Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The Pollen Scam?

November 10, 2015 4 comments

"I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication.” — Avinoam Danin*

clip_image001Recent discussions about pollen on the Shroud of Turin, reflected in three recent postings in this blog…

… compels me to want to dig deeper.  Joe Marino kindly sent me, in Google translation, The Shroud of Turin: The scam of pollen. The complete file (In Italian, La Sindone di Torino: La truffa dei pollini. Il dossier completo). It is a paper by Gaetano Ciccone published in June of 2011 at La Sindone di Torino (

To the reader who asked why I permit so much negative information about the shroud to appear in this blog, permit me a quote by Thomas Aquinas:

The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.

Of, course, I would substitute Christian for Catholic (even if I was Catholic).

Here is a Google translation of an early snippet from The Scam of pollen:

Therefore below will be made an examination of what has been written and published on the subject ‘pollen Shroud’, bearing in mind always that the opponents of the authenticity is denied access to the source documents: the Shroud of Turin and the same material derived therefrom. So here there is proposed at all to study the Shroud pollen, but to study ‘the study of pollen Shroud’. It is, essentially, a work of ‘history of science’ or, as it would be preferable to express themselves, ‘history of pseudoscience’. Ultimately, it is a historical research.

Have been four scholars who took samples of powder with pollen from the Shroud of Turin: Max Frei in 1973 and in 1978, John Riggi in 1978 and 1988, Raymond Rogers in 1978 and then Pier Luigi alien autopsy in 1978 and 2002. Of these researchers, only the first results announced sensational and decisive. Others have not reported anything on their studies, apart from a few hints disappointing.

In consideration of Sindonisti, Frei has by far the most important scholars of the Shroud palynology. John Riggi in 1982 defines it as "the great Frei" [Riggi 1982, p.105], "the illustrious man" [Riggi 1982, p.119], stating that "I was very honored to know this great little man" [ Riggi 1982, p.140].

Even today the figure of Frei and his work is hailed uncritically accepted by some Sindonisti such Emanuela Marinelli, Marco Tosatti, Barbara Frale, Bruno Barberis:

And a later snippet from somewhere about mid-point:

Aside from the quick examination of the tapes made ​​by McCrone in 1988 and the review carried out by Baruch in 1998, in 2001, Professor Thomas Litt, Institute of Paleontology, University of Bonn, has been able to observe the remains of Frei in his laboratory in Bonn, but we do not know the details. The minutes of that examination was dispatched from Litt to Danin and spouses Whanger. Whanger I have never announced anything on the subject, while Danin, following this report, changed his mind than his previous convictions, denying practically all the work done together with his assistant Baruch, and drew the conclusion that the study of Shroud pollen could not get any geographical indication: "I regret that, from what I’ve learned from our research, we can not currently use the pollen to define any geographical indication ‘[Danin 2008, p.54]. It seems that ever since Baruch no longer interested in pollen or Shroud [Wilson 2010, p.65]. Danin, as is known, continues to support the authenticity of the shroud on the basis of hundreds of fingerprints of plants or parts of plants, which he views on the cloth and on the photos of the towel. It appears that the material is more designed by Frei palynologists specialists. And we’re now at 28 years after the death of Frei.

* From a translation of a translation.

Categories: Science

The Process of Resurrection

November 8, 2015 16 comments

imageDuring the past several days, I have noticed several comments with the phrases “resurrection process” or the “process of resurrection.” Why do we think the resurrection was a process?

We are all familiar, at least in principle, with the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It is a process. We can make a time-lapsed movie of it and see each and every step. Some will say they see a miracle unfolding. Others will say it is nothing of the kind; it is a perfectly explainable biological process.

If you were to take the first frame and the last frame from the movie of the process, splice them together and pretend that nothing happened in between then you could pronounce and demonstrate with a very short, two-frame movie that a miracle transformation had taken place without a process.

The resurrection, if we are to believe in it, was a miracle. And if we are to take our knowledge from scripture alone, there was a before and after, a first frame so to speak and a last frame. There was nothing in between that we know about. So, why do we think there was a process? Why do we think, for instance, the body dematerialized such that a cloth might fall through it or that that the body might releases some form of energetic byproduct during the resurrection? Why do we think, as Mark Antonacci suggests that Jesus might have passed through a traversable Lorentzian wormhole in space-time or as Frank Tipler suggests that the process of resurrection might have been a form of electroweak quantum tunneling and the images on the Shroud the consequence of a Sphaleron field?

imageThomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica tried to explain that angels in going from one place to another did not pass through the place in between. Nor did they consume time doing so.

By this sort of local movement an angel may, at will, be present successively in several places and thus may be said to pass through the space between the first and the last place of the series. Or an angel may cease to apply its powers in the first place and begin to apply them in the last, not passing through the space between.

Since there is succession, that is, before-and-after, in the application of an angel’s powers, now here and now there, it must be said that an angel’s local movement occurs in time, and is not instantaneous. This time, however, is not measurable in our minutes or seconds; these units of time are applicable only to bodily movement.

For angels, at least in how they traveled, there is only a first frame and a last frame, so to speak.

Thomas was much into angels and was brilliant at logical speculation. We can leave it at that. We don’t need to agree with the saint. Nonetheless, this notion of his provides a useful metaphor for pondering supernatural action. There is in his imaginings a change of state and no measure of time.

Might the resurrection have been that way? What about other miracles? When Jesus healed the blind man was there a moment in time when the man’s eyesight was partially restored? When Jesus turned water into wine were there moments in time, no matter how brief, when the wine was still mostly water and when – perhaps fractions of nanoseconds later – the water was mostly wine?

Might the resurrection have been just a miracle with a before and after and no in between process?

The problem, for us in the shroud world, is we need something to get that image on the cloth.  Or do we?

Paper Chase: New Paper on SEM Analysis of Pollen

November 5, 2015 24 comments

imageI missed this recent paper. I only discovered it while reading through Barrie Schwortz’ Late Breaking News for the most recent update to Here is what Barrie reports:

Exploration of the Face of the Turin Shroud. Pollens Studied by SEM Analysis by Gérard LucotteArcheological Discovery, Vol.3 No.4, October 2015. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

"We studied by SEM-EDX analysis the pollens on the Face of the Turin Shroud. A total of ten pollen grains were found; they were photographed, characterised and analysed. Three of them (pollens p6, p7 and p10) belong to Ceratonia siliqua, the carob tree; one of them (pollen p1) belongs to Balanites aegyptiaca (the palm tree of the desert), and another one (pollen p9) belongs to Cercis siliquastrum (the Judean tree). These three plants have their geographical distributions in the Near-East; that is indicative of a Palestinian origin of the Turin Shroud…"

FREE PDF:  The full paper (DOI: 10.4236/ad.2015.34014), richly illustrated with 23 photographs, is published in Scientific Research, an open access journal. The PDF file can be downloaded from the summary and abstract page.

Categories: Paper Chase, Science

Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things

October 30, 2015 56 comments

Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned
anywhere in the Critical Summary.

clip_image001Bob Rucker (pictured) posted what follows as a comment last evening. I have added a link to a previous comment by Bob and some links to more information.

It is my opinion that enough evidence has accumulated that we should now realize that there was no invisible repair/reweave in the C14 sample area, and that the solution to the C14 dating problem is what I presented at the St. Louis conference in 2014. I showed that MCNP nuclear analysis calculations indicate that if 3.0 x 10^18 neutrons are emitted uniformly in the body while it was in the shroud in the tomb, then three mysteries related to C14 dating are solved:

1) Neutron absorption in N14 in the shroud creates new C14 in the shroud that is identical to the original C14 in the shroud so that the C14 date is shifted from 30 AD to 1260 AD. The dating laboratories, not realizing that the shroud had been through a neutron absorption event, would have misinterpreted their result by assuming the wrong C14 decay curve.

2) The results reported by the three dating laboratories were not in good agreement with each other. Statistical analysis indicates only a 5% chance that their results were within their measurement uncertainty, so that the differences were probably (95% probability?) caused by something. Plotting their results as a function of the distance from the end of the shroud indicates that there is a slope or gradient of 42 to 57 years per cm across their data depending on the sampling done in Tucson. This slope in the C14 dates from the three laboratories agrees with the MCNP nuclear analysis calculations, which calculate that a uniform neutron emission in the body causes a neutron distribution in the tomb which produces just this range in the C14 dates across the sample region, so that the disagreement between the laboratory values is the result of the slope of the neutron distribution at the sample location resulting from homogeneous emission of neutrons in the body.

image3) These same MCNP calculations predict that a piece of cloth placed on the side bench about a foot in front of the back bench where the body in the shroud was located would date to about 700 AD. This location in the tomb is a natural location for the person working on the body in the tomb to lay the face/head cloth. According to tradition, the Sudarium of Oviedo is the face/head cloth of Jesus. It was C14 dated to 700 AD, in excellent agreement with the MCNP results.

We should realize the importance of not making the common a priori presupposition of naturalism, so that we not automatically rule out anything that is beyond the laws of science as we currently understand them, so that we can follow the scientific evidence where it leads. When this is done, I believe that the scientific evidence indicates that the solution to the enigma of the shroud is that a burst of radiation occurred within the body that did three things: 1) It caused the image, perhaps either by protons or ultraviolet based on experiments. 2) It thrust the blood off of the body, heated it turning it into a liquid, and thrust it against and into the fibers of the shroud, and 3) It caused the shift in the C14 date from 30 to 1260 AD and the slope in the C14 dates as discussed above. Bob Rucker

I’ve noticed that as you age, you learn that when the morning coffee isn’t yet ready, the mind wanders somewhere between wakefulness and wackiness. Hey, I thought in this state, what does the Critical Summary have to say about this. Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned anywhere in the Critical Summary. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was too early in the morning to find such stuff.  But then I did find this interesting paragraph on page 82:

Neutron Flux: In the same issue of Nature that reported the 1988 radiocarbon testing results there was an important letter to the editor. This letter rings out today with possibly more force than when It was first written. It causes one again to ponder and adopt a position of caution. The correspondence was with Thomas J. Phillips of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University. Phillips suggested that the Shroud might be a fundamentally altered fabric with respect to its C-14 content due its possible witness to some unexplained event, possibly in the tomb of Jesus. He hypothesized that such an unexplained event, which itself cannot be the subject of scientific inquiry, may have had an effect on the Shroud that can be studied scientifically. The unknown event may have generated a flux of neutrons that could have skewed the C-14 / C-12 ratio of the linen doth…..

I met Bob in St. Louis. Nice guy. Undeniably brilliant. Maybe he is on to something. But I’m just not there yet in being able to accept this or any other hypothesis, at least when it comes to how the image was formed. To restate with a bit of on-the-fly-rewrting of what I’ve said before, I say …

With regard to the image I’m stuck in the “it is inexplicable” camp.

You don’t like that? Well then you can consider Bob Rucker’s radiation, John Jackson’s cloth falling through a mechanically transparent body whatever that means, Tipler’s sphaleron quantum tunneling, Giulio Fanti’s corona discharge, Paolo Di Lazzaro’s ultraviolet (with or without the cloth falling through the body, Rogers’ Maillard reactions (quite natural if it could work but requiring every bit as much of a miraculous manipulation to produce such an image as any of the other byproduct of a miracle hypotheses would), Charles Freeman’s it’s-not-a-fraud painting (if STURP and Colin Berry are wrong) and Colin Berry’s fraud-by-Maillard if everyone else is wrong (which is not unreasonable to suppose).  Or think of something else.

As for the C14 question, I’m also stuck in the “so far inexplicable” camp.

Here are some resources for understanding and thinking about Bob’s ideas.

Another Comment by Bob Rucker: Reaction to Ray Rogers’ Paper on Radiation

Abstract for the Following Paper

MCNP Analysis of Neutrons Released from Jesus’ Body in the Resurrection (54 Slides)

Notes for the 54 Slides

Video of the Presentation in St. Louis (1 Hour)

Comment Promoted: The Punch Card Chart

October 23, 2015 1 comment

imageRobert W. Siefker comments about posting, Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

Dan, the “punch card chart” is not aimed at being “scientific” analysis. As clearly stated at the top of the chart with the word “judged”, this is TSC’s analysis. We have included only 17 image characteristics because we think that these seventeen, in and of themselves, can be used to evaluate image formation hypotheses that have gained at least some traction through the years. The chart itself does not stand alone. Appendix 1 gives our reasoning for each mark. Again it is judgment and if the image characteristics are indeed true, as we judge them to be, understandable to anyone. We also state that the The fall-through hypothesis cannot be tested or proven. In fact it is a very “unscientific” explanation as we acknowledge in its description and in the Conclusion. It just fits the data. Read it. Think about it in the context of the whole body of Shroud evidence.

Fair enough.  I stand corrected. I was probably unfair. We still need to crawl through the details, however.

Categories: Image Theory, Science

News About the Shroud. Pass It On. Well, Most of It.

October 20, 2015 2 comments

imageOn October 6th, I posted Breaking News: Sources of DNA on the Shroud of Turin. I was reporting that Nature had just the previous day published Uncovering the sources of DNA found on the Turin Shroud by Gianni Barcaccia, Giulio Galla, Alessandro Achilli, Anna Olivieri and Antonio Torroni.

On October 14th, I followed with Linen from India? after getting a prompting email from a reader.

Now the MSM may be catching on. There is a story here, after all.

Nothing yet in the biggies or on the major news services.

HEADLINES AND LEDES DEPARTMENT: (yes LEDE is the correct spelling), the Daily Mail may have gotten it best. No, really, the Daily Mail:


imageONE TRACK MINDS OFF THE RAILS DEPARTMENT:   Stephen Jones, in re-captioning this diagram from Nature, tries to tell us:

… this is further evidence against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud … and evidence for that the 1260-1390, i.e. 1325 ±65 radiocarbon date was computer-generated by a hacker’s (allegedly Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick’s) program.

Click on diagram to enlarge.

Categories: News & Views, Science

The Amazing Parts

October 19, 2015 3 comments

People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity.

imageNews from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas (bold emphasis is mine):

“The most amazing part of the Shroud is the majesty of the face.”

That statement from Jim Bertrand, a Shroud expert affiliated with the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, rang true for Benedictine College students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding communities who saw his presentation, along with a life-sized replica of the Shroud, on the Atchison campus on October 8.


Bertrand has been studying the Shroud for more than 30 years and has been affiliated with the Shroud Center of Colorado since 2014. He talked about the history of the Shroud and the scientific evidence surrounding its authenticity, including new peer-reviewed scientific information regarding the dating of the Holy Shroud, which has been the subject of much debate.

“As a presenter of the Shroud, my mission is to unite Truth with the human heart,” he said. “People can see the most updated scientific evidence regarding the Shroud, and then they can make their own reasoned judgment regarding its authenticity. Whether a relic or an icon, the Shroud is a sacramental, leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Bertrand presented a wealth of scientific evidence that supported the Shroud’s existence in 1st century Jerusalem. He noted botanical evidence of pollen from plants native to the area. He talked about geological evidence of soil found around the image’s feet, knees and nose that is of a particular type of rock only found in Jerusalem. He noted the biological studies of the blood stains, including the fact that they are still bright red due to the body’s release of bilirubin caused by a massive loss of blood, which supports Biblical accounts of Christ’s Passion.

He also talked about the 1978 carbon dating that placed the Shroud’s origin around 1250. The section tested turns out to have been from a corner of the Shroud repaired in Medieval times and containing cotton, satin and other fibers not found in the rest of the linen Shroud. There is also resin present that was used to join cotton threads to linen threads.

“It turned out to be the worst possible place to sample,” Bertrand said. He went on to show three other recent datings of the Shroud using chemical and mechanical tests. All three had wide ranges of dates for their results, but they all crossed the 1st century.

Reasoned judgment is fine. It’s the way it should be. But there is a real problem with the most updated scientific evidence.  Much of it is controversial. It is often not updated. And frequently not really so scientific as we make it out to be.  How good is that botanical evidence?  Is bilirubin really why the blood is still red? Was that corner repaired? Are those three other dating methods even valid?

The most amazing parts of the Shroud is how much we don’t know. I can’t make a reasoned judgment on the scientific evidence.

Categories: Article, Science

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