An open letter to Richard Dawkins
29th March 2012
Dear Richard Dawkins
It is really not sufficient to dismiss the Shroud, as you do, on the basis of a C14 test from a single and badly selected sample area. Are you really saying that C14 has never made a mistake? Archaeologists frequently go back to retest something when other data conflicts. That has been impossible with the Shroud.
In your Shroud blog you argue, rightly in my view, that it is not enough for Christian apologists to weigh faith heavier than facts. After all, Christianity is based on a historical figure. The Shroud of Turin is a much-studied tangible object and it is a very significant fact that its unique image – so far – remains unfathomable. But that could be about to change if you, with the weight of your formidable foundation behind you, choose to accept this challenge.
When Professor Hall, Head of the Oxford Radio Carbon Unit announced the C14 result he was asked for his explanation for the Shroud. He said: “Someone just got a bit of linen, faked it up and flogged it”. This sounded a bit glib at the time and now, over twenty years on, it is beginning to sound a little hollow. No one has yet been able to show how it might have been “faked up”.
Accepting this challenge would appear to be consistent with your foundation’s mission. Does it not represent a wonderful educational opportunity to investigate what some have suggested could only have been the work of a Leonardo Da Vinci? To make the decision easier for you we will donate the £20,000 to your foundation if you simply accept the challenge and follow it through to some kind of conclusion. The public can make up their own minds about the result.*
The challenge then, if you choose to accept it, is to explain how the Shroud and its image might have come into existence. You will find a list of the most significant image characteristics here. If you cannot pin it down then, in all conscience, you should, at least, give it the appropriate respect as an enigma. If you can explain it then this site’s title becomes a misnomer and you will have solved a great mystery. Everyone would like to see this matter resolved. Could you be the one to do it?
With all good wishes
* This £20,000 donation is not made possible because championing the possible authenticity of the Shroud is well funded or lucrative operation – far from it – but because your acceptance would trigger a commission for a documentary along the lines of our 2008 BBC2 film with Rageh Omaar. If you wish, you could nominate an executive producer.
A guest posting from Yannick Clément that is relevant to the Dawkins Challenge:
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I would like to share with you a reflection made by a French engineer named Marcel Alonso (member of the French group CIELT and also member of the SSG if I remember well) who supports the hypothesis of Rogers concerning the chromophore of the body image on the Shroud, i.e. that it is composed of a thin layer of carbohydrates impurities found on-top of the linen fibers (external to them). This reflection of Alonso gives us another possible clue that could support the hypothesis of Rogers. Here it is (translation is mine from an original article published in French) :
With adapted numeric treatment, the French engineers Castex, de Bazelaire and Doumax succeed to “equalise” the basic tint of each thread in the region of the face.” (Personal note : they did this to remove the banding effect we see everywhere on the Shroud, particularly noticeable in the region of the face, which had a proportional effect on the intensity of the body image). Alonso continue : “The image carried by the threads appear then purified of every parasites that can deform it, and it is a more regular face, less severe, and more conventional, that we can contemplate.
(Personal note : You can see the result of their numeric treatment of the face here : http://thierrycastex.blogspot.ca/) On this website, it is the second set of 2 side-by-side pictures, showing the face before and after their numeric treatment.
Then, Alonso make a very interesting deduction :
Since these treatment leave the image intact [personal note : with no deformation of the image], the formation of this image WOULDN’T HAVE ALTERED THE SURFACE COMPOSITION OF THE THREADS, which would go in the sense of a DEPOSIT OF COLORATION ADDED TO THE THREADS.
Before making this statement, in the same paper, Alonso said this :
The layer of coloration possess the “additive” nature that allow the numeric treatment (by removing the “noise”) to uncover the (real) image.
It’s maybe a bit complicated to understand, but I think his point of view deserve some serious thoughts ! For Alonso, the fact that a numeric treatment done to remove all the banding effect on the Shroud didn’t produce, at the same time, any deformation of the image is a good sign that the image hasn’t altered the surface composition of the threads (i.e. the primary cell wall of the linen fiber). And if his interpretation is correct, that can only mean, for him, that the conclusion of Rogers regarding the image chromophore (i.e. the coloration didn’t affect at all the linen fibers themselves) MUST BE TRUE !!!
Personally, I’m not enough skilled about things like that (numeric treatment of image versus the chromophore) to be sure if the point of view of Alonso is correct or not. Anyway, I found his reflection very interesting, mainly because this is the very first time I’ve heard something of that nature. For this reason, I thought it deserves to be known. I hope you will seriously reflect upon this, because in the end, it can well be a real good clue that point in favor of the hypothesis of Rogers concerning the chromophore of the image…
29condorito writes in YouTube comments for Shroud Enigma Dawkins Challenge:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens with this challenge, assuming Dawkins accepts it. Dawkins will come out with some pseudo-scientific hair-brained explanation (probably combined with contentions on other "agreed" characteristics), he will have the backing of the anti-shroud community, and then claim that his view wasn’t accepted because of the bias from the other side.
The media, if it doesn’t side with Dawkins, will report both sides as equally valid.
As of this writing there have only been 428 views and 3 comments after 3 days. The challenge is about 8 weeks old. Does Dawkins even know he has been challenged?
It occurs to me that Nathan Wilson’s famous “Shadow” satisfies all but one of the image characteristics of the The Valencia Shroud Enigma Challenge. That one shortcoming is easy to remedy.
The “Shadow” is certainly a molecular change confined to the outermost few hundred nanometers of the fiber, well within the primary cell wall. The “Shadow” is not visible when viewed with transmitted light. Image intensity does correlate to imagined cloth-to-body distances. There is no side-of-body imaging. Image resolution matches that of the Turin cloth. And as with the Turin cloth there are no outlines. Nor is there any notion of directionality. Of course, the “Shadow” is very much a photographic-like negative.
There is only the matter of there being no proof of no image below a bloodstain to make the “shadow” fully compliant with the challenge. It is a problem only because no blood was used on the original “Shadow”. That can be corrected and a new image can be prepared in a week’s time.
Please provide the UPS mailing address of the judging panel. To whom should I send wire transfer instructions.
Now with David Rolfe’s Challenge to Richard Dawkins it probably makes sense to keep up with everything Dawkins. The Huffington Post tells us that Richard Dawkins, Famed Atheist, Supports Free Bibles In Schools:
In fact, he said he would have even donated to the cause insisting that: "A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian."
However, Dawkins has an additional motive for supporting Secretary Grove’s plan.
"People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality," Dawkins writes. "The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself."
Dear Dan. . . . You have my permission to inform whoever you want of my position: "I am tired for all the recent diputes on SSD (sic: SSG) . . . I asked David Rolfe to improve the Valencia’s list, but my proposal was not considered, instead I have recently noted a variation which I don’t approve. For this reason I asked David Rolfe to cancel my name from Valencia’s list."
So much for consensus? Another reader observes:
It is unfortunate that scientists like Ray Rogers and Al Adler are not around to defend their work. They may have passed away but their published scientific findings are still perfectly valid without proof to the contrary. Thanks to careful sleuthing by Yan Clement, we are reminded that McCrone found starch and Rogers confirmed it. Stéphane Mottin had thought that the cloth’s fluorescence was caused by some deposit of pectin. Al Adler tested for and found pectin impurities. Is it any wonder that the Valencia five chose to ignore fluorescence? The consensus of Valencia is as phony as baloney.
Ron, by way of a comment, offers a different perspective:
I see no problem in the change made to the number 1 statement, it mentions the impurity layer and that that may be involved in the image formation and not just the linen fibrels…good enough! The main point is that the image is extremely superficial…point made, case closed.
As for all the opposition to the ‘consensus’, this I believe is not a ‘true’ consensus for any true meaning of the word. We must remember these ‘points’ mentioned on the list were established already by most all scientists involved with the Shroud investigation, so not just decided by a few!. These points were just picked out of an already ‘established’ list of scientific points! It doesn’t matter who you have on the board or how many, there will always be opposition to certain members choosen or to the fact some of the more prominant scientists cannot be included.
One reader writes:
The Valencia Challenge. The team of five. Prize money. The whole thing sounds like a hyped-up pay-per-view sporting event. Forget Dawkins and skeptics. Instead “challenge” all the shroud scientists to arrive at a real comprehensive “consensus”. Be honest. Report out majority and minority opinions and admit it when there is no consensus. The lack of standard citations (AAAS, CSE or MLA) and the lack of specific metrics, where appropriate, makes the whole Valencia thing seem amateurish.
Andy Weiss nets it out nicely:
I would say consensus in science is right when you have a tested, repeatable theory that is correct. The consensus does not create the right result. It only reflects that scientists accept what is proven as such.
And daveb of Wellington, New Zealand agrees with Andy and then offers some interesting stuff:
To some extent the debate about (non-)/acceptability of consensus in science is merely semantic, and I think Andy’s comment comes close to the mark. The sciences in general have frequently been contentious. I can recommend any of Hal Hellman’s books in his series "Great Feuds in …" (Science / Mathematics / Technology / Medicine). The feuds were sometimes about priority, sometimes about validity, sometimes about concepts.
Two matters come to mind in connection with this challenge and the debate about consensus.
Around 1900, David Hilbert, president of a prestigious international mathematical association presented a programme of some 23 unsolved problems for the twentieth century. I think most of them have now all been resolved, a few in quite unexpected ways, e.g. Godel’s undecidability theorem, axiom of choice, and the contiuum hypothesis in transfinite numbers. Hilbert had not sought consensus for his programme, but his status as president had allowed him alone to formulate his programme of challenges.
The second matter relates to the Paul Wolfskehl prize of 100,000 marks for the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem Fermat had formulated his notorious theorem around 1637, and claimed to have had a proof (he hadn’t – it was really a hypothesis). The problem challenged the best mathematicians for the next few hundred years. In 1908, Paul Wolfskehl, a Gernan industrialist bequeathed in his will a prize of 100,000 GM to whomever could solve it. The challenge attracted every amateur mathematician throughout the world, and the math dept in the university of Gottingen was inundated with attempted proofs. In response the dean developed a routine card response "The first error occurs in Line xxx".
The Theorem was finally proved by the English mathematician Andrew Wiles at Princeton U in 1995, who had dedicated much of his professional life to its solution. Peer review of his first presentation of the "proof" revealed.a serious problem which seemed intractable. However further work resolved his difficulty, and Wiles eventually collected the prize.
You can find any amount of material on the web about Fermat’s Last Theorem, the Wolfskehl prize and Wiles’ proof of the theorem. Simon Singh has published an excellent paper-back on the subject.
The example serves to illustrate.how acceptance in the scientific community comes about, certainly in mathematics anyway. I doubt if the Shroud challenge will attract the same amount of attention as did the Wolfskehl prize. But it would not surprise me if we have to wait a few more hundred years, before the enigma can be finally resolved.
Cazab disagrees with Crichton:
Crichton is dead wrong: consensus is not "a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled."
Consensus in science is needed because it tells us where the evidence leads for experts in the field.
For example in history the consensus in scholarship is that Jesus really existed and was not a mythical figure. But a tiny minority of minors scholars disagree. Scholars do not say "our consensus is the ultimate truth" but just this where all the data and our line of reasoning lead.
In science, the consensus in scholarship is that quantum particles do exist. But some major scientists and philosophers of science (van Fraassen for example) disagree. There is a debate the matter is not already settled.
But maybe Crichton just confuses "consensus" and "paradigm".
But Colin Berry, after promising to leave us “loonies,” returns a few minutes later to challenge us and sour the milk in our morning coffee. This is prompted by Yannick’s discussion of statement 1 in the Valencia challenge. Have we (all of us) done our homework well enough, is how I read this. This is perhaps a taste of what is to come:
"Maillard products are not water soluble, and they do not moved when wetted.” Really? Who decides these matters? Science by consensus is bad enough. Science by ex cathedra pronouncement is even worse…
To set the record straight, and speaking as a previous Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at a food research institute, let me tell you that Maillard reaction products (melanoidins) that are made using reducing sugars and simple amines can most certainly be water-soluble. It is the melanoproteins that tend to be insoluble (see under "Isolation" in that link) but Rogers specifically stated it was, at least according to him, low molecular weight putrefaction amines (cadaverine, putrescine etc) that provided the amino nitrogen for production of the Shroud image.
Henry from San Antonio writes:
I think it is a good idea. I don’t agree that a consensus of a handful of experts is a problem. Go for it.
No consensus on consensus!
Thibault Heimburger writes by way of a comment:
Dear Yannick my friend,
You know me and I know you.
You know that for me Ray Rogers was a "master", a true scientist (perhaps the only one in Shroud studies).
You know that I have studied in depth all the papers, articles etc.. you are quoting.
The truth, in my opinion, is that there is absolutely no possibility…to know the truth.
There is absolutely no mean to be sure that the image chromophore is carried by the pcw or by an " impurity layer".
Please show me a single fact (from Rogers himself) demonstrating that the "impurity layer" is the only possibility.
Maybe he was right, maybe not. ALL the facts are consistent with both possibilities.
Yannick had written:
That’s why, in the present state of our knowledge about the body image on the Shroud, the only thing we can say for sure is that it results from a dehydration-oxydation process on the top-surface of the cloth. For the question of the real chromophore of the image, it is still scientifically unproven yet.
And that was the point. The image is a molecular change to the primary cell well of the fiber or to an impurity layer. We don’t know which. Yannick has just received the endorsement of one the best Shroud of Turin scholars out there.
May I also recommend Thibault’s A DETAILED CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE CHEMICAL STUDIES ON THE TURIN SHROUD: FACTS AND INTERPRETATIONS.
The following is a carefully researched, well thought out guest posting by Yannick Clément. I have been arguing that the first sentence in the list of image criteria in the Challenge to Richard Dawkins is erroneous and misleading. This is something that Dawkins or anyone else will quickly realize if they research the topic. It completely destroys the scientific credibility of the challenge and as a consequence, I believe, it will be ignored.
Yannick initially wrote the following as a comment for the posting, Where’s the Beef? I felt is should be it’s own posting and with his kind permission I have made it so. I welcome other guest posting from anyone in SSG, particularly anyone mentioned in this posting. (English is a second language for Yannick, as it is for many shroud researchers and students of the shroud. Kindly keep this in mind. I have not edited to improve word usage). (Revised at 9:12 A.M.)
An analysis of many quotes from Raymond N. Rogers
regarding the chromophore of the body image on the Shroud of Turin
By Yannick Clément
In the present state of our knowledge about the Shroud, it is impossible to be 100% sure about the chromophore of the body image (i.e. what exactly was affected by the image formation process, whether it be the primary cell wall of the linen fiber or a thin layer of impurities present only on top of the fiber). As we can see, there’s 2 different hypothesis that are proposed and, scientifically speaking, no one can say for sure which one is correct.
In order to have a better understanding of the thinking of Ray Rogers about the chromophore of the image on the Shroud, I started to look in every papers written by Rogers for the exact comments he made on the (still debated) question of the chromophore of the body image.
First, here’s what we can read in page 29 of the paper “Scientific method applied to the Shroud of Turin” : “The color of image fibers was often stripped off of their surfaces, leaving COLORLESS CELLULOSE FIBERS. The color reside ONLY ON THE SURFACE OF THE FIBERS.” Maybe Rogers didn’t say EXPLICITELY that the linen fibers were UNDAMMAGED after the colored layer had been pulled off, but nevertheless, he used the word “COLORLESS” which really is a synonimous in this context. And in his answer to question #12 of his paper “Shroud of Turin FAQ”, Rogers said that those “ghosts” of coloration were a CONFIRMATION of the fact that the diimide would reduce the color on the fibers, leaving undammaged fibers behind.
Those 2 observations made by Adler (i.e., the diimide reduction and the ghosts) were so important for Rogers that he started to realize that the conclusion he made with STURP about the chromophore of the image (he thought that the dehydration-oxydation process affected directly the linen fiber), was probably wrong. In fact, that’s when he started to change his mind on the subject (leading him to change the conclusion he wrote in his STURP paper) and that’s when he started to look for a better explanation in regard of the new facts he learned from Adler.
And more than that, for Rogers, the reduction of the coloration with diimide and the presence of “ghosts” of coloration in the sticky tapes were part of a larger spectrum of observations that lead him to conclude that the linen fibers themselves (including the primary cell wall) were NOT affected directly by the image formation process, but, instead, it was most probably a very thin layer of impurities ON the surface of the fibers that were colored.
Here’s some of the most important quotes from Rogers about this important question :
1- The medullas of colored image fibers are not colored. The cellulose WAS NOT INVOLVED in color production. The cellulose of the image HAD NOT CHANGED as a result of image formation.
2- Heller and Adler found that the image fibers could be decolorized with diimide. Reduction left COLORLESS, UNDAMAGED CELLULOSE FIBERS BEHIND.
3- Heller and Alder also reported that “ghosts” of color were stripped off of fibers by the adhesive of sampling tapes when they were pulled out of the adhesive and that the insides of the fibers were colorless.
4- The “ghosts” had the SAME CHEMICAL COMPOSITION as expected from DEHYDRATED CARBOHYDRATES.
5- Because chemical rates are exponential with temperature, cellulose would react MUCH MORE SLOWLY than other carbohydrates.
6- At high optical magnifications, up to 1000X, no coatings could be resolve on the surfaces of image fibers; however, the surfaces appeared to be “CORRODED”. That observation suggests that a VERY THIN COATING OF CARBOHYDRATE had been significantly dehydrated on the OUTER SURFACES of the fibers.
7- The color is ONLY ON THE OUTER SURFACES of the image fibers. This suggest that the impurities were the result of cloth-production methods and they should appear on all parts of the cloth. Until this time, we had assumed that the image color was a result of chemical changes in the cellulose of the fiber.
8- The spectra STRONGLY SUGGEST that the impurities were CARBOHYDRATES that DEHYDRATED as a result of IMAGE-FORMATION PROCESS.
9- The EVIDENCE IS STRONG that the image IS NOT a result of dehydration of the cellulose by any mechanism.
10- Since the cellulose was not colored, the impurities had to be SIGNIFICANTLY less stable than cellulose.
11- If preexisting impurities enabled image formation, some should have still been on the Shroud at the time of the 1532 fire. A search of tape samples from lightly-scorched areas revealed GHOSTS that appeared to be IDENTICAL to those from image areas. Thin layers of colored impurities had stripped off from scorched fibers that were COMPLETELY ISOLATED FROM IMAGE AREAS.
12- During the tape sampling on the Shroud done by Rogers, much less force was required to remove tapes from image areas than from non-image areas.
13- The image spectra were essentialy IDENTICAL to those of AGED LINEN and LIGHT SCORCHED. The structures of ALL FORMS OF DEHYDRATED CARBOHYDRATES would be VERY SIMILAR, containing complex systems of conjugated double carbon bonds. CELLULOSE IS NOT UNIQUE. Sugars and starches give the SAME TYPES of dehydration/conjugation chemical structures. Identical colored structures are produced by low-temperature reactions between reducing carbohydrates and amines, i.e., Maillard reactions.
14- Dehydration causes shrinkage; therefore, any coating of carbohydrate impurities would “CRAZE” during dehydration. Such a crazed coating would be easy to pull off with adhesive, explaining the EASY REMOVAL of tapes from image areas. Question from me : Do you really think that the primary cell wall of the linen fiber would react that way and craze if it was dehydrated, making the coloration easily removable with a sticky tape ? One thing’s for sure, I’ve never read anything in Di Lazarro’s papers that would suggest something of that nature. I think this question is important and shrould be submit to a proper scientific examination. It would be nice if a real expert in chemistry and microscopy could submit some linen samples without any coating on the fibers (modern linen fibers) to some kind of dehydration-oxydation process and verify the reaction of the primary cell wall before and after. If the primary cell wall wouldn’t craze when it dehydrate and if the coloration obtained would’t be easily removable with a sticky tape, then it would be a pretty good indicator that the coloration on the Shroud didn’t involved the primary cell wall. And I think the first samples that should be verified like that by an expert in chemistry and microscopy are the ones produced by Di Lazarro with UV lasers. It would simply need to verify and compare the coloration area versus the non-coloration area of his samples and note the differences in the physical aspect. If the primary cell wall didn’t shrink and craze during the coloration process and if this coloration is not easily removable with a sticky tape, then we would have to think that the coloration he obtain is probably not exactly the same kind of coloration than what is on the Shroud, because, for Rogers, this was exactly the effect (shrinkage and crazing) produced by the image formation process on the surface of the linen fibers. Is there any scientist interested to verify that ?
15- NOTHING than dehydrated carbohydrate could be found in the image area.
16- Bands of different-colored yarn can be observed in the weave of the cloth. Where darker bands intersect image areas, the image is darker and where lighter bands intersect image areas, the image is lighter. THIS PROVES that the image color IS NOT SOLELY a result of reactions in the cellulose of the linen. Something ON THE SURFACE of the different batches of yarn produced color and/or accelerated color formation. This suggests that significant VARIATIONS in impurity concentrations existed among yarn batches. The observations of bands of color agree with historical reports on the methods used to produce ancient linen.
17- A search for carbohydrate impurities on the Shroud CONFIRMED McCrone’s detection of some starch fractions. Starch and low-molecular weight carbohydrates from crude startch would color MUCH MORE EASILY than would cellulose as a result of either thermal dehydration or chemical reactions. The hypothesis on carbohydrates impurities is SUPPORTED by observations of TRACES OF SOME STARCH FRACTIONS ON IMAGE FIBERS.
18- Evaporation concentration (of impurities) CAN EXPLAIN the superficial nature of the image and the identical properties of the front and back images.
19- When a cloth is dried on a line, impurities concentrate on both evaporating surfaces, however, more impurities will deposit on whichever surface dries faster. Any concentration of impurities can take part in the image-formation reactions. This CAN explain the “doubly-superficial” image (personal note : if this doubly-superficiality is really there).
20- Image formation proceeded at NORMAL TEMPERATURES in the absence of energetic radiation of any kind.
21- Any radiation that is energetic enough or suffisciently intense to to heat the cloth enough to cause the initial dehydration reactions of cellulose would penetrate into a fiber to a distance determined by its energy. Personal note : Some people said that Di Lazarro’s experiments proved that Rogers was wrong here because he was able to obtain a coloration that didn’t penetrate into the internal part of the fiber (made almost exclusively of cellulose). But I don’t think this reasonning is true ! In his writings, when Rogers talked about “cellulose”, I don’t think he was only thinking about the internal part of the linen fiber. On the contrary, I really think that he was refeering to the whole complete linen fiber instead (INCLUDING THE PRIMARY CELL WALL). If my point of view is correct, then I think that what he said is still completely true, even in the case of the results obtained by Di Lazarro. Effectively, the coloration he obtained with UV lasers DID penetrate the first layer of cellulose material of the fiber, i.e. the primary cell wall (composed essentialy of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin). In other words, a penetration is still a penetration, even if it affect only the first layer of an object and leave untouched his more internal part ! In this case, I think Rogers would have describe it as “a very superficial penetration due to a very low level of energy coming from the UV lasers”. In fact, that’s exactly what Rogers claimed : “…any radiation would penetrate into a fiber to a distance determined by its energy.” And what is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to note is that, for Rogers, no matter what is the dept of the penetration into the fiber, if there is a penetration, even if this penetration only affect the primary cell wall, it’s NOT THE SAME KIND OF COLORATION than what he observe on the image fibers from the Shroud. In reality, I don’t think that what Rogers said about the penetration of energetic radiation (including UV lasers) into a fiber was incorrect at all ! I just think it was misinterpreted ! If you change the word “cellulose” for the expression “the whole linen fiber (including the primary cell wall)” in Rogers writings, everything become clear ! And, on this same topic of energetic radiation, Rogers continue by saying this : “Simple heating would change both the cellulose and the blood. Both protons and neutrons leave characteristic tracks in flax fibers. The image fibers COULD NOT have been colored by energetic radiation.”
That’s the principals observations reported by Rogers about the question of the chromophore of the image. For him, there was no doubt that this whole picture could only mean one thing : The linen fibers were not affected directly by the image formation process. Instead, this whole picture was pointing in another direction, i.e. that it was a very thin layer of impurities that was colored on top of the linen fibers. This is the interpretation of Rogers, after years and years of studying the evidences and observations regarding the Shroud : “Because the cellulose was NOT INVOLVED in image formation, the color must have formed in IMPURITIES ON THE SURFACES OF THE IMAGE FIBERS. INDEPENDENT CONFIRMATION have PROVED that all of the image color resides in a VERY THIN LAYER ON THE OUTSIDE SURFACES OF THE COLORED FIBERS.” (Rogers, Shroud of Turin FAQ, Question #9).
In 2010, Fanti, Di Lazarro and al. published a paper in which they claim that the hypothesis of Rogers concerning the chromophore of the image was most probably incorrect and that it was instead the primary cell wall of the linen fiber itself (composed mainly of CELLULOSE, HEMICELLULOSE AND PECTIN) that had been colored. It’s their conclusion and it is completely different from Rogers. And what those people pretend is that Rogers made an error of interpretation because he didn’t was aware of the primary cell wall of the linen fiber ! This kind of thinking is kind of extreme when you think of all the time that Rogers spend studying linen fibers !!! To me, their assumption is just unbelievable…
The only problem is that Rogers never named the primary cell wall in any of his writings. And that’s the major argument of Fanti and al. in order to make believe that Rogers knew nothing about the primary cell wall. This kind of reasonning is much too simplistic to be true. We have to remember that it’s not because Rogers never named the primary cell wall that he knew nothing about it ! And some clues that he really knew this part of the linen fiber can be found in his book. In fact, if you’re wise enough to read between the lines, you understand that he knew perfectly well the structure of the primary cell wall and, nevertheless, he NEVER consider this part of the linen fiber as a valid option to explain the coloration !
Here’s some examples of that :
1- In page 12 of his book, we can read this : “When linen is heated, water immediately begins to be desorbed and the linen dries out. As the temperature increases, the cellulose melts with decomposition. Quickly heated and cooled linen shows little black balls where it melted. As it melts, the carbohydrates (CELLULOSE AND SUGAR-BASED HEMICELLULOSE IMPURITIES) start to dehydrate chemically. The colored products of dehydration are extremely complex, but they have some WELL-KNOWN CHEMICAL PROPERTIES AND STRUCTURAL UNITS. Personal note : You can see here that Rogers knew perfectly well the cellulose and hemicellulose components of the primary cell wall (even if he don’t use the term “primary cell wall”) and he knew exactly how this chemical structure would dehydrate in presence of heat . And nevertheless, he NEVER CONSIDERED this kind of dehydrated chemical structure as a valid option to explain the color of the body image on the Shroud, even if he knew perfectly well that the coloration of the Shroud came from a dehydration-oxydation process ! In fact, in his paper “Scientific method applied to the Shroud of Turin”, Rogers said : “Some type of carbohydrate dehydration reaction seems most probable as an explanation for the image color; however, the COLOR APPEARS ONLY ON THE SURFACE OF THE INDIVIDUAL FIBERS. The color of the image DOES NOT INVOLVED THE CELLULOSE.” Personal note : Here, I think we have an important sign that, in Rogers perspective, when he was using the word “cellulose”, like here, this term included also the primary cell wall, because this part of the linen fiber is also composed (partially ) of cellulose, along with hemicellulose (the other major component with the cellulose) and pectin (third component which is a minority). I think that’s the reason why we don’t see anywhere in his writtings the expression “primary cell wall”. In other words, when Rogers refered to “cellulose” in his writings, he was thinking about the complete linen fiber as a whole (including the primary cell wall). It’s pretty evident that Rogers knew very well the chemical structure of this external part of the linen fiber, but he didn’t think that it was important to make the distinction with the rest of the fiber (the internal part, which is made almost exclusively of cellulose). If he had been aware of the pretention of Fanti and al. concerning the primary cell wall, I’m 100% sure that he would have make a clear distinction between the primary cell wall and the internal part of the linen fiber !!! We have to remember that, in the time Rogers wrote his papers and his book, there was still no hypothesis concerning the primary cell wall as the chromophore of the image. In this context, I’m sure Rogers didn’t thought it was necessary to make a clear distinction between the 2 main parts of the linen fiber. That’s most probably why he never write anything specific about the primary cell wall, even if it’s evident that he knew well about it… To conclude this comment, I suggest anyone to read again the list of 21 quotes from Rogers writings that I previously reported in this paper and each time you’ll read “cellulose”, try to think “the whole linen fiber” (including the primary cell wall, along with the internal part of the fiber), because I’m almost sure that’s what Rogers had in mind !
2- In page 57 of Rogers book, he talks about a pyrolysis mass spectrometry analysis that he did on different samples from the Shroud. Here’s one important thing he said about this analysis : “Mass 131 appeared at much higher temperatures in all of the spectra, but those are in the range of CELLULOSE, LIGNIN AND HEMICELLULOSE .” Personal note : Again, this is a very good clue that Rogers knew perfectly well the chemical structure of the primary cell wall of the linen fiber, even if he don’t use the term.
3- In page 86 of his book, Rogers show an image (figure X-7) that is the result of an experiment he made with a linen sample prepared with the same antique method described by Pliny the Elder in order to test the hypothesis of the corona discharge. Here’s what he said about his result : “A single fiber from the center of figure 2 in water. HEMICELLULOSES AND PECTINS have been oxydized, leaving most of the more stable cellulose.” Personal note : this observation from Rogers is highly important for 2 reasons : A) It clearly show, one more time, that Rogers knew perfectly well the chemical structure of the primary cell wall of the linen fiber, even if he don’t use the term. And B) It clearly show that, for Rogers, this kind of result, obtained from a corona discharge (and that also look pretty much the same as the result obtained by Di Lazarro with UV lasers), was DIFFERENT from the coloration present at the surface of the Shroud !!! THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE !!! For Rogers, an oxydation of the hemicelluloses (principal component of the primary cell wall) and pectins (minor component of the primary cell wall) WAS NOT the same thing as the oxydation on the Shroud that produce the body image. This example, taken from page 86 of Rogers book, show that, for him, it was very clear that the primary cell wall, as long as the rest of the linen fiber, WAS NOT colored during the image formation process that affected the Shroud.
4- In page 131 of his book, Rogers talk about the chemical treatment of the reliquary of the Shroud that was done after the 1988 C14 sampling. Here’s what he said : “A significant amount of thymol could have absorbed on the wood, and wood has a large cellular surface area. More thymol would have reacted with the CELLULOSE AND MORE REACTIVE HEMICELLULOSES, LIGNIN, and plant gums of the wood.” Personal note : Even if he speak here about wood and not about linen, we can see, one more time, that Rogers knew perfectly well the chemical structure of any cellular object, whether it is wood or linen. And he also knew perfectly well that the components of the primary cell wall (especially the hemicellulose and the pectin) are more reactive than the cellulose. This is another VERY IMPORTANT thing to note : Rogers knew very well that those components of the primary cell wall are easier to color but, nevertheless, he NEVER CONSIDERED this kind of chemical structure as a valid option to explain the color of the body image on the Shroud. In other words, we can say that Rogers not only knew very well the chemical structure of the primary cell wall, but he also knew very well that this part of the fiber is more reactive than the internal part of the same fiber. But even if he knew this, he NEVER CONSIDERED the primary cell wall as being the real chromophore of the body image on the Shroud.
So, you see ? I think those are very good clues that prove that Rogers knew perfectly well the complete chemical structure of a linen fiber, including the primary cell wall. And nevertheless, he NEVER consider this part of the linen fiber as a valid option to explain the coloration we see on the Shroud !!! Of course, that doesn’t prove that Rogers is right about his thin layer of impurities, but that clearly show the erroneous aspect of Fanti and al. argument that Rogers knew nothing about the primary cell wall and that his ignorance about it caused him to make an error of interpretation regarding the sum of evidences and observations concerning the Shroud. And if we take a global look at the whole picture of the situation, and if we consider all the arguments proposed by Rogers, I think it is VERY HARD to scientifically discard his own hypothesis concerning the coloration of a thin layer of impurity on top of the linen fibers at the surface of the cloth, nevertheless what M. Rolfe’s list can say at point #1 (i.e., the image come from a molecular change of the linen fiber itself) and nevertheless what Fanti and al. can say against Rogers hypothesis in their paper published in 2010.
That’s why, in the present state of our knowledge about the body image on the Shroud, the only thing we can say for sure is that it results from a dehydration-oxydation process on the top-surface of the cloth. For the question of the real chromophore of the image, it is still scientifically unproven yet. But, personally, I have to say that Rogers hypothesis represent a very good solution in regard of all the known facts and observations concerning the body image on the Shroud…
Here’s the sources I used for my documentary research :
1- Rogers book “A chemist’s perspective on the Shroud of Turin” (link : http://www.lulu.com/shop/raymond-n-rogers/a-chemists-perspective-on-the-shroud-of-turin/ebook/product-17416203.html)
2- Rogers paper “Shroud of Turin FAQ” (link : http://shroud.com/pdfs/rogers5faqs.pdf)
3- Rogers paper “Scientific method applied to the Shroud of Turin” (link : http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/rogers2.pdf)
4- For basic information about the primary cell wall, see : http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3408000066.html
Louiseville, Québec, Canada. May 10, 2012.