An interview with Giulio Fanti and more

“Well, corona discharge is a phenomenon which typically produces two superficial images
on both sides of a cloth exposed to such electric energy because the image formation is linked to the electric field variation in this area. I do not know of any other phenomenon capable of imprinting a doubly superficial image leaving the inner volume of the fabric as a non-image area.”
                                                            –Giulio Fanti

imageLouis C. de Figueiredo, in a comment on this blog, offered to send along some material about the subject of the doubly superficial image (second face):

I still have the old interview-article covering part of this topic in pdf and will send it to Dan later, leaving it to him to decide whether it should be uploaded. After having been advised from serious sources in the realm of Shroud studies that there is no second image, the decision was taken to store it for a while.

The 1 December, 2014 update has put the latest interview-article on the “black list”, together with others that have had no peer review. I make it a point not to be anyone’s mouthpiece and do think that there should be explanations from whoever proffers any paper, whether scientific or historical.

Pictured:  Giulio Fanti, the subject of the interview.

At my request  Louis sent it along. Do read Science and religion meet in Shroud research by Louis C. de Figueiredo. Here is how it begins:

Professor Giulio Fanti teaches at the University of Padua and has been a member of technical teams of various International Space Missions. He is the author of the comprehensive and profusely illustrated book La Síndone, una sfida alla scienza moderna as well as more than a hundred papers published in Italy and in international journals. In 2004 he and a colleague, Roberto Maggiolo, discovered the faint image of a second face on the reverse side of the Turin Shroud using highly sophisticated image processing techniques. The discovery received wide attention after media reports and was published as “The double superficiality of the frontal image on the Turin Shroud” in the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, of the Institute of Physics in London. It did not, however, appear to have received due attention in Turin and, for that reason, may not even have reached the right desk in Rome.

One prominent Shroud scholar who has contested the finding is Professor Bruno Barberis, Director of the International Centre of Sindonology, however Fanti is only willing to entertain such opposition if it comes in the form of scientific proof against his published results. This need to transform claims into scientific findings was also seen by this author back in 2003, when told by Professor Avinoam Danin of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, another giant of Shroud studies, that he would only answer the doubts raised over the presence of Gundelia tournefortii pollen grains on the relic by Professor T. Litt if they came in published form.

It is thus obvious that there is a lot more to be done in the realm of Shroud studies, a new analysis of the Shroud being the topmost priority, conducted of course by all the well-known Shroud scientists, whatever their points of view. After all, it is not a question of faith versus the Turin Shroud. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to unravel the mystery and in the following interview Fanti makes an in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the current state of knowledge.

The bolding emphasis in the above quote is mine. Do read on.

19 thoughts on “An interview with Giulio Fanti and more”

  1. I have some doubt about the presumed faint image of a second face
    on the reverse side of the Turin Shroud.
    In any case, the most important relic of Christianity seems to be less important
    than the comet …
    In fact we are able to send instrumentation probes to explore comets,
    but (for now) we are not yet capable of analyzing linen fibers with AFM apparels …
    This seems to me an obvious contradiction!

    Here a reference about the exploration of comets:
    “Evaluation and fabrication of AFM array for ESA-Midas/Rosetta space mission”
    W Barth, T Debski, N Abedinov, Tz Ivanov, Heerlein, B Volland, T Gotszalk, I W Rangelow, K Torkar, K Fritzenwallner, P Grabiec, K Studzińska, I Kostic, and P Hudek
    Microelectronic Engineering 57:825 (2001)
    >The MIDAS (Micro-Imaging Dust Analysis System) experiment is dedicated to the micro-textural and statistical analysis of cometary dust particles. The instrument is based on the technique of atomic force microscopy. The comparative simplicity and robustness of the technique lends itself to advanced space applications.
    >The instrument is considered as essential for this mission since, for the first time, it has the capability of three-dimensional imaging of interplanetary and pristine cometary particles in the manometer to micrometer range. In this paper we describe our effort to evaluate and fabricate the AFM arrays for the ESA-Midas/Rosetta space mission.

    I don’t believe in destructive tests (= radiocarbon tests)…
    A radiocarbon test should be of “dwindling interest” with respect
    a careful set of SPM controls.

    Today there is a smart system that permits an automatic AFM imaging
    and making it very easy for anyone to take an image of a sample
    at nanoscale resolution can solve our problems (…probably this is
    the right way to know the truth about the textile material involved in long
    and fruitless discussions…).
    Although I have some doubt around the comparison for that new system with the work of an expert, I believe this is very interesting.
    Now we can work with professional AFM images because the easy-to-use mode feature opens the power of nanoscopic tools to everyone…

    So, checking linen fibrils of the Shroud with the AFM instrument we will verify if the hypotheses of Fanti are correct or not…
    Do you agree with this statement?

    1. Piero (Iacazio?), you wrote

      “So, checking linen fibrils of the Shroud with the AFM instrument we will verify if the hypotheses of Fanti are correct or not… Do you agree with this statement?”

      I disagree with this statement for at least two reasons.

      There is no need for AFM because there is no need to go at that level of details. Optical microscopy is sufficient and more appropriate.

      You know that (some) photocopiers use corona discharge to transfer ink to paper? When you look at a paper, say with a light microscope, printed with such photocopiers, how can you know if it was a corona discharge or some other techniques that was used to transfer the ink to the paper? It is not the atomic level that would reveal it but at a higher level, probably even by just looking at the paper with a magnifying glass.

      Why would AFM produce better results? What else do you want to learn from AFM?


      The real issue is identifying on numerous fibrils either 1) their modifications or 2) if a colored coating exists on the fibrils that can be removed without breaking the fibrils. These two cases has not been clearly demonstrated. It is largely a problem of access to numerous fibrils coming from the image area.

      Theses two cases mentioned above can be produced by many physical phenomenon. Observing the effects may never lead to what exactly produced these effects but a class of possible phenomenon can be discarded. For me, one of them is clearly not involved: a manual operation done by hand (“a painter”).

      I consider as a peripheral objective the exact identification of what produced the color. On the other hand, it is of primary importance to know with great certainty what is producing the (yellowish) coloring. And this goal is achievable.

      1. Surfing the Web,
        I have read the following words about CFM (= Chemical Force Microscopy, one of AFM techniques…):
        > … the cellulose and lignin contents on the fibre surface were determined with chemical force microscopy (CFM), a variation of AFM.
        >CFM involves the use of chemically modified tip using selected functional groups.
        >Since, the general bulk composition of the fibre and the surface composition differ, both parameters were determined. Significant differences in the cellulose and lignin content on fibre surfaces were found …

        … And this is just one of the examples that we can find surfing the Web …
        So I think it is useful to work with the AFM techniques.

        Then I believe that we can observe the morphological changes and molecular level, without destroying the material … as unfortunately is the case with the C14 tests! … And when we no longer have the material what can we do?
        So the radiocarbon test is to be used only as a last resort.

        The other aspect of the AFM analysis is an attempt to establish the age of the lignocellulosic material…

        1. I want to use the techniques AFM in order to be able to verify the degree of corrosion of linen fiberils subjected to Corona Discharge…
          Do you are able to see well (= with good resolution) this (textile) question without using AFM techniques?

          See also:
          Surface modification of textiles by plasma treatment for imparting certain desired properties and AFM controls.

          See the case of
          >The depth of the etched pits induced by the argon and oxygen plasma is measured by atomic force microscopy (AFM).
          >On the relatively smooth surface of an untreated flax fiber, the argon plasma creates pits of mainly submicrometer size (both depth and diameter), while the oxygen plasma creates pits of a few micrometers…

          Topographical Study of Low Temperature Plasma Treated Flax Fibers
          K. K. Wong, X. M. Tao, C. W. M. Yuen and
          K. W. Yeung

          Textile Research Journal
          DOI: 10.1177/004051750007001007


          Under certain conditions plasma treatment is accompanied by a remarkable improvement in the hydrophilic properties…
          Oxygen or air plasma treatment significantly upgrades the hydrophilicity, enhances the subsequent bleachability, saves time, water and energy as well as prevents or decreases pollution at the source (i.e. an eco‐friendly substitute for conventional scouring of
          linen‐based textiles…).

          Is not this the actual scenario presented by the meeting of interesting theories by Fanti and Di Lazzaro with reality?
          Treated linen can also be investigated using contact angles …
          What are the differences before and after the treatments (respectively: Corona Discharge and VUV irradiation)?
          — — —
          Here another example:

          “Investigation of Sisal Fibers by Atomic Force Microscopy: Morphological and Adhesive Characteristics”
          >Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to study the nanoscale surface chemistry and morphological changes caused by chemical treatment of sisal fibers.
          >… AFM can detect heterogeneity in the wettability of sisal fibers with nanometer resolution …

          Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Volume 6, Number 8, August 2006, pp. 2354-2361(8)

          Leite, F. L.; Herrmann, P. S. P.; Da Róz, A. L.; Ferreira, F. C.; Curvelo, A. A. S.; Mattoso, L. H. C.


          — —
          Wanting to speculate it could therefore say something about the “second face”… But it is better to check for the material (in a well manner) before venturing vain talks.
          — —
          I hope I was a little clearer in the exposure of my thought …
          — —
          I await your response.
          Yes, I am Piero Iacazio …

  2. Pehaps there are still very small particles of skin in the dusts
    taken from the Shroud…

    So, I am curious about the possibility to use the AFM during the studies on skin…
    See also, for example, the AFM and the field of medical studies
    …with hydrogel wound dressings
    … and the previous study by Halim AS, Khoo TL, Yussof SJ. (2010)
    “Biologic and synthetic skin substitutes: an overview.”
    Indian J. Plast. Surg. 43 (Suppl.), S23–S28.

    1. This my second message (focused on controls about
      very small particles of skin) was off topic (with respect
      the main argument: Corona Discharge and Image Formation).

      However, what I emphasized with the first message was
      the possibility to ascertain the kind of difference that was
      created in the alleged “second image” than the “first image”…
      So … why should we neglect this possibility offered
      by the new technologies (= AFM, etc.) of control.
      — — —
      In short, what is important is to see what has happened on the linen fibers.
      See also the following problem: the possible presence of furfurals in the area of the C14 1988.
      In 2004 Rogers’ book revealed that furfural was found in Shroud.
      Here we have to remember what Rogers indicated:
      a positive Seliwanoff’s test for pentoses or furfural
      was obtained from scorched fibers of the main Shroud.
      But, in order to know more on that question, you have
      to read the book by Rogers:
      “A Chemist’s Perspective On The Shroud of Turin”
      because Rogers said that furfural polymerises over time …

      I have read what Colin Barry wrote:
      polimerised furfural probably fluoresces.
      So I ask:
      Which is the inherent wavelength?
      I hope you’ll excuse me for this further digression …
      I think we’ll talk later on this subject.
      In any case my primary interest was the control of the linen fibers with the AFM technique (in order to determine their age).

      1. Yes, Piero. Polymerization may well be the key to understanding the basis to the fluorescence of the 1532 burn marks, and why (in passing) it’s a mistake to imagine that the TS cannot be a scorch through lacking fluorescence.

        The fact that the 1532 burn marks still fluoresce almost 5 centuries later suggests the molecules responsible for the fluorescence are of relatively high molecular weight, almost certainly solids, or they would have evaporated away by now. Candidate molecules, if one is looking for uv fluorescence and high molecular weight, say 300 or greater, would be the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, containing fused aromatic ring systems (5 or 6 carbon). Are there mechanisms by which they could be formed in linen exposed to very high temperatures? Yes there are. Here’s the reasoning. The ultimate product from deep scorching of linen is black charcoal, i.e. microcrystalline graphite. While the latter is almost pure carbon, its graphene sheets are polycyclic aromatic in structure, ie. fused benzene rings, and there is no way they could be formed from cellulose etc of linen except via a polymerization process from low molecular weight monomers. But forming those monomers, whether furfural or some other product of pyrolysis, requires high temperatures, considerably higher than those needed merely to leave a scorch mark on linen.

        Without labouring the detail, or going over old ground, the structure of the flax fibre is probably the key to understanding the difference between light scorching (no fluorescence) and heavy deeper scorching (intense fluorescence). Light scorches probably pyrolyse selectively the carbohydrates of the primary cell wall, notably the chemically reactive hemicelluloses. Heavy deeper scorches affect the cellulose in the core of the fibre, requiring a considerably higher temperature, and generating the monomers that are needed for polymerization on the graphite pathway terminating in charcoal that are responsible for intermediate uv fluorescence.

        Take away message: it’s false logic or bad science or both to imagine that the fluorescence of the 1532 burn marks precludes heat as a mechanism for TS body image formation. Barrie Schwortz, Russ Brault and other pro-authenticity proslelytizers please note: your playing the ‘fluorescence card’ may impress your audiences, but they don’t impress this retired researcher who has experience of tracking fluorescent compounds as part of his research career, and knows rather more than you do about the complexities of the fluorescence phenomenon, and why it can never be used to prove or disprove a case if you know NOTHING about the chemical identity of the fluorescent species.

        1. in your reply You wrote:
          >The ultimate product from deep scorching of linen is black charcoal, i.e. microcrystalline graphite.

          Are you sure of that ?
          I ask because I remember what was the result from a CO2 laser treatment obtained by prof. Testore…
          Tar production … Then we can guess something about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (as you wrote in your message).
          But, in my opinion, when you wrote that particular phrase [indicating microcrystalline graphite] you were wrong; because,
          working with air, there is an oxidation.
          And, obviously, if you do your experiment with a very deep schorching the final result will be a dust that do not
          contain a serious quantity of carbonaceous matter, only ashes.
          In other words: I understand your claim about “black charcoal, i.e. microcrystalline graphite”
          as an oversimplification…
          Am I wrong?

          Colin, I hope you have read my short answer to Mario Latendresse.
          In that message I indicated the ability by CFM to distinguish cellulose and lignin…
          So, using CFM controls, different kinds of chemical groups can be investigated.
          This is the base for chemical mapping.
          Is that an useless work?

          Is it too difficult to work… with a careful investigation on burnt linen fibrils?
          In any case we can discuss about the possibility to do some experiments.
          Do you agree?
          — — — — — — —
          If I am right in one of my previous message I wrote something on heat transfer controls (using AFM devices) and then I believe we are able to do an extremely exact control about heat and electric field variation in the area we want to investigate on linen fibrils …

          Heat transfer between surfaces at close vicinity has important applications in nanoscale energy conversion devices and near-field scanning thermal microscopy,
          So I think there is a wide availability of studies on the issue of heat transfer …
          —- — — — —
          And now I ask:
          Dear Mario,
          Do you believe to obtain the same useful
          mapping with OM (= optical microscopy)?

        2. If you’ll pardon my saying, Piero, you appear to be confusing pyrolysis with combustion. Pyrolysis is heating either in the absence of oxygen, or insufficient amounts to permit combustion, like heating wood in a test-tube (“destructive distillation”) where one can light the pyrolysis gases (carbon monoxide, methane etc) at the end of the tube, collect tars en route with a water wash bottle, and be left with solid charcoal (microcrystalline graphite).

          Here’s a handy link (abstract only) that compares pyrolysis gases and weight loss from celluloses and hemicelluloses.

          The presence of trace amounts of air or oxygen can influence the nature of pyrolysis products, but it’s still pyrolysis (with some oxidation) not combustion, i.e. no flame, no incandescent glow from the charcoal, no obvious residue of mineral ash as seen with complete combustion.

          In any case, use of low temperatures and/or gradual heating to dispel pyrolysis gases via heat convection often flushes away air and its oxygen if done in a confined space.

        3. In the case of the “old” (= year 2000) attempt done by Testore the dark shades could be ascribed to surface tar formation rather than conjugated carbonyl chromophores.
          Instead Di Lazzaro and others remembered that Jackson identified vacuum ultra violet radiation (VUV) as a possibility as its energy dissipates very quickly…
          Then they obtained a linen coloration “that approaches many of the characteristics of the image on the Shroud”. They also achieved a latent coloration that appears after a relatively long period (one year) or at once by an accelerated aging, following a laser irradiation that at first does not generate any visible image.
          … and then coloration depth seemed to be a very important key to test the textile material…

          What do you think instead?
          Coloration depth is it not an important parameter to be verified during the experiments?
          I hope you did not get bored with
          this “fussiness” / “nitpicking”…

        4. Colin,
          I thought wrong, in a moment of memory loss …
          I didn’t remembered and the I merged two different kind of products: graphite and carbon fibres in one …that doesn’t exist…
          In any case graphite is the final stage of the carbonization process.
          Graphite may be considered the highest grade of coal, just above anthracite and alternatively called meta-anthracite, although it is not normally used as fuel because it is difficult to ignite.

          Instead there are three different organic precursor materials used to produce carbon fibers :
          rayon, polyacrylonitrile (PAN), and pitch…

          I continue to be skeptic about the “quality of black charcoal”.
          You claim there are ordered layers (= microcristalline graphite) after “deep schorching of linen”.
          Here instead I doubt that linen fibrils can turn into ordered graphitic structures (= network solid) because
          I remember that carbon fibres, etc. were mainly obtained from acrylic materials (= PAN), etc. …
          Natural linens are not a pure chemical material like acrylic fibers and contain different quantities of cellulose, hemicelluloses, lignins.
          Who is right?

          Perhaps the truth can be shown only controlling the results obtained from adequate experiments on linen fibrils (building an interesting “degradation scale” and testing inherent materials under SEM and AFM).
          For example: we can try to control what was previously done by Dr. Mario Cappi (Turin, 1998) and others.
          Is that useless?
          It depends on what was the nature of linen samples (= natural linen without bleaching products or not, etc.).
          — — —
          Here a bitter note regarding your interesting furfural polymers:
          yesterday I was not lucky in my search with Google…
          and today I have to cut wood (to burn) for myself…
          — —
          Using SPM controls we can detect interesting signature of aging.
          See also:
          – Morphology
          – Polymer decomposition by slow oxidation
          – Cellulosic degree of depolimerization.
          Eng. Fanti and Dr. Malfi were able to do tensile measurements for monitoring of mechanical properties.
          Young’s modulus was obtained by destructive mechanical testing method.
          But we should avoid to destroy linen samples (coming from the Shroud) and also
          we have to distinguish 1532 fire damage and heating effects with respect signature of aging
          (and that can be obtained choosing adequate areas with a preliminar mapping). …
          Another question :
          apparently there are no experiments or works on dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA)
          for determining the modulus over a wide temperature range.
          That problem can be solved using (for inherent tests) materials utilised
          during the building of the “scale of degradation”…
          — — —
          Here three lines for Mario:

          I don’t believe in strange nuclear irradiations of linen fibrils (taking apart natural radiation background !).
          How to exactly measure crosslinking and scission effects due to (presumed) radiation damage, without AFM techniques?

          Perhaps we can add some control on material coming from exposure to excilamps…
          I hope that you will want to forgive me for this idea of control that is quite particular …
          — — — —
          Excilamps are the sources of incoherent UV and VUV
          radiation based on the non-equilibrium radiation of exciplex or excimer molecules.

          Here another more detailed explanation:
          >Excilamps are a kind of gas-discharge lamps radiating
          in UV- or VUV-spectral region due to the decomposition
          of excimer molecules (excited dimer – excimer,
          in the case of a molecule consisting of equal atoms,
          Ar2* for example) or exciplex molecules (excited
          complex – exciplex, in the case of a hetero-nuclear
          molecule, XeCl* for example).
          It is possible using excilamps to irradiate at once
          large area of an object (in our case = a linen sheet)…

        5. Carbon fibres – quite strong ones – were being made long before the present acrylics were chosen for optimal properties, piero. see this entry from wiki:

          “In 1879, Thomas Edison baked cotton threads or bamboo slivers at high temperatures carbonizing them into an all-carbon fiber filament used in the first incandescent light bulb to be heated by electricity”.

          Not graphite? Graphite seems OK as a first approximation. When you carbonize linen or any other organic material you get elemental carbon. It’s not diamond, neither is it buckminsterfullerene (“bucky balls”). That leaves charcoal, which is generally described as microcrystalline graphite. OK, there are forms of charcoal that may not be fully graphitic in their properties. But I wasn’t giving a lecture on elemental carbon – just trying to make a distinction between pyrolysis (with carbonization as a late stage) in contrast to combustion to CO2 and ash, which appeared to be your initial misconception re late stage scorching that I felt needed correcting.

          Let’s try and stay focused on essentials, shall we? It’s a mistake to go spreading oneself thinly in too many directions. One risks ending up like a sheet of graphene – essentially 2-dimensional

        6. I agree with you on the need not to lose time and then disperse research talking about minor things…

          Carbon fibre based on cellulose were brittle and of low strength (… and, in other words, [probably] all that carbonaceous material falls to the ground due to vibration [… not to mention the alleged earthquakes …]). That material was very far from the modern values for their strength and modulus of elasticity (near 300 MPa and 600 GPa, respectively)…
          Max Fremery and Johann Urban developed a method to produce carbon fibers for use in light bulbs in 1897.
          But, if I am right, modern production of carbon fibres started in 1959 at the Union Carbide Company.

          In any case I have also read that:
          >English chemist/physicist Joseph Swan experimented with a carbon-filament incandescent light all the way back in 1860, and by 1878 had developed a better design which he patented in Britain.
          >On the other side of the Atlantic, Thomas Edison developed a successful carbon-filament bulb, receiving a patent for it (#223898) in January 1880, before Lewis Latimer did any work in electric lighting…

          … And at Innventia, research activities have shown that it is possible to produce carbon fibres from lignin, which is a by-product in a kraft pulp mill. The lignin is extracted from black liquor using a patented biorefinery concept called LignoBoost. With this process we can obtain a lignin that is so pure that it can be used for manufacturing carbon fibre.

          According to me the will to study a bit more of Chemistry can not do any harm to anyone …
          See also: the interesting case of “Polyamide cold dyeing”, etc.
          You who are a good experimentalist, you should try to do something interesting on polyamide …
          What do you think?
          Do You are able to do a sort of “Gyotaku” on polyamide?
          I am very curious to see the effects in biological fluids (but you need to work with the polyamide 6)…
          It is certainly not too difficult to perform a series of experiments, starting from the use of urine, etc.

          However, the fact of arriving to realize an image on polyamide is not necessarily linked to something that happens on linen. Linen is another textile material.
          But the first step is always better than nothing…

  3. If indeed a corona discharge typically produces a double superficial image, then the Shroud image has unlikely been produced by a corona discharge. This is a clear conclusion because Giulio Fanti conceded in his own paper that the only place a potential superficial double image might exist is in the area of the face (and I do not even think that a double superficial image of the face exist). So that leaves the whole back and most of the front image with no double superficial image. I cannot understand why this is not conceded more clearly from Fanti.

    1. Good point. Can a corona discharge occur downwards from an object lying on a cloth lying on a rock surface? And if it can, what sort of image does it leave? And if not, why is there any image of the back at all?

  4. Nice to see scientists, science teachers and imaging experts commenting on the hypothesis. Mario, in particular has raised an important question: why should there be only a double superficial image of the face, if it exists? I remember that I was told that the luminosity in the face region is higher, but I can’t say if that clears the doubt.
    Can anyone provide some clarification?

  5. I believe there is an interesting new appointment in France.
    So, for those wishing to participate with its own demonstration
    of the feasibility for a new dating with the use of SPM systems …there is an opportunity:

    >The “Groupe des Méthodes Pluridisciplinaires Contribuant à l´Archéologie” (GMPCA) awards two prizes maximum (*) of €1000 each every two years to the best PhD theses written in French or in English relating to original work in archaeometry, in any of the different scientific fields contributing to archaeology.
    >These prizes (*) are usually given to the winner(s) at the time of the GMPCA´s biennial conference. The Archéométrie 2015 meeting will take place in Besançon (France) from 27 to 30 April 2015, organized by the “UMR Chrono-Environnement du CNRS-Université de Franche-Comté (UFC)” and the “Laboratoire Métallurgies et Cultures de l’Université de Technologie Belfort-Montbéliard (UTBM)”.

    >This prize is opened to all researchers under 40 years of age who do not hold a full time academic position or a permanent contract.


    See also:
    — — —
    I hope in your interest to the problem of an alternative
    to radiocarbon and the destruction of the fabric with the C14
    … or other destructive testing.
    But is that really a new chance to do a job in the field of the Shroud?

Comments are closed.