A reader writes:

imageDid you notice the online poll results over at MSNBC. I know, I know, online polls are biased. Cosmic Log is a science centered blog , after all. It is hosted on a liberal progressive venue. It is authored by Alan Boyle (pictured), the science editor for MSNBC.  Boyle is a recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Science Journalism Award. Add to this the fact that Alan Boyle gave a lot of space to skeptoid Joe Nickell. So, after 18,200 people voted (are you ready for this) 14% said the shroud is a fake, 39% said it is a holy relic, 43% said it is an unsolved mystery and 3% said it was something else.

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I should add that Boyle has recently updated his blog with this:

Update for 4:15 p.m. ET: Di Lazzaro sent a follow-up email calling attention to his group’s publications, which I’ve added below, and he poses this question for Joe Nickell: "Was he (or anybody else) able to reproduce by chemical paint, acid and any other color a depth of coloration which is 0.2 micrometer thick (that is, one-fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter)? We are talking of this, because on the Shroud, the image has a coloration depth so thin that it is impossible to do with any kind of painting. I can quote peer-reviewed papers that show this is the coloration depth of the Shroud image.

"By the way, Nickell will be interested to know that using VUV photons we obtained this shallow coloration thickness," Di Lazzaro wrote.

I’ll pass the question along to Nickell, who says he doesn’t use email. I suspect the answer could go along two tracks: One is that it’s a tough thing to try to reproduce a precise coloration depth under any circumstances. The other is that centuries of wear and tear might have had an effect that’s not easily replicated by the contemporary application of pigments or other chemicals. But we’ll see what Nickell has to say.