Was Adler’s Analysis Science?

imageAfter receiving Yannick’s long posting about bloodstains, I noticed that Colin Berry, on his blog, is talking today about bloodstains as well. He tells us that “revered STURP scientist Dr. Alan D. Adler (1931-2000) . . . is credited with having convinced many a wavering sceptic that it really is blood on the Shroud – albeit degraded blood in an unusual conformation, complexed with bilirubin. . . .”

He then goes on to quote Adler and asks, “It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science?”

Colin tells us he is going to sit back and listen to our comments.

Here is the quote he offers:

… The next test we did was to take micro-spectrum photometry of the non-birefringent red-coated fibrils from the Shroud. It was obvious that the spectrum it produced did not match the spectrum of methemoglobin, at least as it is given in the standard references, which is a solution spectrum of blood. But in a film of hemoglobin there is a confirmation (sic) change ;it no longer remains in the “met”form but goes to the para-hemic form. It is  known now that there is a certain species which will spontaneously go the para-hemic form if there is not enough turnover in the spleen and liver to process the blood fast enough. We found a spectrum that was characteristic of only one known group of compounds -the so-called high spin, high iron porphyrin. So instead of being wrong, the spectrum peaks were in the right place. What we were seeing was the breakdown products of hemoglobin – bilirubin and biliverdin. And one began to make sense out of all of this. There is an extraordinarily high bilirubin count, almost as high as the methemoglobin. Now how does one account for such a high bilirubin  in a person? One possibility is that the person had a severe malaria, but this does not seem very likely. But a torture, scourging and crucifixion leading to shock – that would produce a tremendous hemolysis. In less than 30 seconds the hemolyzed hemoglobin would run through the liver, building up a very high bilirubin content in the blood. If that blood then clots, an exudate forms, and all the intact cells with bilirubin stay behind, only the hemolyzed hemoglobin goes out along with the serum albumin which binds the bilirubin. So what one ends up with is on the cloth is an exudate which has an enhanced bilirubin with respect to the hemolyzed hemoglobin.You now mix bilirubin which is yellow-orange with methemoglobin in its para-hemic form which is an orangey-brown and you get blood which has a red color.

In fact, we have been able to simulate the spectrum in the laboratory by the process described above. This very strongly suggests that the blood stains are of a man who was severely beaten. No one would have ever dreamed when we first started doing the analysis that the chemistry would provide corroborating evidence to what the pathologists concluded long ago about the Shroud figure. The blood has no cells, is very low in potassium, and has the right color and composition for the blood of a man who was severely flogged and crucified. This is entirely consistent with the forensic evidence…”

Is it science?

Source: It’s clever, some might say pretty, but is it science? | Casting a critical eye at that Shroud of Turin

For more on Al Alder see Stephen E. Jones’ blog: Al Adler

23 thoughts on “Was Adler’s Analysis Science?”

  1. Neither chemistry nor biology are my first disciplines. However I thought we had settled much of the Blood stain debates with Dr Kelly Kearse’s posting of 16 February. Colin’s comments on her paper I recall (one of many praising it) was “Splendid account … a model of precision and clarity”. You can drop quickly onto Kelly’s posting and related comments on this site by going to Categories (below at right) / Science / Blood Studies. I failed to spot if she had made any comments at the time specifically on Adler’s work, but she certainly dealt comprehensively with work carried out by other reputable scientists.
    So I’m not sure just what Colin’s problem is, whether (a) He is raising questions solely about Adler’s work, or (b) whether he is seeking to have the whole question of blood stains recycled yet again. With regard to (b) I thought we had been there, done that!

  2. Okay, I’ll bite…Not exactly sure if the objection here is regarding the explanation for the red color of the blood & the “anomaly” of the spectrum, or the conclusion that real blood is, in fact, present.

    Regarding the color/spectrum, there was a major post on Jan 10, 2012 “Let’s Talk Red Blood: Bilirubin, Saponaria officinalis and UV”, that discusses these issues, including the suggestion by Ray Rogers that the residue left from preparation of the cloth may also have contributed to hemolysis. I’m unable to add anything else that wasn’t covered in the previous post/comments. Admittedly, my own lab bench experience with spectral analysis is rather limited, but Adler’s explanation & approach seem very reasonable & balanced. I’m going to vote science.

    For the second point, Adler & colleagues performed 11 different chemical tests to assay for the presence of blood. These findings were confirmed & extended by immunological tests, demonstrating the presence of the expected major blood components, albumin & immunologlobulin. The chemical analysis is extremely thorough & the immunological findings are a clincher. I’m also going to vote science on this one-big time.

    1. Hello again Kelly

      While not wishing to appear too dogmatic about Adler’s proposed sequence of events, I feel that Occam, taking at look, would decide to put his razor away in its box, rather than have it blunted.

      But even if Adler’s multiple-event scenario were true, and a novel trauma-induced complex of high-spin methaemogobin and bilrubin accounted for the red colour and spectrum, it would still leave a physicochemical elephant in the room. Why should that novel association between porphyrin and bile pigment confer everlasting chemical stability on its two components, notably bilirubin which as we know is highly sensitive to degradation by light and oxygen?

      Personally i consider it exceedingly improbable that the red colour is due to surviving blood pigments, whether in novel association or not. It is far more probable that it represents an exogenous pigment – chemical constitution still to be determined.

      But that would mean that at some stage in its history the Shroud had been doctored to make it look as if it carried stains of real red blood. If that were the case, then who is to say that real blood has not also been added from time to time? That could give rise to a heterogeneity in “blood” stains, with some real, some simulated with a dye or pigment, or even mixtures where one overlays the other.

      As for Saponaria, I confess to being mystified. i can understand why Adler’s internal haemolysis can produce at least some additional bilirubin (though probably not nearly as much as suggested) akin to marathon runner’s foot strike haemolysis. But why should external haemolyis, through contact with natural detergent, alter the colour or stability of the haemoglobin, or porphyrins. All it would do surely is to lyse red blood cells, releasing haemoglobin, but it would simply oxidise and darken as per usual, with or without the natural soap being present. Since when has soap been an agent that confers everlasting chemical stability?

      It’s suggested elsewhere that I have changed my stance on “blood”, since commenting on that splendid contribution of yours.Not so. I was simply commending you on the clarity of your exposition re blood typing, in particular those false positives, false negatives and possible interferences from microorganisms etc. Nowhere did I say that I accepted without reservation with any of the blood typing results of those whose work you cited, given the “awkwardness” of the material under test. But that’s the internet for you. Folk can always be relied upon to read more into one’s comments than one has actually said.

      Those blood stains will look like a side show, compared with the post I am preparing for tomorrow … Some folk here will need to have their tranquilisers and blood pressure pills handy. Hint: New Bridge (Paris).

      1. Linen/bloodstain biochemistry from biased photographs to come: a breakthrough in Science!

  3. The scorching/cooking mummy kitchen “chemistic” Almighy God of Mickey Mouse science is sitting back and listening to our comments. My comment will be short: Cambronne’s word! (True G.d, forgive me!).

    1. I do hope Daveb WELLINGTON won’t take it for him or make it a personal matter..

  4. More seriously: The main question here is: if the man on the Shroud is Yeshua, how can we archaeologically account for 1st century blood stains on it still being reddish in colour?

    Here is the most likely answer (in the light of Yeshua’s burial): this fact may not only result from extended torture (or even hematidrosis) in se but FIRST AND FOREMOST from the very process of mordanting fresh blood on cellulose fibres in alkaline waters (either mixed with the ashes of the Red heifer or/and rich in Jerusalem limeston.

  5. One shall always keep alert to junk Shroud science and its varlets (mostly archaeologically and forensically illiterate.scientists such as the most deceiful Colin Berry that, most unashamedly, push eccentric pseudo scientific ideas of his own about the Shroud image wanting us to believe it is as a thermostencil/scorchography/barography while working from biased material, ignoring the very chemistry and physics of ancient textiles.

    1. Pont Neuf are two words, Kelly (anyway, I do appreciate your sense of humour).

  6. My Pont Neuf comment was in response to the last line in Colin’s post above (#3), time-stamped @ 5:55, hope this doesn’t have any other meanings!

  7. I still don’t see the point in being rude to anyone on this site, on the slender basis that we disagree with their views. It’s a poor debating tactic and totally ineffective as a persuasive ploy in any kind of mature discussion. “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” “First cast the beam out of your own eye …”

  8. Cambrone’s is a five letter word “historical” response. Cambronne was one of Napoleon’s generals…

    1. Kelly, your deliberate or undeliberate sense of humour is “kelling” me…

  9. Ok Daveb WELLINGTON starting with yourself so…. BTW Colin was the first to cast the stone (See CB’s very courteous comment of Di Lazzaro’s paper). Ever heard of the boomerang effect or Measure for Measure? “Being vague” still doesn’t ring any Wellington “courtesy” bell?

  10. Max, I really wish you would stop bombarding blogs with mutiple incoherent posts. You make it difficult for other’s posts to be picked up, literally making them lost in a minefield of babble….I beg of you.


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