The Shroud of Turin – An X-Ray?
© 1999 by Linda Moulton Howe
May 23, 1999 Clemson, South Carolina – Back in the early 1980’s while I was Director of Special Projects at the CBS station in Denver, Colorado, I read a newspaper report about an American Chemical Society meeting in which a chemist named Giles Carter from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan presented a formal paper entitled: Formation of the Image on the Shroud of Turin by X-rays: A New Hypothesis. (© 1982 Giles F. Carter, Ph.D., Eastern Michigan University Chemistry Department, Ypsilanti, Michigan received for review Oct. 6, 1982 and accepted for publication April 18, 1983, American Chemical Society Volume on Archaeological Chemistry.)
I was so provoked by this news that I called Dr. Carter up to talk about the laboratory work that had helped him come to this startling idea. Dr. Carter received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley where he specialized in x-ray diffraction to determine crystal structures. He went on to be a Professor of Chemistry at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, and is now Professor Emeritus. Dr. Carter began studying Roman coins with x-ray fluorescence in 1963. Over the next 32 years until he retired in 1995, Dr. Carter used x-ray fluorescence continually in his university work analyzing hundreds of coins, elements and metals. In 1981, he attended a Shroud of Turin Research Project in New London, Connecticut and saw slides of the image on the Shroud for the first time.
Giles Carter, Ph.D., retired Professor of Chemistry and X-Ray Fluorescence Expert from Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan: "It was at that time, I noticed from the slides what appeared to be possibly x-ray images of fingers and also of teeth. And that began, or gave me the idea that perhaps low energy x-rays were involved in the formation of these images on the Shroud. Then, when I went home to East Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, I carried out some experiments similar to what I had done with the analysis of Roman coins — namely I placed samples of cloth in the x-ray beam and exposed that to the x-rays for different periods of time. And noticed that I did indeed get images formed on the cloth. And these images did appear certainly in color similar to what I had seen in the slides, because I had not seen the Shroud of Turin directly myself. Never have.
So, I carried out quite a few experiments exposing cloth to various exposures, putting aluminum foil in the path of the x-rays which absorbed the low energy x-rays and when I did that I didn’t get much of an image at all. And that proved that most of the image I was getting was from low energy x-rays which was my hypothesis in the first place.
After producing a number of these, I took a trip out to Calif. For to see family and at that time I arranged to see Vernon Miller who was the official photographer in the 1978 testing that the STURP scientists did.
At that time, Vernon Miller said, "Oh, this coloration is just like the coloration on the Shroud." And at that point, he gave me a nice enlargement of the hand of the Shroud. And this helped to convince me even more that what a lot of people called the "too long fingers" and the shortened wrist actually was both an image from the surface and an x-ray image all at the same time. And that would be in agreement with my hypothesis that a lot of the Shroud image was actually formed from low energy x-rays.
THEN THE QUESTION WOULD BE: WHAT WOULD PROVOKE THE LOW-ENERGY X-RAYS TO EMANATE FROM THE BONE OUTWARD THROUGH THE SKIN TO THE LINEN SHROUD THAT WOULD BE ENFOLDING THE BODY OF CHRIST?
My hypothesis for that is that higher energy x-rays which are more penetrating emanated from the bones of this individual and passed through the skin and at the surface of the skin interacted with elements such as sodium and chlorine from salts and chloride on the surface or from sulfur or phosphorous in the skin. And these elements then, like sodium and chlorine, gave off secondary x-rays which are very low in energy and not penetrating at all. And it’s these x-rays that actually caused most of the image, or all of the image, of the Shroud.
Now, people have asked me: Where did the x-rays from the bones come from? And I cannot answer that question. If one believes that the Shroud of Turin actually covered the body of Christ, then one would say, "Well, from the Resurrection Process." But no scientist can say anything about a resurrection process because there is no direct experience with that other than perhaps the Shroud, but we don’t know about that at all. So, in other words, scientifically you can say nothing about the Resurrection Process.
On the other hand, artistically it’s rather interesting — for instance, in the film ET, the extraterrestrial or alien was resurrected by a strong beam of light. I always thought that was rather curious that they would choose that sort of thing. And who knows, what the Resurrection Process was for Christ according to Christian belief. No one knows about that. No scientists can really do anything other than speculate.
So again, I had offered one explanation that perhaps there was radiation in the rocks around where the body was laid. But one of my friends said, "That really is not a very good explanation." And I agree. That’s very, very weak and I doubt that happened. Basically, I have no explanation.
WHAT KIND OF FORCE FROM THE OUTSIDE WOULD YOU HYPOTHESIZE COULD CAUSE STRONG X-RAYS TO EMANATE FROM THE BONE AND THEN PRODUCE THE WEAKER X-RAYS AT THE SURFACE OF THE SKIN?
The only thing that I would say is that some form of energy would have been necessary to enter the bones to cause x-rays to emanate from the bones. And that would cause the secondary, or even tertiary at this point, x-rays from the skin to come out. So, what that energy source was — the external energy source entering the bones — I really don’t know about that. It’s just beyond us , beyond me to speculate on that. I really can’t say.
ISN’T IT TRUE THAT NEW INFORMATION THAT HAS BEEN PRESENTED SINCE THE FIRST CARBON DATING IS THAT THERE COULD BE A BIOLOGICAL COATING ON THE LINEN ITSELF WHERE THE CARBON DATING WAS MEASURING AS OPPOSED TO THE ACTUAL DATE OF THE LINEN?
Well, there have been several hypotheses put forward to explain in certain peoples minds why the Carbon 14 dating was wrong. My own feeling on that is that linen fibrils are hollow and the sample taken from the Shroud for the Carbon 14 dating was taken from absolutely the worst possible place — namely, one lower corner which was right next to the edge of the Shroud and it was also the corner, or one of the corners, where people handled it the most. Now if people handled that or if materials were put on the Shroud in an attempt to preserve it hundreds of years ago, it’s possible that over along period of time that some of these organic materials could have diffused or moved through the linen fibrils and into the interior. Now, if this is the case, it would have been impossible through just a short cleaning, using just solvents which the scientists used before the Carbon-14 testing — it would have been impossible to remove that interior carbon-containing material.
THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN MEASURING AN ARTIFACT OF ALL THAT HANDLING?
Right, they would be measuring more recent carbon-containing material, maybe from 100 or 200 years ago, or something like that. So they would just be getting the average age coming out around 1300 A.D.
WHEREAS THE TRUTH MIGHT BE THAT IF THEY HAD CARBON DATED LINEN WHERE THE ACTUAL IMAGE IS, IT MIGHT HAVE GONE BACK TO 32 A.D.?
That’s possible. And that’s why I think the Carbon-14 dating should be repeated and done very carefully according to the procedure that the Shroud of Turin Research Project outlined in the first place. Their procedure was NOT followed at all in the Carbon-14 testing. So, the whole testing process was — in the opinion of many scientists, not done very well. It’s not that the carbon-14 test itself was poor. I think most everyone says that the laboratories are capable of getting good results from the sample they have. But it’s namely, a sampling problem. So always in an analysis, you have both a problem of sampling. Is the sample what you want it to be? Is it representative of the material that you want analyzed? And then is the analysis itself correct? There are two different problems. The analysis itself could be correct, but if the sampling is not done correctly, then the end result is going to be wrong.
THE SAMPLING IN THIS CASE WOULD BE WHICH PARTICULAR LINEN FIBER AFFECTED A THOUSAND HANDLINGS OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME AT THE CORNER VERSUS A PIECE WHERE THE IMAGE IS THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN TOUCHED MUCH AT ALL?
That’s correct. There’s one other factor there and that is that the sample that was taken for the Carbon-14 analysis was removed from a position adjacent to a side panel which had been sewn onto the Shroud. It wasn’t sewn on using thread or anything like that. It was actually WOVEN on to the material, so some of the weaving from that side panel was actually in some of those fibers in the sample that was removed for the Carbon-14 date. No one knows when that side panel of 6-inches or so was applied to the Shroud. No one knows that! And here again, those more possibly recent fibrils could have affected the Carbon-14 dates.
WHY WOULD THE CARBON-14 BE DONE ON A THREAD TAKEN FROM A PANEL THAT EVERYONE KNEW HAD BEEN WOVEN IN AT SOME UNKNOWN POINT IN THE PAST?
That’s a good question! It remains unanswered. The Italian authorities decided to change where the sample was removed and perhaps they did that because there was political pressure applied over there. Many years ago I attended a meeting in Naples with the scientist who was in charge of advising the Roman Catholic Church about the Shroud and he told me enormous political pressures had been applied on him in the past about the Shroud. There were many people in Italy and Europe who first of all were opposed to scientists examining the Shroud at all.
Secondly, they were opposed to scientists from the United States being so heavily involved. They wanted more Italians and more Europeans represented. So, here again, it’s difficult to know what happened there. No one really knows outside the people who were really there at the time. And I think we can only speculate that maybe pressure had been brought to bear — no, we will not follow the STURP, which was American-proposed procedure for doing the Carbon-14. We will do it according — we will take a sample from a place that won’t be noticed in the future from the Shroud — take it from that lower corner. And only have 3 labs run the carbon-14, instead of 7 labs. And have it done by only one method instead of two methods which the STURP had proposed."
Photograph is from the Eastern Michigan University Department of Chemistry Newsletter published in the Spring of 2011.