Colin Berry on STURP

imageWhen I finally got around to reading Colin’s latest posting, the words “Rambling Wreck” came to mind.  (Sorry for being so late getting around to Colin’s postings but timing is everything with him – one never knows if he is done or where he is rambling to).

To football fans (that is American football, Colin), the term "Ramblin’ Wreck" refers to Georgia Tech’s mascot, a 1930 Ford. But according to Wikipedia the term…

has been used to refer to students and alumni of Georgia Tech much longer than the car that now bears the name has been in existence. The expression has its origins in the late 19th century and was used originally to refer to the makeshift motorized vehicles constructed by Georgia Tech engineers employed in projects in the jungles of Central America. The Wrecks were constructed from whatever the engineers could find—mostly old tractor and automotive parts—and were kept running by the engineers’ ingenuity and creativity

imageDisabuse yourself of the idea that I am referring to Colin’s rambling wreck style of posting. (To find what he posts go to his blog and then search for the words “Put more simply.”)    I’m thinking more about how he uses an otherwise interesting write up on his experiments, Progress report on my new model for the Turin Shroud. Might the sepia body image be a surface film of nitrated protein derived from wheat glutens? to fire a broadside at STURP.

… Put more simply, the scientist needs to have an inkling of underlying process or mechanism in order to know where to concentrate manpower and resources. Without that inkling he or she could waste years or decades thrashing around for an answer, accumulating masses of data that throw little or no light on the problem.

Folk can probably guess where this is leading – to STURP and its technology-obsessed approach to the Shroud, arriving in Turin with all that hardware, but without a single good idea about where to concentrate resources. Indeed. most of its efforts were focused on testing a dud hypothesis, something that should have been plain to see back in 1978, and indeed in 1898, namely that the Shroud might simply be  ‘just a painting’. How could Secondo Pia’s negative image possibly have been ‘just a painting’. A negative image implies an IMPRINT, one where the template determines the final image, where there is no obligatory artistic free-hand process at the final imprinting stage. One has a master template – a real person, or maybe just a statue or bas relief- that gives a slave imprint – a tone-reversed negative of the master. Why on earth would an ad hoc task force of scientists and engineers bother to focus so much effort in testing for whether the Shroud was ‘just a painting’ when the primary objective should have been to deduce the process that resulted in a negative imprint?

STURP’s prime focus should have been on deducing (a) the nature of the template and (b) the nature of the imprinting process – whether entirely passive or human-aided. In short, the project should have been one about reverse-engineering.


Colin does a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking:

That’s the optics and physics dealt with. Now for the chemistry (and botany): is the image intrinsic to the linen carbohydrates, or is it associated with an extrinsic coating ("impurity layer")? An answer to that question could be (or have been) gained by use of high resolution light or scanning electron microscopy, especially ofcross-sections of TS body image fibres. Various mechanical and/or chemical/enzymatic procedures could have been used to remove a putative impurity coating, to see what was underneath – an intact or degraded fibre, with or with its primary cell wall. (Ah yes: the PCW – an entity that somehow fails to receive a single mention in the 1981 STURP Summary despite being the most superficial part of the linen fibre, and despite having a thickness (200nm) that corresponds, approximately, with Rogers’ estimate of TS body image thickness).

And then he dumps on Rogers, Jackson, Adler and Heller:

Overview of STURP’s damp squib (no big bang, just a handy smokescreen for some)
Why did STURP set up its straw man target (if you’ll pardon the internet lingo), i.e. that it was ‘just a painting’? Given all the effort expended in ruling out what should have been self-evident from an imprinted negative image, why did it end up telling us next to nothing positive about the TS image?

If one looks at the research activity of its demob-happy leading lights subsequent to publication of the 1981 Summary, it’s clear why the latter took the form it did. It left the road clear for   narrative-spinning pro-authenticists to drop any pretence of scientific objectivity, and to go inserting fantasies as if fact into the Shroud literature. I refer to Raymond N.Rogers with his Pliny era special pleading (starch fractions, saponins etc initally, with more later in the pipeline re spliced repair threeads and missing vanillin precursors for challenging the radiocarbon dating), to John Jackson for his  wacky radiation-imaging/collapsing cloth ideas, and to Adler and Heller for their "blood too red /trauma bilirubin" fantasies.  None of that massive self-indulgence, that wholesale retreat from strict scientific objectivity would have been possible if STURP had done its job properly, and focused on the TS as (probably, indeed almost certainly) a simple contact imprint, one requiring manual assistance, and thus consistent with the radiocarbon dating and medieval forgery.

The stultifying STURP project, with no realistic prospect of a return visit to Turin for years, nay decades, had its intended effect – to create a smokescreen-protected frozen conflict, one in which the pro-authenticity pseudo-science tendency could operate with impunity. Thank goodness that STURP’s attempts to oversee the 1988 radiocarbon dating (mixing and matching with a broader-based examination of pre-Lirey "history" was rejected. Just imagine the result: a few pen drawn circles on the Pray Codex  – the coffin lid, not Shroud as we are/were led to believe – would have been produced as a trump card, grounds for rejecting that  oh-so-arrogant  ‘error-prone’ methodology for which an endless source of contaminants can be invoked – new repair threads, bioplastic films, thymol, radiation-induced C-14, carbon monoxide, smoke …

Is the broadside justified?  Contrast Colin’s view a recent comment by John Klotz:

One of the good things that has happened recently is the leadership role now being played by Bruno Barberis at Turin Centro. At one conference he held STURP as a model for future examinations of the Shroud but a “STURP” with true international membership..

There is no question in my mind that John Klotz has carefully studied the work of STURP and understands it. I think Colin is mostly just shooting from the hip, so to speak.

14 thoughts on “Colin Berry on STURP”

  1. Why would the supposed forger want to use nitrated protein derived from wheat glutens in order to form a surface film? What was he trying to convey?

  2. Not too difficult to be so wise some 40 years after the event. In 1978, there was a strong lobby that believed it was a painting, and so it had to be addressed. Nevertheless McCrone held to that belief to his dying day, and we’ve now seen more recent versions of the same old story with CF’s flaky paint idea.

    There will never be another STURP, the Italians have seen to that, with their own peculiar agendas. Unlike the Americans, I’m unaware that any of them have been involved in any cutting edge space exploration or atomic energy advances. We did have some Italian engineers out here back in the 1970s building railway viaducts and tunnels, which happened to involve a launching girder collapse, and a few other mishaps.

    1. “Not too difficult to be so wise some 40 years after the event. In 1978, there was a strong lobby that believed it was a painting, and so it had to be addressed. Nevertheless McCrone held to that belief to his dying day, and we’ve now seen more recent versions of the same old story with CF’s flaky paint idea.”

      I fully agree.

      Needless to say that Colin’s model (as well as other models) is (or should be) mainly based on STURP’ data (superficiality, no pigment, spectra, fluorescence, blood data, half-tone etc..).
      Colin (and others) should recognize that the STURP’s work is and remains of paramount importance.

      The image is an imprint. Yes.

      For now, I don’t see anything resembling the TS image in Colin’s new experiments.
      At the end (??), we will see…

  3. First of all, what make Colin think it’s an imprint?? Secondly, isn’t it true that the reason STURP caught interest to investigate the shroud is because they knew that in no way the image is a painting because paintings do not create negative images and have 3 dimensional qualities? Didn’t STURP use most of its technology to see how the image was created? Not just painting? To find out if it was a painting, you don’t really need a whole lot of technology.

  4. Agreed Daveb. Hindsight is a perfect 20/20. The post actually has no content at all. Guess Colin just doesn’t like STURP or its work.

  5. daveb wrote:
    >There will never be another STURP, the Italians have seen to that, with their own peculiar agendas.

    See, for example, what is possible to do with using new nanomechanical techniques:
    >The NanoTensile automated test system enables simplified tensile testing by providing materials researchers with a state-of-the-art instrument that solves various scale-related challenges involving exceedingly small specimens…


    Click to access nanoTensile%205000%20Sell%20Sheet.pdf
    — —
    Here another vague reference:
    >Modulus mapping is a technique to map and display the mechanical properties of a material surface through joint actions of dynamic mechanical testing (nanoDMA) and in-situ SPM (scanning probe microscopy) imaging. A high frequency sinusoidal force is applied to the indenter probe while it is being raster scanned over a sample surface. The resultant displacement of the indenter probe at each pixel position then is analyzed for amplitude and phase lag from the dynamic force input signal. As a result, storage modulus, loss modulus and tangent delta of the material surface are quantified at each pixel position and displayed in a colored image.

    — —
    Then I think is possible to test the precious samples (ancient linen fibrils) in a better manner with respect what was able to do prof. Giulio Fanti in the past.

    I believe that this will also allow you to cut away all the lies that
    have been said about the alleged painting, etc. … etc.
    I have confidence in the tools of modern science (when these tools are well applied in research on the Shroud).
    — —
    Unfortunately I have successfully completed only some subjects of
    the course in Textile Engineering and therefore I have not earned
    that degree in Engineering …

  6. The problem has nothing to do with Italians or Americans, it is related to human nature.

    1. Louis I can tell you this much, I wouldn’t have wanted to be a member of the Episcopal faith the day when Cardinal Anastasio Ballestero received a letter from an ASSIST member pleading with him to return to the original C-41 protocol.

    1. Yes, The Turin authority was not pleased with “outsiders” criticizing the Holy Sea’s decision pertaining to the C-14 protocol. Truth be told, the Sindone is an Italian and Catholic artifact.

      Emphasis on Holy Sea.

  7. I really don’t see it that way. The Sindon is not an Italian and Catholic artifact, although it is in the possession of Italian Catholics. If the image of Edessa/Shroud are one and the same object it once belonged to Eastern Christians and before that to Jewish Christians of the Jesus movement.
    If one condition stipulated by King Umberto I di Savoia before donating the relic to the Pope was that it would have to remain in Turin that does not make it an Italian Catholic relic. The Pope can be German, Italian, Argentinian and…, the Christians from various denominations, whether Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox, even non-Christians who believe in Jesus, also have the right to feel they “own” the relic … because it is believed it once wrapped the body of Jesus.

    How did it land in Italy?:

    As for the “Holy Sea”, that is the human nature I mentioned previously. Pope Francis is aware of that.

    1. “the Christians from various denominations, whether Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox, even non-Christians who believe in Jesus, also have the right to feel they “own” the relic … because it is believed it once wrapped the body of Jesus”

      Louis, I am in total agreement with your statement as long as it is the true burial cloth of Jesus, however, to many of the Italians who are primarily Catholics, the Sindone is their artifact. Even the wonderful Father Rinaldi showed his national pride in some of his correspondence between the Turin authority speaking out against American scientists who he felt stepped out of line by challenging the Holy Sea’s decision on the C14 protocol. What would you expect a loyal priest to do? His first obligation is his dominated faith. As you stated in this link, the problem is human nature.

      As far as King Umberto donating the relic to the Holy Sea, It was a respectful gesture allowed by the Italian government since all of the Savoie’s belongings were confiscated making them property of the Italian State including the Shroud of Turin. You can find a brief explanation in Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud
      By Harry E Gove.

  8. Great, Giorgio. We are on the same page now. I think the only mistake you made was by saying “property of the Italian State including the Shroud of Turin.” It seems that only the palace and the chapel, not the Shroud, were confiscated and the Carabinieri, also part of the army, are always there during an Exposition just as an honour guard because there is an agreement between the Vatican and the Italian State when it comes to security:

  9. Louis I still have to stand by my statement. After 1946, all of the Savoys possession were confiscated and he was exiled.
    It’s hard to claim ownership when you have no possession of an article in question.

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