Fly on the wall summary of the BSTS Meeting

imageBy way of a part of a comment by Hugh Farey on Colin Berry’s blog we have a quick fly-on-the-wall summary of the BSTS meeting. Here is some of that comment while we await a report on the meeting:

. . . [T]he BSTS meeting was interesting (particularly as there were life-size photos to pore over), and although in principle extremely controversial, very polite! David Rolfe did not pursue the Dawkins Challenge at all. He read out a goodwill message from Ian Wilson (now living in New Zealand) with interpolations of his own, from which two new movements came to light. Someone in America is reviewing the pollen sample slides, both those taken by Max Frie and those by other members of the STURP team, with a view to explaining the rather different interpretations different people have made of them; and also (quite exciting) a mould for making Lirey/Cluny pilgrimage badges has been found. I didn’t know about that, but immediately Googled “Lirey pelerinage moule” and find a photo of it as the front cover of a book – still only published in France as yet. It does not seem to be the mould for the famous badge, but certainly for one very similar.

Thomas de Wesselow then expounded in detail why he thought the two components of the shroud image, image and blood, were “technically, stylistically and conceptually” incompatible with 14th century art or forgery (I know you and many others disagree, and he did not reveal anything blindingly new, but he set out his arguments clearly and with many illustrations), . . .

Finally a medical lady whose name I didn’t catch ran through the image as pathology, with some real Roman nails and a flagrum mock-up based on the famous remains found in Pompei. It was interesting for me as I had only seen these things on telly before, but not revelatory; and Tony Luby, a teacher, explained how he used the shroud in his RCRE classes.

Link to book cover at that shows mold mentioned above. 

The full comment also deals with scorching experiments.

14 thoughts on “Fly on the wall summary of the BSTS Meeting”

  1. [David Rolfe] read out a goodwill message from Ian Wilson (now living in New Zealand).
    I haven’t been able to find any reference that Ian Wilson is now living here in New Zealand. Last I heard he lived in Queensland (Australia) Northern hemispherites can sometimes be confused about geography south of the equator. There’s about 1200 miles of Tasman Sea (We call it “The Ditch”) between the two countries. Happy to stand corrected, if Ian now actually lives here! Maybe NZ was the address Ian gave in his info to DR?

  2. Oops. My mistake and apologies to Ian Wilson and everybody who lives in Australia and New Zealand. Sadly Denis Mannix was unable to be at the meeting because of ill health.

  3. This is entered on behalf of Denis Mannix

    Shroud Maillard hypothesis.

    The present proposal is not to study the Maillard reaction at all. In Shroud circles the expression “the Maillard reaction” has come to be used as a general term for Ray Rogers’ claim that the image has been formed by a Maillard reaction and, more surprisingly, that it involved gases that retained, within their gaseous state, information about some physical characteristics eg. the shape, of their source. His claim is based on experiments that he carried out simulating the conditions with the tomb.

    The work proposed is designed to test only the latter part of this claim by Rogers which is quite a surprising claim ie. that a clear image (comparable with the image on the Shroud) can be made on a recipient surface by gases that rise in a thermal current and retain, during their movement, the details of the surface, (wounds, fingers etc) from which they were released. This claim will be tested by the accuracy of the image they generate on a reactant surface. At the same time it will test to what extent any simultaneous diffusion within the gas phase obscures the image. This is as far as the proposal goes.

    This high quality image is an essential prerequisite before we go on to study what reaction has caused the image. If we do get the high quality image may some people may still need verify that it has the same chemical composition as the image on the Shroud. This would then lead into studies of the possible reactions that might have formed the image, including the Maillard reaction.

    Denis Mannix

    1. Could Denis Mannix quote Rogers’ claim ? I’m not in Shroud circles, and when I asked Thibault for more details about Rogers’ hypothesis, there was no mention of thermal currents.

      I think diffusion is the distant mechanism involved in body image formation. But image formation includes contact and diffusion.

  4. In his ‘An Amino-Carbonyl reaction (Maillard reaction) may explain the image formation’ (, Rogers dismisses any form of gaseous diffusion as responsible for the image, as ‘vapours and liquids penetrate the cloth.’ I think we have to go back to Vignon for the idea that convection currents would carry gases preferentially upwards to the cloth, opposing the general omni-directional diffusion.

    1. I agree 100% with this scheme. I would add that convection currents could be triggered by a very small and declining- with- time temperature gradient. This implies very low velocities for amines/sweat/oinments/whatever from the body, and such a motion is compatible with low Reynolds numbers, that is with a laminar flow. In this case, a vertical motion of very narrow flow lines of amines emerging from the body and impacting/ reacting on the cloth, could explain
      i) the resolution of the image (related to the size of the flow lines)
      ii)the vertical anisotropy of the image

    2. Hugh Farey :
      Rogers dismisses any form of gaseous diffusion as responsible for the image

      This is a complete misunderstanding of Rogers’ hypothesis. One step foward, two steps backward.

      1. I hope I haven’t misunderstood Rogers’s work. All the experiments he describes are contacts, and he says that hypotheses “based solely on vapour-diffusion… mechanisms” have been “eliminated” (by Pellicori and Evans). He does describe the use of ammonia vapour as a developer of a latent contact image, and later mentions gaseous reactive amines, but does not regard them as playing any part in image formation “away from contact points.” If you understand his experiments differently, I would be most happy to be corrected.

  5. Let us not forget to also ask another question: why all this happened only in the case Jesus’ burial cloth? — if it is the genuine article.

  6. It’s difficult to distinguish Rogers from the person he’s answering in the Maillard Reaction paper, but if I understand him correctly, he replies to a query about gaseous amines by beginning “ammonia would leave a fog of colour on the cloth… The image was not primarily formed by ammonia.” He goes on to say that heavier amines would continue to evolve, and would “diffuse from the skin to the cloth from the entire surface of the skin.” Without sufficient data, Rogers then makes very educated guesses about evolution rates, and considers that they are likely to be so slow that reaction between gases and cloth are likely to be ‘diffusion controlled,’ which I take to mean somewhat similar to the ‘fog of colour’ he ascribes to ammonia. He then considers what his correspondent calls the ‘path-length dependent attenuation of the concentration,’ but without, I feel, much enthusiasm, considering various surface factors to be more important. It is clear, I think, that he is not very hopeful that gas diffusion along path-length dependent gradients provides the answer to the formation of the image; however he does seem to have changed his earlier position slightly in favour of a possibility that gas diffusion plays a bigger part than he first thought. I think his last paragraph is magnificent – he is a great loss.

  7. Hugh Farey :
    however he does seem to have changed his earlier position slightly in favour of a possibility that gas diffusion plays a bigger part than he first thought.

    During the STuRP they rules out diffusion because the image is superficial. Then, 20 years later, he run new tests and found out it was the reactant on the cloth which could be superficial but gases could have diffused through the cloth.

    His theory seems to have been dismissed in Shroud circles. Evidence of starch is not obvious, reactive amines initially proposed (cadaverine and putrecine) have been ruled out.
    But his views on kinetics and diffusion are very interesting, and a chemical reaction is a credible rational explanation.

    If you have time, you should try to reproduce his experiments to determine reachable resolution thanks to a diffusion mechanism.

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