This is a special posting by Yannick Clément, a regular reader of this blog

imageI just want to express my opinion about the validity of ENEA’s samples for their UV laser experiments. I think this message could help people to understand that, for the moment, IN THE PRESENT STATE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE SHROUD, those experiments cannot be related to the burial cloth kept in Turin (except if you absolutely want to do some EXTRAPOLATIONS and SUPPOSITIONS).

The cornerstone of ENEA’s experiments (that have started 5 years ago) and results (that have recently been promoted in the news) lies in the assumption that it is the primary cell wall of the linen fiber (the most external part of the cellulose) that was colored in order to produce the body images. That’s not at all the hypothesis of Ray Rogers. The base for this assumption can be found in a paper published in 2010 by Pablo Di Lazzaro (head of the ENEA’s experiments), Giulio Fanti and some others members of the Shroud Science Group. This paper is entitled “Microscopic and Macroscopic Characteristics of the Shroud of Turin Image Superficiality” and here’s the link to the abstract :

One important aspect to note about this paper is the fact that it was published a long time AFTER the beginning of ENEA’s experiment and AFTER they get their preliminary results. I also remind people that none of the authors of this article is a real specialist in chemistry like Ray Rogers was. It’s one important aspect to note. In fact, the conclusion we found in this paper that it is the primary cell wall that was colored on the Shroud of Turin mainly come from Giulio Fanti’s personal interpretation, after he analysed some Shroud fibers he have in his possession with what he called “bright field microscopy” WITHOUT ANY CHEMICAL TESTS. In the history of Shroud science, we know that microscopy alone can provide bad conclusions. All we have to do is remember Walter McCrone’s claims ! Here, I don’t pretend that the conclusions of their article are surely off-track, but nevertheless, I’m fully aware of the fact that, without a deep chemical analysis of the linen fibers, microscopy alone is a risky game when it comes to draw solid conclusions on something so complicated (mainly because of his thinness) as the chromophore (what is responsible for the coloration) of the body images.

I’ve personally read their article and, FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, here’s the 4 major goals of this paper, that I could detect quite easily :

1- To reject Ray Rogers body images formation hypothesis based on diffusion.

2- To support M. Fanti’s body images formation hypothesis based on Corona Discharge and/or M. Di Lazzaro’s body images formation hypothesis based on excimer laser (UV) irradiation.

3- To state (to my knowledge : for the first time in a scientific paper) that it was ONLY the primary cell wall of the linen fibers that was colored on the Shroud.

4- To discredit (or at least, to put seriously in doubt) Rogers hypothesis who state that the cellulose of the fibers (which the primary cell wall is a part of) was not affected at all by the coloration, but instead, that it was a thin layer of sugars and carbohydrates impurities found ON the primary cell wall of the most superficial linen fibers of the Shroud that was colored.

Nevermind the self-promotion made by M. Fanti and M. Di Lazzaro in this article about their own image formation hypothesis, and the way they used their article to discredit Rogers hypothesis based on diffusion, in this letter, I want to keep the focus on the question of the chromophore of the images.

For Rogers, the main proof that it was a thin layer of impurities that was colored, instead of the cellulose of the fiber itself, is the fact that, when parts of coloration (called “ghosts”) were pulled off of some colored fibers stuck in the sticky tapes, they left a colorless, UNDAMAGED linen fiber behind. This very important observation (this is Rogers words) was first reported by Alan Adler. It’s important to note that the primary cell wall of a linen fiber is an integral part of the cellulose of a linen fiber, even if it is the part of the fiber that is easier to color, because of his chemical composition (mainly made of hemicelluloses and pectins). On this subject, it’s also important to note that during his STURP investigation, Rogers first conclude, like the majority of the STURP team, that it was the cellulose of the fiber itself that was colored on the Shroud, but he changed his mind afterward, when he heard of new findings regarding the Shroud colored fibers.

Now, to judge the real pertinence of ENEA’s experiment in regard of the Shroud, I think it’s important to check out one particular section of Ray Rogers book “A Chemist’s perspective on the Shroud of Turin”. In this book, from pages 83 to 86, Rogers talk about the Corona discharge

hypothesis (the one defend by M. Fanti in the 2010 paper I’ve mentioned) and show some results of experiments he made to test this hypothesis. Here, it’s important to note that the experiments made by Rogers, on the contrary of the experiments made by M. Di Lazzaro and his team, were done on linen samples prepared with the same method described by Pliny the Elder in Antiquity (that would produce a thin layer of sugar impurities on the topmost fibers on the surface of the cloth). It’s a very important aspect of the question because, if (the “if” is important) Rogers hypothesis of the chromophore is correct, then we must conclude that the ENEA’s experiments were done on samples that are non representative regarding the Shroud of Turin.

Another crucial aspect of Rogers experiments (that were made to test the validity of the Corona Discharge hypothesis) is the results he obtained. For Rogers, those results clearly show that this hypothesis CANNOT be applied to the body images of the Shroud. And what is VERY interesting for the present subject matter is the figure X-7 we found on page 86. This image showed one result obtained by Rogers while testing the Corona Discharge hypothesis. Here’s the comment he wrote about what we can see in this picture : “Hemicelluloses and pectins (note : these are the 2 principal components of the primary cell wall) have been oxidized, leaving most of the more stable cellulose”.

Here, we can see that the Corona discharge experiment that was done by Rogers gave him a result very close to the result of ENEA’s experiments, i.e. that the coloration (oxidation) was confined to the primary cell wall of the cellulose of the linen fibers, leaving the core of the fibers pretty much intact without any coloration. With this result, Rogers was able to clearly state that it was DIFFERENT from the coloration we found on the colored fibers found on the Shroud ! Taking this example into account, it is pretty evident that, for Rogers, IT WAS NOT THE PRIMARY CELL WALL OF THE LINEN FIBERS THAT WAS COLORED ON THE SHROUD. And if he’s right (the “if” is important here), then that means that ENEA’s results are irrelevant to the Shroud of Turin. Period. To me, this possibility (that can well be correct) is pretty much like the question of the validity of the sample used in 1988 to date the Shroud, i.e. IF a sample is not representative of the main part of the Shroud, then we MUST conclude that the result is irrelevant. Period.

Of course, nobody right now can be 100% sure who’s right here : M. Di Lazzaro and Fanti with the hypothesis : “it is the primary cell wall of the linen fibers that was colored” or Ray Rogers with the hypothesis : “it was a layer of impurities on the surface of the fibers that was colored and the cellulose of those fibers (including the primary cell wall) was left intact”. In the present state of our knowledge on the Shroud, nobody can be 100% sure who’s right, because there’s still too much uncertainties to know the truth about the chromophore of the body images.

But the FACT (this is a scientific fact, not an hypothesis) that there was some starch residues on Shroud fibers that were found by Rogers and even confirmed by McCrone is a good indicator that Rogers hypothesis have some good chances to be correct. Also, the bands of different colors that we see everywhere on the Shroud is another particular aspect of the Shroud that is in favor of Rogers hypothesis. Effectively, his hypothesis offer a real scientific explanation for the presence of those bands, but I never saw any hypothesis involving the coloration of the primary cell wall that can fully explain the banding effect present on the Shroud. To do so, someone would have to scientifically show that bleeching different batch of yarns can affect the primary cell wall of the fibers in a different way from a batch to another… In reality, I don’t think someone have any proof that the primary cell wall can really be affected that way by a bleaching done with more or less intensity, the same way than it can affect a thin layer of impurities. So, taking all those clues and data into account, I have a tendency to believe Rogers was right on this important question of what is actually the real chromophore for the body image. Again, remember that IF he’s right, then the results obtained by ENEA are IRRELEVANT to the Shroud of Turin.

In the end, only a new series of very precise chemical researches on new samples coming from the Shroud will be enough (at least, we can hope) to settle this debate once and for all. It’s ONLY when scientists will be 100% sure of what really is the chromophore of the body images that we’ll be able to really judge if ENEA’s experiments can have some chances to be linked with the Shroud. Not before. And even then, if M. Di Lazzaro and his team are not able to produce an image on linen with real spatial information like we found on the Shroud, then his results will forever need an EXTRAPOLATION in order to be linked with the Shroud’s body images.

To conclude this letter, I just want to say to those who believe some by-products of the resurrection of Jesus created the body images on the Shroud that they are free to do so, of course (even if I don’t share the same view). But, at the same time, to those people, I recommend to be extremely prudent before being tempted to use the results of ENEA’s experiments in order to comfort their point of view, or even worse, in order to convince people that their idea on the question must be true. Seriously and honestly, I think acting like that would be VERY PREMATURE. In addition, as I often say, it need the use of some EXTRAPOLATIONS, SPECULATIONS AND SUPPOSITIONS to do so, which I don’t think it can be view as a correct scientific approach for the question of the image formation of the Shroud of Turin.

I hope this reflection of mine will help some people to put those experiments made by ENEA in a correct perspective.

Yannick Clément, Québec, Canada