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What’s in a linen fiber?

imageIt is one of Colin Berry’s better posting, perhaps his best. For all of us, even the historians and theologians and philosophers among us, there is much that we can learn about the linen fibers here; “[at]t the risk of boring the pants off everyone,” he realizes. Even so, read Time maybe to re-think the received wisdom about the entire Shroud image being “highly superficial”? 

You won’t be sorry. Okay read a  bit here, below, before clicking over:

But let’s not forget one thing. The secondary cell wall is not 100% cellulose. As I pointed out in the last posting but one, the SCW is reckoned to contain non-cellulosic polysaccharides (NCPs) as well  (some 15% of total polysaccharides) which  are hemicelluloses, with a sizeable galactan content.  Hemicellulose may sound similar to cellulose but is entirely different, having  much less crystallinity, and lacking therefore the extraordinary physical strength and chemical resistance of pure cellulose. Being non-crystalline, and accompanied by pentose sugars, the hemicelluloses of the SCW (secondary cell wall) ,  AS WELL AS  THE PCW , may well be susceptible to scorching by conducted heat, weakening the fibrils, making them more prone to fracture across their width – not just separate longitudinally.  Maybe that scorching would not be highly visible, and  perhaps easy to overlook, if it were to be interspersed with white cellulose fibrils.   Rough-and-ready microscopy may not tell the whole story, especially on account of refraction artefacts etc.  Oh, and let’s not forget the nodes either (aka dislocations) of which there are reckoned to be hundreds per fibre cell. They too have been described as weak points in the flax and linen fibre.

Take away message? At the risk of boring the pants off everyone with the same old refrain, I for one shan’t be  abandoning the scorch hypothesis  any time soon. . . .

Yes, yes; read past this. We already know, if not from the title of his blog, that he comes at this with worldview bias. We do too, of course. We’re just not so blatantly biased – some of us that is.

. . . It’s got too much going for it. Where there still exist unexplained discrepancies between model scorches and the TS image, e.g. colour distribution, fluorescence etc, they may well be due either to differences in the scorching methodology (there being numerous ways of ‘ringing the changes’)  or of age-related effects and/or ‘traumas’ experienced by the Shroud in its history (1532 fire etc).

Here is a money quote:

Enough of excuses: Thibault got it right on this occasion. But that’s no reason for the entire Shroudosphere to run away with the idea that Thibault is right about everything all the time. For example. I don’t think he was right about his rejection of the scorching hypothesis on the grounds that a heated bas-relief template must always produce a scorched-on image with “excessive contrast”, not when his unsubtle choice of template virtually guaranteed that result! . . .

But then there is this, which is part of the same paragraph:

. . . If folk are wondering what on earth I am talking about, it’s because another site that shall remain nameless chose to ignore completely my 3 part-riposte to Thibault’s assault on the scorch hypothesis, while continuing to this day to give his pdf prominence at the top right hand corner of its Home Page.

I always run a risk with Colin. The other “site that shall remain nameless” (and without a link) that he refers to is mine. If I post someone else’s paper, it is because it was sent to me. (Colin, send me a good paper. I might post it.) And if I quote from Colin’s site I am accused of pirating his material – actually just the right amount so that people won’t follow the link I provide to his site (yes, go read his comments) – and if I ignore him or post too little I instead have sinned similarly. Why am I reminded of the three bears: the porridge is too hot or the porridge is too cold. I am, I think he thinks, the main reason he doesn’t get more visitors and comments on his site.

Colin, I rather imagine, would that I simply said, he has a lovely post like a lovely pot of tea in a cozy, with clotted cream and crumpets, so go read it. In this case, he does so go read it.

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