You may reassure Mr. Berry

imageIf you are relatively new to this blog, you need to know this:  When Dr. Colin Berry first entered the fray of shroud research he rather wildly characterized other researchers in offensive ways; remember, three years ago, Of Infrared Herrings and Mickey Mouse Science: Berry Criticizing Di Lazzaro?

Colin has since then cooled his rhetoric, but not completely; witness the recent back and forth of comments with Barrie Schwortz in Oy vey! We’ve got a problem? 

Knowing this explains the quoted characterizations in Paolo Di Lazzaro’s response to a question by Colin. I raised it in this blog and pointed to Colin’s blog in Have we all been looking in the wrong place?

Paolo’s response:

Dear Dan and All,

thank you for pointing out this piece, which describes amateurish attempts.

You may reassure Mr (sic) Berry that this "bunch of jokers" at Enea which is doing "MIckey Mouse science" has looked at the right place, recognizing the main photo-chemical reactions and chromophores possibly involved in the laser-coloration mechanisms, as detailed in several peer reviewed papers, notably in [Superficial and Shroud-like coloration of linen by short laser pulses in the vacuum ultraviolet*]

And… no, sorry, none of the "deductions" of Mr Berry reported in your blog are justified by his out-of-focus images shown in your blog. It is evident Mr. Berry is not trained in microscope imaging. Our students can do a better work.


Why did I insert sic in the above response?  It is Dr., not Mr. Dr. Colin Berry describes himself in one of his blogs thus:

Colin Berry, aka sciencebod, is a retired PhD researcher/teacher/academic who has worked in industry, medical schools, schools, food and biomedical research (mainly in the UK, but also in W.Africa and the United States). He’s best known for his work on RESISTANT STARCH, recently described as "the trendiest form of dietary fibre". See also his specialist Shroud of Turin blog on

Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro, a senior researcher at the ENEA Research Centre of Frascati, has posted an English language Curriculum Vitae at

* I inserted the title into Paolo’s email and left the URL as he had it.

28 thoughts on “You may reassure Mr. Berry”

  1. Well, I have to say, this is looking increasingly like a stitch up. Dan refers to the “back and forth of comments” between Barrie Schwortz and myself, a coloured description if ever there was. I suggest folk revisit that posting, the one that starts with “a reader writes” and a highly informed one too who relates being acquianted early on with Barrie, and then, in a long, long comment, goes on to refer to John Heller and his book, and the claims made for blood on the “Shroud”. That was my cue tp point out something that I suspect few folk are aware of, namely that neither Heller no Adler went to Turin to see the linen with their own eyes, relying entirely one assumes on the photographs and/ or sticky-tape slides from Ray Rogers to draw those (in)famous conclusions about “blood that is too red”, speculation re “trauma bilirubin etc all since much proselytzed since by Barrie on his lecture circuits (“for him the real clincher, thanks to world famous “blood expert” Alan D. Adler – porphyrin chemist actually).

    That’s when things started to turn nasty, with Barrie putting in a rare appearance in which he tried to bracket me with Harry Gove for attempting to attack the credentials of STURP team members with a “personal attack” on John Heller. I replied to the effect that Heller’s failure to go and see the TS with his own eyes, despite having made the first approach to John Jackson, flagging up his interest, was a breach of PROFESSIONAL standards, illustrating my point with analogies from other professions..

    Barrie Schworts then returned unrepentant to the thread, giving all kinds of reasons why Heller did not need to go to Turin, financial considerations etc etc, re-iterating his claim that I was making a personal attack, despite my having gone to some trouble to distinguish between lapses of professionalism and lapses of character, and right at the end chose to throw in references to things in the past that have clearly bothered him for some time. Why did he not raise them earlier. Might it be because my criticism in the past has been levelled at highly technical details to do with the chemistry etc, and that he didn’t feel competent to get involved. He ended his comment with the most outrageous attack on my character, one of the worst I have encountered in an entire lifetime. And now we have Paolo de Lazzaro piling in for good measure, adding to the choreographed charge sheet. His assumption that he could not be dealing with a fellow PhD is then made an opportunity for Dan Porter to put “Mr.Berry” into his title, the subsequent word play fooling some but not I (having seen Dan Porter’s style of mud-sticks negative spin far too many times already through misuse of titles and ‘jokey’ graphics).

    As I say, i recognize a stitch up when I see one, and you, Dan Porter are once again showing your true colours as a pro-authenticity manipulator of news and opinion.

    As for the photochemically- hapless Paolo, I will deal with him in good time on my own site, as I have done many times before. He really needs to acquaint himself with the First Law of Photochemistry, and drop the idea that linen can be regarded as entirely carbohydrate. There’s not a single reference to non-carbohydrate constituents that could act as chromophores, notably lignin in that cited paper of his (but al least it’s free, which is just as well, since I would never pay good money upfront to read anything that comes from his agenda-driven laboratory). That’s despite the important paper by Day et al on flax bast fibre lignins with their unusual monomer composition and S1 location having been in the literature for some 10 years. At least Thibault Heimburger noticed, he flagging it up in late 2012 when Hugh Farey brilliantly first suggested lignin as the possible chromophore. Maybe members of the SSG need to talk to each other more, before launching into their misguided experiments, their coloured conclusions.

    I shall now return to my out-of-focus microscope. Strange how it works so well on standard mounted specimens (sectioned tissue etc) and not on whole linen fibres. Might it be something to do with their being cylindrical and highly light-refracting?

    1. While I find this whole topic is taking us off the rails I agree that Dan’s posting is his way of ‘weighing in’ in the dust-up.

      In an effort to get us back on point, may I suggest a posting about the latest on the ‘KGB hacker conspiracy’. That seems to be one everyone can be equally dismissive of. :)

    2. Colin,
      You wrote:
      “…Hugh Farey brilliantly first suggested lignin
      as the possible chromophore…”
      As you have previously read there was the study
      by Cardamone to take into account…

      One of the study subjects of my
      college course in Textile Engineering was:
      “Textile Chemistry” and in that course there was
      also a space reserved for the identification and
      control of textile fibers with the help of microscopy
      ( ie: with light microscopy and with electron microscopy) …

      Optical Microscopy.
      Specimen Contrast in Optical Microscopy.

      >Athough transparent specimens usually induce
      phase shifts to interacting light beams though
      scattering and diffraction, these objects remain
      invisible in the microscope because the human eye
      cannot detect differences in phase.
      >Unless the specimen is stained with highly colored dyes,
      the only alternative available to the microscopist
      is to significantly reduce the condenser working
      numerical aperture by closing the iris diaphragm.
      >However, this extreme measure will significantly
      impair nthe resolution of the objective.
      >The optical systems contained in modern
      microscopes may be capable of producing
      high resolution images at high magnifications,
      but such a capability is worthless without
      sufficient contrast in the image.
      >Contrast is not an inherent property of
      the specimen, but is dependent upon interaction
      of the specimen with light and the efficiency of
      the optical system coupled to its ability to reliably
      record the image information with a suitable detector.
      >Control of image contrast in the microscope
      optical system is dependent upon several factors,
      including proper setting of aperture diaphragms,
      degree of optical aberration, the contrast mechanism
      employed, the type of specimen, and the characteristics
      of the detector.
      >Aside from specialized contrast-enhancing accessories,
      there are several locations in the microscope that enable
      the operator to adjust contrast.
      >The most critical to the optical system are
      the field and condenser aperture diaphragm settings,
      but contrast can also be manipulated by varying
      electronic camera (or traditional emulsion film) gamma,
      altering the magnification for video detectors,
      processing images in real time, as well as specimen staining. …

      >…The term contrast refers to the ability of an
      individual specimen detail to be distinguished
      when compared to the background or other
      adjacent features. In effect, contrast is defined
      as the difference in light intensity between
      the specimen image and the adjacent background
      relative to the overall background intensity.
      >Specimen properties that produce changes
      in brightness, or color differences, arise from
      light absorption, reflection, spatial variation in
      refractive index, scattering, diffraction, birefringence,
      fluorescence and similar optical phenomena.
      >In general, contrast is measured by the relationship
      between the highest and lowest intensity in an image…

      >…An early, but still currently employed
      of increasing contrast in stained specimens utilizes color contrast filters,
      Wratten lacquered gelatin squares (from Kodak), or interference filters
      in the light path.
      >For example, if a specimen is stained with a red stain,
      a green filter will darken the red areas, thus increasing contrast.
      >On the other hand, a green filter will lighten any green stained area. …

      >…Another simple technique for contrast improvement
      involves the selection of a mounting medium with
      a refractive index substantially different from that
      of the specimen. …
      >… The difference in refractive indices improves
      the contrast of these colorless specimens and
      renders their outlines and markings more visible. …

      1. Source (about previous excerpts):
        “Specimen Contrast in Optical Microscopy”
        Nikon MIcroscopy
        © copyright 2000-2013 All Rights Reserved


        I want add that you could try to take some better optical images from your samples, following the right path…

        See also: stainings and possible microchemical reactions
        to test your linen samples.

        You certainly knows very well that:
        …microchemical reaction on starch is made by a drop solution of Iodide in Potsssium Iodide in water or in alcohol being added to one side of the covergalss and being brought under the coverglass by applying a small strip of filter paper on the other side. In this way the changing color of the starch to blue can be followed. In the beginning the layers become clearer, but later on they are no longer visible owing to the intensive color reaction. …
        You have to show us what are the situations on your linen fibrils before and after the treatments.

  2. Paolo writes, “It is evident Mr. Berry is not trained in microscope imaging. Our students can do a better work.” Yet he does not provide a single example to back up this accusation against Colin.

    Notice I didn’t use the title ‘Dr.’ for either gent. I think I’ll reserve that title for those that take the Hippocratic oath.

    1. As I understand it, those who take the Hippocratic oath are generally academically qualified as a Bachelor of Medicine, and in British traditions, the appellation “Doctor” has often been deemed as no more than a courtesy title. In US traditions, the courtesy extends to those qualified as bachelors of dentistry and veterinary science. In non-English language traditions, such professionals tend to be addressed according to the their specific discipline. Recollections of school-boy French if memory serves correctly, for example would include such as M. le medecin (name), or M. l’ingenieur (name), and the term ‘docteur’ would be limited to those with the highest academic degree in the particular discipline. Collins’ English dictionary gives some 13 separate meanings for the noun ‘doctor’, including informal allusions. Woodhouse’s Latin dictionary assigns the L. noun ‘doctor’ as a teacher, and the term for a physician is ‘medicus’.

    2. I’ve been on this site since Jan 2012 DavidG, and folk here know that I’m quite happy to be addressed as Colin, and be judged by current research, only making reference to prior published work – or my doctorate – when sorely provoked.

      However I am now sorely provoked. This is not the first time that Dr .Paolo Di Lazzaro has crashed in on this site and addressed me as though I were a rank amateur. For his information, he was just 12 when at age 26 I took up my first full scientific research post at the University of Pennsylvania (1972). What’s more, the project was pure photochemistry (phototherapy of neonatal jaundice) where one quickly learned the importance of identifying the precise chemical nature of the chromophore when investigating a light-driven reaction, whether using visible light or uv, whether using a high intensity mercury lamp as I was, or an excimer laser.

      What astounds me is Paolo Di Lazzaro’s assumption that the chromophore in his linen has to be cellulose. I see from that 2012 paper of his that he now thinks the cellulose must have mysteriously acquired a priming double bond from somewhere to be able to absorb uv light efficiently and undergo photochemical reaction. Well, that’s progress of sorts I guess. But why the fixation with cellulose? Why has he not considered the non-carbohydrates, especially those like lignin and phenolics with C=C double bonds in profusion, albeit as delocalised aromatic ring systems?

      Maybe if he’d chosen a hypothesis that was scientific, i.e. testable, one that was able to generate predictions, he’d have got round to doing simple checks on his preconceptions, like testing cotton as well as linen, cotton being closer to pure cellulose.

      I’ve actually done that experiment using my model system. I predicted that while I might get a coloration it would look different under the microscope. That hypothesis has been confirmed: linen gives the typical ‘half-tone’ effect with a mixture of coloured and uncoloured fibres that I’m inclined to ascribe provisionally to internal S1 lignin. Cotton does NOT, there being a general slur of colour with no obvious fibres that are more coloured than others. You read it here first. I’ll put some of those pictures up tomorrow, but they will be blurred, simply because my microscope has no depth of focus. But we cope – by focusing in or out until satisfied we have assimilated the big picture, taking in lots of reference points.

      Yes, Dr. Di Lazzaro, this retired PhD scientist probably know a great deal more than you about photochemistry and much else besides where chemistry, plant science and biochemistry are concerned. Indeed they are disciplines that scarcely feature at all in your written work, despite the fact that laser-generated light, uv included, has to obey the same laws of photochemistry as non-coherent light. I think it’s time you got off that high horse of yours Dr. Di Lazzaro, and began to wise up on what a TESTABLE scientific hypothesis is currently achieving (that’s mine in case you were wondering) and drop that fixation of yours with boring old cellulose.

      1. There’s a rank smell coming out of this site right now. It’s the smell of stitch up. It began with that very curious Oh Vey posting, the one where “a reader writes” (Yeah, right) It was on that thread that John Klotz, Dan’s “personal friend” (so he said in an email) accused this blogger.scientist of being “disingenuous”, i.e. insincere, attempting to hide motives, that being needless to say a serious slur on my character if ever there was, and indeed not the first, and it’s been downhill all the way ever since (with Barrie Schwortz piling is with his sustained character attack and now Paolo Di Lazzaro with his attack on my scientific and technical competence. That’s rich I have to say, coming from the photochemically-illiterate Dr. Di Lazzaro, nuff said,

        Well, one doesn’t need to be paranoid to see what’s going on here. I knew from the outset that I was taking a risk using the internet to disseminate real-time research that had as its chief objective a desire to debunk Di Lazzaro and his theo-so-called-science, content to blast linen with ultraviolet and then claim, without a shred of evidence, that he had achieved a coloration comparable to that of the Shroud, ipso facto supranormal in the context of a 1st century tomb. No, it’s not the job of scientists to “make people think about philosophy and theology, Dr .Paolo Di lazzaro).

        I shall now wind up my project, with a short 500-1000 word summary on my own site, and then take a long holiday from the internet, this insidiously nasty site in particular (Hugh Farey and DavidG being the rare breath of fresh air. Nice book by the way, LooneyTomb David.).

        Oh, and I’ve changed my mind about posting any more pictures from my microscope. There will be verbal descriptions instead. If some don’t like taking things on trust from this seasoned investigator whose microscope happens to lack depth of field then there’s a simply remedy. Buy your own microscope, DO IT YOURSELF!

        Where this site is concerned I am now available by email contact only:

        I shall not be responding here to comments.

  3. Come Holy Spirit.
    fill the hearts of the faithful.
    Kindle them in the spirit of your love.

    Send forth your Spirit
    and they shall be created.
    And You shall renew the face of the earth.

    O, God, who by light of the Holy Spirit,
    did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
    grant that by the same Holy Spirit
    We may be truly wise
    and enjoy His consolations,
    Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

    Colin, do you believe by the light of the Holy Spirit you are truly wise?

    1. What is it you hope to achieve by asking that question, Stan Walker MD? Why not ask a meaningful one, like “Do you consider the “Shroud” of Turin was created in medieval times?” and if so “Was it made by flour-imprinting”? Answering those questions requires (a) relevant information and (b) judgement – scientific, historical etc. Whether it requires wisdom or not I could not say.

  4. And Colin can insult Di Lazzaro ad nauseam? Some of us find Colin’s “theory du jour” bordering on entertaining to insulting. Come on Dan, Jesus coated with flour and half baked? Why not Jesus fricassee? Many of us are extremely well educated in the sciences and are not bamboozled by Colin’s liberal use of chemical terminology and his verbosity. I value Colin’s contributions because he is interesting. His concepts are a stretch scientifically and only if one ignores a plethora of all other scientific data on the shroud. And you ignore Colin’s insults to those – in the medical field – who identify forensic data on the shroud that defies explanation.

    1. I would be insulted if you asked me “do you believe by the light of the Holy Spirit you are truly wise?” even though I make it clear that I believe in the Trinity. And by the way he was talking about a medieval man coated with flour, not Jesus.

      Stan, he is the only serious skeptic who in many years has been very creative and done extensive experimenting. What he believes — and that is his business — is of no consequence to what he does as a scientist. Should we ask someone in the medical field if he believes by the light of the Holy Spirit that he is truly wise?

      Colin has been very insulting of many people. I have pointed that out. You have also been insulting and I am pointing that out. Why not explain why you are “not bamboozled by Colin’s liberal use of chemical terminology and his verbosity” rather than hinting at religious heresy as a reason? Why not be truly wise?

      Sorry, Stan, but that is what I think.

    2. Point of clarification. Colin has never claimed that Jesus was covered in flour and half baked. He proposes a medieval artisan may have done this to a live or dead ‘volunteer’ whose features resembled the popular image of Jesus. The person was not baked, only the linen with the flour imprint. If you’re going to ridicule the theory at least appear to have understood it.

      1. It is all too well understood David. In debate terminology this tactic is known as a riposte. The point inferred is Colin’s theory is half-baked. The Bread has risen.

  5. You hit the nail on the head Dcn Andy. Let’s see if Colin gets published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Maybe he would rather be on a sensationalist TV program.

  6. Here few very simple questions to answer:

    What is the thickness of PCW?
    What is the thickness of S1 layer?
    What is the lignin content in PCW?
    What is the lignin content in S1 layer?
    How is possible to measure the lignin content in PCW ?
    How is possible to measure the lignin content in S1 layer?

    — — —
    Here two extremely vague references
    (papers written by Fergus, but not centered on flax/linen):

    – Fergus, B.J., and Goring, D.A.I. (1970).
    The distribution of lignin in birch wood
    as determined by ultraviolet microscopy.
    Holzforschung. 24, 118–124

    -Fergus, B. J., Procter and other researchers. 1969.
    The Distribution of Lignin in Sprucewood
    as Determined by Ultraviolet Microscopy.
    Wood Sci. Technol., 3, 117-138.

    Here another vague reference:
    Structural Characterization of Guaiacyl-rich Lignins in Flax (Linum usitatissimum) Fibers and Shives
    José C. del Río, Jorge Rencoret, Ana Gutiérrez, Lidia Nieto, Jesús Jiménez-Barbero, and Ángel T. Martínez


    Here an excerpt from the abstract:
    >The structural characteristics of the lignins from flax
    (Linum usitatissimum) fibers and shives were studied.
    >Significant differences in the content and composition
    of the lignin from both parts were observed.
    >The lignin contents were 3.8% in the fibers
    and 29.0% in the shives. … etc. …

    1. Do you know how to work with “lignin level measured
      with modified acetyl bromide method”?

      Iiyama K, Wallis AFA:
      Determination of lignin in herbaceous plants by an improved acetyl bromide procedure.

      J Food Sci Agric 1990, 51:145-161. Publisher Full Text OpenURL

      Return to text

      1. Lignin content
        >Total lignin content was measured with the modified ‘acetyl-bromide’ method [86]. Briefly, dried and grounded into powder tissue samples were heated for 1 hour at 65°C with water and further filtrated through GF/A filters which was followed by washing several times with different organic solvents (in turn: ethanol, acetone, diethyl ether). Such prepared samples were dried for 12 hours and then, after adding 25% acetyl-bromide in acetic acid samples were incubated for 2 hours in 50°C and further dissolved in 10 ml of 2 N NaOH mixed with 12 ml acetic acid. After incubating for at least 12 hours at room temperature lignin content was measured spectrophotometrically at 280 nm. The results were given as an equivalent of coniferyl alcohol. …


        But this work seems to be too far from the “normal textile studies” on linen fibrils…
        Then : it’s near impossible to work in this manner.

        1. Then we can think something about the SNOM
          (= Scanning near-field optical microscopy) and Raman microscopy for characterisation of lignin in linen fibrils…

        2. SNOM

          >Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM/SNOM) is a microscopy technique for nanostructure investigation that breaks the far field resolution limit by exploiting the properties of evanescent waves. This is done by placing the detector very close (distance much smaller than wavelength λ) to the specimen surface. >This allows for the surface inspection with high spatial, spectral and temporal resolving power. With this technique, the resolution of the image is limited by the size of the detector aperture and not by the wavelength of the illuminating light. In particular, lateral resolution of 20 nm and vertical resolution of 2–5 nm have been demonstrated.
          >As in optical microscopy, the contrast mechanism can be easily adapted to study different properties, such as refractive index, chemical structure and local stress.
          >Dynamic properties can also be studied at a sub-wavelength scale using this technique.

          However, before we get to talk about these advanced techniques (SNOM, etc.), you could try to do something with the PLM.
          But if you can not even use the PLM then think at least improve the technical control with the normal optical microscopy technique.

          The depth of field (penetration into fibrils) and the real possibility to use SPMs (Scanning Probe
          Microscopies) are another matter to do, after deepening the OM (= Optical Microscopy).
          — — *** — —

          LIGNIN, cellulose (the two weak substances like lignin and cellulose with combining together makes much stronger) and vague ideas (to develop)…

          Here a vague idea about new works on Lignin using Laywood…
          There’s a product called Laywood that’s been on the market for a couple years now…

          Spinnova Ltd. has developed a technology which can be used to manufacture yarn directly from wood fibres without chemical process. This innovation is a significant, breakthroug technology, which can revolutionize both textile and forest industry and create new meaningful business activities.
          Perhaps it’s possible to do some interesting work about lignin using Laywood and SPM controls…


          So the question can turn to be the following:
          How to develop creativity in other areas ?…

          (… and this because we do not like too to show the appropriate images [of linen fibrils and thin layers] in optical microscopy… and we don’t study how to detect Lignin modifications…)

          … Pranks or not?

  7. Optical Microscopy.
    Here I post some links for those interested
    in the continuation of the discussion about
    the proper use of optical microscopy.

    — —
    >The primary advantage of Köhler illumination is
    the extremely even illumination of the sample.
    >This reduces image artifacts and provides
    high sample contrast.
    >Even illumination of the sample is also critical
    for advanced illumination techniques such as
    phase contrast and differential interference contrast microscopy…


    Other links:

      (Update 31 August)

      Sorry Colin, but I am unable to post this comment on your site,

      “Thanks Colin,

      I’ll try it but probably without oil.
      I do not understand why oil is needed in order to give the best shroud-like image.
      In other words, what is not good enough with the dry-flour/wet linen model ?

      You might be right or not.
      At the end I will show my results, including microscopy.
      And also after ageing the samples (why did not you try artificial ageing ?)

      I need some weeks for this work.

      You wrote: “Do you know of a modelled image that has a closer match with the TS?”
      At first glance, no.

      “Isn’t that obvious TH – you having visited this site yesterday (sitemeter ;-)?”

      Do you spy on me ? No problem ;-)


  8. Do you know “Dark field microscopy”?


    >Dark field microscopy (dark ground microscopy)
    describes microscopy methods, in both light and
    electron microscopy, which exclude the unscattered
    beam from the image. As a result, the field around
    the specimen (i.e., where there is no specimen
    to scatter the beam) is generally dark. …

    …just for fun!

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