An Open Letter from Yannick Clément about ENEA’s experiments

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

Tom Chivers has an opportunity to do some real investigative journalism

imageMartin Ames writes:

I am puzzled by David Rolfe’s comment:

What we all have to live with is the fact that the one person who should know, Ms Flury Lemburg, refuses to countenance it. Professor Ramsey can hardly be expected to contradict the only person who has had the opportunity to examine the shroud as a textile at close quarters.

I’m sure Ms Flury Lemburg [pictured] does not see it. I take her at her word. Recall, however, that she once said that you could see invisible reweaving from the reverse side. It turns out that is so only for certain types of reweaving. French reweaving of the highest quality cannot be easily discerned from either side, even with a low magnification device like at 10X Lupe.

For those who are interested, there is a book on The Frenway System of French Reweaving at

David tells us that Professor Ramsey can “hardly be expected to contradict the only person who has had the opportunity to examine the shroud as a textile at close quarters.”

I would think Professor Ramsey is more objective than that. He should know about numerous sightings of cotton or suspicious bits of thread or fiber in the area used for the radiocarbon dating by people like Edward Hall, Peter South, Giovanni Riggi, Giorgio Tessiore and Gilbert Raes. Raymond Rogers found a splice along with dyestuff that is not found elsewhere on the shroud. John Brown found microscopic evidence of repair. Robert Villarreal and his team found cotton fibers that confirmed Rogers’ findings. Sue Benford and Joseph Marino had three textile experts offer opinions favoring reweaving after viewing documenting photographs of the radiocarbon samples.

At least three statistical studies have found that the samples are not homogeneous. That fact is consistent with reweaving or some sort of repair.

I imagine Professor Ramsey has his reasons for saying what he did to Tom Chivers. I very much doubt it is because Ms. Flury Lemburg refuses to countenance it. I suspect that it has a lot more to do with what Robert Villarreal said in August of 2008:

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.  — Robert Villarreal, Los Alamos National Laboratory 

And it has a lot more to do with what Stephen Jones wrote:

But to admit that what the three labs tested was actually a “medieval repair,” not the Shroud itelf, would not be an honourable way out because it would make the labs look like fools, i.e. they did not even realise, or consider, that they were dating a mediaeval patch.

Actually, I wouldn’t have used the word honorable (U.S. spelling), but we know what Stephen means. The honorable thing is to fall on your sword and admit to problems. Short of that, Tom Chivers has an opportunity to do some real investigative journalism that would get world attention.

Thanks to Dan for agreeing to format this email for his blog.

Basis: What did Christopher Ramsey Know « Shroud of Turin Blog

Shroud of Turin Tinfoil hat alert

A commenter summarizes part of the message of this tape:

Jesus is back, now as Yahweh since 1944, its ABOUT TIME for the Whole World to know of Christ’s return and the wonderful wonders Yahweh brings to Humanity and Earth! These are most amazing times! Yahweh and Asherah you two are the best!

This is an Address to Barry Schwortz, Russ Breault, Dan Porter, Dame Isabel Paczek on Shroud of Turin on YouTube.

I fell asleep twice trying to watch it despite the fact that it is addressed to me, as well as friends and colleagues.

What did Christopher Ramsey Know

imageTom Chivers of The Telegraph reported that Professor Christopher Ramsey (pictured) of Oxford said:

[T]he radiocarbon dating results putting it at 1260 – 1390AD were reliable, and that the suggestions of contamination or medieval repair were unlikely.

This caused a bit of a reaction. I got emails wondering if Ramsey didn’t actually know about the possibility of a medieval repair back in 1987.  Hadn’t Teddy Hall, under whom Ramsey worked, noticed fibers that looked out of place? Consider this from the December 1988 issue of Textile Horizons (pg. 13), "Rogue fibres found in the Shroud.”

Staff at a Derbyshire laboratory have been working on one of their most unusual and fascinating problems ever to help unravel a second mystery concerning the world-famous Turin Shroud. The true age of the Shroud was announced recently following exhaustive tests by laboratories in Britain, Switzerland, and the USA.

Precision Processes (Textiles) Ltd. in Ambergate, Derbyshire, earned the distinction of being the only lab in the UK to assist Oxford University with the prestigious assignment, their task being identify "foreign" bodies found in the cloth. Managing director Peter South explains, "It was while the sample was undergoing tests at the radiocarbon acceleration unit in Oxford that Professor Edward Hall noticed two or three fibres which looked out of place. He mentioned this to his friend Sir James Spooner, chairman of Coats Viyella, to which our firm belongs. Consequently, after several telephone calls, the minute samples, which looked like human hair, were sent to us."

The strange fibres were magnified 200 times under a microscope and were immediately identified as cotton. "The cotton is a fine, dark yellow strand, possibly of Egyptian origin and quite old. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say how it ended up in the Shroud, which is basically made from linen," said Mr. South. "It may have been used for repairs at some time in the past, or simply became bound in when the linen fabric was woven. It may not have taken us long to identify the strange material, but it was unique amongst the many and varied jobs we undertake."

Also, hadn’t Giovanni Riggi, who actually cut the carbon 14 sample from the Shroud stated,

I was authorized to cut approximately 8 square centimetres of cloth from the Shroud…This was then reduced to about 7 cm because fibres of other origins had become mixed up with the original fabric . . .

Didn’t Giorgio Tessiore, who documented the sampling, write:

. . . 1 cm of the new sample had to be discarded because of the presence of different color threads.

Didn’t Gilbert Raes, when later he examined some of the carbon 14 samples, notice that cotton fibers were contained inside the threads, which perhaps helped explain differences in fiber diameter. This may also have explained why the carbon 14 samples apparently weighed much more than was as expected.

Hadn’t Alan Adler at Western Connecticut State University found large amounts of aluminum in yarn segments from the radiocarbon sample, up to 2%, by energy-dispersive x-ray analysis. Aluminum, found only in the area if the shroud from which the samples were cut was a mordant that might have been used for dying repair threads.

Hasn’t there now been a great deal more work done. Can Ramsey really say that repairs are unlikely considering what he might have known then or should have known then or what he should know now given the work of Ray Rogers and Joe Marino and Sue Benford as documented in science journals:

  1. Chemistry Today (vol 26 n4/Jul-Aug 2008), "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud,"

  2. Thermochimica Acta (vol 425 2005)

  3. Perhaps he is not aware of any of this.

Woo-Hoo!!! You go, Mark Shea! “If it’s a fraud, make another one.”

Leina wrote that headline in a comment. Others liked the simple words of Mark Shea: “If it’s a fraud, make another one.

Only problem is some people think they can do that. How many now? Nicholas Allen, Luigi Garlaschelli, Nathan Wilson, Joe Nickell, Emily Craig, and so forth. How many hypotheses? Photography, dust painting, acid laden paint, scorching with hot statues, etc.

Here is a new one from ColinB, aka sciencebod, aka newsjunkie at Science Buzz. Forget that fact that it has been shown over and over, with reason after reason, that the image cannot be heat produced. What makes this one fun is that the face is Tom Chivers of The Telegraph.

From the website:

Here is a series of pictures that should tell the story without needing a lot of words.

Photograph, "shroud cloth", charcoal

Place photograph under fabric, place on glass sheet, illuminate from beneath

Completed charcoal tracing

After radiating from a 60W spot light for about 5-10 mins, viewed from reverse side before washing – selective scorching apparent.

After washing out the charcoal and drying. OK, so the image is faint (but then so is the Turin Shroud’s!)

Hiya Tom. You’re not looking your usual self today… Feeling a bit browned off?

Opinion: Reliability of Shroud of Turin fails on faith, not science

imagePhilip Mathias in the Holy Post section of the National Post writes Reliability of Shroud of Turin fails on faith, not science:

Far from radiating glory to dazzle skeptics, the risen Jesus appeared in humble clothes and only to his friends. Any conclusion about a burst of light must be taken with a grain of salt. And after that’s gone, what’s left?

It is a theological point. Interesting. But really the article is a hodgepodge of good and bad information and one man’s biblical interpretation that I don’t share. You decide if you agree.

All the Diamonds in the World by Mark Guscin

imageMark Guscin’s new novel, All the Diamonds in the World [Hardcover] is now available at

$26.99 Eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime.

Usually ships within 2 to 4 weeks.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Fortunately, it is also available on Kindle for $9.99 so you can start reading it in under a minute.

Book Description

Publication Date: December 5, 2011

ALL THE DIAMONDS IN THE WORLD A middle-aged historian quietly in search of manuscripts and icons finds himself mixed up with a murdered monk in a remote monastery on Mount Athos, a beautiful woman younger than himself and a mysterious ancient association known as the Brotherhood of the Holy Face, who would stop at nothing to recover the icon in question – which they believe holds the key to world peace … or world war. This page-turning chase soars at a hectic pace through Greece, Italy and Turkey.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: ArcheBooks Publishing (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595072330
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595072337 All the Diamonds in the World (9781595072337): Mark Guscin: Books

Is it Leonardo or Jesus?

imageJohn G. Kays at the Student Operated Press writes Is the Shroud of Turin Simply Another Lost Masterpiece of Leonardo Da Vinci?

I`m not yet completely convinced that this is correct, but I sure saw some strong arguments put forth that successfully persuade you (or me) that Leonardo had the skills and cunning necessary to pull this sort of high-tech hoax or scam off, without a hitch. This leads me to the question of whether maybe Leonardo had some kind of grudge, either against Christianity, or more specifically, against the Catholic Church as it was represented in Italy in the early 16th century.


I need to mention Lynn Picknett also in this `first photograph` regard. Her controversial book, Turin Shroud: In Whose Image? The Truth Behind the Centuries-Long Conspiracy of Silence (Clive Prince is her co-author) concurs with Nicholas Allen`s conclusion that the image was created through a primitive genesis of photography, to produce the `fraud of the millennium.` Another interesting fact I just learned today (which tends to undermine what little I already know about the history of photography), is that the Camera Obscura has been around since 400 B.C.

Finally, and what is probably the most convincing evidence for DaVinci as the creator of the Shroud, is provided by Lilian Schwartz. First, she was able to prove in 1987 that the Mona Lisa is actually a clever disguise of Leonardo`s self-portrait. From another self-portrait of Leonardo, which was a proportions study, Lilian was able to match it to the facial image of the Shroud. A perfect match (nearly)! This was the icing on the cake.

We just had this discussion back in November in Poor Leonardo must be turning over in his grave. If Lilian’s match is right. It also means Leonardo Da Vinci is portrayed in the 6th century Christ Pantocrator icon at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai. He must have developed a time machine to travel back many centuries.

Kays continues:

Leonardo was just like the CIA pasting a head of Oswald on the torso of an obscure stand-in agent, posing with the rifle on Neely Street in Dallas (otherwise known as the infamous Backyard Photos). DaVinci may have been a member of a Secret Society who had a beef against the Catholic Church and put him up to it, possibly for a sizable purse in payment. Or we could just forget the whole ball of wax! The Shroud transcends a scientific explanation, unless? Or where`s Dan Brown when you need him?

Speaking of Dan Brown, it is important to remember that he states that works by Picknett and Prince were an important inspiration for The DaVinci Code.

And speaking of the CIA, it’s hard to know which conspiracy theory, Leonardo da Vinci and the shroud or The Stargate Conspiracy. In the latter – not intended to be thought of as fiction – we learn that the CIA and MI5 are manipulating a secret cult of powerful and rich leaders, including leading scientists who believe that they are in direct contact with extraterrestrial intelligent beings from the star Sirius. These extraterrestrial beings are claiming to be the gods of ancient Egypt, the very gods responsible for the image of a face on Mars. Why are secret American and British agents, with help from NASA, doing this? To create a new insidious mind-control religion. As icing on the cake, in their own words:

We reveal the ground-breaking research that provides a plausible answer to the most enduring questions about the ancient Egyptians’ achievements and beliefs – and, explosively, uncover the true nature of the gods themselves . . .

Have fun: Is the Shroud of Turin Simply Another Lost Masterpiece of Leonardo Da Vinci?

If it’s a fraud, make another one.

imageMark Shea over at Catholic and Enjoying It!

. . . There’s nothing like it in the world and the fact that nobody has been able to reproduce it at this late date, plus the fact that it reveals a knowledge of crucifixion utterly unavailable in the 14th Century, plus the fact that the pollen is traceable and dateable to 1st century Palestine screams “authentic”. Only an a priori commitment to materialism fuels the mulish insistence that it’s a fraud. If it’s a fraud, make another one.

Minor objection: I don’t think the pollen is dateable and confirmation is needed to be certain about tracing it to Palestine.

Boing Boing Interview with Avinoam Danin

From The Botany of Bible Lands: An Interview with Prof. Avinoam Danin in Boing Boing:


Avinoam Danin:  Four plant species, the images of which are found on the Shroud, indicate the geographical origin of the Shroud. Fresh stems of the plants Gundelia tournefortii, Zygophyllum dumosum, Cistus creticus and Capparis aegyptia could be placed on the dead Man’s body only in a strip of land, a few kilometers wide between Jerusalem and Hebron. Nine blooming species found on good photographs of the Shroud share blooming months of March and April, thus indicating that the event of covering the man with the plants in the Shroud took place during that time of the year.

The Man of the Shroud was possibly tortured with thorns of Rhamnus lycioides, Ziziphus spina-christi and Gundelia tournefortii. A cane of Arundo donax was inserted to the Shroud covering the Man as well.

Avi Solomon: What has been the reaction from your colleagues in the scientific community?

Avinoam Danin: Of the botanists who glanced at the plant images, there were those who objected to my interpretation of these images and others who agreed and supported this. A first dose of encouragement came from my friends, botanists themselves, Dr. Peter H. Raven and Dr. Michael G. Barbour.

They are well known American scientists and their agreement with much of what I showed them was an important component of the strength I needed to stand against potential criticizers. In June 2006, I presented my findings to the staff of an important European botanical garden. At the end of my lecture, one of the attendees declared that as a botanist who is used to seeing and identifying plants, said he does not support my findings. Later that day three botanists having a similar position in that institute arrived incognito and warmly supported my findings and interpretation.

I can mention the response of three Israeli archaeologists. One of them, a good friend of mine and my family for more than 30 years, changes the subject whenever I try to confront him with the whole subject. Another colleague opened our conversation by saying that according to his experience there were no people as tall as the image of the man of the Shroud. He therefore was not ready to talk about my findings, and I thanked him for the short conversation I had with him. However, there were several Israeli archaeologists who were ready to hear what I said with appreciation for the interesting findings

imageProfessor Danin also wrote to me this morning to remind us all that his book, Botany of the Shroud: The Story of Floral Images on the Shroud of Turin is now available. Here are some reviews from Prof Danin’s website:

"The book is absolutely beautiful and a great contribution!"

– Dr. P. Raven, Director, The Missouri Botanical Garden

"Having read it from cover to cover I found it extremely interesting and important; beautifully produced and ingeniously designed."

– Rex Morgan, Sindonologist, Australia

"While many have questioned the Shroud’s true origin, one small book by a widely-respected Jewish botanist provides strong evidence of its authenticity… The theological significance of Danin’s conclusions is immense…"

– Tania Mann, L’Osservatore Romano

The price of the book is $30.00.

Italian TV on the ENEA Report

imagePaolo Di Lazzaro writes:

tomorrow 3 January at 5pm the Italian channel RAI 3 will broadcast a 12 minutes of experiments on lasers, optical illusions and coloration of textiles.

In particular, together with my ENEA Colleagues Daniele Murra and Toni Santoni we will discuss the relation between visual perception and the stains on the Shroud (following the guidelines of the paper ), and show experimentally why heating a linen cannot give a Shroud-like coloration.

The name of the program is "GEO Scienza", within the popular documentary "Geo&Geo"-

Our contribution was recorded before Christmas in the RAI studios in Rome.

All the best for the new year

Update on the First International Congress on the Shroud in Spain

. . . with Ian Wilson, Barrie Schwortz, John Jackson, Mark Guscin, Bruno Barberis, and others. Registration is now open at


Thermo-Stenciling the Shroud of Turin?

imageComplete details on how to make a negative image using thermo-stenciling from ColinB, aka sciencebod, aka newsjunkie on his very interesting blog in a posting, The Turin Shroud – could it have been produced by thermo-stencilling?:

Have just this minute posted this to Tom Chivers blog:

"Hello again everyone (and a Happy New Year to Tom). Guess what? I have just reproduced a downmarket version of the "Turin Shroud" in miniature, using simply a cotton sheet, a lump of barbecue charcoal, a source of radiant heat and a bar of soap. It’s all on my own science buzz blog:…

newsjunkie aka sciencebod

PS: Methinks, or rather mesuspects, that none of this will come as a surprise to the canny, well-informed Vatican …    ;-)"

The idea of a scorch image is not new but thermo-stenciling as proposed by ColinB is ingenious and creative; a well done attempt. This “hypothesis” requires more investigation to see if it produces a 3D-encoded image and if it can produce an image in conjunction with aligned bloodstains that apparently must be on the cloth before image formation. It is also very important to consider what chemist Ray Rogers reports.

(BTW: that is Svante Arrhenius in the black and white picture and Ray Rogers in the full-color picture below).

imageThe Arrhenius Law describes the effect of temperature on rate constants for all consistent chemical reactions, as follows:

[One must consider t]he Arrhenius Law [which] describes the effect of temperature on rate constants for all consistent chemical reactions, as follows:

k = Ze-E/RT

imagewhere k is the rate constant at any specific temperature, Z is the Arrhenius pre-exponential (related to the probability that any specific molecule(s) will react), E is the Arrhenius activation energy, R is the gas constant, and T is any specific, constant absolute temperature (degrees Kelvin). If the image were a scorch or any part of the Shroud had been heated enough to make significant changes in the rates of decomposition of any of its components, we would see changes in the structure of the flax fibers and blood. The blood still evolves hydroxyproline on mild heating, and the cellulose crystals are largely undistorted. Image and control fibers show identical crystal properties. The image is not a scorch. The cloth was not heated, not even boiled in oil.

Other interesting postings at: science buzz: The Turin Shroud – could it have been produced by thermo-stencilling?

Eat, drink and be merry for there is no reason to do so

imageRichard Marshall reviews The Atheist’s Guide To Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, by Alex Rosenberg. (Leon Wieseltier over at The New Republic calls it the Worst Book of the Year)

This review is fun, though I imagine not if you are a serious New Atheist:

So what are his answers to the persistent questions . . . the ones we have that begin early in life, get crowded out by thoughts of sex in adolescence and then come steaming back afterwards? There is no God. Reality is what physics says (and evolutionary biology). There is no purpose to anything, anywhere. Never was, never will be. There is therefore no meaning to life. I’m here because of dumb luck. Prayer doesn’t work. There is no such thing as a soul. There is no freewill. When we die, everything stays the same except without us. There is no moral difference between good and bad, right and wrong. You should be good because it makes you feel better than being bad. Anything goes. Love is a solution to a strategic coordination problem. It’s automatic, programmed so there’s no need to go out looking for it. History has no purpose (see above) because the future is less and less like the past. Ditto economics. . . .

Reality is what physics says! Does that include the Shroud of Turin?  Darn.

Daniel P. Franke: There’s something about the Shroud that defies explanation

imageDaniel P. Franke, a PhD candidate in medieval history at the University of Rochester, writes in his blog, Venti Belli: The Winds of War:

[O]ne of my pet fascinations, the Shroud of Turin, was in the news again recently. A new study, conducted by the Italian “National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development” (wow), says that the image could not have been faked, and that the only means they’ve been able to come up with for producing the exact type of the image is “with the aid of ultraviolet lasers producing extremely brief pulses of light.”  Needless to say, I don’t think they had that sort of technology in fourteenth-century France, when Geffroi de Charny acquired the Shroud.  My suspicion has long been that, well, there’s something about the Shroud that defies explanation, and I would not be surprised if it does indeed turn out to be “genuine”–whatever that term may mean.  The Church has never officially declared it a relic, which caution I find to be irrationally suggestive.  Perhaps that is just the romantic in me, desiring some kind of physical token to tantalize faith and fascinate with mystery.

But mystery, faith, anticipation, and optimism are not bad feelings with which to close the book on 2011. . . .

Di Lazzaro’s Gambit

A reader from San Francisco writes:

imageHenceforth the Enea Report should be known as Di Lazzaro’s Gambit. For when Tom Chivers of The Telegraph claimed that Professor Ramsey of Oxford said “the radiocarbon dating results putting it at 1260 – 1390AD were reliable, and that the suggestions of contamination or medieval repair were unlikely,” Dr. Di Lazzaro’s responded brilliantly:

I have no experience of radiocarbon dating. As a consequence, I have to accept the opinion of Prof Ramsey. However, I note we have a problem: there is an object dated 1260AD that has a microscopic complexity such that it cannot be made by a forger in 1260AD. Does Prof Ramsey have any idea how to solve this contradiction? Can we collaborate to find a solution? Is it possible to organise a team of experts that reconsider both dating and microscopic characteristics of this extraordinary image?

Does Professor Ramsey say yes or no to collaboration? Does he explain why he thinks medieval repair was unlikely? Must he then explain away chemistry uncovered by Raymond Rogers, devastating statistical anomalies and violations of basic science protocols by Oxford and the other labs? Does he capture white’s pawn or expose the king’s bishop, in other words does he admit there is a contradiction or deny it. Does he accept or decline Di Lazzaro’s suggestion of collaboration or not.

What will 2012 bring in the world of Shroud of Turin studies?

imageRuss Breault writes:

It has been a long road since October of 1988 when the Shroud was relegated to being just another phony relic, the work of some medieval scam artist. Since that time doubtful historians have dug deep and hit the pay dirt needed to show something was awry with the alleged carbon date of 1260 to 1390. The Hungarian Pray Manuscript proved beyond doubt that the Shroud was indeed in Constantinople in 1204 and was seen there by the artist between 1160 and 1170, a full 100 years before the oldest carbon date. It doesn’t prove the Shroud is First Century but it does prove the carbon date is in error. Ray Rogers with the help of Joe Marino and Sue Benford gave us a plausible clue as to what went wrong. Was that controversial corner, the only sample location taken in 1988, somehow effected by the introduction of newer threads to make a repair? All the ingredients of such a reweave appear to be evident, madder root dye, starch, and cotton. Does it prove it was in fact rewoven? No. But given that that specific corner is the most handled area of the Shroud, grabbed and held at precisely that location during dozens of public exhibitions gives one pause to wonder if the authorities involved were even interested in getting an accurate date in the first place. You couldn’t pick a worse location. In order to know for sure what went wrong, we need direct access to the cloth once again to truly assess what may have happened. To date, no such access has been granted. Now enter the ENEA, an Italian group of scientists. Working with lasers for five years they were able to replicate both the coloration (looks like a scorch but isn’t because it doesn’t fluoresce as do the burns in UV light) and the extreme superficiality of the image (less than 1/1000th of a millimeter in depth). This is a significant breakthrough because it establishes for the first time ever that light could have been a factor in creating the Shroud image. Until now all such experiments with light, heat or radiation have failed to meet these two significant criteria. Does it prove anything? No. But it at least establishes with scientific plausibility that light was somehow involved with the image. What will 2012 bring besides the end of the Mayan calendar? Perhaps a new round of tests will finally be authorized. Until then, the Shroud remains the greatest unsolved mystery in the world and one that I am deeply gratified to have studied and lectured on for over 30 years. My interest has never waned because I am gripped with the prospects of possibility. Perhaps the Shroud will never be proven authentic to the satisfaction of scientific scrutiny, yet I remain satisfied that even the possibility of it being authentic is astounding. If it was an obvious hoax or artwork, we would have figured that out a long time ago. Happy New Year!

Russ Breault