsense.
Rogers should have insisted on sampling a few whole threads, with and without body image. Rogers should have used his expertise in pyrolysis mass spectometry to provide data on the chemical composition of the image chromophore, fragmented either by a beam of electrons or (better) of less damaging molecular ions into small chemical fragments, identifiable in principle by their m/e values.
Why was John Jackson the wrong man for the job? Answer: because he is/was not 100% scientific in his approach and outlook. Even if he were 99% scientific, that is not sufficient. That unscientific 1% can be the Achilles heel that compromises an entire project, and indeed did so in the case of STURP. Scientists have to be 100% scientific at all times, which does not prevent creativity (far from it), but ALL hypotheses and other blue-sky thinking must be testable in principle. More to the point, hypotheses that are not testable in principle, like Jackson’s Collapsing Cloth ideas, should have been instantly rejected by Jackson himself as blatantly unscientific. (Which doesn’t mean they are wrong – just unscientific).
Am I being too harsh on John Jackson? Answer – no, definitely not. Anyone who thinks I am has only to see Jackson’s response (or laboured lack thereof) to the question put to him as moderator of the “future directions of research” discussion at the 2014 St.Louis so-called Shroud ‘conference’.
The sound quality is terrible, the so-called “auto-comment” dubbing is laughable, but here’s a couple of screen shots from the video clip of that discussion, the latter courtesy of Russ Breault. If pushed for time, start watching at about the 20 minute mark, when the same question comes repeatedly from the floor: “Why not repeat the radiocarbon dating with more sampling sites?” Be prepared to hear evasive responses from Jackson initially, then Ray Schneider (silver hair and beard) that candidly represent everything that is anathema to science ( summed up as “but what if we get the same wrong answer?”, “no, not wise”, “dangerous”, “irresponsible” etc etc).
From floor: “It’s a simple matter of collecting more data and then one can move on…”
Answer (also from floor) from Ray Schneider (seated) , not disputed by moderator John Jackson (standing): “dangerous and probably irresponsible”. RIP science!
(Ignore the “this time is nothing” , just one example of the primitive and laughable state of voice-so-called recognition software).
Enough about John Jackson: he’s done sindonology few favours and should frankly have stepped aside years ago, allowing new blood to take over, hopefully succeeding where he and his scratch 1978 team largely failed, at least where garnering hard chemical data and insights on the image chromophore was concerned.
Who would have been my choice as STURP Director of Research? The kind of individual I have in mind was 50 in 1978, had a first degree in science from Chicago University, then a PhD from Indiana University three years later, and by 1962 had acquired a Nobel Prize no less for work done mainly at Cambridge UK (for which I have a soft spot, my medically-qualified Pembroke College/Laboratory of Molecular Biology daughter having collected her PhD from Senate House last Saturday with Mum and Dad in attendance!).
To whom do I refer? Since he would almost certainly have declined the invitation it hardly matters, but it’s the kind of high-profile scientist who was needed, not a Shroud-smitten product of a military academy that sees fit to award its own doctoral degrees, apparently with no accreditation from any recognized university with real professors, the latter driven entirely by curiosity and love of learning. That’s as distinct from providing the US Navy with uniformed entirely-home-made academics – or merely seeking proof of their religious preconceptions as an obsessional hobby on the side.
My ‘ideal man for the job’?
James D. Watson, co-discoverer with Francis Crick of the DNA double helix. He’s someone whose original and controversial views have got him into trouble more than once, but blessed with an exceptionally good nose for the correct answer, someone who starts by asking the right questions, even if occasionally (as with intelligence/race) he arrives at the wrong answers.
Update: Thursday May 4th
Well, It’s now well over 5 years since this retired PhD scientist, reading his newspaper with headlines that read “Scientists say Shroud of Turin is supernatural” decided to embark on a personal voyage of discovery, which in August 2015 finally consolidated itself around Model 10.
Reminder: that’s solid white flour imprinting onto wet linen, subsequently oven-baked to bring up a melanoidin contact- image via Maillard-browning reactions between flour sugars and protein, admittedly derivative of the ideas of STURP’s pro-authenticity Ray Rogers’s, while substituting a medieval-manufacture scenario for his 1st century narrative.
So why not do hands-on home-based -research, I thought, and report results in real-time, using the internet, my existing sciencebuzz site initially, followed a couple of months later by a specialist Shroud site (this one!). Had anyone previously tried reporting a research project in real time before, divulging thought-processes along the way, knowing for certain that initial half-baked ideas would need to be revised over and over again in the light of new data? No, probably not, though I stand to be corrected. If indeed a “first” (?) might the enterprise be valuable in it’s own right, i.e. as an account of one man’s scientific odyssey, regardless of topic? After all, scientists in their peer-reviewed publications rarely if ever provide any clues as to why they decided to pursue a particular line of enquiry. It’s invariably take-it-or-leave- it ‘fait accompli‘!
It’s now May 2017, some 400 or more postings later, and one has to ask: has this time-consuming enterprise been successful or not? Is the project worth pursuing further?
Please wait a short time for my considered answer (readers views invited too) . More to follow in a day or two….
Nope, not a day or two – an hour or two is/was more than sufficient to appreciate what one is up against. One’s up against expectations, shared by pro- and non authenticity camps alike. Expectations of what? Answer: MYSTERY, more specifically unsolved mystery, better still, unsolvable mystery. The pro-authenticity camp looks to flashes of Jacksonite or Lazzaroite radiation etc etc. The non-authenticity camp looks to medieval imprinting mechanisms using natural body sweat (if it’s Templar Jacques de Molay being tortured) or proto-photography. The last thing either camp wants to hear is that plain old white flour was used as imprinting medium. I mean to say – how banal, how inelegant, how totally and utterly downmarket!
Sorry to disappoint folks, but plain white flour is my explanation, based on 5 years of experimentation, through 10 different models. One has to take it or leave it. I’ve given it my best shot.
That’s really all I have to say. Comments still welcome, but there seems little point in putting up new postings. There are only so many i’s to be dotted, t’s to be crossed where the flour imprinting Model 10 is concerned. Repeat: take it or leave it.
End posting (though updates may be added that clarify or flesh out existing content).
Here’s another example of the extraordinary properties of the zeke filter. Before v after zeke on a cross-section of image fibres (flour-imprinting Model 10). Note darker cut ends of image fibres.
Note added June 25: a stereomicroscope is on order (being needed on account of the essentially 3D properties of the material under investigation, even at the individual fibre level). Hopefully it will be possible to image the cut ends of fibres in cross-section with better depth of focus and resolution than above when using a stereomicroscope, though I suspect that image-sharpening software such as Window 10’s zeke may still prove useful.
Update: 27th June, 2017
The title of my next posting (provisionally), due in a few days from now, will be: “Here’s how the Shroud of Turin was probably manufactured – explaining its peculiar, indeed unique image characteristics”.
First, I have to take delivery of two new state-of-the art microscopes. One is a modern compound microscope with improved image-capture relative to my present microscope, the latter now somewhat elderly. The other is a supplemenary stereoscopic microscope, as already mentioned, better suited to viewing 3D linen fibres.
I have recently developed a novel technique for displaying yellow image fibres against non-coloured ones, using either transmitted or incident light!cc
Update: June 28th
Two new microscopes were today collected from a depot (masquerading as a showroom near Ely some 40 miles from home) and briefly put through their paces.
First impressions: both are pretentious and overpriced for what they deliver. Neither adds significantly to the data provided by my existing microscope, a fraction of the price of EITHER the new ones.
But one had to try.