Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air?

imageColin Berry makes it clear. But does it trouble anyone that he has not so much as created a scorch – forget the image for now – that demonstrates the superficiality and the halftone he claims is possible? All the other issues like the bloodstains, how to get the double superficiality in the region of the face, and the 3D height-field data (he still, obviously, does not understand it) can come later.

“. . . I don’t feel in the slightest bit obliged to produce a facsimile copy of the Turin Shroud,” he writes, “any more than I have to produce a facsimile copy of the Mona Lisa to prove it was painted with brush and oils.”

So, should we just believe him? Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air?

Here is his statement:

First, let’s be clear about one thing . . . . The image IS a scorch, and one moreover produced by thermal degradation (pyrolysis). Pretty well all the evidence – physical and chemical points to that – its superficiality, its concentration on fibre crowns, its colour, the absence of any chemical residues, its mechanical weakening of the affected fibres, the ability to reproduce yellow or brown coloration at will with the simple application of modest heat, e.g. an electric iron, the ability to bleach with a powerful reducing agent (diimide). The only downside that I can see is the lack of fluorescence, but nobody checked that out when the image was new and fresh, as I discussed on my own site recently:

Why it’s a scorch (html corrected by me)

Yet those who reject any idea that the Shroud is a medieval fake tend also to react strongly against the description of the image as a scorch. Why is that?

The answer is simple: by adopting that term they fear that a mundane connection will be made between the image and the most obvious means by which it would be produced in the medieval era – i.e. by direct contact with a hot template.

We then see the absurdity of a group of scientists (who should know better) reeling of reasons as to why the image defies modern science, yet overlooking or downplaying the key signature of a contact scorch – namely preferential coloration of the crowns where one thread loops over another, with crowns then slightly proud of the surface, and thus the first to make contact with a hot object.

I hesitate to say it, but those scientists – and many folk here, are quite simply IN DENIAL. If they cannot explain the selective scorching of crowns – as I can – then they should stop criticizing my use of the term “scorch”, and better still start to produce some good arguments AGAINST the image being a contact scorch. “Scorch” I would suggest is an empirical term meaning coloration produced by exposure to heat.

How did Di Lazarro and colleagues imagine that any kind of radiation would be capable of selectively targeting the crowns at a distance? Even with their highly improbable (some might say comedic) high energy uv, the radiation would have to be in the plane of the cloth, just clipping the tops of the crowns.

Here is a concluding comment from Fanti et al (2010): “The characteristics of superficiality described here in detail, coupled with other particular characteristics of the TS body image described elsewhere, could lead to a more reliable hypothesis of body image formation”.

So here’s a retired science bod who is responding to that challenge. I have proposed an hypothesis that I believe accommodates, or has the potential to accommodate, most if not all the known attributes of the Shroud image (blood etc can wait for another day). what’s more it incorporates what I consider to be unique features, designed to address particular points or criteria, notably:

1. The presence of loosely packed fibrils of pyroloysis-susceptible hemicellulose in the outermost primary cell wall, with no impairment of access by the kind of highly ordered arrays of cellulose fibrils that exist in the secondary cell wall.

2. The exothermic nature of hemicellulose pyrolysis (probably aided by limited oxidation and CO2 production) such that once initiated the hemicellulose reacts to completion, at least that which is immediately accessible. This either/or effect probably explains the curious half-tone effect.

3. The restriction of pyrolysis to the primary cell wall could explain the 200nm superficiality of the scorched zone.

4. The selective scorching of crown threads, indeed a few surface fibres in those threads, is exactly what would be expected of scorching by close contact (no air gap) with a hot object.

5. The negative image is exactly what one would expect from a branding technology, i.e. applying a heated template to a surface, with temperature chosen to produce a light and superficial scorch on linen. there would be left/right and light/dark reversal. Any image of a human face, thus produced, would look alien and unappealing until returned to a positive by modern photography.

It is not good enough for ” passive spectator scientists” to say that it’s all been done before. No, the groundwork has been laid, and there have been promising lines of investigation, notably John Jackson’s with heated statues, but which in my view were prematurely abandoned, especially as Jackson showed that his scorched-on image had “encoded 3D information”. ANY scorch can be rendered in 3D, by twiddling the different gain controls (which is NOT science, but a branch of applied mathematics – matrix transormation).

And though i hesitate to say it, I think the time has come to say candidly to all those who jib at my term “scorch” and to dismiss “scorching by contact/heat conduction” as the most probable mechanism of image formation to be told in no uncertain terms that THEY ARE IN DENIAL.

If they don’t like the hypothesis on offer, then there’s a simple remedy – suggest a better one (but make sure it’s a scientific one if you want the senescent ear of this old science bod).

Colin, you cannot escape the ownership for the burden of proof or the responsibility to experiment. That is absurd fallacy. It is not how responsible science is done.

Source: I don’t get it, writes a reader about Colin Berry’s Hypothesis « Shroud of Turin Blog

21 thoughts on “Image by scorching heat? Or science by hot air?”

  1. Hey, I’ll give him this: maybe it IS a scorch but now he has to demonstrate how it was done by human hands. If it winds up being a scorch that cannot reasonable be made by medieval human hands he’s got a lot of splaining to do.

    My prediction is it can’t be done in the manner in which he’s suggested which is why he keeps begging out.

  2. Hello again Dan

    Here’s a little something to be getting on with. One can take any old scorch image on linen, load it iinto a software program that converts image intensity (half tone or otherwise) into 3D relief, and convert from flat plain to spectacular peaks and valleys.

    here’s before tweaking the controls

    and here’s after

    Who will be the first to say there is mysterious “encoded 3D” information in my scorch mark? Yet that is what they say when they put the Shroud image through this type of matrix-transformation (applied maths, not science) to convert planar images into spell-binding 3D, usually in fluorescent ghostly green, the stuff of hour-long TV programmes (“the real face of Christ etc”) …

    I hope I’ve done the tags properly this time

    1. Colin, we’ve been here before. Of course, you will get 3D relief from any scorch. You;ve told me that and I have always agree. You’ll get it from a drop of ink on blotter paper. You’ll get it from squished bugs and bloodstains and any spot that is lighter or darker than its surroundings. Duh! There is nothing magical about this. You get it from paintings and photographs, too. In demonstrating the old VP8 they would use a chess board.

      The whole point is do you get 3D that looks realistic for what is being plotted, in particular a face or a human body. It is a judgment call. And adjusting the gain and the blur is not only permissable, but expected.

      As for the fluorescent ghostly green screen, maybe you’re too young to remember old fashioned dumb terminals with their fluorescent ghostly green screen. It wasn’t made for TV.

  3. Is this idea really new? Heller & Adler (no personally directed comments please, let’s just focus on the science) reported in their paper published in the Canadian Society of Forensic Sciences Journal 14 (3), 1981, “This would suggest some type of low temperature heating process or a high temperature of extremely short duration (insufficient to produce carbonization) as a mechanism for production of the image.”

    It seems to me that the same arguments apply to those discussing the existence of blood: if one concludes that it is indeed real blood present on the Shroud, scientifically you can’t use this to claim authentication. Someone could always argue that a forger used real human blood.

    Likewise, if the image did result from a type of scorching event/mechanism, is this really a smoking gun for the disauthentication of the Shroud? Seems to me you could use the argument either way. Sorry, but I say: Show me the Money…Scorch a Shroud.

    Colin, I’d like to add, that I appreciate your ideas & opinions-it would be a dull, dull world if everyone thought alike, especially in the scientific community. I respect your skepticism & your science-driven suggestions/hypotheses.

  4. Thank you Kelly. Your comment is much appreciated, especially in view of the derision expressed elsewhere. With that I shall now take a break from this site, but maybe look back again in a week of so.

    The great thing about any scientific idea – regardless of merit – is that once the genie is out of the bottle, even the most determined foe finds it well nigh impossible to re-bottle it…

  5. I’m at work at moment so dont have time to address this properly, but I found Fanti’s paper that I think Colin got the information about the nature of the image and the hemicellulose.

    Click to access SUPERFICIALITY%20published%20JIST.pdf

    In the paper Fanti et al goes out of his way show (in Figure 7), that the image have many characteristics that dont seem to tally with the contact theory.

    In particular coloured fibrils going into furrows (not just being on the crests of the threads as was implied). Other peculiar aspects like abrupt striations (interruptions of the colouring) on many parallel fibrils, and the continuation of a colouring pattern across separate parallel threads (with a gap between), make the fuse wire theory struggle a bit there.

    I think the biggest problem is the double image on the other side, which Colin made two very lame attempts to explain, but to my mind are totally inadequate for the job. Fanti also dismisses another explanation that perhaps the image wraps around along the fibrils to the other side.

    Personally I’m still keen on the theory as it has the possibility of accounting for some but not all of the characteristics. However unlike Colin, I am not willing to ignore data that doesnt fit in with the theory (that it is what I also call being in denial!), and I dont think its enough to say its done and dusted until experimental proof is furnished.

    1. Tut tut. So I am ignoring the key content of figure legends, eh? Good, isn’t it, when you have to put figure legends under the microscope to find the preemptive knocking copy on the contact theory, which then does not rate so much as a single mention whatsoever in discussion? Instead the discussion makes brief reference to two other hypotheses, both of which I regard as chemical or physical bunkum that make a complete mockery of scientific laws and principles (image-forming chemical diffusion and corona discharge). I ask you, who is the one attempting to bury the bad news? Not me, I can assure you. if there is serious scientific objection to what I have written, and folk can make it without slipping in snide character attacks, like suggesting I deliberately “ignore” inconvenient data or try to browbeat with words, then bring it on is what I say…

      There’s a simple explanation for the presence of limited scorch coloration in some (not all) nooks and crannies – namely secondary thermal effects. That’s what one tends to get with heat (surprise, surprise) but not with adhering pigment like rust, which the authors were at such pains to slip into that figure legend – just in case anyone got the wrong idea that it was all about (shhh – scorching by contact with a hot body) as the PREDOMINANT location of colour on thread crowns would suggest.

  6. Colin, I think again you are doing your normal rant and not addressing the problems with the theory. Again try the second image on the back…is that a secondary thermal effect as well?

  7. Let’s stick to a structured approach shall we Art? The central and key question is what produced the main image on the body side of the cloth. I can’t see that you can falsify one or other theory by speculating on what may or may not have happened on the opposite side, unless you have a rival hypothesis to put up, or new experimental data, e.g.with those temperature or infrared probes I suggested earlier.. If you haven’t, then scorching by contact – with the possibility, indeed probability of secondary thermal effects – is the only game in town, Scienceville that is…Everything else is pie in the sky…

  8. Well I did give my rival steam hypothesis, assuming scorching was the only game in town (which it might not be), but it was as much rubbish as yours.

    Anyway go ahead and test then, its just that I fail to see how a very faint image is expected to re-radiate giving infra-red strong enough 1)to go through the intervening reflective threads and heat up the sand on the other side strong enough to pyrolyse an image there 2)whilst standing out from the already over strong infra-red already coming off from the bas-relief. I think you know this is also pie in the sky…

    1. You need to get some hands-on experience – literally – with a hot branding iron on linen. Put your hand behind the linen – where my sand bed interface would be situated. Feel the force – or rather the temperature. Nerve endings are a poor substitute I know for separate temperature and infrared sensors, but they do at least alert one to the possibilities. As for your steam hypothesis – does it also generate a cornucopia of experimental possibilities? I’m sure I need hardly remind you, Art, that the value of a hypothesis in science lies not so much in whether it ultimately proves to be right or wrong but in the possibilities it opens up for new and potentially fruitful lines of research.

      1. I’m sure heat and ir are gonna get through! That’s not the problem, but will it get through whilst not pyrolysing the intervening fibrils, in sufficient amount to heat up the sand, in such a way as to distiguish that bit of sand from the rest of the sand which is already being bombarded by ir straight from the metal! I don’t think I’m getting through to you, am I?

  9. And what the heck is secondary thermal effects and how does this explain the colouring in furrows, striations, and continuation of pattern across to separate threads?

    1. Secondary thermal effects? When you apply a hot template to linen with its natural moisture content you will first get heating, expansion, evaporation of water and then pyrolysis. After pyrolysis – with its weight loss due to driving off more water, CO2, CO etc you then get contraction. Is it any wonder then that the initially scorched area will show some movement relative to the furrows and crevices of the fabric when you have thermal expansion and contraction going on? That’s quite apart from any mechanical stretching of the fabric that takes place when one presses a hot template into the fabric with some force with a view to getting a good imprint. That stretching of the fabric will tend to temporarily flatten the fabric, i.e. the crowns will tend to drop into the general plane of the weave, and that will then expose parts of the thread adjacent to the crowns that were previously NOT proud of the surface. When the fabric cools and contracts, those additionally scorched areas will tend to retreat once more into the furrows and crevices.

      I do think you have to (attempt to) refute the idea of scorching by direct contact at a more general level, if you don’t mind my saying, and not try to conjure up killer arguments that depend on speculation about the incidental details. You need to account for the preferential scorching at the crowns, for example. How can that be explained by any model other than scorching by direct contact?

  10. colinsberry :
    I do think you have to (attempt to) refute the idea of scorching by direct contact at a more general level, if you don’t mind my saying, and not try to conjure up killer arguments that depend on speculation about the incidental details.

    I think you misunderstand me, Colin. I actually think the theory has potential and so like any good scientist I want to become my own worse critic and find any possible flaws…I want to be able to see problems and have answers to them, or if need be readjust my views (which are always a bit in flux until I really feel as though I’ve nailed it). This approach has made me re-adjust a couple of times….most notably with the Hungarian Pray Manuscript which I cant see really how any honest scientist cant be at least willing to put a question mark over the C14 dates.

    A straight out question to you, Colin….arent you just a teeny weeny bit disconcerted by the Hungarian Pray Manuscript? An itsy witsy bit maybe? I think we’re alone here, you can just whisper your answer in my ear ;)

    BTW even if the Manuscript were taken on face value, it could all be done with a bas-relief still (just added that in to allow some face saving!)

  11. “A straight out question to you, Colin….arent you just a teeny weeny bit disconcerted by the Hungarian Pray Manuscript? An itsy witsy bit maybe? I think we’re alone here, you can just whisper your answer in my ear ;)”

    Nope, just hugely bemused that anyone would think that the Pray artist would imagine that the L-shaped poker holes he had seen in the Shroud had been there from the word go, when used to wrap the body and dutifullyu add them to his picture, And if he had been so keen to incorporate details from the Shroud for the sake of authenticty, why did he not show the nail hole in the wrist, the blood trails on the forearms, the pierced side etc etc. Indeed, why did he make it seem as if the body had been thoroughly cleaned up, when according to the Shroud the opposite was true?

    One’s reminded of archaeology, where a single tool or fragment of bone is used to reconstruct entire lifestyles of nomadic hunters, their funeral rituals etc – or so we are asked to believe. Human beings have a seemingly infinite capacity to get carried away by their own theorising, often based on little more than fragmentary evidence.

  12. colinsberry :
    And if he had been so keen to incorporate details from the Shroud for the sake of authenticty, why did he not show the nail hole in the wrist, the blood trails on the forearms, the pierced side etc etc.

    ….and here’s a little clue for you, Colin…an illustration is not a photograph. We already know in the gospels that Jesus had been nailed and then pierced with a lance….and its not shown on the body illustrated…does that imply its not Jesus being illustrated. Nope, it means that artists dont put in everything, especially when somethings are a given as understood….making it all the more striking why include the details like the poker holes and the blood on the shroud and herringbone pattern, plus illustrate a Jesus naked and with crossed hands with missing thumbs (never before seen in christian illustration).

    Sorry Colin, you give all signs of being from the raving bonkers school of scepticism, which refuses to admit anything at all to the other side (btw arent you glad I established that cellulose has a low conductivity inspite you resisting like I was extracting teeth from you without anaesthetic…cellulose having a low conductivity might help explain why there is only surface scorching that doesnt penetrate into cellulose)

    1. Looking at that latest example of special pleading, Art, I’m beginning to think it’s not so much Occam’s Razor that is sorely needed in Shroud Fantasy Land so much as a jungle machete.

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