Colin Berry’s Christmas Present

imageHe writes in his blog:

PS: I know what I’m getting for Christmas;-) It’s a microscope with a USB socket for linking to a laptop. It will hopefully serve as the equivalent for a bolt-on camera attachment. I’ll soon be able to take a better look at the superficiality issue. Now all I need is a uv lamp…

Now that is something all of us have been waiting for.

There is an interesting discussion going on over on Colin’s blog. The title of it is “Let’s poke ‘em with hokum…” | The Turin Shroud: but for the pseudo-science it would have been dismissed long ago as a medieval fake. Everything after the word hokum constitutes the title of his blog. No question about where he stands, is there? The discussion involves Colin, Hugh Farey, Adrie, and a brief appearance by Thibault Heimburger offering some literature finding help.

What Colin does throughout his blog – and we should thank him for this – is challenge what perhaps for some have become almost fundamentalist-like beliefs about the shroud: lack of fluorescence in the image, serum halos, bilirubin, no image beneath bloodstains, etc..

Here is a taste:

Colin Berry says:

Maybe fluorescent has a role to play in distinguishing between these two mechanisms – or, for that matter, any others that may be proposed. But the problem one is up against is that the fluorescence (or lack of) that we see now may not accurately reflect what might have been seen centuries ago immediately after image-imprinting. Fluorochromes tend to be fairly reactive and thus unstable chemicals – if not within weeks or even years – at least over decades and centuries as chemical double bonds become modified by oxygen etc. If Rogers’ vanillin can act like a chemical clock, albeit erratically, then so can fluorochromes that are initially yellow-green under uv light. As for those elusive red ones – well, I’m as much in the dark as you. The only red fluorochromes I have come across are free porphyrins, i.e. the cyclic tetrapyrroles that remain behind when iron is stripped out of haems.

Hugh Farey says:

I don’t know if my hypothesis works better when the ‘overall’ scorching happens before or after the ‘image’ scorching. However, we are told that the entire shroud is ‘yellowed with age’ and ‘weakly fluorescent.’ This is consistent with the entire shroud being heated (as part of the manufacturing process before the image, or in a reliquary after the image) to, say, 200C, producing some visible chromophores (yellow -I have still not been able to produce fluorescence without any visible change at all), and some invisible fluorochromes. (Your Phase 1 above) I believe the fluorochromes form at one temperature, and are indeed degraded into non-fluorescence after a very small increase in temperature. If I pour a blob of molten lead onto a piece of linen, and (after tipping it off) look at it under UV light, the scorch itself does not glow, it just looks brown, but it is surrounded by a coastline of yellow-green fluorescence, as if a steep temperature gradient is being illustrated, from no change, to fluorochrome, to visible scorch (shades of brown) and eventually to char (black). Your Phase 2 then, is the application of a hot template, which would turn more of the fluorochromes into non-fluorescing scorch, reduducing the overall fluorescence. I entered the shroudstory/shroudwithoutallthehype fray trying to demonstrate (with you) that the image could be a scorch, but was consistently obstructed by the “scorches fluoresce but the image does not fluoresce” chant. I think the idea that scorches only in fact fluoresce round the edges, and that the fluorescence of the shroud image is smothered by the overall backgroud fluorescence, overcomes this obstruction.

4 thoughts on “Colin Berry’s Christmas Present”

  1. Ah the false charge to pseudo-science again. It soothes them so, doesn’t it? And again, the red herring of the scorch hypothesis. Keep trying to squeeze blood out of that stone, one day you shall tire.

    He’s got it worse than the guys with the excimer lasers.

  2. Tire? Me? Never…
    And I’m not wedded to the scorch theory. It’s just that the image does look so very like a scorch…
    Anyway, just to show proper scientific balance, today I acquired some myrhh (too expensive) and some urea (very cheap). Myrhh, it turns out, without any treatment at all… IS FLUORESCENT! Not strongly, it’s true, but it has certainly put a new cat among my pigeons.

  3. Here’s wishing Dan and all his readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – full of insight and enlightenment. Clue to the second: don’t believe everything you read, no matter how seemingly impeccable the credentials. In the world of knowledge, misinformation lurks round every corner… Trust YOUR instincts – they are far more reliable than others’ eloquence…

  4. I don’t believe it’s a scorch either, but I’d have to agree with Hugh, that superficially it looks like a scorch. There are several problems with Colin’s scorch theory: (a) I can’t see that the TS can be a forgery – there’s too much evidence against it, particularly the forensics; (b) I can’t buy the construction of a conforming template – it’s against all artiistic conventions and the template would be more imposing than the mere image (c) the lack of superficiality of images produced by a scorch. As Colin would have it, I’m trusting my instincts here.

    However the history of Science is full of examples of serendipitous discoveries; We pursue one single idea which doesn’t work no matter how hard we try, and then out from the sky drops something new and unexpected, an accidental result that we hadn’t expected, or suddenly a new idea which changes our perspective entirely, and another insight is gained. The discussion on fluorescence might hint at some such possibility.

    I wish Colin well in his kitchen science endeavours. Who knows where they may lead! I don’t believe he’ll be successful in the way that he expects, but yet who knows what unexpected result he may obtain. But he’ll have to be open-minded enough to be able to recognise it when the unexpected does occur! It may yet shed further light on some elemental fact on how the image was actually imprinted – Or possibly not as the case may be!

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