Tough Questions from Sciencebod

sciencebod, by way of a comment on the thread, “And you thought you knew all about peer reviewed journals” has brought up some tough questions that need their own thread so as not to be lost. I have subdivided his comment into three parts to which I have  taken the liberty of adding the numbers 1, 2 and 3:

image1. Speaking of imaging, or at any rate computer-aided imaging, can anyone explain to me why the so-called 3D-encoded image on the Shroud includes not only the victim, presumed to be 1st century AD, despite totally spurious (we are told) carbon dating to the contrary, but extends to the later 1532 fire damage as well?

The burn marks indeed have (or seem to have) a 3D appearance. The best and the only explanation is that the burn marks are progressively darker near the center of the scorch mark and this translates into a pseudo-elevation when plotted. It is no different then a drop of ink on a piece of filter paper, getting lighter and lighter as it moves away from the center. It plots like the shape of a mountain. This phenomenon is useful in better understanding the burn marks. Good observation, sciencebod.

imageThis does not mean that the 3D appearance of the body isn’t exceedingly mysterious. It proves (some would say only demonstrates) that the image is not by reflected light as it would be seen by the eye of an artist or the lens of a camera. The intensity of the image color can be plotted as a 3D elevation of a body if one presumes (or allows for convenience) that the body is in a generally horizontal position. Some, particularly those who favor an energetic cause for the image, say that it represents body to cloth distance. I remain unconvinced that it is distance. But whether or not the image represents body to cloth distance it is an analog height-field dataset. It cannot be a photograph made with reflected light.

2. Re the latter: look for the 4 framing elongated diamond-shaped additions that intrude upon and spoil an otherwise perfect snapshot, one which would only be possible – acccording to a group of Italian scientists – using state-of-the-art short-wave uv laser beams.

I don’t think the Italian scientists (ENEA) actually said that. I think they said UV light , not specifically lasers (they used lasers experimentally), was capable of creating a coloration of the fibers that is similar to what is found on the shroud. What they did is constantly overstated mainly because the media didn’t read the report.

3. (Shhh – don’t mention the lack of a converging lens, concave mirror, or even pinhole camera, without which no imaging is possible, at least not according to boring old 20th/21st century science), …

That is a problem. That is a big problem. How do we get a high resolution (focused) image without a converging lens, concave mirror, or even pinhole camera. That is of course true only if we think the image was created by light in the near infrared to ultraviolet spectrum. (Other focusing possibilities come to mind for microwave and x-ray.) This is one of the reasons that I doubt that the image was caused by light or any energy source. There is one interesting proposal for overcoming this problem. It is advanced in the History Channel documentary by Ray Downing. It is beyond explaining here, but do have a look. 

Ray Rogers was acutely aware of the resolution issue when he proposed a chemistry-only solution, a Maillard reaction, as the cause of the image. His work (not in my mind yet a fully formed hypothesis) has since been improperly and unfairly characterized as merely a diffusion hypothesis (e.g. totally and inappropriately misrepresented in Giulio Fanti’s most recent paper, “Hypotheses Regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud. A Critical Compendium,” in The Journal of Imaging Science and Technology, (Vol. 55, No. 6 060507-1–060507-14, 2011)).

As most of you know, if you read the many threads of discussion in this forum, Yannick Clément is the strongest and most articulate proponent of Rogers imaging work. I won’t even try to summarize his views. Just go browsing. Rather, I still have a copy of an email I received from Rogers on January 4, 2004. It read, in part, in this version as posted to the Shroud Science Group (compare to Fanti):

Dear Dan and Researchers:

Just to clear up a few items. . . .

Fairly thin stagnant zones of gas form near fixed surfaces. Other gases that approach such zones must diffuse through the stagnant gas to reach the surface. Diffusion of gases through other gases is modeled with Graham’s Law of Diffusion. The rates of diffusion are inversely proportional to the square roots of the densities of the gases. Diffusion parallel to the surface of a cloth that covers a body can not be instantaneous, and it will be much slower for heavier
molecules. The main products of body decomposition after a few hours are quite heavy molecules.

In the context of image-formation hypotheses that involve reactive gases, remember that cloth is porous. Gases diffusing to the surface can pass through the pores and be lost. [This fact is probably responsible for the image color on the back of the cloth in the area of the hair. Matted fibers inhibit the diffusion of gases.] This phenomenon will restrict vapor concentrations as a function of the distance from contact points where a body touches a cloth.

Cloth surfaces are active and adsorb gases rapidly, a fact that further limits concentrations as a function of distance.

John Jackson’s mathematical analysis of image resolution suggested that no single, simple molecular-diffusion or radiation mechanism could produce the image observed. However, a combination of systems could offer an explanation, e.g., anisotropic heat flow by radiation from the body to the cloth, attenuated heat-flow in the cloth, gaseous diffusion, convection, surface properties of cloth, and the dependence of chemical rates on temperature.

BTW: In this email, Rogers stated, “Energetic radiation absolutely can not be used to explain the properties of the image.” That, at least, the ENEA team proved was wrong.

So sciencebod, I don’t have complete answers for you. As there is no burden of proof issue here, I have no problem being very convinced by the 3D and many other characteristics of the image that it is not a forgery. Yes, I know that sounds a bit like the ridiculous ‘irreducibly complex’ issue in evolutionary biology, but it is not the same. There is no claim that the complexity of the image or the image mechanism is irreducible. It is just illusive, still. I don’t think it is energy, however. I think Rogers may have been on the right track. He did create some rudimentary experimental images. But note I said “may have been.”

Something is missing. I don’t know what it is.

21 thoughts on “Tough Questions from Sciencebod”

  1. Thanks Dan for drawing attention to that problematical observation of mine (there’s another in the pipeline, btw, which I hope to post in the next 24 hours ;-)

    We are told that the 3D properties of the Shroud image are unique to the Shroud: much is made of the fact (?),now in question, that ordinary photographs, painted images etc with light or shade (which the eye and visual cortex perceive and interpret as 3D relief) do NOT produce a 3D image comparable to the one shown here using the NASA software. So why do the 16th century burns marks – simply crude damage caused by fire – behave precisely the same as the body image, if the latter were the result of a supernatural imprinting process?

    I’m confused …

    1. I just want to point out one important FACT : It’s not because a mechanism is still unexplanable for the moment that we have to seek a miracle. Sorry, but this kind of thinking has not his place in a scientific reflection. Of course, anybody can BELIEVE that but a reflection like that, by definition, goes outside the field of science. I really think it’s sad that the Shroud is always seen as a “mysterious” object that goes in the paranormal or supernatural category. If this would really be the case, then there’s A LOT of phenomenon in the material universe that would go into that same category, starting with the apparition of life on earth. But, at the same time, as science always progress, this list of “paranormal” phenomenon is always growing thiner and thiner. Does it not tell you anything ? I think it’s an error to consider a material phenomenon as an act of God just because modern science is still unable to explain it. Who knows if it could still be the case in 10, 50 or 100 years ???

      1. I think it is a truncated scientific process that leaves no room for the inexplicable. You can build a nice little box for yourself with “rational” scientific method but the fact is that most scientific progress has occurred on the margins. In fact, I might suggest that nothing of importance is ever accomplished by a “rational” mind. Einstein’s theory of relativity, the electromagnetic properties of the brain, the big bang theory of the universe creation, were all derided as irrational and lunatic in their time.

        If you have read anything about it, you would know that even the most rational of scientific minds know how to use quantum mechanics but admit that the functioning of quantum mechanics defies logic and reason. You might also know that many scientists believe (contrary to other scientists) that human consciousness functions at the quantum level and is a quantum phenomenon. That opens doors for unimaginable realities to the human mind.

        Have you ever heard of Boltzman brains?

      2. Excuse me but believing that a dead body can emit a burst of high energy, this is NOT science. Science know full well that a dead body does not emit a burst of high energy, sorry. If you think a phenomenon like that can be “scientific”, me I call it science-fiction.

  2. Ray Rogers’ image-formation hypothesis seems eminently testable. I wonder why more hasn’t been done along those lines. I’m glad to hear that he did some testing himself. Is there a place where we can learn more about whatever tests he did, and hopefully even see photos of the results?

    1. There you go : http://www.lulu.com/product/couverture-souple/a-chemists-perspective-on-the-shroud-of-turin/3278016

      This is the book “A chemist’s perspective on the Shroud of Turin” written by Rogers. Everything that is important regarding Rogers ideas about the Shroud can be found in this great book. There’s also a section dedicated specialy about the few experiments he was able to do in order to test his image formation hypothesis before dying of cancer.

      I recommand you to buy the PDF version because it’s cheaper. Great book I recommand to everybody interested in the science of the Shroud. In my opinion, beside the great book of Pierre Barbet, it’s the best one I’ve ever read about the Shroud…

      1. Yes, Ray Rogers writings are a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of fascinating detail and insights which I am gradually exploring (I say gradually to avoid what my naturalised American brother would call ‘sensory overload’).

        One of Rogers’ key claims is that the image is not imprinted on the cellulose fibrils, but on a thin adhering coat of “starch and polysaccharide”. That I suspect to be the key to understanding how the image was formed.

        Shame on those Italians who felt they had to dabble with high-energy uv from a laser to simulate the image, appearing to assume that it was the relaively inert cellulose that needed to be chemically modified. A layer of more chemically-reactive, readily- dehydratable cross-linking non-cellulosic mono- and polysaccharides, maybe involving melanoidin formation via reactive amino acids in proteins, makes for a more credible model that would explain the reported strippability of the image with adhesive tape, the extreme thinness of the sepia image etc.

      2. I agree totally with you. Again, if we use good old Occam razor principle and we compared the hypothesis of Rogers and the hypothesis of Di Lazzaro or Fanti, we have to conclude that the last two hypothesis (involving a burst of UV light and/or electric discharge coming out of a dead body) need far more “special assumptions” than the first one.

        And here, I want to be clear : It is not because Rogers hypothesis seem to be much more logical (using Occam razor) than the supernatural hypothesis that I say that I consider his hypothesis to be 100% correct regarding the Shroud. In the present state of our knowledge about the Shroud, I simply cannot say that ! The fact is that much more experiments need to be done in order to fully test Rogers hypothesis. We have to understand that he died way before he was able to fully test his hypothesis in every possible conditions and configurations…

        More work need to be done about this hypothesis before anyone can claim it is 100% correct or 100% off-track.

    2. Quote : “I wonder why more hasn’t been done along those lines.”

      Answer : “Because most of the scientists in the Shroud world are only interested by supernatural explanations regarding the Shroud ! Period.

      Most of the scientists that wants to keep their feet on the ground are not interested at all to enter into the big circus named “Shroud Science” !!!

  3. It’s not so much that the scientific method refuses to recognize the Resurrection. it’s simply that this particular retired science bod is casting an increasingly sceptical, indeed jaundiced eye, at the so-called state-of-the-art scientific evidence that is cited in support of the image having been created by a supernatural process, and finding it is full of holes.

    Why should 16th century burn marks reveal the same “encoded 3D” information as the image of the figure? Maybe the imprinting/imaging on the linen of the crucified figure did not require any supernatural process, outwith the realms of physics and chemistry…

    I take it you are aware of the way the computer was programmed, i.e. to treat light and dark areas on the shroud as being closer to or further from a 3D object that was emitting some kind of radiation. There is a sense in which the analysis presupposed the conclusion that folk are intended to make re the allegedly “unique” 3D properties – in other words, putting the effects cart before the causal horse. I also believe the Italians who chose to irradiate linen with coherent ultraviolet light from a laser to reproduce the alleged “unique” image characteristics were also guilty of the same thing. This is not the scientific method. It is the use of scientific techniques to arrive at a predetermined result … more show biz if you ask me than science…

  4. Very good point by sciencebod. I have a n-th generation image of the Shroud someone gave to me so its origin and quality is dubtious. However, using a software that is freely available (Image-J http://rsbweb.nih.gov/ij/download.html) that has also been commented in this blog and that allows 3D visualization, I have obtained that the flat heights (3D information) corresponding to the burnt areas are 20-30 times higher than those corresponding to the body. Since this image is black and white, the presence of intense white areas (burnt areas) originates this big difference with human figure areas. These seems to me a plausible explanation. We have a original image with 3D information and years/centuries later very white stains appear that in a B&W image like mine give 20-30 times higher heights (3D) values. However, I will not go any further because the validity of my small experiment is exactly zero due to the unknown origin of my own image.

    For this reason, this is not but a comment based on a very dubtious image. Once again it appears the problem of not having a centralized body for research with official images (or sticky tapes or…) freely available for anyone.

    I must also say that the exact origin and format of the image mentioned by sciencebod is unkwnon to me.

    However I would like to propose an experiment that could be coordinated from this blog (if Dan accepts of course) or from somewhere else (sciencebod’s own blog).

    1. Perhaps someone has a Shroud image whose origin can be tracked and wouldn`t mind to share with the readers of this blog. It should be in TIFF format because the rest of formats like JPG distort the colour levels. This image would be made available to anyone for downloading.

    2. Any reader could use either Image-J or another sofware to carry out their own experiments independently on this issue. A certain deadline would be given to send all the results and possible theories/explanations,.

    3. The results would be made public. Whatever they are.

  5. If this shroud was in contact with a human body that left marks on it caused by bodily fluids there should be DNA evidence. Has the shroud been tested for DNA? Modern genome testing can pretty much pinpoint where the person (if there was one) this cloth covered lived.

    I think studying the pattern is a dead end. If it were going to lead to conclusive evidence, it would have happened by now.

    Also…i agree 100% with sciencebod.

    1. The DNA have been tested in 1995 I think at one University in Texas and the result was male human DNA. Because the DNA was so degrated, they were not able to reach more conclusions than that. In a radio interview, my friend Barrie Schwortz told that this was not a mitochondrial DNA test and that Alan Adler (the guy who, along with John Heller and Baima Bollone, proved the blood on the Shroud was really human blood), told Barrie, before he died in 2000, that this kind of mitochondrial DNA test could give more interesting results that the one done in 1995 (I don’t remember what kind of DNA test that was).

  6. Quote from M. Porter : “BTW: In this email, Rogers stated, “Energetic radiation absolutely can not be used to explain the properties of the image.” That, at least, the ENEA team proved was wrong.”

    M. Porter, I don’t know how can you say that. Read again my open letter please ! If Rogers hypothesis is correct about the fact that it is a thin layer of impurity that was colored on the surface of the Shroud, then the ENEA TEAM DIDN’T PROVED HE WAS WRONG ! What they showed (without an independent confirmation by the way) is that they could color superficially the primary cell wall of the cellulose of the linen fibers. THIS IS NOT THE CONCLUSION REACHED BY RAY ROGERS REGARDING THE BODY IMAGES ON THE SHROUD.

    Until the ENEA team will be able to only color a thin layer of impurity WITHOUT affecting the primary cell wall of the cellulose of the linen fibers, then there’s good chances that their experiments and results are simply irrelevant regarding the Shroud ! In that regard, I don’t think anyone can claim that they proved that Rogers assumption was wrong regarding energetic radiation effects versus the Shroud’s body images !

    Oh by the way, I wasn’t aware that I was considered the biggest advocate of Rogers around here !!! Poor Rogers… If he only got me to defend his ideas, his legacy is in deep trouble !!! :-)

  7. >How do we get a high resolution (focused) image without a converging lens, concave mirror, or even pinhole camera.

    John Jackson’s Cloth Collapse theory explains how there is a “a one-to-one mapping between a given point on the body to a unique point on the cloth … achieved for all points on the Shroud”:

    Image Characteristics explained by Hypothesis Let us now show how this concept explains each of the image characteristics of the Shroud discussed at the beginning of this paper. 1. High Resolution. As various points on the Shroud intersect different topographical features on the body surface during the collapse process, radiation dose on the cloth begins to accumulate. If the radiation is assumed to be strongly absorbed in air, radiation effects on the cloth cannot begin until virtual intersection with the body surface occurs. Thus, a one-to-one mapping between a given point on the body to a unique point on the cloth is achieved for all points on the Shroud, which is equivalent to stating that the resulting image is well resolved.” (Jackson, J.P., “An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain all Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image,” in Berard, A., ed., “History, Science, Theology and the Shroud,” Symposium Proceedings, St. Louis Missouri, June 22-23, 1991, The Man in the Shroud Committee of Amarillo, Texas: Amarillo TX, 1991, p.340. Emphasis original).

    without the need for a converging lens.

    Jackson’s Cloth Collapse theory also explains every other major characteristic of the Shroud:

    “Thus, the hypothesis of the Shroud collapsing into a radiating body explains all the above characteristics of the Shroud image, something that other image formation hypotheses posed thus far fail to do. (Jackson, 1991, p.342).

    Jackson also made a testable prediction of his theory that “the frontal image should reside on both sides of the Shroud, whereas the dorsal image should reside on only one side”:

    Testable Predictions of Hypothesis … 2 Surface Discolorations on Both Sides of the Shroud for the Frontal Image. As noted above, the superficial nature of the image is explained by the theory. However, the above reasoning leads to one other prediction concerning the superficiality of the image; the frontal image should reside on both sides of the Shroud, whereas the dorsal image should reside on only one side. The reason is that when the upper part of the Shroud falls into the body region, radiation from the body impinges upon both sides of the cloth. However, in the case of the dorsal image, radiation impinges from only one side because the cloth there never moves into the body. Unfortunately, there are no suitable data available to test this prediction because the reverse side of the Shroud has been covered since 1534 with a backing cloth. But if such a prediction could be confirmed by a future examination of the reverse side, then the theory proposed herein would be given considerable support. It is likely, however, that if a frontal image discoloration exists on the reverse surface of the Shroud, it would be somewhat less intense than the discoloration which is observed on the normal viewing side because that side presumably entered the body first.” (Jackson, 1991, pp.342-343. Emphasis original).

    Jackson’s prediction was found to be true in 2004 when “The ghostly image of a man’s face” was discovered “on the reverse side of the Shroud” (i.e. what was originally the uppermost side of the Shroud as it lay on Jesus body in the Tomb) which “had a striking 3-D quality and matched the known face in form, size and position”:

    “The ghostly image of a man’s face has emerged on the reverse side of the Shroud of Turin, the piece of linen believed to have been wrapped around the body of Jesus after he was crucified, scientists say. The discovery, using new digital imaging techniques, adds new complexity to one of the most controversial relics in Christendom. The study, which will be published online ahead of print publication in the Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, examined the back surface of the famous handwoven linen. … the back side has remained hidden for centuries beneath a piece of so-called Holland cloth … The back surface, however, was photographed in detail and the pictures published in a book by Monsignor Giuseppe Ghiberti, one of the Church’s top shroud officials. … `As I saw the pictures in the book, I was caught by the perception of a faint image on the back surface of the shroud …’ said Giulio Fanti … the study’s lead author. Imaging the face Fanti used sophisticated image processing based on direct and inverse Fourier transform, enhancement and template-matching techniques on Ghiberti’s pictures to uncover the image of a man’s face. Lying behind the known image of the bearded man bearing the marks of crucifixion, the new image had a striking 3-D quality and matched the known face in form, size and position. `Though the image is very faint, features such as nose, eyes, hair, beard and moustache are clearly visible …,’ Fanti said. But the enhancing procedure did not uncover the full body image as it appeared on the front side. `If it does exist, it is masked by the noise of the digital image itself. But we found what it is probably the image of the hands,’ Fanti said … Fanti’s finding matches a hypothesis postulated in 1990 by Dr John Jackson, a U.S. physicist who conducted the first major investigation into the shroud in 1978. Jackson speculated the presence of a faint image on the back surface of the shroud, only in correspondence to the frontal image.” (“Turin shroud shows another mystery face,” Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News, ABC Science, 12 April 2004).

    Jackson’s Cloth Collapse theory is also fully compatible with the ENEA report that the image was created on the Shroud by ultraviolet radiation:

    “5. Chemical Nature of the Image. Electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed strongly in air consists of photons in the ultraviolet or soft x-ray region. It happens that these photons are also sufficiently energetic to photochemically modify cellulose. Such photons are strongly absorbed in cellulose over fibril-like distances. Experiments performed by the author have shown that subsequent aging in an oven of photosensitized (bleached) cloth by shortwave ultraviolet radiation produces a yellow-browned pattern like the Shroud body image composed of chemically altered cellulose. Thus, I posit that radiation from the body initially photosensitized the body image onto the Shroud. This pattern would have appeared, if the radiation was ultraviolet, as a white (bleached) image on a less white cloth. With time, natural aging would have reversed the relative shading of the image to its presently observed state where it appears darker than the surrounding cloth (which also aged or darkened with time, but not as fast).” (Jackson, 1991, p.341. Emphasis original).

    As far as I know, Jackson’s paper is not webbed and is only available in the Berard, ed., 1991 St. Louis Symposium Proceedings book above.

    Stephen E. Jones

  8. Stephen, according to Jackson’s “resurrection physics”, I would like you ALSO very much to explain to me why JUST the head and hand faint images are recorded on the back of the cloth and not the rest of the Shroud man’s body and ALSO why those partial body images are much fainter… Actually, Jackson’ theory PHYSICALLY just DOES NOT work.

  9. Shall I repeat here, in the hypothesis the Shroud is Rabbi Yeshua’s, the corpse of the latter was fastened/bound/tightly wrapped in linen sheets. Jackson’s cloth collapse theory is first and foremost based on a misinterpretation (or forced interpretation) of John’s 20: 5-7.

  10. The Shroud man’s head and possibly hands are recorded on the linen cloth simply because they were subjected to MORE PRESSURE (not to body dematerialisation).

  11. Typo error: read “are recorded on THE BACK SURFACE of the linen cloth” (instead of “”are recorded on the linen cloth”)

  12. concerning pictures :
    the first one is exact : it’s raw data from VP-8 (it looks like a bas relief)
    the second one has been treated, 3D effect is stunning but not accurate.

    And a comment since it has not been corrected :

    sciencebod :
    I take it you are aware of the way the computer was programmed, i.e. to treat light and dark areas on the shroud as being closer to or further from a 3D object that was emitting some kind of radiation. There is a sense in which the analysis presupposed the conclusion that folk are intended to make re the allegedly “unique” 3D properties – in other words, putting the effects cart before the causal horse.

    Obviously, VP-8 was not designed on purpose to study the shroud, but in the 1960’s for topographical purposes.

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