Scorching Onion Skins

March 9, 2014 20 comments

imageI 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.

Colin Responded:

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.

Stephen Jones Persists with the Hacker Theory

March 8, 2014 26 comments

imagePosting yesterday, Stephen tells us:

Further to my three-part series, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" (part 1, part 2 and part 3), I have decided to post a one-page summary of my argument. I have inserted "dating" between "radiocarbon" and "laboratories" in those posts to make the wording more accurate and also to help my three posts, and this post, to be found by a search for "radiocarbon dating."

[ . . . ]

The hacker who Stoll caught,Markus Hess, was a KGB agent in Germany who hacked into university computers in the USA, and from them he gained unauthorised access to 400 military computers. The KGB then had a section called "Seat 12" which conducted "a disinformation campaign of communist propaganda during the Cold War to discredit the moral authority of the Vatican." Clearly a 1st or early century C-14 date of the Shroud would increase enormously the moral authority of the Vatican and Christianity in general. So it is not an unreasonable proposition that a KGB agent hacked into the AMS system control console computer  at each of the three C-14 labs and inserted a program which, when each test was run, replaced the Shroud’s 1st or early century C-14 date, with dates which when calibrated, would yield years clustering around AD 1325, just before the Shroud’s appearance in undisputed history in the 1350s. Then after each university completed its C-14 dating of the Shroud, the hacker would delete his program, leaving no trace of his activity. And it did not have to be the KGB. It could have been anyone with the requisite computer skills, even a university student hacker testing his ability, as Cornell University student Robert Morris, author of the Morris Worm, did in 1988.

• I am hopeful that now it is out in the public domain, my proposal that the C-14 laboratories which dated the Shroud were duped by a computer hacker will elicit confirmation, whether from an ex-KGB defector, a former university student, etc. However, in the final analysis it is not the Shroud pro-authenticists’ problem to work out what went wrong with the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud. . . .

So it is not an unreasonable proposition?

Operation Seat 12, if there was such a thing as it was only alleged by one person and never confirmed, was a disinformation campaign in the 1960s to suggest that Pope Pius XII was a Nazi sympathizer. It has nothing to do with computers or hackers. It may have produced an off-Broadway play called The Deputy. Or not.  To suggest that an alleged 1960s disinformation campaign is even suggestive of the possibility that the KGB would plot to undermine the Shroud of Turin C14 tests is the worst type of conspiracy theory irrelevancy.

AMS system control console computer ?

Stephen speaks of the AMS system control console computer? Was it a computer, a programmable, digital computer? If not, was the console possibly connected to a computer? If so, was the computer connected to maybe NSFNET or ARPANET (precursors, in a sense to the modern Internet)?  It was 1988, remember. There were about 60,000 computers on ARPANET, the network that was that year hacked with the first network “worm.”   Hardware existed, such as the PDP-11, System 7, Series/1 for digital instrumentation measurement and control, but was it being used as part of the AMS systems and were they networked such that it could have been hacked? There is no reason to assume any network connection in 1988 or even a dial-in capability.

These are important questions. If the capability wasn’t in place, in Arizona, Oxford and Zurich, then the the hacker conspiracy theory goes right down the drain. I’m sure Timothy Jull could tell us. Any volunteers?

I don’t see the word computer in this zoom, but what is there? Networked or accessible with dial-in modems?


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Information for St. Louis Attendees and Presenters

March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

From: SHROUD OF TURIN: The Controversial Intersection of Faith and Science
International Conference

St. Louis, Missouri – October 9 – 12, 2014


imageFor Presenters:

A month, a week and a day, that is how much time you have to submit an abstract if you want to be a presenter. So get to work. Here are some detail. Find more at Become a Presenter.

To be considered as a presenter, please submit the presentation Abstracts, your CV and your headshot image to us by the noted deadline. Please zip up these three files and submit them with the form. Subject matter for the papers is open to any major aspect of sindonology, eg., Science, History, Art, Theology and can also include other relevant artifacts such as the Sudarium of Oviedo. Complete papers need not be submitted for review but for the Proceedings only. 

  • Submission of Abstract:  15 April 2014
  • Acceptance/Rejection: 30 May 2014
  • Abstract between 250 and 500 words in Times New Roman font with size 12
  • Curriculum vitae of no more than 500 words.
  • Author’s email address

For Attendees:

You can register at this time and save some money (I did).  Before registering, note the prices. This information does not appear on the registration page after you click Attend or Register. It only appears on the home page. So go to the conference home page, scroll down to the lower left corner, pick your price, and proceed from there:

  • Before 6/1/2014 – $120/person
  • On or After 6/1/2014 – $150/person
  • Students (any time) – $50

Got Questions:

Write a comment. I’ll make sure Joe Marino sees them.


Categories: Event

Updating Our List of Facebook Pages

March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

imageI am adding the list to the masthead. So what are we now missing:

What am I missing?  I have just added Shroud Encounter.


Categories: Other Blogs

Several Mark Antonacci Talks in St. Louis Starting Next Week

March 7, 2014 4 comments

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 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.

clip_image001It was at this time, last November, that Colin Berry made a brilliant observation that came with an important warning. He wrote:

. . . 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 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.

Hit and Run Trolling and a Whole Lot More

March 6, 2014 17 comments

imageDear Colin:

You attempted to post the following comment, which I decided to block and turn into a posting with some thoughts of my own. You wrote:

I have just this minute posted on this blatant example of hit-and-run trolling in the service of agenda-driven Shroudie pseudoscience.

I’m not sure what your comment meant. Was I being invited to read you blog since you provided a link to it?

Anyway, I must recommend your posting, Why is the Shroud image so superficial? More on the ongoing battle between science and pseudoscience. At lease, I must recommend the first part of it. The cross section diagrams of flax fibers are useful, as are the concise, understandable explanations. This is a good review for some of us and a wonderful introduction for those of us who are not familiar with the structure of a flax fiber.

The posting, however, begins to fall apart somewhere in the following paragraph. Too bad because I agree with much of what you say as I read . . . 

So far my knowledge on that score is restricted largely to a few words in the Fanti et al paper on macroscopic v microscopic properties of the Shroud image fibres, ones that have acquired wide currency in the Shroudie world, and inspired (in my view) far too much premature and misguided excursions into exotic forms of energy input (uv laser beams, corona discharges, neutron bombardment etc). Why wasn’t conventional energy studied first in model scorch systems, to see if alleged ‘super-superficiality’ really was inexplicable in terms of conventional physics (and  botany and pyrolysis chemistry)? Was proper consideration ever given to the physical and chemical structure of the flax fibre that could have accounted for image superficiality?  . . .

It is when you turn to insulting people that it becomes tiresome; the folks in Italy are Mickey Mouse scientists. I could go on. Readers can read it if they want. Again, for everyone, that link is Why is the Shroud image so superficial? More on the ongoing battle between science and pseudoscience. 

Oh, and then, Colin, you provide an inline footnote to an asterisk I missed:

* Enter “Colin Berry’s idea is untenable, and heat cannot produce a superficial coloration” into one’s search engine.  I shall not dignify that execrable instance (one of many) of hit-and-run trolling on Porter’s site by providing a link, and have merely informed the host that it’s been flagged up here as abuse of site.

Colin, my friend, may I recommend you read some netiquette guidelines about providing links for your readers (and as fair and ethical way of providing link-backs and citations). For your readers and mine, the link you won’t provide is Colin Berry’s idea is untenable, and heat cannot produce a superficial coloration. It is a letter from Paolo Di Lazzaro. I recommend it to everyone.

BTW: That posting is more than two years old and still you were trying to comment on it this past week. Why? You wrote and I blocked:

Classic Porter. He invites this clown to present still more so-called science, to which I respond with REAL SCIENCE (the onion epidermis experiment). He then allows same clown to run off, unwilling to be criticized on a truly pathetic (INDEED, RIGGED) experiment.

Porter and his site are an utter disgrace .

Clown?  Why?  That is simply disgusting!

Paolo didn’t run off. Paolo and others who have been insulted by you, don’t participate in this blog anymore. We are, all of us, collectively, the losers. You are the winner in that regard.

In another of your postings, Daniel R. Porter’s ‘Troll Central’ by any other name., you write:

I will openly criticize the work of any research investigator, living or dead, whom I consider to have  resorted to pseudoscience in order to push Shroud authenticity or merely Shroud mystique. . . .

But you don’t do just that: criticize the work. You throw about insults as well, using terms like idiot or Mickey Mouse scientist or clown. And you demean the credentials of other scientists or their organizations. You depend on your definition of pseudoscience, which is always a bit vague.

An additional note: In another posting (February 23), you are lamenting your Google Rank and wondering how to improve it.  Links, Colin, links. Inbound links from friends, particularly those with high ranking sites, will put you on top. Outbound links to significant sites and sites that link to you count for something too. Be specific with words and phrases that can be found in the title of the other site or high on the page. Don’t say “Click Here” or the “Other Site” or what is that insulting name you give me. It hurts your Google Ranking.

Oh, and another thing, increasing the length of a page after Google has indexed it is a somewhat amateurish spam trick. Google will penalize you for this even if you do it for the best of intentions, which, granted, you do. I understand, it is a matter of style, for you. It’s not good for your page ranking. Use comments if you must expand a posting. Or write another posting.

Google’s own advice is probably best:

Sites’ positions in our search results are determined based on hundreds of factors designed to provide end-users with helpful, accurate search results. These factors are explained in more detail at How Search Works.

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share. For more information about improving your site’s visibility in the Google search results, we recommend visiting Webmaster Academy which outlines core concepts for maintaining a Google-friendly website.

“that users will want to use and share.”

We believe differently, Colin. So what?, I say! I may think some of your ideas are screwy. You think mine are, too. So what?!

My only agenda is getting at the truth (which may be supernatural, natural or artistic). I don’t do, “hit-and-run trolling in the service of agenda-driven Shroudie pseudoscience.” But if you think so, I’ll listen and post if you say it without insults. I’ll link to you. I won’t call you names.

Categories: Other Blogs

Russ Breault on the Road Again

March 6, 2014 5 comments


Lent is a particularly busy time for Shroud of Turin presentations and nobody does more of them than Russ Breault. His multimedia talk is called Shroud Encounter.

Here are three that are coming up soon. If you are in the area on these dates you should do everything you can to attend:

SS Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, Plymouth, PA, Friday, March 14 at 6:00 PM

SS. Simon and Jude Catholic Church, West Chester, PA, Saturday, March 15th at 2:30 PM

St. Francis de Sales Parish, Salisbury, MD, Sunday, March 16th at 2:00 PM

Categories: Event

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