We can speculate ad noseam on the question of whether Rogers hypothesis for image formation can be totally right, partially right or totally wrong… The real question is not this one. No. The real question is the question of what is the chromophore of the image. I have already written about that often on this blog and I truly think that’s the main aspect science must determine BEFORE proposing any image formation process. That’s exactly what was the method used by Rogers : First, he took EVERY solid data, observations and facts regarding the Shroud and came up with a good hypothesis regarding the chromophore of the image. And it’s only after he was convinced that a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities was the real chromophore of the image that he start looking for a natural mechanism that could account for it.
Since the day he proposed his hypothesis, some members of the SSG (Fanti, Di Lazzaro et al.) have proposed another hypothesis for the chromophore of the image (the primary cell wall of the linen fiber) and right now, because new direct testing could be performed on the cloth itself, this question of the chromophore cannot be settled definitively. It’s only once science will be sure of the chromophore that we will have a better idea of at least the probable nature (chemical, energetic, etc.) of the body image and that we will be able to better judge any hypothesis of image formation that have been proposed over the years.
As I said many times here, if Rogers hypothesis is correct regarding the chromophore, any image formation hypothesis that involved any kind of energetic radiation would have to be considered highly unlikely while it would be a very strong argument in favor of a natural occurring image. But we’re not there yet, even though the hypothesis of Rogers concerning the chromophore SHOULD be considered in the moment as the most probable that exists because of many particular data like the pectine and the starch deposits that were find on the fibers, the presence of a banding effects on the Shroud indicating a possible uneven presence of impurities on each threads (with some threads that might even have almost no impurities on them), the ghosts of color (and also the diimide reagent) leaving a clean and undamaged fiber behind, etc. Also, and this is VERY IMPORTANT, there’s one more aspect that strongly favored Rogers hypothesis over the primary cell wall hypothesis of Fanti et al.: it is the fact that the image is very superficial and that this superficiality is the same no matter if the body was in direct contact with the cloth or if it was at a short distance of it (less than 4 cm). Effectively, Rogers hypothesis concerning the thin layer of impurities offered a very good rational and scientific explanation for this very strange particularity of the image while the hypothesis of Fanti CANNOT. Note that it is also true concerning the possible superficial image of the hair on the reverse side of the cloth. This is, for me, the most important argument in favor of Rogers hypothesis over the other ones that proposed a coloration of the linen fiber itself and I think this has been truly neglected in the recent past (the best example of this truth is the first draft of the fact list of Rolfe that was signed by almost everyone present at the conference of Valencia). Sorry but linen fibers (and the primary cell wall too) are scattered everywhere inside the cloth (not restricted to the surface) while the impurities that Rogers propose are only concentrated in a thin layer on the top surface of the cloth (on both sides), which is totally consistent with the superficiality of the image on the Shroud and totally consistent too with the fact that the image possess the same exact superficiality no matter if the body was in direct contact with the cloth or if it was located at a short distance of it. The primary cell wall hypothesis CANNOT offered a rational and scientific explanation for this particularity of the Shroud image and so, no matter what kind of image formation process could have been active to produce the image…
That’s the situation right now and anybody who think that the Shroud image is the product of a supernatural kind of event should pray hard that science will never prove that Rogers was right about the chromophore !!! ;-) And I even strongly suspect that this was the real motivation of Fanti when he wrote his paper that proposed another hypothesis (the PCW) than the one of Rogers for the chromophore of the image… Effectively, it’s evident for me that he is fully aware of the fact that his corona discharge hypothesis would have to be set aside if Rogers hypothesis concerning the impurities is right. So, to conclude, I would say that the sindonologists interested by the question of the image on the Shroud SHOULD really focus their attention on the question of the chromophore before even thinking of a possible explanation for this image.
Then as a follow up he writes:
I would add one more little comment to complete my previous long comment. I just want to say that beside focussing on the question of the chromophore of the image in order to have a better idea of the nature of the process that has been active inside the Shroud to formed the image, I also think Shroud scientist should try hard to confirmed the conclusion of Fanti concerning the possible presence of another superficial image of the hair (and maybe some other body parts like the beard and mustache) in the reverse side of the cloth because if it would be scientifically confirmed, this would also be another very important piece of evidence in favor of a chemical process for image formation (that could very well include totally or partially the Maillard reaction proposed by Rogers) and, at the same time, it would be another very important argument AGAINST any form of image formation hypothesis involving an energetic radiation. Effectively, here’s what Rogers specifically said about that in his book: “Heat and radiation of sufficient intensity all the way through the thickness of the cloth WOULD NOT BE LIMITED to producing a color on the back of the cloth in the area of the hair.” He also wrote: “We would expect to see a color in the center of the cloth. We do not.”
So I am completely convinced that this is one very important aspect of the Shroud (the possible presence of a superficial image on the backside of the cloth) that should be analyzed more deeply by Shroud scientist well before they proposed any other hypothesis for image formation. Getting access to the very high quality photographs of the reverse side of the Shroud that were done in 2000 and 2002 would be a very good step for this kind of research but I’m convinced that only a direct chemical and microscopic examination of a sample taken from this area will be enough to really settle this debate concerning the possible presence of a superficial image on the backside of the Shroud. So, along with the question of the chromophore of the image, I think scientist MUST focus their attention on this question of the possible superficial image on the backside. Getting finally a definitive and scientific answer to these 2 questions would greatly improve our understanding of the real nature of the image-formation process and would help to eliminate many image-formation hypothesis, because, as Rogers wrote in his book: “…the appearance of some specific parts of the image on the back of the cloth can contribute critical information toward the understanding of the image-formation mechanism.”