Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air?
Colin Berry makes it clear. But does it trouble anyone that he has not so much as created a scorch – forget the image for now – that demonstrates the superficiality and the halftone he claims is possible? All the other issues like the bloodstains, how to get the double superficiality in the region of the face, and the 3D height-field data (he still, obviously, does not understand it) can come later.
“. . . I don’t feel in the slightest bit obliged to produce a facsimile copy of the Turin Shroud,” he writes, “any more than I have to produce a facsimile copy of the Mona Lisa to prove it was painted with brush and oils.”
So, should we just believe him? Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air?
Here is his statement:
First, let’s be clear about one thing . . . . The image IS a scorch, and one moreover produced by thermal degradation (pyrolysis). Pretty well all the evidence – physical and chemical points to that – its superficiality, its concentration on fibre crowns, its colour, the absence of any chemical residues, its mechanical weakening of the affected fibres, the ability to reproduce yellow or brown coloration at will with the simple application of modest heat, e.g. an electric iron, the ability to bleach with a powerful reducing agent (diimide). The only downside that I can see is the lack of fluorescence, but nobody checked that out when the image was new and fresh, as I discussed on my own site recently:
Why it’s a scorch (html corrected by me)
Yet those who reject any idea that the Shroud is a medieval fake tend also to react strongly against the description of the image as a scorch. Why is that?
The answer is simple: by adopting that term they fear that a mundane connection will be made between the image and the most obvious means by which it would be produced in the medieval era – i.e. by direct contact with a hot template.
We then see the absurdity of a group of scientists (who should know better) reeling of reasons as to why the image defies modern science, yet overlooking or downplaying the key signature of a contact scorch – namely preferential coloration of the crowns where one thread loops over another, with crowns then slightly proud of the surface, and thus the first to make contact with a hot object.
I hesitate to say it, but those scientists – and many folk here, are quite simply IN DENIAL. If they cannot explain the selective scorching of crowns – as I can – then they should stop criticizing my use of the term “scorch”, and better still start to produce some good arguments AGAINST the image being a contact scorch. “Scorch” I would suggest is an empirical term meaning coloration produced by exposure to heat.
How did Di Lazarro and colleagues imagine that any kind of radiation would be capable of selectively targeting the crowns at a distance? Even with their highly improbable (some might say comedic) high energy uv, the radiation would have to be in the plane of the cloth, just clipping the tops of the crowns.
Here is a concluding comment from Fanti et al (2010): “The characteristics of superficiality described here in detail, coupled with other particular characteristics of the TS body image described elsewhere, could lead to a more reliable hypothesis of body image formation”.
So here’s a retired science bod who is responding to that challenge. I have proposed an hypothesis that I believe accommodates, or has the potential to accommodate, most if not all the known attributes of the Shroud image (blood etc can wait for another day). what’s more it incorporates what I consider to be unique features, designed to address particular points or criteria, notably:
1. The presence of loosely packed fibrils of pyroloysis-susceptible hemicellulose in the outermost primary cell wall, with no impairment of access by the kind of highly ordered arrays of cellulose fibrils that exist in the secondary cell wall.
2. The exothermic nature of hemicellulose pyrolysis (probably aided by limited oxidation and CO2 production) such that once initiated the hemicellulose reacts to completion, at least that which is immediately accessible. This either/or effect probably explains the curious half-tone effect.
3. The restriction of pyrolysis to the primary cell wall could explain the 200nm superficiality of the scorched zone.
4. The selective scorching of crown threads, indeed a few surface fibres in those threads, is exactly what would be expected of scorching by close contact (no air gap) with a hot object.
5. The negative image is exactly what one would expect from a branding technology, i.e. applying a heated template to a surface, with temperature chosen to produce a light and superficial scorch on linen. there would be left/right and light/dark reversal. Any image of a human face, thus produced, would look alien and unappealing until returned to a positive by modern photography.
It is not good enough for ” passive spectator scientists” to say that it’s all been done before. No, the groundwork has been laid, and there have been promising lines of investigation, notably John Jackson’s with heated statues, but which in my view were prematurely abandoned, especially as Jackson showed that his scorched-on image had “encoded 3D information”. ANY scorch can be rendered in 3D, by twiddling the different gain controls (which is NOT science, but a branch of applied mathematics – matrix transormation).
And though i hesitate to say it, I think the time has come to say candidly to all those who jib at my term “scorch” and to dismiss “scorching by contact/heat conduction” as the most probable mechanism of image formation to be told in no uncertain terms that THEY ARE IN DENIAL.
If they don’t like the hypothesis on offer, then there’s a simple remedy – suggest a better one (but make sure it’s a scientific one if you want the senescent ear of this old science bod).
Colin, you cannot escape the ownership for the burden of proof or the responsibility to experiment. That is absurd fallacy. It is not how responsible science is done.