Was Adler’s Analysis Science?
After receiving Yannick’s long posting about bloodstains, I noticed that Colin Berry, on his blog, is talking today about bloodstains as well. He tells us that “revered STURP scientist Dr. Alan D. Adler (1931-2000) . . . is credited with having convinced many a wavering sceptic that it really is blood on the Shroud – albeit degraded blood in an unusual conformation, complexed with bilirubin. . . .”
He then goes on to quote Adler and asks, “It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science?”
Colin tells us he is going to sit back and listen to our comments.
Here is the quote he offers:
… The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry of the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation (sic) change ;it no longer remains in the “met”form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds -the so-called high spin, high iron porphyrin. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all of this. There is an extraordinarily high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis. In less than 30 seconds the hemolyzed hemoglobin would run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, an exudate forms, and all the intact cells with bilirubin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin. So what one ends up with is on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin.You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.
In fact, we have been able to simulate the spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed when we first started doing the analysis that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right color and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence…”
Is it science?
For more on Al Alder see Stephen E. Jones’ blog: Al Adler