Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Checking In On Colin Berry: A New Image Model ‘forming in my mind’

March 3, 2015 5 comments

So one mixes up some alum and some thickening agent – a gum or starch etc

imageColin is is toying with a new image formation scheme. He is blogging about it though it is difficult to know this. Instead of posting new entries in his blog, Colin adds more text to old ones, so much so that even Google is gasping for air.

In what follows, we are looking at some new text added to a posting for February 20, Might the Shroud of Turin properly be described as a ‘proximity imprint’ in sweat and blood, real or simulated, to distinguish it from Freeman’s faded painting? If you want to follow along you can find the latest text (as of this morning) roughly 4/5 of the way down what is now a very long webpage:

… Am presently  researching, thoroughly I hope, a distinctively different angle on the manner in which the Shroud image may have been produced. It’s a difficult call to beat contact thermal imprinting, while still  producing a negative  non-directional image with 3D properties etc etc. But the new model that’s been forming in my mind, with some prompting from the writings of Luigi Garlaschelli and Joseph Accetta, might be more suited to the medieval mind (and technology) than the heated inanimate  templates (horse brasses, brass crucifixes)on the cooker hob in this blogger’s 21st century kitchen.

A few paragraphs later:

Here’s a few broadbrush ideas to be getting along with.

Firstly, there had to be template.One does not paint a negative image freehand, at least not one so photograph-like as the TS (when submitted to 19th/20th century technology). The template may have been totally inanimate (14th century provenance), e.g. a metal or ceramic bas relief, or it may been a real person (allowing for a 1st century provenance, if one is willing to junk the radiocarbon dating – count me out).

So one mixes up some alum and some thickening agent – a gum or starch etc – applies it to one’s subject of template, then presses down linen to get an imprint. What then?  Knowing what we now know about the properties of alum, one could suggest an immediate roasting at a temperature that leads to chemical sehydration of the linen carbohydrates in areas in immediate contact with the alum paste. Knoock off the surplus paste when doen and one has (maybe) a faint yellow negative image.

clip_image001And – to be expected:

Briefly, the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge provided a possible rationale for imprinting the image of a bearded man who was NOT Jesus, but a Knight Templar, indeed the most prominent, Jacques de Molay. Why? Because de Molay, Grand Master of the outlawed order was burned at the stake in Paris 1314. Alongisde him was a fellw Templar, Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffroi de Charney. That name is almost but not quite identical to that of the Lord of Lirey whose widow placed the Shroud on its first recorded public display in 1357, shortly after he husband’s death at the Battle of Poitiers. Her husband is said by celebrated genealogist Noel Currer-Briggs to have been the nephew of his quasi-namesake who died in 1314, some 43 or so years earlier.  Might the TS image have been intended to represent a Knight Templar and the manner of death, especially as the "burning at the stake" had in fact been performed sadistically by slow-roasting? Was it a tribute (initially) that had remained in the family, a closely guarded secret initailly for obvious reasons when Templars were still being dispossed and worse by an alliance of convenience between the then heretic-seeking Papacy and cash-strapped French monarchy? Was it ‘reinvented’ to represent the victim of crucifixion rather than "scorching".

Was there supporting evidence that might corroborate that interpretation?

More to come:

I can hardly wait.

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs Tags:

New Paper: Variations in Image Due to Amounts of Burial Ointments?

March 1, 2015 11 comments

imageJust published in Chimica Oggi-Chemistry Today (Vol 33(1) January/February 2015): To suggest evidence for burial ointments in the Shroud of Turin by Giovanni Fazio, Antonio Anastasi and Giuseppe Mandaglio.


In this paper we suggest that observations of the different intensities of the dorsal and ventral images on the Shroud of Turin can be accounted for by the presence of burial ointments and/or perfumes. This is a new approach, valuable because of the strong disagreement between the results of various previous experiments to determine chemical substances on the Shroud. We will show that the image intensity of both images varies measurably and consistently between the dorsal and ventral images, in areas that nevertheless represent the same cloth-body distance, and suggest that this variation is due to the different amount of burial ointments covering the upper and lower surfaces of the body as it lay on the cloth.

Unless you have already done so for this publication, you will need to register to download and read the full article as a PDF. There seems to be no fee for doing so.

Categories: Image Theory

Maybe the Nails Didn’t Go Through the Wrists

February 25, 2015 31 comments

I think it is a shroud myth that the wounds are on the wrists

imageIf you haven’t been following the recent nails-in-the-wrist debate, you should be.  Over the years, I’ve often pointed out that the nails of the crucifixion were not through Jesus’ hands but through his wrists.  Once upon a time someone told me this. Or maybe I read it in a book.  When I looked at the photographs of the shroud it seemed so obvious that I never questioned it. I can’t possibly imagine how many times I’ve repeated this fact and relied on this fact to make a point. But is it a fact?

An argument began in a posting on another subject. That happens all the time. It is what happens in online discussions. That’s fine.

The argument started when Sampath Fernando commented:

Furthermore there is no any other painting or another medieval photographic negative showing Jesus was crucified by nailing through his wrists. Almost all paintings show that Jesus was crucified by nailing his palms.

Why image on TS is the only one tell us that Jesus was crucified by nailing through his wrists

And Hugh Farey replied:

… the Shroud does not show that the nails were not banged in through the wrists. Enlarge the crossed hands area on Shroud Scope and decide where the extremities of the proximal phalanges (the clearest of the visible finger joints), and measure them using the online tool…

And Thomas wrote, “I agree. I think it is a shroud myth that the wounds are on the wrists.”  And we were off to the races:

You are going to want to read the discussion (ignoring if you wish comments on other topics that are interspersed into the discussion. Be sure to read all of discussion. Read all the way to the bottom of all the comments FROM HERE to the bottom of the page (currently, as of this posting, time stamped February 25, 2015 at 4:38 am)

Categories: Art, Image Theory Tags:

Bruno Barberis Interview: ‘The only serious and honest behavior’

February 22, 2015 14 comments

The literature in this area is vast, ranging from the statement
that the Shroud is painted a self-portrait of Leonardo,
that it is the work of a medieval forger  who used techniques not known to us, 
that which makes the Shroud ‘ scientific proof of the resurrection ‘, or 
… a radiation characteristic … as if the resurrection itself was a natural event….

clip_image001MUST READ:  It isn’t easy with a Google translation.  Organize a workshop around the Shroud: Interview with Bruno Barberis, President of the International Center of Sindonology Turin, however, is important.

(also original link in Italian)

Here is one example:

[The Question]  The debate around the Shroud at that point has arrived and what is your opinion on the debate in recent decades?

[Barberis’ Answer]  In recent years there has been a lively debate considerably around the Shroud, perhaps as never before in the past, facilitated, without a doubt, an exceptional sounding board provided by modern means of communication. This debate was triggered mainly (but not only) by the now famous radiocarbon dating of the Shroud cloth made in 1988, the result of which (medieval dating of the Shroud) sparked a confrontation not only between scientists and scholars, but also in public opinion. The scientific debate was to take place, as is right and logical, exclusively within those research groups who have decided to grapple with the complex and thorny issue of evaluating the date of the Shroud cloth, with the opportunity to make known experimental results and related theoretical considerations at meetings or scientific congresses. In fact it did not happen, because the debate became incorporated arguments often anything but scientific. Also the media have certainly facilitated the work, as they are often spoken extensively on news of minor and have been silent instead those series, looking almost exclusively of the sensational news. In fact, below that there is another question of far greater thickness and oldest: the controversy between the two opposites ‘fundamentalisms Shroud’, the advocate of absolute certainty the identity of the Shroud and burial cloth of Jesus, and what he believes that the two objects lacking any correlation. It is obvious that everyone is free to propose and defend their thesis, but it is also equally natural that such a defense must respect the logical criteria of modern science. There has however a number of statements and debates in which often start from absolutely arbitrary assumptions and preconceived, using arguments that go against the most elementary rules of logic and therefore leads to conclusions absolutely unprovable. The literature in this area is vast, ranging from the statement that the Shroud is painted a self-portrait of Leonardo, that it is the work of a medieval forger who used techniques not known to us, that which makes the Shroud ‘ scientific proof of the resurrection ‘, or the result of a radiation characteristic of the resurrection, as if the resurrection itself was a natural event, repeatable laboratory and therefore reviewable by scientific methods. And the list could go on much longer. Force the hand of the scientific evidence, or neglect them completely and start from assumptions absolutely baseless, equivalent to damage and discredit the meaning and message of the Shroud that make a unique object in the world. The scholar serious and correct detests the Crusades or against the authenticity of the Shroud image, made just to convince more people of their convictions, without wearing a shred of evidence, or by arguing that struggle with most basic rationality. Starting from the assumption that ‘the shroud is the burial cloth of Christ’ and try to prove it at all costs without bothering to give reasons and objective series or to assume that ‘the Shroud is the work of a medieval forger’ and do the same tantamount not only to perform a scientifically incorrect, but also to tease all those who, eager to learn more, to take good similar conclusions. The only serious and honest behavior is that of someone who, wanting only to know the truth, stands humbly to his research, without claiming to want to demonstrate any preconceived thesis, and, indeed, rejecting everything that can not be seriously and scientifically proven . On this subject, it is expressed very clearly Saint John Paul II in his speech in front of the Shroud May 24, 1998: "The Church urges [scientists] to face the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted that these results do not they are; invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers. " On that occasion the Pope, very effectively, called the Shroud ‘a challenge to our intelligence’. The discussion on the Shroud often degenerates because the Shroud is not a neutral object, it involves both the reflection of historical-scientific, is that kind of religious creed. If it were a sheet in which you think has been wrapped any other historical figure, all these discussions are not met. Therefore only keeping separate the scientific approach and the religious (both basic and complementary) you can think of to deal with a serious study on the Shroud and honest.

Another example is the question and answer that just preceded the one above:

[The Question]   Professor Luigi Campanella has developed methods that could perhaps give a measure of the pollution of the Shroud. Because these methods are not used because they do not realize other analyzes on the Shroud? -because the Shroud remains inaccessible to scientists?

[Barberis’ Answer]   . . .  It is not true that the Shroud is inaccessible to scientists. Personally I am absolutely conducive to the holding of new direct studies on the Shroud provided, however, that it is non-destructive testing: we can not treat the Shroud as a lab rat, especially considering that it is a unique object. Current technology allows you to make meaningful analysis of fibers with a thickness of a few micrometers which therefore require withdrawals nondestructive. A new campaign of direct studies on the cloth should aim to collect more data to form a complete map of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the entire Shroud, to be made available to scholars so that they can work and confront on accurate, reliable. To do this it would be necessary to organize a program of analysis using modern and sophisticated equipment: a real laboratory for the Shroud. The costs of such a complex operation would certainly very consistent. Only after an analysis and a detailed study of the Shroud could possibly make sense to program a new dating of the cloth.

A Bas Relief Match to the Shroud of Turin Image?

February 21, 2015 31 comments

from the sarcophagus of Pierre de Corneillan? 

Artist Paul Gell, aka Shroud Solver, writes by way of a comment:

Hello, my name is paul gell, and i have discovered a bas relief match to the shroud of turin! Im trying to get the academic community to notice and investigate my find. I created a 45 minute presentation, and a 5 minute summary. Ive placed my videos on a facebook page i created called “shroud solver”. The videos are also on youtube. Any comments or suggestions on how i am supposed to get real scholars involved would be appreciated! Thanks! Paul Gell

I went looking and found these four videos. Comments?

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Bonus Material:

Categories: Art, Image Theory Tags:

Colin Berry: Stop Calling the Faint Image a Faint Image

February 21, 2015 21 comments

And, as I see it . . . the word distance and the word body are both at issue.
Can we go on saying that no one has figured out how the image was formed
and at the same time objectively refer to cloth-to-body distance?

clip_image001I applaud Colin Berry’s attempt at helping to define the image:

Getting the right words to describe the Shroud image into the media and public domain has acquired a new urgency of late, given the recent claims that attempt to undo decades of research.  I refer to historian Charles Freeman’s claim that the TS is merely an age-degraded painting.  I’ve said quite a lot on that score already elsewhere, as indeed have others, and have little more to add, except to say that Mr. Freeman needs to get up to speed with Shroud science, and disabuse himself of the idea that it’s all about art history. The TS is arguably NOT about art. It’s an artefact, intended for purposes other than mere artistic expression. Works of art do not generally result in the issue of Pilgrims’ Badges (Lirey, France, circa 1357).

However, thanks to the robotic and mindless Google algorithm, Charles’s misguided notions will no doubt survive for a while, at least on the internet.  It’s no longer sufficient in this blogger’s view to continue describing the TS as a "faint image". That is too non-specific and makes it too easy for CF to peddle his antediluvian views (if STURP can be thought of as supplying a flood of new information).  "Faint image" or even faint NEGATIVE image simply does not do the business (CF having closed his eyes completely to the  implications of the tone-reversal implied by the descriptor "negative"). No, we need new updated terminology that makes it clear that the TS is not just any old "faint image", but one with very special, indeed unique properties that sets it apart from other pictorial representations of the human form. While that terminology cannot and must not attempt to impose a new orthodoxy regarding mechanism, actual or conjectural, it is entitled in my view to guide thinking in the right direction, while leaving key details unspecified.

So what is that terminology to be?

One has to be neither  pro- nor anti-authenticity to regard the TS image as an IMPRINT.

Definition of "imprint" (noun): Free Dictionary:



1. a mark or indentation impressed on something.

2. any impression or impressed effect.

And it is life-sized front and back, negative and contains seemingly 3D properties, Colin goes on to remind us.

Colin goes on to examine the definition issue from the point of view of a quote from a paper by Barrie Schwortz, Is the Shroud of Turin a Medieval Photograph?: A critical examination of the theory. That paragraph reads:

The STURP team concluded that there was a correlation between the density (or darkness) of the image on the Shroud and the distance the cloth was from the body at the time the image was formed. The researchers calculated that the image on the Shroud was formed at a cloth-to-body distance of up to approximately 4 centimeters, but beyond that, imaging did not occur. The closer the cloth was to the body, the darker the resulting image in that area, with the darkest parts of the image being formed where there was direct contact between the two. The image became proportionately lighter as the distance increased until it reached the maximum imaging distance. . . .

To which Colin responds:

Left to me I would have described the TS image as probably, indeed almost certainly a CONTACT imprint, such as can be modelled with hot templates. But the view exists, articulated above, and emanating in main from STURP physicist John Jackson PhD, that the TS image is not contact-only, but from modelling studies (at any rate)  appears to allow imaging across modest air gaps that do not exceed approx 4cm.  Personally, I think that latitude in allowing an air gap is a defect of the presumed imaging model, one that assumes a linen cloth spread loosely over a real corpse, and making only partial contact under gravity.  That’s a pro-authenticity scenario.

Forget that! The issue isn’t pro-authenticity. The issue is taking a leap too far making an observation into a theory. Consider what adding a short phrase does.

. . . there was a correlation between the density (or darkness) of the image on the Shroud and the [what might have been] distance the cloth was from the body at the time the image was formed. . . .

Colin’s take is just as correct:

Let’s not prejudge who is right, who is wrong.  Let’s assume that all that’s required is close proximity between a body and/or inanimate template that tolerates air gaps up to 4cm.

So the word distance and the word body are both at issue.  Can we go on saying that no one has figured out how the image was formed and at the same time objectively refer to cloth-to-body distance?

Colin’s caveat is fair:

Caveat: I’ve tried to be inclusive here, allowing for the possibility that  the image to have been produced by a burst of radiation (unspecified, see critique by the estimable Bernard Power ), and able to operate across air gaps. Without attempting to read  the minds of ‘resurrection radiationists’, whether it’s electromagnetic radiation or even wackier subatomic particles – notably neutrons-  that are proposed, might they consider the term "imprint", even modified with "proximity" as a potential poisoned chalice? Well, I’ve given a little thought to that, and followed up with some googling. What do I find?  Those ‘radiationist’ ideas have already filtered through to the mainstream media under the heading "imprints".

Of course, I’ve ignored Colin’s main point. We should stop calling the faint image on the shroud a faint image.  We make it to easy for the likes of Charles Freeman.

We should call it a proximity imprint, he tells us. 

No! Four syllables followed by two is a leap to far.  Remember, we are talking about the problems of a “robotic and mindless Google algorithm.”  

BTW:  I Googled “Faint Image.”  Not one picture of the shroud!  Most images were of people who had fainted.

Do read Colin’s entire posting.

Important New Pollen Discovery on the Sudarium of Oviedo?

February 15, 2015 23 comments

imageThe English language pages of the Universidad Católica de Murcia (UCAM) are reporting that UCAM’s researchers have found scientific evidence that places the Shroud of Oviedo and the Shroud of Turin in the same scenario::

The research group of the Catholic University of Murcia which is studying samples of the Shroud of Oviedo, has discovered a grain of pollen from one plant that, according to the Pollen Expert of EDICES, Marzia Boi, is compatible with the botanical species of Helicrysum Sp., also identified in the Holy Shroud (Shroud of Turin). Moreover, it has dropped the hypothesis of subsequent contamination, as the pollen is adhered to the blood; this means that the pollen arrived on the shroud at the same time as the blood, not randomly at some point along its history.  This fact is very important because it makes it possible to prove the authenticity of the Shroud of Oviedo, and deny that it is a forgery.

La Opinion de Murcia in a story four days ago adds this interesting piece of information (Translation by Google):

This research has been possible thanks to the innovative scanning electron microscope last generation that tells the UCAM. In this sense, the president of the UCAM, José Luis Mendoza, notes that [the university] acquired "the microscope to offer this service" to investigate in depth the aforementioned relic. This is a new finding that is not part of the research line that is centered study, since what is sought in the sample being processed is human biological material.

The Valencia newspaper, Las Provincias, in its coverage of the discovery, offers up this (Translation by Google):

The plant known as ‘Helicrysum’ has been used for thousands of years for cosmetic purposes in the Middle East; also was used in Jewish burials during the first century of the Christian era, so it is no wonder their presence on blood remnants of a canvas used to shroud a corpse.

Will this story get legs beyond regional papers and a university website?

Click on picture for larger view and here for and even larger image on the university’s site.


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