Is the non-fluorescent body image on the Shroud of Turin a valid indicator?

imageColin Berry wonders if the fact that the body image did not fluoresce is a valid indicator that the image is not a scorch. Unfortunately, he almost always wraps what is most legitimate scientific questioning and commentary in arrogant, verbal stink bombs, in this case another inexplicable attack on Barrie Schwortz. Colin writes:

The non-fluorescent body image on the Shroud is a pale sepia colour.  It may or may not have been the result of mild scorching (I happen to believe it is a light scorch). But the fluorescent, heavily charred regions on the Shroud are the result the 1532 fire etc. There is no inconsistency whatsoever between these two findings. All that remains to be done is to offer an explanation as to why one fluoresces and the other does not, ensuring that it is a TESTABLE  and potentially FALSIFIABLE explanation, i.e. a SCIENTIFIC explanation.

OK, so here goes. Here is my scientific explanation:

The 1532 fire exposed the linen to high temperatures, ones  that charred i.e. carbonized  the carbohydrates, notably the cellulose. Carbonization of cellulose is known to proceed via intermediates that have aromatic ring systems (see the recent paper by Sevilla and Fuertes, 2009)

Note the aromatic benzenoid ring systems, prime candidates for fluorescence under uv radiation. Reminder: the margins of the heavily-scorched, indeed carbonized, holes in the Shroud linen(1532 fire etc) exhibit a red fluorescence.

Aromatic ring systems with delocalisation of π-bonding p- type electron clouds frequently fluoresce under ultraviolet light.

However, the temperatures that produced the sepia image on the Shroud were not high enough to  char and carbonize cellulose. Indeed, they may not have been high enough to affect the cellulose at all. They may have affected primarily or exclusively the chemicallymore susceptible hemicelluloses of the primary cell wall (accounting for the superficiality of the Shroud image).

PS  It’s instructive to read Barrie Schwortz’s  two comments in full.

Quote (1 of 2):

“I think everyone is forgetting an important fact. The idea of the Shroud image being the product of scorches caused by a heated metal statue has been around for a long time (since the STURP days), and was first proposed by Joe Nickel, avowed atheist and Shroud skeptic.

Since the color of the image is very similar to the color of the scorches, STURP understood the need to test this theory and performed specific experiments for that purpose. A primary test was to photograph the Shroud using ultraviolet fluorescence photography, since true scorches on linen will always fluoresce in the red. As there are many documented scorches on the Shroud from the 1532 fire, testing this was not difficult and the results of the tests were published in this peer reviewed reference:

Miller, V.D. and S.F. Pellicori, “Ultraviolet Fluorescence Photography of the Shroud of Turin,” Journal of Biological Photography, Vol. 49, No. 3, 1981, pp. 71-85.

Every documented scorch on the Shroud fluoresced in the red, as expected. However, the image did NOT fluoresce and in fact, even quenched the background fluorescence in the image areas. The only conclusion possible from these observations is that the Shroud image is NOT the product of scorched or heated linen.”

Quote (2 of 2)  He kept the real stinker till last:

Sadly, that’s why I don’t post to blogs very often. I don’t have time to waste debating folks who simply choose to ignore the published science. They obviously have already made up their minds so why bother? Perhaps they have more time on their hands than I do, but I am not interested in arguing for the sake of argument. That is why I never try to convince anyone of anything. Frankly, I don’t really care what this gentleman thinks and will leave him in your and Dan Porter’s able hands.

The article I referred to was published in a highly respected scientific journal. However, due to copyright restrictions, I do not have the right to distribute or publish the article or the UV fluorescence photographs it contains in a public forum. The photographs are all copyrighted to Vern Miller.

However, there is a great Table in the paper that makes the very specific comparisons you have been discussing in this forum, so I highlighted them in yellow and posted a jpeg image of the table to this link:

Perhaps that will be helpful to your skeptic (but I doubt it). Have a great weekend!


image[You can also click on the picture of the table to the right]

Note his preoccupation with copyright issues, even when discussing a crucial scientific point re the Shroud’s authenticity. Has BS, described today as “copyright expert” (oh yes indeed) never heard  of “fair use” waivers–  designed to ensure that copyright is never used to gag genuine disinterested researchers, like this one?

As I said in my last post, what BS did in February was nothing  less than a guerrilla hit-and-run tactic,  deploying what he thought was good STURP science, but which in his hands translated into flawed logic and defective science.

Maybe BS should stick to his photography – jealously guarding and indeed extending that copyright portfolio of his and STERA’s – leaving the disinterested science to us disinterested scientists.

Technical footnote: what a delightful and unexpected mechanism that is for carbonisation of cellulose. Ask anyone how they pictured the process at the molecular level, and I’m willing to bet they would imagine it to be one in which the hydrogen and oxygen are driven off to leave a carbon skeleton. In other words 0ne polymeric matrix – cellulose fibres – gradually transforms into another – charcoal. But as the diagram reveals, that is not the mechanism: cellulose becomes fragmented into small reactive molecules with 5 or 6 membered rings, and the latter then gradually undergo condensation reactions to produce tars and resins, and finally a ‘hydrochar’ particle. Chemistry is full of surprises.

For the complete stink bomb click here.

3 thoughts on “Is the non-fluorescent body image on the Shroud of Turin a valid indicator?”

  1. Do you know what? Sometimes, just sometimes, Colin Berry talks sense.
    Then he comes up with some ridiculous theories and thoughts that destroy any credibility he might have claimed.

    His latest nonsense concerns the 1516 Lire copy. He presents an argument along the following lines. The Lire copy shows minimal blood stains, only discrete ones on the palms of both hands and the side wound. He presents an argument that essentially the blood stains were added to the shroud over time, and the Lire copy showing discrete wounds consistent with the Bible was an early stage in the progressive re-interpretation of the shroud to incrementally show more blood wounds. He even throws up his bizarre Lirey Badge theory again, arguing because we can’t see blood wounds on what amounts to a tiny metal crafted badge that there was no blood on the shroud in the 1300s. This is nonsense, because the scale is too small to reasonably show bloods wound, although it does show the blood across the bottom of the back of Jesus, which Berry inventively (I’ll always give him points for creating novel theories, even if they are nonsense) calls a chain.

    Mr Berry needs to get himself to a decent university library and educate himself in art history.
    There are at least two examples of epitaphios from 1200, and the 1300s respectively, that show Jesus with body wide wounds and flagrum marks (I might add very consistent with the positioning of marks on the Shroud, one of these even shows a wound on the wrist on the top hand, and none on the other), being laid out on a herringbone weave shroud. These provide very compelling evidence that the Shroud was in existence AT LEAST as early as 1200 (personally I believe the shroud goes back to the time of Christ, but for now let’s just deal with the middle ages)

    In my opinion, an explanation for the differences in the Lirey copy from the shroud that is FAR more likely is that the Lirey copy’s differences are due to the artist wanting to show the hand wounds in accordance with conventional artistic depiction. Similarly representations of Jesus through the 1500s / 1600s were typically non-gory, hence the very limited and discrete depictions of key (in the sense of the Gospel accounts) bloody wounds. As I have stated here before, there is a limited period in German art from about the late 1300s to the late 1400s that shows Christ’s body heavily wounded, and one or two other curious examples, such as the epitaphios I mention above. Otherwise minimal and discrete wounds are the norm

  2. Indeed other copies demonstrate “reinterpretation” of the shroud to suit their audience. For example, most copies show Jesus wearing a loin cloth, to protect His modesty. Obviously, His image on the shroud does not include a loin cloth

  3. Matt:

    A Colin Berry le sobra SAGACIDAD……pero le falta CONOCIMIENTO.

    En 1534 el Papa Clemente VII ordenó al cardenal Luis de Gorrevod que verificara el estado de la Sábana Santa tras el incendio de 4-XII-1532.

    La verificación se celebró el 15-IV-1534. Se abrió la caja-relicario que contenía la Sábana ( desde el incendio NO se había abierto al parecer por temor de que se hubiera destruído), se extendió sobre una mesa y 12 testigos que conocían bien la Sábana Santa, la habían tocado y mostrado al público antes del incendio, testificaron que era la misma Sábana que ellos conocían con anterioridad al incendio.

    Y esa Sábana anterior al incendio de 1532 ( la copia de Lier es de 1516) ya MOSTRABA las manchas de sangre que nosotros conocemos.

    Existe un precioso documento escrito por la Abadesa del convento de las clarisas de Chambéry, Louise de Vargin en que se relatan los hechos de la reparación de la Sábana y su descripción e incluso la interpretación de lo observado. Las monjas clarisas estuvieron en contacto permanente con la Sábana durante 15 días, si bien sólo 4 monjas podían tocar y remendar la Sábana ( entre ellas Louise de Vargin).

    Este documento demuestra 2 cosas:

    1.- La enorme IMPORTANCIA que tenía la Sábana Santa como RELIQUIA para la Iglesia Católica.

    2.- La presencia de las MANCHAS de sangre en los sitios en que hoy las conocemos.

    El precioso y extenso documento escrito por la madre Abadesa Louise de Vargin :

    Click to access CLARISSE.PDF

    Click to access CLARES.PDF


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