Some Perspective on Alberto Carpinteri

On June 13, 2012, Emiliano Feresin wrote in Nature:

imageThe Italian research minister, Francesco Profumo, has bowed to pressure from Italian and international scientists and agreed to take a closer look at a proposed nuclear research programme at one of the country’s leading institutes. He has also withdrawn his nomination of a proponent of the controversial research for the institute’s scientific council.

The research — on piezonuclear fission, the theory that compressing solids can provoke nucleus-splitting reactions without emitting γ-rays or producing nuclear waste — was being led by Alberto Carpinteri [pictured], a structural engineer and president of the Italian National Institute of Metrological Research (INRIM) in Turin. Carpinteri and his collaborators have published a series of papers on the theme, mostly in Strain, a journal for which Carpinteri is on the editorial board.

Read on

Paper Chase: Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert

imageSurprise! This paper seems to be open access. Click here to have a go at it.

Radiocarbon Dating of Scrolls and Linen Fragments from the Judean Desert by  A.J. Timothy Jull, Douglas Donahue, Magen Broshi and Emanuel Tov; Radiocarbon, Vol 37, No 1, 1995, pp 11-19.


We report on new 14C measurements of samples of 18 texts (scrolls) and 2 linen fragments from Qumran Caves 1, 2, and 4 and from Nahal Hever, both in the Dead Sea region. The radiocarbon results are in good agreement with estimates of age based on paleography.


Various parchment and papyrus manuscripts found in caves in the area of Qumran and at other sites in the Judean Desert are known generally as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Qumran scrolls are generally considered to have been hidden by the Qumran Community, identified by most scholars as the Ess- enes. The documents are usually regarded to have been copied between the mid-third century BC and AD 68, when the Qumran settlement was destroyed by the Romans.

Bonani et al. (1991, 1992) dated 14 texts, 8 of which came from Qumran. We present here new radiocarbon dates of 18 texts, including 3 date-bearing texts (3 from Qumran Cave 1,12 from Cave 4, and 3 from other sites in the Judean Desert). We consider the importance of the 14C dates in relation to other age estimates and we also report on 14C examinations of linen fragments from the Judean Desert.

Definition of Inauthentic in Oxford Dictionary

Have you ever looked up ‘inauthentic’  in the Oxford Online Dictionary? Hat tip to John Klotz.


Definition of inauthentic in English:

Syllabification: in·au·then·tic

Pronunciation: /ˌinôˈTHentik


  • 1 not in fact what it is said to be: the Holy Shroud of Turin is thought to have been proved inauthentic by radiocarbon dating


(emphasis mine) At least it’s “is thought to have been” rather than “has been.”

Tremendous Success of Shroud Encounter with Russ Breault

Joe Steck of the Mankato Times – Mankato being the city at the confluence of  the Minnesota River and the Blue Earth River – reports that  . . . 

clip_image001The MSU Ballroom [that is Minnesota State University and not any of the other 23 universities that use that abbreviation] was filled with Believers, science geeks and those who just love artifacts on Wednesday night to see the Shroud of Turin presentation by Russ Breault.

The event was hosted by the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center – Catholic Mavs and was well received by a near capacity audience. . . .

Russ sent me an email:

Tremendous event on Wednesday at MNSU in Makato. Over 400 attended.  The Newman Center did a terrific job promoting the event.  I was interviewed by two newspaper, a radio station and a TV crew came before it started so they could get it on the evening news at6:00.  The event started at 7:00.  I couldn’t have asked for more support from a sponsoring organization.

I’d say overall tremendous success with Shroud Encounter. Go check out the Shroud Encounter Facebook page for some close-in scheduled events. 

  • Saturday, March 1 at 10:00am, Marco Lutheran Church, 525 N. Collier Blvd, Marco Island, FL
  • Saturday, March 8 at 7:00pm, St James Church, 33 Division St., Manville, RI
  • Sunday, March 9 at 7:00pm in PDT, Christ the King Church, 5 Jobs Fishing Rd, Mashpee, MA
  • Monday, March 10 at 7:00pm in PDT, UMass Amherst–at the Newman Catholic Center, 472 N. Pleasant St, Amherst, MA

Here is a promo for the upcoming Shroud Encounter at UMass:

SHROUD ENCOUNTER PROMO— UMass-Amherst, Newman Catholic Center, Monday, March 10th at 7:00 PM from Shroud Encounter on Vimeo.

Speaking of “our own” commenters in the big papers

You need to click on the picture to see this screenshot from the New York Times in its full size. Recognize John Klotz, there? His comment has been featured. And it should be. Here is the link to the New York Time article, A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace.


Here is what John Klotz wrote:

I once remarked to the late Fr. Robert Poveromo, that I thought the greatest of all saints since the time of the Apostles was St. Francis. "Some of us," he replied "think he was the only one." As disgusting as the conduct of the the New Jersey Archbishop is, when I clicked the link to read of Father Grange, I was edified by an example of obvious sanctity and a compelling biography of dedication to the poor.

By what miracle, Pope Francis came to pope I do not know. I can only say that the Archbishop of New Jersey should be afraid, very afraid. Perhaps the poor priests and nuns who tend to the poor of New Jersey will get a new place to retreat and renew. Or maybe, I place for poor children to escape briefly from the dire circumstances of their life for awhile. 
However, I suspect that it will be a cold day in Hell before the Archbishop gets to live in his vacation palace.

May I suggest for him a trip in sack cloth and ashes to Rome to beg forgiveness?
As for NY Times Michael Powell, I am in awe. I have only one phrase, a modern cliche, for him and his editors at the Times. "Keep on, keeping on."

Should SSG Get Involved?


A reader writes:

I was just reading your post The Shroud of Turin story brings up all the usual issues about click-bait journalism. You suggest reading The Shroud of Turin, pseudoscience, and journalism by Joel Achenbach in his Washington Post blog.

I was amazed to see that his blog picked up 2084 comments as of this evening. In scanning through them I noticed our own Colin Berry being himself. [See screenshot above]

More to the point. This story about a mythical earthquake and mythical science about neutron radiation from earthquakes affecting carbon 14 dating has damaged shroud credibility in a big way. Right up through the upcoming exhibition in 2015, this ludicrous bit of pseudoscience will be quoted in newspapers as the so called “scientific” reason why those of who think the shroud is real believe the carbon dating is wrong. Forget Fanti. Forget the repair hypothesis. Something needs to be done. With all due respect you and your wonderful hip blog and Barrie Schwortz appearing on late night radio is not enough. The Shroud Science Group should issue a public condemnation of Alberto Carpinteri’s paper published in the journal, Meccanica.

Hip? LOL!

I found the comment by Colin and put the screenshot on top.

Should the SSG do anything? I’m not sure. Will this story carry that much weight? Time will tell.

imageLeading Atheist blogger Ed Brayton has picked up on the fuss in his Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog.

The New Republic has picked up Jerry Coyne’s blog post and called the piece “Pseudo-scientists are still trying to convince you that the Shroud of turin is real. Don’t believe them.” Coyne has dressed it up a bit and added, as he tells us in his blog:

Thanks to the readers’ suggestions, I’ve added Richard Carrier’s objections to the “earthquake hypothesis” and also linked to Greg Paul’s article noting the unrealistic proportions of the “Jesus” image on the Shroud.

Comments are flying at New Republic. Here is part of one that caught my eye by someone called nsecchi:

My purpose [is] to suggest that the Shroud of Turin be given longer shrift than that afforded by the author of the piece. The 1986 carbon dating that he lays such credence to has been recognized to surely be incorrect. The part of the cloth tested was from a patch, done in medieval times, to the Shroud. The Shroud of Turin does have mysteries that make it unique in human history. It was certainly not painted as the author believes. The Shroud of Turin warrants an unprejudiced study, in greater humility than that afforded by the author of this piece. .

And here is one by FMcManus:

I don’t understand why so many people who hate religion spend so much time disproving things almost no religious people believe. And in this case, the religious people who do believe the things disproved would insist emphatically that those beliefs are ancillary and unimportant to their fundamental convictions.

As a Catholic myself who has found the Shroud interesting and unusual, I’ve often hoped its mysterious quality would not ever be explained by scientific investigation. But at the same time, I’ve also hoped scientific investigation would rigorously examine the Shroud and all the claims surrounding it precisely in an attempt to reveal it as non-supernatural. It’s been a few years since I did much reading on the subject, so I don’t know where things stand now.

The earthquake theory strikes me as rather absurd on its face, and simply not worth the debunking it’s subjected to in this article. But the tone of the article is so absurdly shrill, so intent on adopting a sneering contempt for its subject, that it’s inconceivable anyone really interested in scientific investigation of the Shroud would take it seriously. One comes away from it with the impression Jerry Coyne obtained his understanding of religion from reading nothing more sophisticated than a handful of Chick comics.

When you openly despise the people whose beliefs you loathe, you’re not being scientific. You’re just being a bigot.

Of course I’m picking with bias. Your mileage may vary.

So what do we all think. Is this a big deal problem?  Should SSG get involved? Is this blog hip?

Part 3 is up: Did Stephen Jones make the case?

imageRead Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker? (3). Did Stephen Jones make the case?

He didn’t intend to:

So it would not be surprising if the atheistic Soviet regime of the 1980s would see it as a legitimate target to discredit the Shroud, and through that Christianity, by one its agents hacking into each of the three radiocarbon dating laboratories’ computers, and replacing the actual radiocarbon dates of the Shroud that the laboratories’ accelerated mass spectrometers were determining, with bogus dates which when calibrated would cluster around 1325 +/- 65 years.

I have presented this proposal as a question, "Were the radiocarbon laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" because in the nature of the case, barring a belated confession, my proposal is unlikely ever to be confirmed as correct, even if it is correct. The hacker would be unlikely to admit it because he would be prosecuted and gaoled for breaking into government computers, as Hess was. And the laboratories would be unlikely to admit they had been duped by a hacker, even if they realised they had been. Whatever evidence there was in the laboratories’ computers, the hacker would almost certainly have deleted it, and even if he didn’t, it is most unlikely that it would still exist in the laboratories’ 1988 computers.

Anyway, in the final analysis it is the Shroud anti-authenticists’ problem to find a explanation for what went wrong with their carbon dating of the first-century Shroud to the 13th-14th centuries. As Thomas de Wesselow pointed out, we Shroud pro-authenticists don’t need to find an explanation of what went wrong with the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud. We can just dismiss it out of hand as a "’rogue’ radiocarbon date" as archaeologists routinely do when a radiocarbon date is contradicted by the majority of the other evidence: