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The image on the Shroud of Turin is not a scorch

imageColin Berry, sciencebod to many of us, writes, “I am now 99.9% convinced that the image IS a scorch.”

Well, I am 99.9% convinced that it IS NOT. Let’s see why.

Colin goes on to write that it is a scorch, “by intimate contact with a heated 3D object . . . under a degree of applied pressure, i.e. by conduction.” And he writes:

I believe John Jackson was 90% of the way to a correct answer when he did his experiments with a hot statue and showed that the scorch image had “encoded 3D information”. I have merely added the sand bed to make the system more ‘technician-friendly’ – ensuring rapid and fairly complete apposition of cloth to hot metal around all the important contours to get a detailed imprint. Thermal imprinting can even provide an answer to the “double image” problem- recalling the fainter image on the opposite side of the linen but not the intermediate cellulose fibres, but I shall save that for another day, after posting it first to my own site. I wish Raymond Rogers were still around to see it. I’d be interested to hear his response. (emphasis mine)

I imagine that Rogers would have been pleased that Colin was experimenting. I can imagine, as well, how critical he would have been of the hasty conclusions Colin drew from those experiments, at least from what we can see of them on his blog and in comments here. Colin produced something that conceptually might look something like the image on the shroud. But so did many others. Even Jackson did. (We must say something more about Colin’s repeated references to the work of John Jackson: riding coattails, it seems. We will come back to that).

The best we can do is use Rogers’ own words, and we might imagine him first saying, “Colin you are wrong because . . .”:

Cellulose molecules are folded back and forth in a fairly regular arrangement, and they show the properties of crystallinity. This is called a "fibrillar structure." When you rotate the stage of a petrographic microscope with crossed polarizers while looking at a linen fiber, straight lengths change from black through colored to black again every 90%. The fiber is birefringent and has an ordered structure.

When cellulose fibers are heated enough to color them, whether by conduction, convection, or radiation of any kind, water is eliminated from the structure (the cellulose is "dehydrated"). When water is eliminated, C-OH chemical bonds are broken. The C- free radicals formed are extremely reactive, and they will combine with any material in their vicinity. In cellulose, other parts of the cellulose chains may be the closest reactants. The chains crosslink.Crosslinking changes the crystal structure of the cellulose, and you can see the effect with a polarizing microscope.

When cellulose starts to scorch (dehydrate and crosslink), its characteristic crystal structure becomes progressively more chaotic. Its birefringence changes, and not all parts of a straight fiber go through clear transitions from dark to light at the same angle. Zones of order get smaller and smaller. It finally takes on the appearance of a pseudomorph and just scatters light. A significantly scorched fiber does not change color as the stage is rotated between crossed polarizers.

. . .

The crystal structure of the flax fibers of the Shroud shows the effects of aging, but it has never been heated enough to change the structure. It has never suffered chemically significant irradiation with either protons or neutrons. No type of radiation that could produce either color in the linen fibers or change the 14C content (radiocarbon age) could go unnoticed. All radiation has some kind of an effect on organic materials.

This proves that the image color could not have been produced by thermal or radiation ­induced dehydration of the cellulose. Image formation proceeded at normal temperatures in the absence of energetic radiation of any kind.

I think Rogers would have pointed out, as I and others have already attempted in one form or another, that there are many characteristics of the image that cannot be ignored. Since Colin is interested in what Rogers might think, I will confine myself to some image characteristics that Rogers specifically mentioned, I will use Rogers’ own words.

If a 200nm thickness of gold, representing a few hundred gold atoms, is sufficient to make a surface reflective, why should anyone be surprised that a similar thickness of scorched carbohydrate is able to absorb a little of the blue component of white light, sufficient to give a faint yellow or brown coloration?”

The question isn’t if 200 nanometers is too thin for imaging. It isn’t, of course. Visible image content on the shroud is that thin. Rogers had shown that. If nothing else, the ENEA team confirmed it.

The real 200 nanometer question is how in the world, with manual methods on such a large scale as the shroud, hypothesizing perhaps along the lines that Colin proposes, a heated statues made of metal, stone or molded clay pressed up against a piece of linen resting in sand, can it be possible to create such a thin, thin scorch. It boggles the mind to think that heat sufficient to provide visible coloring at the surface would not, by means of conduction, penetrate deep into the fiber. Rogers, has, of course, shown that coloring (darkening) caused by a scorch simply isn’t superficial like the shroud image is. 

Rogers knew it wasn’t a scorch. So did Jackson, by the way. It may be a bit unfair to keep mentioning Jackson, as Colin does, giving him credit for pioneering the scorching-with-a-statue method. Jackson is well known instead for proposing that . . .

the image was formed by radiation methods beyond the understanding of current science, in particular via the "collapsing cloth" onto a body that was radiating energy at the moment of resurrection. (Quoting from Wikipedia which cites The Shroud of Turin by Bernard Ruffin 1999 ISBN 0879736178 pages 155-156)

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