The following is a REVISED guest posting by Yannick Clément,
a regular commenter on this blog.

I would like to express some thoughts about the « new » paper from Rogers that was recently published on Barrie Schwortz’s website. Here they are:

1- On the contrary to many Shroud researchers who have proposed in recent years their “theories” (mostly supernatural hypotheses related to the Resurrection of Christ) concerning the image formation, this “new” paper from Rogers (entitled “An Alternate Hypothesis for the Image Color”) clearly show that this great scientist had no preconceived ideas about what would have been the main “reactive agent” (or “catalytic compound” as he said) that initiated the formation of the image on the cloth. Effectively, this “new” paper clearly shows that, when he wrote it in 2001, Rogers had not found out yet the Maillard reaction hypothesis (including the idea that some post-mortem gases were the main “catalytic compounds”) he would proposed later on (in 2002) and he was, for the moment, favouring the presence of skin perspiration (sweat) and/or skin secretions, including skin oils (which are biological substances that were tested by Samuel Pellicori of STURP and which can produce a coloration on linen that show a very similar spectral results than what we see on the Shroud), as the most probable “catalytic compounds”, which could have initiated, with the help of heat released by the dead body, a caramelization process of a portion of the top-most fibers on the top surface of the cloth. This shows how science should work (i.e. always keep following ALL the pertinent data and observations in order to develop a rational hypothesis and adjust it along the way if necessary) and how science should NOT work (i.e. never start with a preconceive notion of what MUST have been the cause of a phenomenon (in this case, it is the formation of the body image on the Shroud), in order to avoid the strong temptation of considering only the data and observations that can possibly “fit” with your preconceive idea (and even inventing some more), while leaving aside all the other data and observations (or modifying their most probable meaning), which can be truly problematic to your hypothesis. Unfortunately, in the Shroud world, I’ve seen many researchers (including many “scientists” searching to build up an image formation “theory”, as well as many “historians” searching to build up a “theory” to explain the ancient history for the Shroud) falling right into that trap over the years and this is another reason why sindonology is seen by a good portion of the scientific community as a big joke. Note: You can find a very interesting summary of many coloration experiments made by Pellicori of STURP (including the one made with perspiration (sweat) and skin oils) in a paper entitled “Spectral Properties of the Shroud of Turin”, which he published in 1980 in Applied Optics. He also talk about the hypothesis he developed after these experiments in a paper entitled “The Shroud of Turin Through the Microscope”, which he published in 1981 with Mark Evans of STURP in the journal Archaeology.

2- After the reading of this “new” paper from Rogers, it’s quite evident that the “impurity” hypothesis he proposed for the question of the image chromophore was the corner stone and also the starting point of his whole hypothesis for image formation and that was still the case when he proposed his Maillard reaction later on. For Rogers, the probable presence of a thin and uneven layer of impurities on the top surface of the cloth was the most probable explanation for two of the most “mysterious” characteristics of the image, i.e. the discontinuous distribution of the colored fibers in the image area and the very superficial aspect of the image, which affected only the top-most fibers on the surface of the cloth. So far, I can say that I’ve never read a better, simpler and more rational hypothesis for the image chromophore than Rogers’ own hypothesis. In fact, I can honestly say that I’ve never read another hypothesis for the image chromophore (not even the primary cell wall hypothesis proposed by Fanti and al. in 2010) that have succeed to convinced me that it could really offer the same kind of simple and rational explanation for the discontinuous and very superficial aspect of the image.

3- In this “new” paper, we can find a very important description of an evaporation-concentration experiment made by Rogers, which clearly show that such a natural process normally produce an uneven layer of impurities on the top-most fibers of a cloth, which is the main reason why Rogers thought that this kind of impurity layer was the best explanation for the discontinuous distribution of colored fibers in the image area. This particular evaporation-concentration experiment was made by Rogers with a cotton nap and a dye solution and here’s how he describe the result:

The photomicrograph show that the main concentration of dye on the top surface appears on the fibrils of the nap that are pointing straight up and on the top-most surfaces of the threads.

This is a clear indication that when an evaporation-concentration phenomenon is active inside a cloth, it normally produce an uneven layer of impurities that concentrate mostly on the top surface of the cloth, thus giving us a possible explanation for the discontinuous distribution of colored fibers in the image area of the Shroud (as well as the extremely superficial aspect of the image). Effectively, starting from this result obtained by Rogers, we can presume that, after the active phase of the image formation process (which was most probably mild), only a portion of the coated fibers located on the top surface of the cloth (i.e. the ones that were coated by a thicker layer of impurities) were able to get colored enough to help producing the body image that we see on the Shroud, because the amount of impurities, in their case, would have been sufficient to produce such a result. It should be noted that, in his book about the Shroud, Rogers talk about a similar evaporation-concentration experiment that can be made to evaluate the kind of concentration of impurities that can be produced by such a natural process, but he didn’t mention the fact that the experimental result clearly shows that the layer of impurities located on the top surface of the cloth is uneven, thus offering a very good explanation for the discontinuous distribution of colored fibers in the image area. That’s why this section of Rogers’ “new” paper is, in my mind, very important. It’s so important in fact that it can be use to completely discredit the main “anti-impurity” argument that we can found in the 2010 paper entitled “Microscopic and Macroscopic Characteristics of the Shroud of Turin Image Superficiality” that was written by Fanti, Di Lazarro, Heimburger and some others. Effectively, in this paper, the authors, who tried to push their primary cell wall hypothesis, clearly wrote that Rogers’ hypothesis versus the impurities was unable to explain the discontinuous distribution of the body image on the Shroud. Now, I think that this “new” paper from Rogers can offer them a pretty good reason to completely rethink their conclusion versus his “impurity” hypothesis, which really seems to be the real and only chromophore of the body image. One thing’s for sure: In the light of what we found in this “new” paper from Rogers, it’s fair to say that such an “anti-impurity” argument, which involves the discontinuous aspect of the image fibers, is completely false. And, to be honest, I found it quite funny that they dared to use this kind of argument in a try to discredit Rogers’ hypothesis, while, at first sight, this discontinuity of the colored fibers really seems much more problematic for their own chromophore hypothesis (i.e. the primary cell wall, which is found in every fibers, no matter their location inside the cloth, and not only for those located at the top surface of the cloth).

4– It’s also important to note that because it is a proven fact that a dehydration of ONLY a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities located around a linen fiber is almost impossible to achieve with any sort of energetic radiation, and because all the data coming from the Shroud (especially the fact that the bloodstains were not affected at all during the image formation) strongly suggest that the image formation was very mild, I’m almost sure that this is why Rogers became convinced that a totally natural process (which he was still seeking to fully determined at the time of his death) was really what have caused the formation of a very faint image on the cloth. In sum, the strong conviction of Rogers that the body image color must only reside in a thin and uneven layer of carbohydrate impurities, which would be completely independent from the entire structure of the linen fiber (including the primary cell wall of the fiber) is the most important thing that lead him to conclude that the image formation process was most certainly totally natural. I think it’s fair to say that, in Rogers’ mind, the most probable nature of the image chromophore (i.e. an impurity layer) was the most crucial data to consider when it was time for him to determine the particular nature of the image formation process (i.e. natural and very mild or supernatural and much more “strong” because it would be related to some form of energetic radiation). And here’s the most relevant statement made by Rogers to explain why a thin layer of impurities as the image chromophore should automatically lead to the conclusion that the image formation process must have been natural and very mild:

I studied the chemical kinetics of the impurity materials and conclude that it was improbable that the impurities had been scorched by heat or any radiation source: the crystal structure of the flax image fibers was no more defective than non-image fibers. It would take very good temperature control specifically to scorch impurities without producing some defects in the cellulose.

We can find this particular quote in the paper The Shroud of Turin from the viewpoint of the physical science published by Emmanuel Carreira in 2010.

5- This “new” paper of Rogers really shows that, in order to find a viable hypothesis for the body image, he first tried hard to find a rational explanation for the discontinuous and the very superficial aspect of the body image, which he finally found in the probable presence of a thin and uneven layer of carbohydrates impurities located mostly over of the top-most fibers at the surface of the cloth (made primarily of starch and possibly also of saponaria residues, along with maybe some substances that were extracted from the primary cell wall of the fibers during the retting process). Then (AND ONLY THEN), he tried hard to find what would have been the most logical “catalytic compound(s)” that could have interacted with this probable layer of impurities in order to dehydrate these impurities enough to produce a visible coloration, while, at the same time, trying also hard to find what would have been the most logical transfer mode(s) between these “catalytic compounds” and the thin layer of impurities. It’s very interesting to note that this “new” paper prove that Rogers changed his mind about the question of the most probable “catalytic compounds” along the way (but without changing his mind about the fact that the transfer mode should have included a diffusion process), most probably because he ended up finding some irreconcilable problems between his first hypothesis (skin perspiration and/or skin secretions, first proposed by Pellicori of STURP) and some data and observations coming from his intensive study and probably also because he found out that a fresh tortured corpse could truly released some post-mortem gases (ammonia gas and possibly also some heavy amines) before the appearance of the first liquid of putrefaction, thus offering him a viable alternative hypothesis for the “catalytic compounds” issue. It’s crucial to note that these steps followed by Rogers during his research are the RIGHT STEPS any good scientist should follow in the case of the Shroud image (i.e. first try to explain and define the image chromophore in the light of all the data and observations available (including the discontinuous and very superficial aspect of the image) and then (and only then) try to find the most logical “reactive agent” that could have interacted with it in order to produce an image with the same chemical and physical characteristics as the one on the Shroud, while also trying to find the most probable interaction mechanism(s)). Unfortunately for the credibility of Shroud science, this is not what often happened in the Shroud world, where many “scientists” often proposed image formation hypotheses (mostly supernatural in essence and related to the Resurrection of Christ) without trying first to define the image chromophore, while taking into account, among other things, the discontinuous and very superficial aspect of the image. To me, it’s like a magical way of thinking that can be summarized like this:

We don’t know how the burst of energetic radiation we proposed (whether it be a corona discharge, a burst of UV light, a burst of protons, neutrons, etc.) could have produced an image with these very particular characteristics but that’s not a problem, because our hypothesis is related directly to the Resurrection event, which is, in essence, a supernatural event that we can’t define and test in a lab. Because of that, it is totally conceivable (for those who believe in the Resurrection of Jesus!) that such a supernatural event could have caused that kind of “mysterious” image on the cloth, which shows a discontinuous and extremely superficial aspect. At first sight, it is totally illogical that the burst of energetic radiation that we proposed could have caused the very same kind of discontinuous and highly superficial image everywhere on the cloth (no matter if the cloth was in direct contact or if it was located at a few centimeters away from it and no matter if the cloth was located over or under the body), but since this is directly related to the Resurrection of Christ… Anything is possible!

This is exactly the kind of magical thinking that lies quietly under most of the supernatural hypotheses that have been proposed over the years… Of course, those who proposed them will never said it publicly as clearly as I have done, but nevertheless, this is the kind of thinking on which the supernatural hypotheses they proposed is resting and I have absolutely no problem putting an “unscientific” tag over it. Note: even if he didn’t specifically said the same thing as I have just written concerning the magical thinking “syndrome” that pollute the Shroud world these days, we can still found a glimpse of that kind of magical thinking in a public statement made in 2010 by Paolo Di Lazzaro concerning his supernatural hypothesis for image formation involving a burst of UV light, when he said this in an interview:

Though significant, our results allow the recognition of a photo-chemical process capable of generating a Shroud-like coloration, but still do not make it possible to formulate a certain and practicable hypothesis on how the Shroud image was formed: for example, if we consider the density of radiation that we used to color a single square centimeter of linen, to reproduce the entire image of the Shroud with a single flash of light would require fourteen thousand lasers firing simultaneously each on a different area of linen. In other words, it would take a laser light source the size of an entire building.

Here, it should be noted that, in this statement, Di Lazzaro doesn’t even addressed the question of how in the world could he or anyone else succeed to reproduce the discontinuous and highly superficial aspect of the Shroud image (which is the same everywhere on the cloth) with one single flash of light that would be released partially from a source located in direct contact with the cloth and partially from the same source located at some distance from it (up to maybe 4 cm), while at the same time, avoiding to produce a coloration in areas located at more than 4 cm from the source of energy??? Now, if this is not a good example of the “magical thinking” I described earlier, I don’t know what it is!!! Effectively, in the case of Di Lazzaro’s hypothesis (as well as in the case of most if not all the other supernatural hypotheses), it’s only by thinking that the Resurrection could have produce such a feat (even if we don’t know how) that his whole proposal can still stand-up (but only in the eyes of those who believe in the Resurrection of course)!!! On the contrary to such magical thinking, Rogers’ hypothesis versus the “reactive agent” and the way it was transfer to the cloth is totally compatible, theoretically speaking, with his hypothesis concerning the image chromophore, without ever having to rest on any supernatural event or process. Because of this, his whole hypothesis concerning the image formation on the Shroud can truly be considered as being 100% scientific, on the contrary to most (if not all) of the hypotheses involving a supernatural burst of energy at the time of the Resurrection of Christ. Final note: This doesn’t mean that Rogers was right on everything regarding the image on the Shroud, but that surely mean that he followed the right steps in order to propose a RATIONAL explanation (which still need to be fully explored and tested) that took into account EVERY data and observations that were available to him. Concerning this, it should be noted that, on the contrary to most researchers, Rogers had the opportunity to spend 5 days and nights with the Shroud in Turin and, consequently, he was certainly better placed that these guys to know all the pertinent facts regarding the image that we see on this cloth…

6- After having seen the main steps followed by Rogers to build his image formation hypothesis, it’s very interesting to note that these kind of steps followed by Rogers during his research are exactly the same as the ones followed by two italian researchers named Fazio and Mandaglio in their own inquiry about the Shroud image, proving without doubt their professionalism as scientists and the potential value of their conclusions. Effectively, it’s only after they analyzed with great care the characteristics of the image (especially the discontinuous distribution of colored fibers in the image area) that they were confident enough to propose two possible natural mechanisms (thermal radiations from the dead body and/or a gaseous diffusion like the one proposed by Rogers) that can account for such an image. It’s important to note that, for these two scientists, as well as for Rogers, a natural image formation was really what was fitting the best with the kind of very particular characteristics of the body image on the Shroud. The fact that they performed their research in total independence versus the one made by Rogers and, nevertheless, they came up with conclusions very similar regarding the nature of the image formation (even if they differ versus the exact location of the image chromophore), this speaks very loud to me and should have been considered by the Shroud world with much more care and interest than what I have noticed since the publication of their articles about the Shroud. Note: the most important paper they published about the Shroud image is: G. Fazio and G. Mandaglio, Stochastic distribution of the fibrils that yielded the Shroud of Turin body image, Radiation Effects and Defects in Solids, Vol. 166, No. 7, July 2011 ( My guess is that their conclusions, just like the ones of Rogers, are not as fantastic and fabulous as most people wants!

7- This “new” paper from Rogers also indicate that, when he wrote it in 2001, he was already thinking, on the contrary to Pellicori’s conclusion, that a diffusion process must have been active inside the cloth in order to produced the kind of 3-D information that are encoded in the body image of the Shroud. For Rogers, the kind of natural and biological process he was favoring back then (i.e. which would have been initiated by the presence of perspiration (sweat) and/or secretions on the skin of the Shroud man’s corpse) could not have happened in the way it was described by Pellicori (i.e. with a transfer mode involving only direct-contacts between the cloth and the numerous body parts that left their imprint on it), but could only have happened with a combination of transfer modes including both direct-contact and diffusion instead. Important note: After he did more studies and reflections on the subject, it seem that Rogers became totally convinced that the “catalytic compounds” that were responsible for the dehydration of the colored fibers were not the ones tested by Pellicori but post-mortem gases instead (like ammonia gas, along with maybe some heavy amines) that would have been gradually released by the enshrouded corpse. One of the main reason for this change of mind of Rogers concerning the most probable “catalytic compounds” that initiated the image formation process on the Shroud can be found in these two statements he made in his book about the Shroud: 1- “No fibers in a pure image area were cemented together by any foreign material and there were no liquid meniscus marks. These facts seemed to eliminate any image-formation hypothesis that was based solely on the flow of a liquid into the cloth. This also suggests that, if a body was involved in image formation, it was dry at the time the color formed.” 2- “Body fluids (other than blood) did not percolate into the cloth.” In light of these two statements, it really seems that Rogers, after 2001, became totally convinced that no sweat or secretions could have come in contact with the cloth after the Shroud man’s body had been placed inside the Shroud for the reason that the data coming from the Shroud were strongly suggesting that his corpse was dry at the time of his entombment. That’s most probably why he started to look for some other “catalytic compounds” and found out that post-mortem gases could offer a very good alternative.

8- Finally, this “new” paper from Rogers can truly be helpful to understand how complex the image formation probably was. Effectively, this paper shows quite clearly that, in Rogers’ mind, there were probably three major conditions that must have been fulfilled in order for a particular fiber to become colored, which are: 1- For a fiber to become colored, it must have been located in the immediate vicinity of the body surface, at no more than a few centimeters. The estimation made by the STURP team was that such a fiber must have been located at no more than 4 cm from the body, while Mario Latendresse estimated that after 2 cm, the image formation process had probably lost nearly 80% of its coloring capacity. 2- For a fiber to become colored, it must have been submitted to a minimal amount (still undetermined) of “catalytic compounds” (in Rogers’ mind, this means that a minimal amount of post-mortem gases must have come in direct contact with such a fiber and for probably a minimal period of time that is also undetermined). 3- For a fiber to become colored, it must have been coated with a minimal amount (still undetermined) of carbohydrate impurities. In Rogers’ mind, this impurity layer would have been primarily composed of starch, along with maybe some residues of saponaria, pectine, hemicellulose, etc., and all these substances would have come from the different “manufacturing” steps (retting of the flax plant to produce the threads, covering of the threads with starch to protect them during the weaving, bleaching of separate hank of yarns, washing of the final cloth with saponaria and final drying in open air, etc.) that were done to produce the linen cloth. These three conditions described by Rogers in his writings are very important to understand because it shows how complex the image formation process would have been if his image formation hypothesis is at least partially correct. And along with these three major conditions, which were all crucial, in Rogers’ mind, for the production of a color on top of the fibers that composed the Shroud image, it is also possible to think that other particular conditions were most probably important also for the production of a coloration (dehydration) around some fibers located at the surface of the cloth. Here’s some of them: 1- The amount of heat that was released by the dead body after it was placed inside the Shroud, which is still undetermined (Rogers really thought that this could have been another important factor in the color production). 2- The kind of temperature and humidity that were present inside the tomb and inside the Shroud during the short time that the corpse was lying inside of it, which is still undetermined. 3- The amount of time the body stayed inside the cloth, which is still undetermined. 4- The environmental condition(s) in which the cloth had been kept and preserved before the body image appeared completely at the surface of the cloth (this could have taken many months, years or even decades), which is still undetermined. These are just some possible factors that could have had an impact on the production of a coloration (dehydration) at the surface of the cloth. Of course, other factors can still be proposed…

In conclusion, I would simply say this: No doubt, this “new” paper from Rogers constitutes a real historical finding, which can help us to understand the high level of scientific professionalism with which Rogers did his inquiry versus the Shroud image. In consequence, this paper can also help us to realize the poor scientific value of the work done by some other “scientists” versus the Shroud image… And in the end, I think we can really see this particular paper as being the genesis of the Maillard reaction hypothesis Rogers has developed later on and, as such, it truly helps to understand all the main steps he took (in the correct order, scientifically speaking) during the building of his personal hypothesis regarding the body image on the Shroud. I hope this long sharing of thoughts will help some readers to understand better the professionalism of Rogers regarding his inquiry versus the Shroud, as well as the great potential value of his personal hypothesis.