Colin Berry has returned to his ScienceBuzz blog to report Modelling two distinct types of BAKED-IN crease in the still-enigmatic Shroud of Turin, ones that provide important clues to the image-imprinting mechanism.
This is the third in my series of postings on a feature (or rather, features) of the Shroud image which may tell us a lot about the way the image was created. The first was on this site, over two years ago:
He then asks,
why does the turin shroud appear to have scorched-in crease marks? tell-tale signature for medieval forging?
I am more than ever convinced that the answer to the question in that title was a resounding YES! The creases or, rather, some of them, contain imprinted MEMORY of what was happening to the Shroud at the instant it received its ‘body image’ (Blood arguably came later as a part of an extensive re-invention exercise – see my other site).
The images that Colin provides are interesting. It is something to think about; that is for sure. It seems to be consistent with a scorching scenario, I’ll grant that. But why not with any number of other image forming hypotheses, assuming pre-imaging creases? And how certain are we that the creases are the same color at a chromophore level? Is this sort of eyeballing by Colin really scientific enough? I’m not a scientist so I can’t answer that question. It is good thinking but is it good concluding?
Echoing a previous posting from just over two years ago, to which he links, he thus reminds us of this thinking:
Conclusion: I regard those two crease marks as evidence for the image having been formed by applying force, consistent with my thermo-printing model, especially with a backing bed of sand. The scorched-in creases would seem to me to be inconsistent with any model that has fabric loosely draped over a 3D subject – living, dead or inanimate. Now please refer again to the title of this post. Are those creases not a signature for the Shroud having been produced as a forgery, using a replica, e.g. bronze statue, of the crucified Christ?
BUT the evidence is still very convincing that the images were not formed by scorching. Yes, I know Colin thinks otherwise but he has not made a convincing case. This is as close as he gets in a comment of his own to After 2 years, and over 200 postings, I think I’ve finally cracked it – the enigma of the Shroud of Turin.
Folk have asked why I don’t simply get hold of a uv lamp and make a start in filling in the huge gaps in our knowledge of scorching and fluorescence (similar to Hugh Farey’s studies reported previously on this site, with a greater focus on what’s happening at the molecular level).
[ . . . ]
But it would be more “kitchen lab” stuff, wouldn’t it, and easy target for the debunkers on Troll Central? There’s also an element of biohazard – my eyes have suffered enough in the past from previous exposure to lab-generated uv (a brief glance at burning magnesium as a chemistry teacher was enough to induce instant headache and nausea).
Here’s a hint as to what I would do if I had proper lab facilities. I would produce scorches at different temperatures and aerobic/anaerobic conditions. Reaction products (low MWt) would be leached with various combinations of solvents (chloroform/methanol/water), the extracts concentrated and run on TLC. Individual bands, fluorescent ones especially, would be eluted and then injected in a mass spectrometer for identification. The stability of any fluorescent properties would be studied, with exposure to air and other oxidants for different times, different temperatures.
Glossing over what is inconvenient and drawing conclusions nonetheless is to my way of thinking a form of pseudoscience. A lot of ifs and maybes might atone for these glaring problems.
And could those creases have been there in the cloth when the image was formed by some supernaturally produced radiation, not that I think that is what happened? Or a Maillard reaction, not that I think that happened either?
As I see it, these creases are more like a statement of fact, well stated. We need to understand them better. Surely they are creases. Baked-in? That is a stretch.
Another hypothesis about the image formation process has just been published in a peer-reviewed journal : Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology : Tattoli, Tsokos, Buschmann, “Could the Shroud of Turin be an effect of post-mortem changes?”
You can have a free access to the first two pages.
(parental discretion advised)
There is an interesting guest posting by Jan Vallone in the Image Journal blog of the Evangelical Channel at Patheos. She begins . . .
If you asked me about the Shroud of Turin, I could speak for hours. Before I saw it in Italy one Easter, I read several books on it. So I could tell you . . .
. . . and she does. It is well written. Jan goes through the history some of which I dispute. She goes through the science and I scream no-no-no here and there as when she writes, “Forensic scientists . . . . charge the radiologists with sampling a Poor Clare patch.”
But she call the historsy and the science straw. I like where she goes with it even if I disagree with the flash of light and the ponytail and the chrysanthemums and the backlighting:
Because there’s something that leaves me speechless, something I didn’t read in books, something that didn’t strike me till I stood in the dark cathedral among a praying crowd and stared at the backlit Shroud suspended on a wall before me, so close I could have touched its fibers, the imprint, the blood.
That something is this: Jesus was a man, a man no bigger than my son, one man among the billions who have lived or ever will. And one spring evening long ago, he pulled his hair into a ponytail to prepare bread and wine for his disciples, as my son pulls on a favorite t-shirt to set out beer and nachos for his friends.
As if it were an ordinary evening.
But it wasn’t an ordinary evening; it was the last one of his life.
And when his mother saw his broken corpse, one she hoped to never see—as I hope to never see my son’s—she tossed a few chrysanthemums upon it, covered it with the Shroud, and left the tomb with her grief.
Then, when all was quiet, a flash of light, a flutter of fabric. An image to hold onto until eternity.
Well, it does look backlit in the photograph.
Bill McClellan, a columnist writing for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is reminiscing about his friends, Dee and Doug Donahue (pictured):
Occasionally, other events brought us to Tucson. In 1988, Doug’s lab at the university was one of three labs to carbon date the Shroud of Turin. The two other labs were at Oxford and Zurich. The labs had agreed not to release the results individually. Doug had invited Harry Gove, a physicist from the University of Rochester, to observe. Gove had had a poor relationship with the scientific adviser to the bishop of Turin, and his lab had been excluded from the testing.
I was waiting for them at the house on Fourth Street when they returned from the lab. Neither of them mentioned the results, but as we had a drink on the porch, I sensed — correctly — from Gove that the results were not what Turin would have wanted.
[ . . . ]
Not long ago, Dee fell. She was not hurt badly, but it was clear that living on the second floor, climbing up and down steps, was not a good idea. For that matter, the house required too much maintenance. Doug and Dee moved into an apartment for senior citizens. . . . the house on Fourth Street . . . will go on the market next month.
And thus I’m reminded as a result of something Helmut Felzmann wrote for the Shroud Science Group that I republished last November with his kind permission in a blog entry: The Mysterious Arizona Piece. Helmut had written:
Barrie [Schwortz] went to Tuscon in August 2012 with invitation from Jull (I persuaded Jull) to take photos from all the blind samples, the rest of the large sample and the small sample. When he arrived in Tuscon, Jull told Barrie that the small piece is not available as it is in custody of Mr. Donahue, the retired head of the laboratory in 1988. But Donahue was not available due to his personal situation. It was promised to Barrie, that he will have access to the piece later.
The day I was to make the photographs, Dr. Jull informed me that one (or more?) remaining samples would not be available for the photography session. These were currently in the possession of Dr. D.J. Donahue, the retired former Director of the laboratory, who was away due to a family emergency. I am hopeful they can be made available at some future date so they can be photographed using the same techniques and equipment and added to the collection.
So, was the small Arizona piece in Doug Donahue’s custody ever made available to Barrie? Was it at the time of Barrie’s visit at home on Fourth Street or locked up in the lab such that Timothy Jull, then the director of the lab, could not get access? Where is it now?
discontinuities, striations, halftones and pixels
Colin Berry in his most recent posting used the term half-tone and I was reminded of an email I wrote to Ray Rogers that had I posted to the Shroud Science Group on March 5, 2004. Pixelated and pixels were words being used a lot for the halftone effect back then and Ray, if I remember correctly, was annoyed. Here is a somewhat edited version of my email to Ray and his response.
Scientists are good at being cautious, discriminating and precise in the use of language to describe "facts." But those of us who are not scientists and try to describe the world and its things will often call a raisin a grape or worse yet a raison.
I decided to tackle the word pixel, a word so often used to describe an optical quality of the Shroud. I realized, that early on in my research on the Shroud, I encountered the word pixel used often by "authorities" (Ray’s meaning). It conjured up notions about the images that were simply wrong. I settled on an erroneous notion about the images because of how I understood that word. Much is made of pixels to speculate, sometimes quite wildly, about how the images were formed. Such mental images as I had made it difficult to appreciate the chemistry possibilities being advanced by Ray Rogers.
To think this through, I borrowed three facts from "The List" and decided to discuss them with a team of graphics software and hardware experts. Why graphics experts? 1) They live and breathe pixels, 2) they understand visual representation of information at a very granular level and 3) they will humor me to discuss the subject because I agreed to buy donuts and coffee. Ray’s Review was a pre-requisite reading.
[The list was in the works by the Giulio Fanti and several of us in the Shroud Science Group. It was first presented to a rump group in session during Dallas 2005.]
I refer to three facts in List Version 10:
A29) The color of the image-areas has a discontinuous distribution on the entire facing surface (Pellicori and Evans, 1981).
A30) All the colored fibers are uniformly colored, i.e. an exposed fiber is either colored or not colored (Adler 1996, 1999).
A32) All the image shows a uniform straw yellow coloration yielding less than 2% variation in the absorbance of the individual colored body image fibers (Adler 2000, 2002).
One might read these facts and say `aha, pixels.’ I did. I asked the graphics group if my assumption was reasonable.
"You might easily conclude this but you would be very very wrong," was their answer.
Some comments from the donut bunch follows:
Pixel is a good and bad word. It is good in the sense that it means "PICture ELement"and good in the sense that it implies that "perceived shades" of color result from "visual blending" of "bits" of color density. Pixel is bad in the sense that, in common usage, it implies uniform shape and size spots as well as a uniform pattern of placement. Depending on the implementation, pixels are either on/off, as with images on paper, or vary in intensity as is the case with many display devices. The erroneous implication for the Shroud is on/off.
Discontinuous distribution is good precise language. Spot is a good word to use.
Fact A30 seems to clarify A29 by suggesting that the discontinuity is between fibers that are "on" and fibers that are "off" – for their entire `exposed’ length? Note that `on’ and `off’, as binary states, is implied by the word uniform. Is that what it means?
Fact A32 clarifies the on/off state by explaining that the "on" state varies by less than 2% variation in absorbance (Of white light? On a scale of 1 to 0, black to white?). Does this mean that there is little difference in the shade of a color of "on" states and thus the condition is presumably binary enough to be considered binary? (In Rogers’ "Review" he wrote: "The color density seen in any area of the image appears primarily to be a function of the number of colored fibers per unit area rather than a significant difference in the density of the color of the fibers. This observation was puzzling, and we called it the `half-tone’ effect.")
BTW: Halftone effect does not mean it is a halftone.
If we are talking about a 2% variation of what has been observed on very very faint (close to white) images where there is very little variation in the visual blended shades, then the 2% variation could be much more significant than implied. Let us say that sample A absorbs 3% of the white light (more blue obviously) and sample B absorbs 5%. Is this a 2% variation or a 60% variation? (Is there a margin of error that allows the 2% to be 0% or 4%?). Or do we (the donut bunch) simply not understand what 2% variation means?
[ . . . ]
We should not use the word pixel unless we define it explicitly. Spot is a much better word. The use of the word pixel can only lead to absurd conjecture by some people. As one person put it: "To say that grassy hill over there is green because a bunch of green pixels are growing out of the ground is absurd."
A better interpretation might be to say that it appears that much, but not necessarily all, of what we perceive as different shades of color is due to visual blending from concentrations or densities of spots of color that are closely uniform in color.
Ray replied. On the definition of pixels:
Dan: Thank you very much for clarifying the word "pixel" for the group. It has already caused massive confusion.
On the facts used for the analysis, Ray wrote:
A29) "The color of the image-areas has a discontinuous distribution on the entire facing surface (Pellicori and Evans, 1981)." Before making assumptions on the basis of this statement, please look at the photomicrograph of the tip of the nose that Mark Evans took (ME-29).
A30) "All the colored fibers are uniformly colored, i.e. an exposed fiber is either colored or not colored (Adler 1996, 1999)." That is a somewhat misleading statement. Some image fibers have thicker coatings than others, consequently a darker color. Many fibers are darker on the ends where pendant drops of washing liquid probably formed (I see the same effect in dye experiments). I can send photomicrographs to illustrate these facts. HOWEVER: all of the image areas show exactly the same visible/uv spectrum.
A32) "All the image shows a uniform straw yellow coloration yielding less than 2% variation in the absorbance of the individual colored body image fibers (Adler 2000, 2002)." I would like to have asked Al how he made the measurement. The microscope I used in his lab used incandescent illumination, and I assume he used the same exposure meter he used for photomicrography. Dan was correct in interpreting the importance of a 2% variation. But, perhaps Al simply missed the darkest fibers. Anyway, I can’t agree with the statement, and I will send anyone who asks some photomicrographs.
Clarifying shades of color in term of spectrum and density.
Dan said: "A better interpretation might be to say that it appears that much, but not necessarily all, of what we perceive as different shades of color is due to visual blending from concentrations or densities of spots of color that are closely uniform in color." Right. But they are essentially identical in color (spectrum) and somewhat different in color density.
How good are out definitions of discontinuities, spectrum and density? How good is our understanding of this with regard to the shroud’s image?
Here is ME-29 as it appears on ShroudScope. Click on the image to link to ShroudScope for a better, larger image:
take the time to read Colin’s work with an open mind.
Thibault Heimburger writes a comment:
Most of his claims are based on theoretical hypotheses. However, I think that CB’s claims has to be considered seriously.
What do we need ?
We need some experiments.
I can perform some experiments.
David Goulet responds:
I don’t think anyone has explored the scorch theory to the degree Colin now has. Agree with him or not you have to respect the work he’s put into it. He needs to be taken seriously indeed. I will look forward to your experiments and to the comments of others here who review his latest conclusions. And folks, before commenting, please do take the time to read Colin’s work with an open mind. There are insights to be had.
I am now going to post a revised version of my proposal, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" based on the information contained in Dr. Jull’s and Prof. Ramsey’s emails.
Is Stephen ready to? He should consider this letter from a Chicago reader, as well. Stephen should answer these questions:
How did the allegedly hacked software in the AMS control computers distinguish between calibration runs and production runs? How did the software know to change the results only if the sample being tested was from the Turin Shroud and not from control material or from material being tested for other clients?
Were the control computers special purpose machines,? Could all three of them be reprogrammed? Even the VP8 was called a computer by some people. But it couldn’t be networked and you couldn’t hack it without parts and a soldering iron.
Without answers to these questions, Jones has nothing. It is only after doing some REAL basic research that he can start looking for motive, means and opportunity. He is doing everything backswords.
Note: Stephen’s fifth article in what is now a long series, Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey should be read carefully. Therein he writes:
On Dan Porter’s blog he recently posted, under "Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis" an email that the Shroud anti-authenticist and Editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud’s Newsletter, Hugh Farey received from Dr. Timothy Jull, Director of the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon dating laboratory and a signatory to the the 1988 Nature paper, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," which claimed that the linen on the Shroud was "mediaeval … AD 1260-1390. Porter, who himself believes:
"The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless."
nevertheless is against my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories may have been duped by a computer hacker, and promoted Farey’s copy of Jull’s email with the comment: "Does this put an end to it, once and for all?" evidently hoping that it did
Against? No! I say unimpressed, unconvinced certainly, but not against. I’m not taking sides. This one sentence is astounding:
My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the `too good to be true’ 1325 ± 65 years date.
Okay, maybe astonished, dumbfounded, aghast, but not against.
Moreover: ARPANET was restricted to U.S. establishments in 1988. So what WAN or LAN communications capabilities did Oxford or Zurich have? Were the AMS machines connected? What sort of computers did they have? These are basic questions that need to be explored. Maybe communicating computers should be discounted completely. Facts would be helpful.
Personally, I doubt the AMS “computers” were networked, at all. It doesn’t matter if ARPANET was installed at the University of Arizona. The claim that computers at laboratories were connected to ARPANET doesn’t mean that a special purpose measurement and control system unit was on the network. Did the unit have the hardware interface and was it even capable of running telecommunications software? Maybe so? Maybe it was a PDP 11, a System 7 or a Series/1. The point is do we know.
Maybe software changes had to be loaded from a floppy disk or by swapping EPROMs and circuit cards?
Supposedly, if you think Stephen is right, three separate “computers” were hacked. What are the real facts surrounding this hypothesis that even makes that possible?
Colin Berry is up with an interesting posting, Beware: with each passing decade and century, the Shroud image sheds vital evidence as to its origins.
[The idea is] part hypothesis, part common sense. It relates fading to the loss of degraded linen fibres (regardless of mechanism of image imprinting, whether by mysterious radiation, or as I prefer to imagine (see site banner) by contact scorching from a heated bas relief metal template).
or by some other means, neither radiation nor scorching heat.
The first fibres to break off and be lost would be those that are degraded all the way to the central lumen of each fibre, with visible coloration of what Rogers described as the “medullas”, i.e. the interface between empty central lumen (“hole”) and secondary cell wall. Coloured “medullas” probably represent scorched remnants of the long-deceased flax cell membrane and cytoplasm.
Less degraded fibres, with degradation confined to the hemicelluloses of the outermost primary cell wall (PCW, dark brown) and thick secondary cell wall (SCW, yellow) would be next to fracture and detach.
The image we see today probably represents the population of minimally-degraded fibres, with damage to the highly superficial PCW only, with largely unaffected SCW cores.
It is something to think about, isn’t it.
If the truth be told, I should have done this post two years ago. Then, one the scores of occasions when the sciency “200nm” card is played, I could have come back with this. The 200nm card, for the uninitiated is the one that was introduced to shroudology by the STURP team leader Raymond N.Rogers. He went to Turin i9n 1978, and pressed sticky tape onto various Shroud locations, and took them back to New Mexico to analyse. One of his memorable and much cited findings was that one could grab the end of an image fibre with forceps, and when one pulled the coloured image stayed in the adhesive as a “ghost” and was so thin one could not resolve it by light microscopy. Given the range of wavelengths of visible light, the mantra was born that the Shroud image layer is a mere 200nm to 600nm thick – amazingly thin. (Reminder: 1cm = 10mm; 1mm =1000micrometres; 1 micrometre=1000nanometres).
Fast forward to Shroudie forums, and one is informed time and time again that no man-made scorch, at least off a hot solid template, could be so incredibly thin, and that one has to invoke some kind of radiation. (Cue uv excimer lasers, corona discharges, neutron bombardment from earthquakes and fracturing rock etc etc).
or some other means, neither radiation nor scorching heat.
OK, so it’s a tall order (maybe) to create a 200nm thick scorch that never goes deeper into the weave. But it’s not a tall order if one is then allowed to come back a few centuries later when all the more deeply scorched fibres have broken off, leaving just those with the PCW scorched. Reminder: the PCW of flax/linen fibres is reckoned to be of the order of 100nm thick!
It is something to think about, isn’t it? Is fading the right word? Or degrading? Does the same principle apply if an “impurity layer” is involved? Should we give more thought to non-scorching hypotheses ravaged by time?
Does this put an end to it, once and for all?
Hugh Farey comments on the posting, Stephen Jones Persists with the Hacker Theory.
I have recently received an email from Timothy Jull, regarding the hacking hypothesis. Its text, in its entirety, runs:
“This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.
Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.
Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t.”
Does this put an end to it, once and for all?
I want to call your attention to an interesting discussion going on over at Colin Berry’s site in his posting, … ‘Troll Central’ by any other name (beginning with a comments by Thibault Heimburger on March 3).
First, Thibault wrote:
Can you explain step by step your onion experiment ? I am not sure to understand well, but I see no connection with the scorch hypothesis on the Shroud.
I’m a little surprised I have to explain (all over again) what to me seems self-evident. Never mind. Let’s start again.
And it goes from there. For more on the subject see, Modelling the image of the Turin Shroud – an interrupted experiment using onion epidermis – just one cell thick, a posting on Colin’s blog from two years ago.
The St. Louis Review, a publication of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis, is announcing:
Mark Antonacci, an expert on the Shroud of Turin, will hold several lectures on the subject at the chapel at De Smet Jesuit High School, 233 N. New Ballas Road in Creve Coeur. Antonacci will speak about his efforts to petition Pope Francis to allow additional testing on the shroud. Lectures will be held at 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, Thursday, April 10, and Monday, May 12, and will continue throughout December of 2014. The presentations are free, but contributions to The Resurrection of the Shroud Foundation will be accepted. Visit www.testtheshroud.com for more information about Antonacci’s upcoming presentations or to learn more about The RSF.
So, if you are in St. Louis on any of those dates, attend the lectures.
I continue to oppose the petition. About four months ago, Stephen Jones wrote:
It will be interesting to see what the Vatican’s response (if any) to this petition will be. If the Pope (the owner of the Shroud) does agree to further testing of the Shroud, I doubt that it will be in response to effectively one individual’s (Antonacci’s), request. My guess is that to minimise any further controversy the Vatican would probably want to see a broad consensus among Shroud pro-authenticists (and maybe even including Shroud anti-authenticists), of what the tests would be, how they would be carried out and by whom, before it agrees to any further testing of the Shroud.
As I said then, I agree with Stephen. We only need to look back to the 1980’s to see how to go about this in the right way, when John Jackson gathered solid support from many credible scientists in different fields and developed a well-reasoned, scientific plan for examining the shroud. The result was STURP.
. . . All someone has to do is sneak a mixture of ordinary beryllium and americium-241 (present in domestic smoke alarms) into the cabinet housing the Shroud. That mixture then emits neutrons (half life approx.10 days) and before you know what the Shroud will then be impregnated with radioisotopes such as chlorine-36 and calcium- 41 that Antonacci and his pressure group (if invited in with their scanners) could later proclaim to the world as proof that the Christian story based on Resurrection is proven – and a lot more besides (he reckons, see below ) as to the mechanism of resurrection.
You think I’m exaggerating?
See Antonacci comment from this site in September: (my bolding)
Please study the keynote address, which can be found on TesttheShroud.com. I’m not trying to be self-congratulatory or subjective, but these procedures could test every explanation for the Shroud’s radiocarbon dating and answer all the mysteries surrounding the Shroud. If the Shroud linen cloth, blood and other particles on it were examined at the molecular and atomic level, you could also collect enough new information that scientists could analyze this data for many years to come. I will be further updating this proposal, as well.
And on the Petition site:(my bolding)
A leading hypothesis published in Scientific Research and Essays in 2012 asserts that particle radiation was emitted from the length and width of Jesus’ dead body while he was wrapped in the Shroud, and it was this “event” which caused the unique images on the cloth. Molecular and atomic testing could prove that hypothesis to be true. ……
…..If unfakable and independent evidence was obtained to confirm this hypothesis however, it could actually be used to analyze the central premises of various religions throughout history and in our world today.
Objective and independent evidence does not exist to prove the central premises of any other religion, agnosticism or atheism. In contrast, the Shroud of Turin could provide thousands of unfakable items of scientific and medical evidence to prove the central premises of Christianity. This new, incomparable evidence could lessen or remove the underlying bases for many of the world’s ongoing wars and conflicts. The world has everything to gain and nothing to lose by the proposed molecular and atomic testing of the Shroud of Turin. . . .
David Goulet responded to Colin:
Would the sabotage you are mentioning lead to ‘unfakable’ evidence? If there is a way to skew the evidence then doesn’t this demonstrate the evidence is indeed fakable? And now that skeptics like yourself are aware of the possibility of sabotage, this would undermine authenticity claims based on said testing.
For myself, I share your fear. There is a segment of Christianity that pushes a Christian triumphalism and the Shroud could be be exploited by them. The thought that Christians would use the Shroud to proselytize turns my stomach. It has been called the Silent Witness…that is exactly how it should be seen. If God wanted it to preach he would have added audio to it.
Hmmm, that makes me wonder… could there be audio properties encoded in it? Who needs flowers and coins when you could have music and soundbites. :)
Maybe, when many of us meet in St. Louis for an international conference this fall, we can convince Mark to drop the idea.
Concerning the absence of an image of the top of the head on the Shroud of Turin and the possible presence of blood in this area
A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément
First, I would like to address the question of the possible presence of blood in the area located between the 2 head images on the Shroud. This has recently been asked by a blogger and it’s an interesting question. On that subject, here’s what can we find about that in the important study of the UV fluorescent photographs of the Shroud done by Miller and Pellicori of STURP:
“At C-D by 11-12 a SMUDGE RESEMBLING BLOOD is visible between the head images.” Note: This code comes from a graph they drew over the Shroud and this particular location is found between the 2 head images. I have looked at the Shroud Scope of Mario Latendresse to find this possible smudge of blood but I’m not sure at all where it is located. Some spots look a bit like bloodstains but, by experience, I know that those can well be weak scorches instead (those two items on the Shroud are showing a coloration under normal light that is nearly the same)… It would be nice to check the original UV fluorescent photos of Miller and Pellicori to locate this stain!
This is the ONLY possible bloodstain they detected (they don’t mention any other possible bloodstains in this particular area) and, when we read correctly their report, these researchers were not even sure that this stain was really composed of blood. In such a context, it is evident that it would need a chemical investigation by a blood expert through a sampling of this particular area to know if some blood is present there or not. I think the most prudent conclusion to draw from this is to assume that there is no confirmed bloodstain between the head images, at least for the moment.
On the other hand, if it could be confirm that this stain is composed of blood, this would probably be the only blood smudge that exist on the Shroud and I think it is truly possible that this could have happened at the time the body was placed inside the Shroud (probably in a central place inside the tomb) or during the transfer of the enshrouded body from a central place of the tomb to his final resting place (probably a stone bench carved inside a wall of the tomb). This would highly suggest that at least some blood clots were still partially humid at the time the body reached the tomb or were able to get re-humidified before the body reached the tomb…
Personally, I think Mario Latendresse’s hypothesis to explain the absence of a body image of the back of the head is still the most likely because it is the most simple and rational we can find, which is to assume that, at the moment of the image formation, the Shroud was loosely draped over the body (most probably without the use of linen strips to bind it around the body) and consequently, for this particular area of the top of the head, the cloth was not in direct-contact with the body at a distance that was far enough to prevent the formation of an image.
Such a hypothesis is consistent with Mr. Latendresse’s own conclusion versus the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the Shroud man’s body (link: http://sindonology.org/papers/latendresse2005a.pdf) and it is also consistent with a possible total absence of bloodstain in the area between the head images. And even if the potential smudge of blood detected by Miller and Pellicori would be confirmed one day as really being made of blood, the fact that such a stain could have well been caused by the enshrouding of the Shroud man or by the short transfer of his enshrouded body to a final resting place would not allow us to discard the hypothesis proposed by Mr. Latendresse.
And since Jackson et al. from STURP have conclude that no image was able to form at more than 3.7 cm from the body, then it is logical to assume that the cloth was probably located at 4 cm or more away from the top of the head. But here, we must be prudent since we still don’t know the exact mechanism that lead to the image formation and it is still possible that such a process was not able to work laterally (or if it was, it is possible that it was only working if there would have been a direct-contact between the cloth and the lateral parts of the body, including the top of the head).
Nevertheless, there is still one thing that bugs me a bit with this explanation and it is the probable position of the head, which seemed to have been bent toward the chest (which is the probable position it had at the time of the Shroud man’s death on the cross). Because of this, I think it’s a bit harder to believe the cloth would have been located away from the top of the head at the time of the image formation in the context of a shroud loosely draped over the body. To learn more about this, I think Mario Latendresse or someone else should try some cloth’s configuration experiments that would consider the most probable position of the Shroud man’s head, which appears to have been bent toward the chest, and see if some loose configuration of the cloth over such a head bent toward the chest can force it to be located at some distance from the top of the head (which is not necessarily 4 cm or more if the image formation process was mainly working in a radial way (mainly straight up and down from the body)). Note: In my opinion, I don’t think if that was the case, this would necessarily discard any natural process for image formation, especially if the energy transfer was not 100% radial.
To me, in the context of a bend head toward the chest, the only way Mario or someone else could obtain a configuration that would force the cloth to be located at some distance from the top of the head (not necessarily at 4 or more cm but at least not in direct-contact with it) is to assume the Shroud was somewhat stiff at the time of the burial of the Shroud man.
Note: Of course, this stiffness of the cloth would have been lost over the years, since it is pretty evident that the actual Shroud is not stiff at all. Such a lost could have been caused by the Shroud being kept in a damp place for some time at an unknown moment during its long history.
And you know what? This hypothesis of a stiff cloth at the time of the burial is truly possible! In fact, this had been proposed by German from STURP and was accepted as a true possibility by Rogers and Schwalbe in their STURP paper. Here what they wrote about that: “German proposed a model to account for this (note: the density gradation of the image) by postulating the Shroud as originally somewhat stiff either from pressing or possibly starching.”
Important note: If that was really the case and the original Shroud was fairly stiff because of starching (note: In Antiquity, starch was often put on the warp threads to protect them during the weaving of the cloth), this would have represented a very good context for the presence of a layer of starch (among other impurities) as proposed by Rogers later on to explain the chromophore of the image and the ultra-superficiality of the image. In fact, Rogers assumed that most of the thin layer of impurities was composed of starch that was left on the top surface of the cloth after his washing in saponaria and drying in open air, which was an operation done in Antiquity to remove most of the starch in order to render the cloth more supple. In the case of the Shroud, it is possible to assume that this washing operation would not have removed all the stiffness of the cloth after the weaving.
Of course, all I said here is hypothetical and theoretical. More researches need to be done in order to find what is the most probable answer for the lack of an image of the top of the head on the Shroud. Nevertheless, I hope that what I have exposed here can become the start of a new reflection for some people, especially those involved in Shroud research like Mario Latendresse.
In sum, the two important factors I would like those researchers to keep in mind (which are two things that are rarely consider, so it seem) when it’s time to evaluate what was the most probable configuration of the Shroud over the dead body are 1- The possibility that the original cloth was somewhat stiff. And 2- The most probable fact that the Shroud man’s head was bend toward the chest at the time of the image formation.
For me, those 2 important factors could well have played a huge role in the kind of image that have been formed in the two head regions (front and back), as well as possibly playing a huge role also to prevent the formation of an image of the top of the head. Of course, other potentially good solutions other than the one proposed by Mr. Latendresse the other day exists to explain this absence of an image there (like the idea of a second smaller cloth that could have been placed on top of the head of the Shroud man and inside the main Shroud during the burial procedure), but I still prefer the hypothesis of Mr. Latendresse, at least for the moment. Maybe some more researches on the most probable Shroud configuration at the time of the image formation could change my mind… Who knows? One thing’s for sure (and I’m sure Mr. Latendresse will agree with me because he already planed to do so): More research need to be done in that particular field of sindonology.
Last comment concerning those future researches: It would be nice to see, for the very first time, a researcher trying to determine what could have been the most likely configuration of the Shroud in the half portion of the cloth where we see the dorsal image. SUCH AN INVESTIGATION HAS NEVER BEEN DONE, NOT EVEN BY JACKSON AND HIS TEAM DURING THE STURP DAYS!
To my knowledge, the only researchers who have studied this question (but only in theory) are the Italian nuclear physicists Fazio and Mandaglio, who came to the conclusion in their paper entitled “Does an Iz correlation exists for the back-part of the Shroud body image?” (link: http://cab.unime.it/journals/index.php/AAPP/article/view/C1A0802005) that “the attenuation effects are different in the formation of the back and front images.” In other words, for those 2 scientists, in the back region, the image formation was not able to colored fibers that were located as far as it was probably the case for the front side of the body (which have been estimated at 3.7 cm by Jackson and his team) and the reason why it is so is the possible presence of burial ointments in greater quantity, which would have created a sort of wall that would have prevent the image formation process (natural in their mind) to color fibers located at 3 or 4 cm from the body as it was probably the case on the front side of the body (if Jackson’s conclusion is correct). Personally, I disagree with such a conclusion (even if I really respect the work of those 2 scientists) because of the investigation done by Ray Rogers who conclude that there was probably no burial ointment present on the Shroud at the time of the image formation. I’ve done some personal exchange with Fazio about Rogers’ conclusion and he defend his conclusion by saying that it is possible that all the burial ointments that were present on the Shroud have been lost over time (note that this is the same hypothesis that was proposed by Pellicori back in the STURP days). Personally, I have a very hard time to buy such a hypothesis and prefer to think, like Rogers, that if no burial ointments have been found on the Shroud, it is most probably because none have been used during the burial of the Shroud man! If we use Occam’s razor principle with honesty, this is by far the most simple explanation.
And contrary to the conclusion of Fazio and Mandaglio, I think the most rational answer that exist to explain the difference in the maximal distance in which the image formation was able to color a fiber between the front and the back side is the probable fact that there was a smaller amount of energy (still undetermined) that have been transferred from the backside of the corpse to the back region of the cloth than what have been the case from the front side of the body to the front region of the Shroud. And if my idea could be scientifically confirmed one day, this would certainly represent a data that would push strongly in favor of an image formation that was natural and very mild (even milder under the body than what was the case over the body), especially if it involved a release by the corpse of post-mortem gases (Rogers) and/or of free radicals (Mills) and/or of lactic acid molecules (DeSalvo)… But of course, we’re not there yet.
Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada
Jason provided a link to something he wrote a year ago. (Heck, it’s short; let me quote from it directly – all of it):
Jason: The Shroud of Turin has been in the news a lot lately, due to a new book that’s come out claiming further scientific testing that dates the Shroud around the time of Jesus. See the March 28 entry here for an overview from Barrie Schwortz, including a discussion of some of the problems with Giulio Fanti’s claims at this point. We’ll have to wait to see how things develop. Dan Porter has been covering the story on his blog as well. There’s already good reason to reject the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud, such as Ray Rogers’ work published in 2005. We’ll see how much Fanti’s research adds to that. From what I’ve read so far, I agree with the general thrust of Schwortz’s comments. Fanti’s work looks somewhat promising, but there are problems with it.
In his latest post, Jason quotes Fanti from the Vatican Insider interview. It’s a computerized translation, but it is readable:
Fanti: Today, we have thus five different dating methods: the radiocarbon method, my three and those of Rogers. Also, we could have been wrong. But four different independent methods, reach the same result, but then speak a clear language. As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity. So that has first Century after Christ the greatest probability as emergence period for the Turin grave cloth. This dating corresponds exactly to the time Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine. We now await the reactions from the rest of the science world. So far we received only affirmative and affirmative responses, but no refutation.
Jason wraps it up (and I agree with him):
Jason: Notice Fanti’s reference to the work of Ray Rogers, which I’ve discussed before. Even if we were to reject Fanti’s research, we’d have other grounds for dismissing the 1988 carbon dating results. There are many indications, some of which I’ve discussed before, that the Shroud is older than the medieval era. The preponderance of evidence favors authenticity.
And that is when I got to thinking. Fanti said, “As long as these results are not refuted, and I can not imagine how this should be possible, these results have scientific validity.”
Maybe we should be revisiting Revisiting Giulio Fanti’s Dating Methods.
Beyond the blogosphere, is anyone paying attention to Fanti’s methods? Is anyone giving thought to refuting his methods or refuting the result he achieved?
As to the first part of that question, methods, at least one method has been explored in a scientific journal: Vibrational Spectroscopy, an Elsevier journal. The paper: Non-destructive dating of ancient flax textiles by means of vibrational spectroscopy.
As for the second part of the question, results, Fanti’s science is being published by Edizioni Segno, a Christian publishing house of books and magazines “unique in their genre for the variety and completeness of the information on prophecies and private revelations and apparitions and messages, everything about the world of the supernatural.” (Bing Translation for quoted portion). Not likely to draw a lot of scientific attention, is it.
It is hard to say, as Fanti does, “As long as these results are not refuted . . . [they] have scientific validity,” if nobody is paying attention.
Or am I missing something? Do we need a better translation?
I have been reading about piezonuclear radiation as applied to the Shroud of Turin.
I noticed your note at the side . . .
So I sent you this email
My essay at www.religioustolerance.org/chr_shro2.htm says:
Portrayal of the top of the man’s head: There are two images on the sheet, showing a man’s back and front. That is because this burial shroud was apparently wrapped from the the man’s feet, up the front of his body, over his head, and down his back to his feet. The front and back images of the head are separated by a gap of less than 1 cm (less than a half inch).
Some investigators have suggested that the image on the shroud was caused by some form of radiation emanating from the body, perhaps at about the time of death. This leads immediately to what might be called the "top of the head" problem.
If radiation from the head created the two two images on the shroud, then there are only two possibilities:
1) There was similar radiation from the top of the head. It would have left an image of the top of the victim’s head on the shroud. However, there is no such image. Only a tiny gap is seen.
2) There was no radiation from the top of the head. This would result in a dark gap of perhaps 12 cm (almost 5 inches) between the top of the front of the head and the top of the back of the head. No such gap is visible.
Thus the radiation theory seems to fail because it does not match the image.
That still leaves the possibility that the Shroud is some form of image intentionally created — either as a painting by an artist or by some form of photographic technique.
This leaves two possibilities:
1) The shroud was created as a forgery that was to be "sold" to the public as Jesus’ shroud. This seems improbable because the "top of the head" problem would immediately point out that this is not a real 1st century shroud.
2) The shroud was created by a human as a type of icon to be venerated. This seems to be the most likely possibility.
Any new thoughts?
- Here is a link to the publisher’s page on the book. (Use Bing or Google Translation)
- Here is a link to a press release in the form of an interview with Giulio Fanti
- BEST: The The Eponymous Flower blog discusses this book’s launch with a short introduction and a well done translation of an interview with Giulio by Vatican Insider
Surprise! This paper seems to be open access. Click here to have a go at it.
Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert by A.J. Timothy Jull, Douglas Donahue, Magen Broshi and Emanuel Tov; Radiocarbon, Vol 37, No 1, 1995, pp 11-19.
We report on new 14C measurements of samples of 18 texts (scrolls) and 2 linen fragments from Qumran Caves 1, 2, and 4 and from Nahal Hever, both in the Dead Sea region. The radiocarbon results are in good agreement with estimates of age based on paleography.
Various parchment and papyrus manuscripts found in caves in the area of Qumran and at other sites in the Judean Desert are known generally as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Qumran scrolls are generally considered to have been hidden by the Qumran Community, identified by most scholars as the Ess- enes. The documents are usually regarded to have been copied between the mid-third century BC and AD 68, when the Qumran settlement was destroyed by the Romans.
Bonani et al. (1991, 1992) dated 14 texts, 8 of which came from Qumran. We present here new radiocarbon dates of 18 texts, including 3 date-bearing texts (3 from Qumran Cave 1,12 from Cave 4, and 3 from other sites in the Judean Desert). We consider the importance of the 14C dates in relation to other age estimates and we also report on 14C examinations of linen fragments from the Judean Desert.
Read Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3). Did Stephen Jones make the case?
He didn’t intend to:
So it would not be surprising if the atheistic Soviet regime of the 1980s would see it as a legitimate target to discredit the Shroud, and through that Christianity, by one its agents hacking into each of the three radiocarbon dating laboratories’ computers, and replacing the actual radiocarbon dates of the Shroud that the laboratories’ accelerated mass spectrometers were determining, with bogus dates which when calibrated would cluster around 1325 +/- 65 years.
I have presented this proposal as a question, "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" because in the nature of the case, barring a belated confession, my proposal is unlikely ever to be confirmed as correct, even if it is correct. The hacker would be unlikely to admit it because he would be prosecuted and gaoled for breaking into government computers, as Hess was. And the laboratories would be unlikely to admit they had been duped by a hacker, even if they realised they had been. Whatever evidence there was in the laboratories’ computers, the hacker would almost certainly have deleted it, and even if he didn’t, it is most unlikely that it would still exist in the laboratories’ 1988 computers.
Anyway, in the final analysis it is the Shroud anti-authenticists’ problem to find a explanation for what went wrong with their carbon dating of the first-century Shroud to the 13th-14th centuries. As Thomas de Wesselow pointed out, we Shroud pro-authenticists don’t need to find an explanation of what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. We can just dismiss it out of hand as a "’rogue’ radiocarbon date" as archaeologists routinely do when a radiocarbon date is contradicted by the majority of the other evidence:
Stephen Jones is inching forward with the second part of Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (Here is part 1).
After stoking the fires of his incredulity a bit more, Stephen tells us that Denis Dutton, a shroud skeptic, publicly predicted that if the Shroud was radiocarbon dated it would date to "A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years"
“So,” Stephen tells us, “a fraudster would know what date to aim for!” Then . . .
Agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, who believes the Shroud is authentic but Jesus did not rise from the dead, on the basis of the art history evidence considers that the fourteenth-century radiocarbon date of the Shroud to be the equivalent of claiming that "the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens":
"Given credence, the carbon-dating result effectively raises the Shroud to the status of a miracle, an object that defies, if not a law of nature, a law of culture. All artefacts are linked to the art and technology of the society in which they originate. Something that cannot be explained in terms of its (presumed) cultural context invites a supernatural explanation. As far as I am aware, no one has yet argued that the Shroud was deposited in medieval France by aliens … There is no better explanation, though, for a fourteenth-century Shroud." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," pp.167-168. My emphasis).
Therefore de Wesselow considers fraud to be a real possibility for the Shroud’s "1325 ± 65 years" radiocarbon date, and indeedbecause of it:
"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy’ accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware. … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’ is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, 2012, p.170. My emphasis).
To be continued (and hopefully concluded) in. "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3)".
In fairness to Stephen, check out Timeline of computer security hacker history on Wikipedia. Scroll down to 1988 and thereabouts.
I’ll try to keep an open mind for now. I believe Stephen will address the hacking at some point soon; for unless Stephen is right – he could be – I’d hate to see this speculation become another well established rumor, e. g., Shroudies believe that the labs were hacked.
NEVER MIND. GO TO THE NEXT POSTING. PLEASE COMMENT THERE.
Unrelated tidbit: in 1989, the year the carbon dating was announced, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist at CERN, created the world’s public first web page and the World Wide Web was born.
does anyone buy the earthquake thing?
Jerry Coyne has jumped into the earthquake fray with an article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience, which he posted on his blog named for his best selling book, Why Evolution is True (A New York Times Best Seller).
The book was one of the best I read on the subject of evolution. The article on why religion is a pseudoscience, well, interesting, anyway. Too much attitude. There is this:
But as real science arose in the 15th and 16th centuries, and began eroding religion’s claims, religion began turning into a pseudoscience. That is, it still made empirical claims, but immunized itself against refutation of those claims using a variety of devices—the same devices used by other forms of pseudoscience like ESP, UFOlogy, homeopathy, and astrology. These include arguing that the propositions themselves are untestable, using poor standards of evidence (including reliance on “revelation” as a “way of knowing”), reliance on a priori personal biases that are not to be tested but merely confirmed, refusing to consider alternative hypotheses, and engaging in special pleading when religious tenets are disconfirmed.
We can see all of these—but especially in the last—in a paper by A. Carpinteri et al. on the Shroud of Turin, a paper that’s gotten a lot of publicity. It’s an attempt to defend scientific radio-carbon dating of the Shroud, which showed it to be a medieval forgery, by special pleading invoking earthquakes.
1. The evidence for an earthquake is thin. . . .
2. There is no evidence that neutron emission during an earthquake could alter the C-14 content of a shroud. . . .
3. The alteration of the amount of C14 in the shroud would have to be sufficient to make it look sufficiently pre-modern, but not too young. . . .
4. There is no known way that an earthquake could, by neutron emission, produce an image of a body on a shroud. . . .
The Carpinteri paper is thus a confection of unlikely and untested hypotheses, all assembled to try to save the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as the true burial cloth of Jesus. It is not a piece of science, but a piece of apologetics.
Coyne points out:
Indeed, even Wikipedia does a better job than the popular press, and points out something that Ms. Knapton should have known: Carpinteri is the editor of the journal that published this flawed paper. What does thatsay about the review process? As Wikipedia notes:
A team of researchers from the Politecnico di Torino, led by Professor Alberto Carpinteri (and published in the journal Meccanica, where same Alberto Carpinteri is currently the acting Editor-in-Chief, believe that if a magnitude 8.2 earthquake occurred in Jerusalem in 33 AD, it may have released sufficient radiation to have increased the level of carbon-14 isotopes in the shroud, which could skew carbon dating results, making the shroud appear younger.This hypothesis has been questioned by other scientists, including a radiocarbon-dating expert. The underlying science is widely disputed, and funding for the underlying research has been withdrawn by the Italian government after protests and pressure from more than 1000 Italian and international scientists. Dr REM Hedges, of the Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit of the University of Oxford, states that “the likelihood that [neutron irradiation] influenced the date in the way proposed is in my view so exceedingly remote that it beggars scientific credulity.” Raymond N. Rogers conducted various tests on linen fibers, and concluded that “the current evidence suggests that all radiation-based hypotheses for image formation will ultimately be rejected.”
But he mistakenly assumes that he understands “the faithful.” It suggests to me that he has not taken the time to understand the shroud and the people who study it before writing about it.
Of course none of this counterevidence will shake the faithful, who will still see the Shroud as authentic, and will come in droves to pay homage when the Shroud has one of its rare showings. Like believers in homeopathy or ESP (or, now, Adam and Eve), they continue to hold their faith despite all scientific counterevidence.
That and the first paragraph show how little he understands religion. But do read the full article, The Shroud of Turin: why religion is a pseudoscience and see if you agree.
A little over a month ago, Stephen Jones, created a posting with a title that read, The case for fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud #1: Introduction. To make the introduction, Stephen lead off by quoting Thomas de Wesselow:
I had for a long time been thinking of posting on this topic, and was prompted to do so by reading recently what the agnostic Shroud pro-authenticist, art historian Thomas de Wesselow, wrote:
"The third possibility [why "the 1988 result ... conflicts with all the evidence that points to the Shroud having been in existence long before 1260"] is that a fraud was perpetrated … Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. … However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware … One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date always claimed by sceptics as the Shroud’s historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn’t be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’ is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve" (my emphasis).
“I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation,” he tells us:
. . I cannot prove that there was scientific fraud in the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud, although I firmly believe that to be only viable explanation. All that I can do is to set out the evidence for: 1) what went wrong in that dating; 2) the anti-Christian bias and/or dishonesty of some of those involved in the dating; and 3) suggest various ways that scientific fraud could have occurred in that dating. And then leave it to the `men and women of the jury’, my readers, to make up their own minds, based on that evidence.
Six postings were to follow:
. . . #2: "Difficulties of radiocarbon dating"; #3: "Conflicts of the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud with other evidence"; #4: "What went wrong in the dating of the Shroud"; #5. "Bias and/or dishonesty of some involved in that dating"; #6: "Possible fraud scenarios in the dating of the Shroud"; and #7: "Conclusion"
Stephen is incredulous when it comes to the carbon dating. So am I. But I have not joined the ranks of those who might think it is fraud. I don’t see sufficient evidence for that. What there is is circumstantial at best. And I can’t see that fraud can be the “only viable explanation.” I did want to see what Stephen would say, however. I waited. A month of silence followed. Then on February 5, Stephen inserted the following note into his posting:
Note. I have now realised that this topic is going to require a lot of research, which will distract me further from my series " The Shroud of Turin." So I am putting it on the backburner . . . .
Damn! Other topics ensued. Sooner or later, I knew, Stephen would tell us why, in his opinion, fraud was the only viable explanation. Thus I was surprised when Stephen posted: Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (1)
Another viable explanation?
This latest posting is only part one. And it says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the subject. I read it. I reread it. I searched on the word hacker. Nothing! I searched on comuter? Nothing! There is a picture of a book; Clifford Stoll’s 1989, "The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage." What was this about? What did Stephen uncover?
Fearing another long wait for a part two I bought the book. No, I have not read it yet. But I did search for some key words (isn’t Kindle great?): I searched for Shroud? Nada! I looked for Turin? Not Found! Arizona? Nope! Oxford? Nope! Linen? Only a reference to someone in white linen pants. Carbon dating, radiocarbon, C14? No! No! No!
I can hardly wait for part two.
MUST READ: The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism.
Hat tip: Joe Marino
A friend who is a knee-jerk skeptic of the shroud sent me the story from the Huffington Post, Shroud of Turin Formed by an Earthquake? Scientists Say Face of Jesus Image Caused By Neutron Emissions. (Actually, six people sent it to me, another seven people sent me similar stories).
“Aren’t you guys the least bit embarrassed by believing this crap?”, my friend wrote.
Believing this crap? I don’t believe it. And yes it’s crap. The an-earthquake-did-it story, still spilling printers’ ink by the buckets full, is just the latest crap being said about the shroud by mediocre so-called scientific journals and an irresponsible media. It is disappointing to have friends who think we should be embarrassed.
And that brings me to Joel Achenbach and his excellent Washington Post blog article, The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism. If you read only one thing about the earthquake crap read Joel Achenbach:
The story seems to have been sparked by a EurekAlert item placed by someone working for the publishing company Springer, which produces the journal, Meccanica, that ran the shroud paper.
I am not familiar with “Meccanica.” I do not know if it is peer-reviewed or is open-access. But this paper is, to put it delicately, unpersuasive. The author cites as an authority on an earthquake in A.D. 33 the writer Dante, who was born more than 12 centuries later. There’s a reference to a hypothetical earthquake that is an 11 on the Richter Scale. Never mind that, as far as I know, seismologists do not use the term “Richter scale” anymore. The question is: ELEVEN on the Richter Scale? The strongest earthquake ever recorded is a 9.5. This sounds to me like “Spinal Tap” science. “This one goes to 11.”
The hypothesis of a connection between an earthquake and the shroud is based on a nuclear process known as piezonuclear fission, but a cursory examination of the process would lead the skeptical reader to conclude that there’s no such thing. A leading advocate for the existence of piezonuclear fission is the very same professor Carpinteri who wrote the Meccanica paper. [ . . . ]
Good journalism has a subtle feature of reticence. We don’t publish everything we hear. We filter. We curate. The goal of the traditional journalist is to create a reputation for accuracy, fairness, relevance and timeliness, and this requires the willingness to not publish things that are unlikely to be true.
The Shroud of Turin story brings up all the usual issues about click-bait journalism and our current struggle for survival in a highly disrupted news industry. [ . . . ]
There’s nothing at stake here except the survival of credible journalism. For those who are trying to figure out a business model for journalism — and I desperately want these folks to be successful — let me suggest that the ultimate killer app is quality. Quality comes in many forms. In the news business, being fast — ideally first — is a form of quality. Packaging the material in a beautiful way visually is another virtue. But the ultimate virtue in this business is getting it right.
And discerning the truth about the shroud’s authenticity, whatever that may be, is also at stake.
There is this for starters: Italian Government Slams Brakes on ‘Piezonuclear’ Fission from Science Insider (June 11, 2012)(published by Science):
Italy’s research and education minister Francesco Profumo has heeded the call from more than 1000 Italian scientists not to fund research into a controversial and disputed form of nuclear fission. The scientists had signed an online petition urging Profumo to block research on "piezonuclear" reactions at the National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM). The petitioners say they are concerned that the institute’s president, Alberto Carpinteri, was prioritizing research on the subject and that Profumo was about to place a second proponent of the research on the institute’s scientific council. But Profumo has told ScienceInsider that he changed his mind about the council nomination and that he has "no intention" of funding piezonuclear research without the backing of the scientific community.
Carpinteri, a civil engineer at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy, has worked on the controversial research with a handful of other Italian scientists since 2008. His collaborators include Fabio Cardone, a physicist at the National Research Council in Rome. The researchers claim that when they crush various kinds of rock, they observe very high emissions of neutrons: 10 times the background level in the case of granite, and 100 times in the case of basalt. They interpret the emissions as being due to the splitting, or fission, of iron atoms in the rock into lighter atoms such as those of aluminum. Unlike the materials used in conventional fission reactions, the crushed rock does not emit ionizing gamma rays or leave behind radioactive waste, the researchers say.
Speaking to ScienceInsider, Carpinteri acknowledged that the group’s conclusion is controversial, as established nuclear physics shows that the compression could not supply the enormous amounts of energy needed to split nuclei. But he argues that several other lines of evidence—including chemical analyses he and his colleagues have carried out on the rock samples before and after compression—indicate that nonstandard fission is indeed taking place. "The classical theory of fission still has a few holes in it," Carpinteri says.
Other researchers, however, remain far from convinced. Three different groups, from Canada, Sweden, and Italy, published papers in 2010 criticizing the rock-compression experiments and similar work by Cardone. And in a paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server on 29 May, nine researchers from INRIM took aim at the chemical analysis carried out on the rock samples. They show that many identical numbers reported in the analysis, which are quoted to two decimal places, are more closely correlated than would be expected from independent measurements—although the paper says nothing about how the correlation might have occurred.
The online petition, started 24 May, urges Profumo not to spend public research money on what it calls projects "without, at least for the moment, any scientific foundation." The petitioners argue that INRIM’s work on piezonuclear reactions would "bring discredit to the whole research system."
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