Archive for January, 2013

The Eric Jumper Lecture at Notre Dame: How did it go? Anyone?

January 31, 2013 8 comments

I have had three inquiries about the Eric Jumper lecture. Does anyone have any input on how it went? Here is what I posted the other day:

clip_image001If you can be at Notre Dame on January 29th, Professor Eric J. Jumper will be speaking on the Shroud of Turin on from 3:30PM until 5:00PM at the Lower Level Auditorium in Geddes Hall. This sounds great:

Thirty-five years ago an expedition was mounted to examine the Shroud of Turin, take data and samples in an attempt to establish the possibility that the Shroud could be the burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth. Dr. Jumper was one of two co-directors of that expedition. This presentation will relate the preparation and testing of the Shroud and discuss the specific findings regarding the chemical makeup of the various stains and images on the cloth. C14 dating, performed in the early 1980’s, showed that the samples of the cloth that were analyzed had a Carbon date that placed them in the Middle Ages. Although no conclusive method has been established on the specific mechanism responsible for the cloths images, the presumption has been that the cloth could not be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus. Dr. Jumper’s position, since the time that the C14 dating was made public, is that the Shroud cannot have a first century origin; however, new information has come to light that has introduced some doubt to his previous certainty.

Source: Professor Eric J. Jumper — Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering


Categories: Event, Science

How could a medieval mind create an image such as the one on the shroud?

January 31, 2013 37 comments

clip_image001A reader writes:

I just read and enjoyed your comments on While I am a practicing Roman Catholic, I also have a PhD in chemistry and I hope that I can maintain scientific objectivity regarding the shroud. I believe that whether or not the shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus can be an open question – although I personally believe it is. But whether or not the shroud is the burial cloth of a crucified person or a fake seems to me to be beyond question. If it is a fake, it is probably the most brilliant hoax of all time! It seems to me to be beyond belief that one or more persons could have assembled all of the abundant supporting evidence 1000 years ago. One can concede that with research and great diligence the faker(s) could have assembled the evidence (however unlikely that is) – with one exception: the image! As far as I know, no one has been able to satisfactorily explain or duplicate the image. How could a medieval mind conceive and execute a negative three-dimensional image such as the one on the shroud? It is that aspect of the shroud that tilts my opinion toward regarding it as the burial cloth of Jesus.

Exactly. And why, in an age that was so undemanding, would someone do so.

And then again, I think about the inventiveness and the technology that went into building those cathedrals. But isn’t that altogether quite different?

Categories: Uncategorized

Teaser of the Day: Front and back images show almost the same color intensity. Or do they?

January 31, 2013 3 comments


UPDATE: Hugh Farey sent a couple of screen scrapes from Shroudscope that may help some of see the similarity. They are beneath the fold below.

What is right or wrong with this material from page 9 of The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer.

Table I, Item 1.0:

The front and back images of the body show almost the same color intensity (yellow-brown), i.e., at first sight, we cannot appreciate, which image is the more evident, front or back.

Scored: Established


To the naked eye it is difficult to distinguish between the intensity of the frontal and dorsal body images. We believe this observation demonstrates that neither cloth-body contact nor the weight of the body on the cloth significantly affected the image formation process.

End Notes:

  • Eric J. Jumper, Alan D. Adler, John P. Jackson, Samuel F. Pellicori, John H. Heller, James R Druzik, “A Comprehensive Examination of the Various Stains and Images on the Shroud of Turin,” American ChemicalSociety 22 (1984): 451-53. (This was on of the key early papers published by STURP scientists based on their research on the Shroud in Turin in 1978.)
  • L.A. Schwalbe and R.N. Rogers, “Physics and Chemistry of the Shroud of Turin, A Summary of the 1978 Investigation, Analytica Chemica Acta, Vol. 135 (1982): 3-49. (This is another of the early STURP Research Papers.)

What doesn’t sit well with me is the blatancy of the assumption that “neither cloth-body contact nor the weight of the body on the cloth significantly affected the image formation process.” If later in the paper certain artistic image forming processes are to be entertained (as they are and rightly so) such as painting, photography and Luigi Garlaschelli’s method, then it is only appropriate to not poison the well with an obvious image of a human body enshrouded. To the authors’ credit, this is limited to a comment. Such rhetorical shenanigans should be avoided. Simply leave off the last sentence of the comment and this item is probably an established fact. Or is it? 

Read more…

Categories: Teaser of the Day

Russ Breault and Shroud Encounter also in West Simsbury, Connecticut

January 30, 2013 3 comments
Categories: Event, History, Science

Déjà vu or what?

January 30, 2013 3 comments

imageIt is interesting to note that one year ago a reader of this blog criticized the binary decision table used by Giulio Fanti. See Not happy with Giulio Fanti’s Paper in JIST. He wrote:

Baloney, baloney, baloney. This is based on a simple scoring table of 24 characteristics for 12 methods that looks like a street gambler’s punchboard. It assumes that each of the characteristics has about the same weight. C11 reads, “The pronounced rigor mortis of the body is evident, especially on the back image near the buttocks.” C24 reads, “No image can be found under the bloodstains, because they formed before the body image.” Should these two characteristics have the same weight? And why is there a “because” in C24 which changes the characteristic into an argument. The scoring is essentially binary, using x, o and ? for inconsistent, verified and dubious. All of it seems totally subjective, e. g. like how evident is rigor in the butt. I would trust Zugibe or a forensic pathologist, not Fanti on this. (emphasis mine)

Now look at this quote from the new paper on the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado website, The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses, by Robert W. Siefker and Daniel S. Spicer. It reads, word for word, exactly like the sentence in Giulio’s paper “No image can be found under the bloodstains, because they formed before the body image.”

Yesterday, Paulette objected to the sentence in the new paper for the same reason that a reader objected to the identical sentence in Giulio’s paper last year. Paulette wrote:

. . . a scientist would never write “because” in an observation statement, particularly one that is not all that well confirmed. He or she might say is that the observation suggests a possible conclusion, never that it is explained by a conclusion.

I think Paulette comes off a bit too strong when she says, “a scientist would never write . . .” I agree however that it is unwise in a table called ‘Image Characteristics Evidence’ to use what is obviously a conclusion following the word ‘because.’ It is more problematic because (no pun intended) the astute and often questioning reader knows full well that it is a desired conclusion for what becomes obviously the goal of the paper as expressed in the binary decision table. (This is not to imply that I disagree with the conclusion implied by the bloodstain observation even as I disagree with the overall conclusion of the paper).

Now look at the punchboard-style binary decision table in the new paper and consider the criticism leveled at Giulio’s paper a year ago. Similar lists. Same terms such as inconsistent or dubious. Only the subjective decisions within the table seem different leading us to a different overall conclusion.  Déjà vu or what?

The blogosphere has changed the rules of shroud science. Bloggers are a tough crowd. Here, in this blog, for the most part, readers who comment are extraordinarily  well informed, very perceptive and thoroughly analytical. (And I mean to imply that I agree with Paulette and the previous reader.)

It seems to me that a positive thing to do with this paper over many days and weeks ahead is to take one item at a time, maybe one-a-day or so, and discuss it in this blog (or re-discuss it or choose to ignore it). And there will be no let up on the many other things that get posted like this wonderful new Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Distinguishing human blood from that of other species.



Chart from The Shroud A Critical Summary of Observations, Data and Hypotheses

Categories: Uncategorized

Like a Catholic Hippie Jesus

January 30, 2013 4 comments

imageAlright, so I wasn’t thrilled about Barrie Schwortz going to the Prophesy in the News (PITN) Pikes Peak conference. See PITN Taking Advantage of the Shroud of Turin and , How ‘Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm? After They’ve Seen Paree. I had said:

Frankly, I’m sorry to see the Shroud of Turin used for what I think, now, is basically a movement to sell books and conventions and promote a non-orthodox, off-beat Christianism.

I got a lot of push back from Barrie, Russ Breault and others. And I reconsidered my position, somewhat. Now some folks of the off-beat crowd, very very off-beat crowd, are objecting. Click HERE or on the graphic to see how bad it can get (all 16 pages – requires antacid tablets).

And then there is this at the blog Galatians 4:

Why are so called evangelicals promoting a relic of the Popes?
From LA Muzarulli’s blog..

"I wept when I first saw the face, in 1980, as I believe it is really him. I don’t worship the image, and it doesn’t add to my salvation. It does, however, leave me speechless as I have a tangible link to events that happened almost 2000 years ago, a cosmic picture, if you will of the event that Christians call the resurrection, made, I believe by God himself, as the lifeless body dematerialized in millions of points of light. Is the man on the Shroud Jesus? That’s up to you to decide for yourself. As for me, the Shroud of Turin is God’s Calling Card."

. . . Because this thing is not a "picture" of Jesus whatsoever. Besides the obvious breaking of the second commandment, it’s all wrong. The OT tells us that long hair is a shame unto a man, and they expect Jesus to have long hair? It’s just another phony rendition of the Catholic "jesus".

You all may think I am strange with this one, but I knew the Shroud of Turin was phony within the same year I came out of the Catholic church. Take a look at this face… Long hair anorexic like an inverse of the Catholic "hippie" "jesus:….

Oh, my gosh, Barrie has long hair.

Categories: Event, News & Views

Guest Posting by Kelly Kearse: Distinguishing human blood from that of other species

January 30, 2013 21 comments

Distinguishing human blood from that of other species:

Too much monkey business?


The term “human blood” is consistently used in discussions of the bloodstains on the Shroud. Just how is human blood distinguished in the laboratory? And where exactly does the data on the Shroud stand? These questions are briefly discussed below.


Human blood versus animal blood

A scientist cannot just look at a bloodstain with the naked eye and tell that it’s human blood. For fresh blood, microscopic analyses may allow one to distinguish mammalian red blood cells from non-mammalian red blood cells due to the absence and presence of a nucleus, respectively. If sufficient numbers of (white) blood cells are present, chromosomal characterization (karyotyping) may be performed, at significantly higher magnification. Among primates, only humans contain 46 chromosomes; chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans contain 48. The chromosome number of other species is quite variable, for example pigs have 38, sheep have 54, dogs have 78, and cows have 60.

In aged bloodstains, such microscopic tests are not practical because blood cells become dehydrated and rupture within hours of drying. Species characterization of dried, aged bloodstains relies on serological (immunology) tests or molecular (DNA) analysis. Chemical tests cannot distinguish human from animal blood. For serological studies, human blood components (usually albumin or immunoglobulin proteins) are detected using antibodies that are generated in another species, for instance, rabbits. When utilized in the laboratory, such antibodies would not react with blood components from other animals, for example chickens or cows, because enough difference exists from their human counterpart proteins that the antibodies fail to recognize them.


A positive reaction in such tests usually results in the conclusion that human blood is present. However, this is where things get somewhat tricky. Even though such reagents are designated as “anti-human”, this only refers to the species in which they were generated. Cross-reactivity (or the lack thereof) must be independently verified. Species that are closely related to humans (i.e. non-human primates) express blood components (albumin and immunoglobulin) that are similar enough to those of humans to also react positively in such tests (see picture above). In forensic settings this is typically disregarded unless special circumstances warrant that such possibilities be considered (at a crime scene within a zoo, for example, or if someone were known to keep apes or monkeys as pets). In most situations, when it is stated that bloodstains tested positive for human blood, this underlying supposition exists. Strictly speaking, such serological tests do not distinguish human blood from the blood of other primates (monkeys or apes). If sufficient DNA is intact for molecular biology analysis, specific regions of certain genes may be targeted that have sequences unique to humans, which allow them to be effectively distinguished from those of closely related species.

Human origin of the blood on the Shroud

In the vast majority of discussions of the human nature of the bloodstains on the Shroud, the studies that are typically referenced are the experiments of Adler and colleagues and Baima Ballone and coworkers, utilizing serological tests for detection of common major blood components: albumin, immunoglobulin, ABO antigens. In fact, such studies do not distinguish human blood from the blood of other primates.

With the Shroud, primate may imply human but this is an extension beyond what the data actually show. Adler was appropriately cautious in concluding that the data only demonstrated that the blood was of primate origin, and even conducted experiments to evaluate the cross-reactivity of such “anti-human” reagents. Adler would also comment, “If you choose to think that the image you see is that of a chimp or an orangutan, you’re perfectly welcome to believe that…

To date, the only study that directly addresses the human nature of the Shroud bloodstains is an often overlooked report by Baima Ballone et al. that evaluated the expression of additional blood components found on red blood cells, specifically the M,N, and S antigens. (Such antigens have also been studied in the blood analysis of King Tut). The conclusion was that the bloodstains on the Shroud are characterized as MNS positive. What is most significant about these studies is that unlike M and N antigens, which are shared between certain primates and humans, the S antigen is exclusive to humans only. No S counterpart exists in other species, including apes or monkeys. This point was not emphasized (or mentioned) in the report, as the significance of this relationship among primates was not fully elucidated until several years later (in non-Shroud related studies). Of the six serological analyses of blood components on the Shroud, this brief study remains the single most definitive piece of serological evidence that directly addresses the human origin of the blood on the Shroud. For a more detailed discussion see: “Empirical evidence that the blood on the Shroud of Turin is of human origin: Is the current data sufficient?” recently published on The full-length manuscript is available at

Concluding Remarks

Taken together, the current serological data indicate the blood on the Shroud is of primate, i.e. human origin. Could more work be done in the laboratory to strengthen the conclusion that the blood is indisputably human? The answer is yes. Should there be sufficient doubt that the blood is in fact, human, and may represent the blood of a monkey or ape? The MNS studies say no. All other data are consistent with this finding. Moreover, Adler has effectively commented on the difficulties a forger would encounter in trying to apply clotting blood [of any species] to various regions on the Shroud. Since the original blood studies were performed some thirty years ago, significant advancements have been made in the development of serological and molecular tools that could prove useful in advancing previous information. For example, within the past few years, monoclonal antibodies have been generated that effectively distinguish human blood from that of closely related species. Similar to blood typing data, additional analyses would cross-check and verify previous findings on the bloodstains of the Shroud.

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