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A Touch of Miracle Plus A Maillard Reaction

A reader writes:

I noted with interest that David Rolfe commented in your blog yesterday saying, “I hope someone will be forthcoming with a critique, additions, suggestions…indeed anything that will aid Denis Mannix in formulating a methodology to test the Maillard theory in principle. With respect to Yannick, it cannot be necessary to have a crucified body to do this. To enable skeptics like myself to give the idea some credibility all I ask is for an image with a small degree of resolution no bigger than a little finger.”

In one experiment with a heated paper mache hand, Ray Rogers noted in his book that “Convection decreased resolution … however, the thumb and one finger are clearly resolved.” Is that sufficient resolution no bigger than a little finger? Rogers shows us just such an image in his book.

Rogers, on the same page, suggested some important variables, namely, body temperature, rate of amine release, a cool and still test bed and a sufficient concentration of saccharides. I suspect there are many more variables including body chemistry, time and other ambient factors such as humidity.  These are good starting points for Denis Mannix. However, I think something else is involved. Perhaps it is a condition or a phenomenon none of us has thought of including a touch of miracle.

Here is the text the reader mentions from Rogers’ book, A Chemist’s Perspective On The Shroud of Turin:

The amine/saccharide experiments showed that the following variables are important 1) When the body" temperature is too high, convection cells are too active, diffusing amines too widely for good resolution. Resolution improves at lower temperatures. A body that had cooled for several hours but has not yet produced high concentrations or amines would give better resolution than a hot body. 2) The amines must be released slowly. Too much amine badly reduced resolution. A decaying body would give much better resolution than any object that had been painted with pure amines. Too much amine would color the entire cloth, obliterating the image. A successful image that involved a real body would require removal of the cloth before extensive decomposition. 3) The experimental assembly must be kept in a space that is cool and still. 4) An increase in the concentration of reducing saccharides (impurities) on the cloth improves resolution. 5) Modern linen that does not contain suitable impurities will not produce an image.

The picture shown is the one from Rogers’ book. It was obtained from previews in Google Books. A larger version with better resolution is available in the book.

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