A Touch of Miracle Plus A Maillard Reaction

A reader writes:

imageI 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.

11 thoughts on “A Touch of Miracle Plus A Maillard Reaction”

  1. I would also add a couple of things:

    1. In the experiment, the Maillar reaction cannot progress forever because due to the massive release of amines, the final image would be blurred beyond 36 hours.
    2. Maillar reaction originates water but if the amount of water produced accumulates and moves beyond certain boundaries, this will inhibit any further progress of the reaction. For this reason, the arrangement of the cloth might be a critical issue because a tightly wrapped linen is far more likely to capture water and inhibit further developments of Maillar. On the contrary, a loose cloth would allow evaporation of important fractions of the water generated by Maillar and subsequent progress of the chemical reaction.

  2. I’ve previously suggested at various times that a multivariable experiment might be able to be set up using traumatised lab rats. Unfortunately it’s a fairly icky kind of experiment, There are probably valid ethical objections, in that the suffering of the rats would hardly outweigh the benefit obtained from the additional knowledge. If the experimenter had no ethical qualms, and you could find a country where animal rights were not recognised, then it might be feasible. Another option might be to come up with a more nauseous animal than a lab rat. I wonder if it could be done with cockroaches? How does one traumatise a cockroach? Do they have to remember being traumatised? Do they release bilirubin? One advantage would be the huge saving in linen costs compared to a full size experiment. The release rate of the amines seems important, so a painted mannequin may not be suitable. Is this all tongue-in-cheek? I’m not sure; Just thinking outside the square!

  3. Well, I’m not sure about the rats and cockroaches, but I welcome this positive turn of events and thoughts and I’m sure Denis will, too.

    Thinking outside the box is always going to be the key to solving the riddle of the Shroud’s image.

  4. If bilirubin is a decisive factor in determining image formation, there are millions of hospital beds all over the world.

  5. The Queensland cane toad might be an interesting candidate. They’re prolific breeders, native to Central and South America, introduced to Queensland to deal with the sugar cane beetle, and to several other places in the Pacific, but usually end up being a pest themselves. They need careful handling as their skin gives off a poisonous fluid and they’re poisonous to any other wild life that ingests them. I wonder if the fluid could be a useful proxy for post mortem amines. More thinking outside the box!

  6. Given that the body of the dead Jesus as it lay in the tomb would have to be considered as a loaf of bread waiting to be baked (Maillard reaction) we should not forget to also ask: why should such a reaction have occurred only with his body? There are so many people who die (in hospital) after a severe trauma leaving bilirubin, blood etc. on the mattress and lie for hours wrapped in bed sheets, unwashed, particularly in poor countries.
    Rogers apparently did not like to entertain ideas that dwelt on the metaphysical and, as a good scientist, knew that a real body would be needed. It is only fair to give him a chance and a good start is to wait and see what Denis Mannix will have to say.

  7. Louis: ” … why should such a reaction have occurred only with his body? There are so many people who die (in hospital) after a severe trauma leaving bilirubin, blood etc. on the mattress and lie for hours wrapped in bed sheets, unwashed, particularly in poor countries.”

    Check image on Jospice mattress: “Jospice Mattress Imprint”, Peter Carr, Fr O’Leary PDF on Shroud website: http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/imprint.pdf

    Fr Francis O’Leary maintained that the mattress was insulated from the body by bed linen including pillows and a polyurethane(??) cover. He may have been deiberately misinformed by an overworked hospice staff. But there are other important differences as well, such as patient died from pancreatic cancer, not by violent trauma.
    There is also another ancient case as well which MPH mentioned on a previous blog – I think it was of a well-born Egyptian lady, and the cloth was in the Louvre for some years until either it or the image disappeared. I’m unaware of any others, but it’s possible there may be. In view of O’Leary’s assertions, we might speculate as to whether or not the image was produced by Maillard or by some other means.

  8. Louis, could you give the best argument which in your view rules out Maillard reaction ?

  9. It seems to me that the best option is to wait and see what Denis Mannix will have to say first and then compare it to what Rogers said. It was possible for me to judge, from the contact with Father Francis O’Leary, that he was not mislead because there was no reason for anyone to do this. The differences with the good priest arose as a result of his interpreting the imprint as a spiritual phenomenon. Please see the article “Can the Jospice Mattress Imprint be compared to the Image on the Shroud.pdf”, written years ago.

    1. I had an exchange on this matter with Max Patrick Hamon a month or two back. I mentioned the points made by Fr O’Leary concerning the insulation of the mattress cover from the body. It was Max’s view that the good priest may well have been misled by an overworked hospice staff, who may have been sensitive to possible accusations of neglect if they had left the patient naked on a bare mattress, as he claimed that such neglectful practices were only too common in over-committed hospices at the time. I’m aware of the paper mentioned by Louis, but believed it to be a little too speculative to be 100% credible.

  10. As far as I know, Jospice is not a big hospital. One cannot also forget that there was more than clothing around. Then there is the head image, which although distorted, also contributes to understanding the phenomenon. Perhaps some head movement explains the distortion.

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