If you read the stories rolling out in the papers in the last two or three day you get the idea that two people, John and Rebecca Jackson, are, all by themselves challenging the carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin. You might even get the idea that they are onto something significant. Why even Christopher Ramsey of the Oxford Radiocarbon dating lab is quoted about problems in the carbon dating. And you might get the idea that he is thinking seriously about John and Rebecca’s carbon monoxide hypothesis.
Now, this past weekend, at Ohio State University, a conference of about 85 researchers were meeting. Most were scientists. And carbon 14 dating of the shroud was the big topic. Not one person there considered the John and Rebecca proposal viable. But, and this is a big but, we heard some exciting news. Using some of the most advanced analytical equipment available, a team of nine scientists lead by Robert Villarreal at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory confirmed that the material used for radiocarbon dating of the shroud in 1988 was not part of the shroud’s fabric. Previously, micro-chemical tests had demonstrated that the cloth is at least twice as old as the medieval date determined by the now discredited carbon 14 tests. This gives new life to historical and forensic arguments that suggest that the shroud might be the burial cloth of Jesus.
And yesterday, Chemistry Today, carried a peer-reviewed scientific paper that is in support of Los Alamos study. And that article explains that the John and Rebecca idea won’t cut it.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, August 15 — In his presentation today at The Ohio State University’s Blackwell Center, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) chemist, Robert Villarreal, disclosed startling new findings proving that the sample of material used in 1988 to Carbon-14 (C-14) date the Shroud of Turin, which categorized the cloth as a medieval fake, could not have been from the original linen cloth because it was cotton. According to Villarreal, who lead the LANL team working on the project, thread samples they examined from directly adjacent to the C-14 sampling area were “definitely not linen” and, instead, matched cotton. Villarreal pointed out that “the  age-dating process failed to recognize one of the first rules of analytical chemistry that any sample taken for characterization of an area or population must necessarily be representative of the whole. The part must be representative of the whole. Our analyses of the three thread samples taken from the Raes and C-14 sampling corner showed that this was not the case.” Villarreal also revealed that, during testing, one of the threads came apart in the middle forming two separate pieces. A surface resin, that may have been holding the two pieces together, fell off and was analyzed. Surprisingly, the two ends of the thread had different chemical compositions, lending credence to the theory that the threads were spliced together during a repair.
LANL’s work confirms the research published in Thermochimica Acta (Jan. 2005) by the late Raymond Rogers, a chemist who had studied actual C-14 samples and concluded the sample was not part of the original cloth possibly due to the area having been repaired. This hypothesis was presented by M. Sue Benford and Joseph G. Marino in Orvieto, Italy in 2000. Benford and Marino proposed that a 16th Century patch of cotton/linen material was skillfully spliced into the 1st Century original Shroud cloth in the region ultimately used for dating. The intermixed threads combined to give the dates found by the labs ranging between 1260 and 1390 AD. Benford and Marino contend that this expert repair was necessary to disguise an unauthorized relic taken from the corner of the cloth. A paper presented today at the conference by Benford and Marino, and to be published in the July/August issue of the international journal Chemistry Today, provided additional corroborating evidence for the repair theory.
“you might get the idea that he is thinking seriously about John and Rebecca’s carbon monoxide hypothesis.”
Exactly, and that was a big joke. But Pr Ramsey certainly knew about LANL’s work and accepted to test carbon monoxide hypothesis which he knew couldn’t explain the gap between 0 and 1300 to say to the press “hi, i’m an open-minded man”.
I bet he’s convinced the 1988 datation was flawed, he just can’t say it so easily.
Comments are closed.