Forbes Editors Need to Polish Up Their Headline Writing

imageThe latest Forbes/Science article by Kristina Killgrove is headlined: Mysteries Of The Black Death, Shroud Of Turin, And Origins of Early Americans Solved With DNA

Solved?  She had written:

Of course, since the shroud has been recognized since the Middle Ages as a possible religious relic, it has been handled and moved about for centuries.  There is unfortunately nothing in the new research to suggest a Medieval origin for the shroud and subsequent handling by people over the centuries is unreasonable.  The question of whether the shroud is indeed a 1st century AD artifact or a Medieval artifact is not solved by the new analysis.

The question of the origin of the Shroud of Turin may yet be solved in our lifetimes, particularly as DNA analysis is getting more reliable, faster, less expensive, and less destructive. But I suspect that there will always be believers on both sides of the authentication argument, no matter what the results show.

She didn’t say solved.

A Massive Effort Called STURP

imageYesterday, Larry Getlen (pictured) reviewed John Thavis’ new book, Vatican Prophecies. (See earlier posting– Non-Fiction: The Vatican Prophecies Available September 15).

The New York Post, famous for its headlines, sought to grab reader attention with,  How the Vatican investigates miracles. They succeeded.

Getlen’s article focused on three topics in the book: relics, the Shroud of Turin and exorcism. In that order; that will keep people reading, at least until they finish their morning bagel and coffee or get to their subway stop.

I like the Post, not editorially or journalistically, mind you, but because it tells us what a large segment of New Yorkers think. New Yorkers think many things  because the paper masterfully tells them what to think. Getlen is one of the masters of making this happen.

Here is what you must know and think about the shroud – and this is just a review of a book:

The finding, that the Shroud is “a negative image,” confirmed for many its authenticity, as, people argued, “no medieval artist would have had the necessary knowledge to create such an image.”

Since then, “the cloth’s enigmatic imprint [has drawn] the attention of specialists in imaging, chemistry, physics and other fields, including radiocarbon dating.” Carbon-14 tests conducted in 1988 placed the shroud’s origins “between 1260 and 1390,” appearing to “bolster claims that the shroud was a medieval artifact.” But the tests have been criticized, as “according to several experts, the threads [that were tested] came from a repaired or contaminated area of the cloth.”

imageScientists from every imaginable field have conducted tests on the cloth to try and determine its origin.Photo: Getty Images

In the 1970s, a massive effort called STURP — The Shroud of Turin Research Project — united around 30 scientists from numerous fields, including “experts in photography, chemistry, physics and biophysics, mathematics, optics, forensic pathology,” and even “nuclear weapons research.”

An image analyzer that “created a three-dimensional relief of the shroud’s human form” confirmed for some that “the image itself contained precise spatial information, which would appear to rule out a painting or other artistic origin. The image would have to have been created while the cloth was draped over a body, even in places where the cloth had not come into direct contact with the body.”

A slew of additional tests from “every imaginable scientific angle” were conducted, from X-rays to “ultraviolet and infrared experiments” to analysis of cloth samples that had been “covered for centuries.” These tests “added an immense amount of data but also raised new questions. Essentially the team agreed that the image was not the work of an artist and was encoded with unique, three-dimensional information; but how it was produced remained a mystery.”

Except it was Sunday of Labor Day weekend and most people were not eating bagels or riding the subway. Maybe they should run it again on Tuesday.

Including the Truth About the Shroud of Turin

imageFrom a fascinating articles three days ago in Forbes Life by Jim Dobson, Vatican For Sale: Very Wealthy Rent the Sistine Chapel, Dine with the Pope and Buy Secret Archives:

Beyond the Tower of Winds are rooms lined with 50 miles (roughly the length of the Panama Canal), filled with dark wooden shelves. Inside are hundreds of thousands of volumes (some almost two feet thick) filled with antiquated parchment. This is the Vatican secret archive, the most mysterious collection of documents in the world.

Among the historic documents are: Handwritten records of Galileo’s trial before the Inquisition; the 1530 petition from England’s House of Lords asking the Pope to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon; letters from Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis during the U.S. Civil War; the papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther, and letters from Michelangelo including one where he complained about not receiving payment for his work on the Sistine Chapel.

Some of the more controversial, and much argued theories about hidden documents include; documentation of the Jesus bloodline; secular historical proof of Jesus’s existence, with correspondence between Saint Paul and Emperor Nero; secular historical proof via the same correspondence that Jesus did not exist; and contemporary depictions of Jesus (formal portraits of Jesus made by people who actually saw and depicted him in real life).

Many historians and scholars have also hinted the Church has hidden the existence of various Biblical relics, either the relics themselves, or reliable documentation as to their whereabouts, including the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, the True Cross, the truth about the Shroud of Turin, and many others.

Once, Napoleon had the whole of the secret archive transported to Paris. In 1817 it was eventually returned with countless documents missing. Private investors have speculated about what truly is available in the public sector, hidden for decades.

For now, the future of the Vatican is certainly changing forever. Many more opportunities will be unveiled in the coming year with fund raising efforts giving help to a lot of people less fortunate…. thanks to Pope Francis.

(emphasis mine)

It is really, really time to rethink what we think about 3D

imageA reader writes:

I noticed with interest your article [Scientist Barrie Schwortz] with the excerpt from the CAN [=Catholic News Agency] story that quotes Dr. Barrie Schwortz saying that lights and darks on the image correlate to cloth to body distance. I agree with you, however, permit me this.

What Dr. Schwortz says is an unfortunate example of an assumption masquerading as a fact. He is repeating something that seems to have originated with Dr. John Jackson et alia around 1976. It has become one of the most often repeated statements about the Shroud’s image. Unfortunately it is not true. 

Dr. Colin Berry has clearly demonstrated that the lights and darks (lighter and darker shades) in a photograph of a death mask can represent three-dimensional information. [See ImageJ plot below].  When Dr. Schwortz says that photographs don’t have that kind of information, he is wrong. They might have it. And if photographs might have it, so can artworks such as paintings, relief rubbings and imprints. In the case of the death mask photograph, it was a matter of how diffused light played out on the shape of the face.

Dr. Berry also demonstrated the encoding of three-dimensional information in an image with thermal imprinting. In that case it seems to be the result of different amounts of pressure between a piece of linen and a hot statue. 

Clearly, no one should be telling a reporter, “photographs don’t have that kind of information, artworks don’t.” It simply is not true.

No one should tell a reporter, “The only way that can happen is by some interaction between cloth and body.” It simply is not true. 

And no one should tell a reporter there is a “correlation between image density – lights and darks on the image – and cloth to body distance.” It simply is not true.

In fairness to Barrie, I used to say those very same things about the 3D.  It is one of those many things about the shroud images that warrant reexamination and new thinking. The problem is bigger than what gets said in the press. It is believing possibly incorrect information and blinding ourselves to new avenues of thinking about the images. I still think the data is real 3D data.  I’m just NOT persuaded that cloth to body distance is a valid assumption.

Note 1:  Barrie is not a “Dr.” But by all rights, he is Dr. Schwortz in my book.

Note 2:  It was Joseph Accetta who proposed that the death mask photograph might contian 3D information. Colin confirmed it. This is discussed in an earlier posting, PowerPoint presentation put together by Joseph Accetta. It is too bad that Colin wasn’t in St. Louis when Joe Accetta was.

 

image

Does it Matter if the Shroud is a Fake?

imageThe BBC has published an interesting presentation by Caroline Wyatt on their iWonder website. Click on the image or HERE to see it.

Tens of millions of pilgrims – including several popes – have visited the Shroud of Turin. This mysterious and celebrated cloth has provoked both controversy and devotion.

While devotees believe it is Jesus’ burial cloth, others are convinced it’s a medieval forgery. Whatever the truth behind their origins, why do some objects like the shroud generate such devotion and awe among believers?

Barrie Schwortz, Colin Berry and Some Good Reporting in Fort Wayne

"Now I can see this will be my legacy," Barrie Schwortz said. "And that’s a gift. I’ve been given a great blessing in doing this work."

And Colin Berry commenting on the newspaper’s website, said “It’s refreshing to see one of STURP’s old hands, so to speak, still expressing a degree of caution
re the authenticity of the Shroud.”


imageYesterday, Fort Wayne’s Pulitzer Prize-winning broadsheet daily, The News-Sentinel, carried an excellent article by Kevin Kilbane (pictured with a tie). One gets the sense, however, that there is more than just excellent reporting and writing going on here; Barrie Schwortz, the subject of the story (pictured with the hat) is a marvelous spokesman for the shroud. He is so for the most convinced among us and the most skeptical, as well.

When Pope Francis visited and prayed before the Shroud of Turin on June 21, many people who believe the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ thought the pope would declare it to be authentic.

Barrie M. Schwortz, whose official photos documented the first modern scientific examination of the Shroud in 1978, thought Pope Francis would be more restrained in his comments, and he was right.

clip_image001What if later research determines the shroud doesn’t contain the image of a crucified Christ, Schwortz explained during a stop Thursday night in Fort Wayne.

[…]

Schwortz, who is Jewish, has believed since the mid-1990s that the Shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus. Through his website and speaking appearances, he sees it as his role to share the Shroud’s story with all those who couldn’t be there with the 1978 research team.

"Now I can see this will be my legacy," he said. "And that’s a gift. I’ve been given a great blessing in doing this work."

imageIt was also good to see our friend and new hand shroud researcher Colin Berry (pictured with neither tie or hat) commenting on the newspaper’s website. Because comments on newspaper websites often drift away quickly, I am repeating it in its entirety, here:

It’s refreshing to see one of STURP’s old hands, so to speak, still expressing a degree of caution re the authenticity of the Shroud. Yes, there is still much to be learned. STURP barely scratched the surface as to what the image is (sticky tape samples being the less damaging alternative to ‘scratching’ the surface!) as distinct from telling us what is not (definitely NOT a painting, despite attempts by some, notably historian Charles Freeman, to resurrect that notion with arguments that simply fail to address or do justice to decades of scientific investigation).

However, this Shroud researcher (3.5 years of testing different models) must take issue with a term employed here and pretty well every where else in the media, namely the description of the linen as a BURIAL shroud. I invite writer Kevin Kilbane and readers to go back to the Gospels and read what is said about Joseph of Arimathea and his arrival at the CROSS, not tomb, with fine linen. There is no indication that the linen was intended for use as a burial shroud (Nicodemus providing the wherewithal). It was merely for discreet and dignified transport from cross to nearby tomb. Once that is appreciated, then it greatly reduces the number of models that need to be tested, especially those that see the Shroud as having captured by some mysterious ‘photographic’ process the instant of Resurrection. Instead, one can view the image as a contact imprint, left in blood and PERSPIRATION. One then asks whether the Shroud bears a 2000 year old contact imprint, the body image being highly aged yellowed sweat, or a medieval attempt to reproduce what a then 1300 year old sweat imprint (plus blood) might have looked like.

My own preference is for the second of those. The current preferred model is one where a human volunteer is ‘painted’ from head to toe in a paste of flour and water and then overlaid with linen, gently pressed around contours, to leave a contact imprint. The imprint is then developed chemically, maybe with nitric acid to turn the imprint from white to yellow, or even by simple pressing with a hot iron!

Being an imprint explains the negative image, and even those ‘mysterious’ 3D properties revealed by modern computer software.

Do read the whole article, Shroud of Turin study photographer believes new technology possibly could answer some questions

A Nice Story

imageFrom Religion News Service (Press Release):

(Syracuse, NY) Bob Halligan Jr., the founder and lead singer for the International Catholic Celtic rock group, Ceili Rain, was invited to Turin Italy to perform his original music for a Papal gathering of over 100,000 attendees. Pope Francis was in Turin to view and venerate the Shroud of Turin, celebrate a Papal Mass and to meet with and address the gathered faithful. Mr. Halligan was the only American music artist invited to perform for the events surrounding the Pope’s visit.

Halligan, an award winning music veteran and Syracuse, New York resident considers himself to be “a radically serious Catholic and a huge fan of this Pope” and thus views this whole experience as “one of the greatest blessings of my life.”

As with all large Papal gatherings, there are many activities and events scheduled in advance of and during the Pope’s arrival. The singer received an invitation from the organizers to perform a Ceili Rain song for 10,000 people gathered in Turin’s Area Vitali for Eucharistic Adoration June 20, and for some 100,000 gathered in Piazza Vittorio the following day for the Pope’s arrival. The experience of performing at such notable events was enough on its own, but the blessings progressed to a whole new level when the singer was invited to a personal viewing of the Shroud of Turin, and following his performance for the Pope’s arrival was directed to Pope Francis’ receiving line and was able to greet and shake the Holy Father’s hand. “I told him that USA loves him so much. He said he was coming to the US, and then he said ‘Remember me, please’ which I took to mean ‘Pray for me.’ ”

Ceili Rain has been a professional touring and recording group since 1995 and is currently celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The band has released eight all-original recordings, and has been recognized with fourteen Unity Awards by the United Catholic Music and Video Association.

The name Ceili Rain means “a downpour of heavenly partiness.” The word Ceili is Gaelic for an all-ages, wedding reception-type party, and the Latin “Coeli” means “of heaven.”

Ceili Rain has been providing its own brand of all-original, energetic, uplifting and joyful Irish flavored music to Catholic dioceses, parishes, adult events, youth gatherings, celebrations, liturgies, adorations and fundraisers both nationally and internationally as well as secular venues and music festivals. “We have been blessed to have our “universal” brand of music and messages embraced by people of all faiths and even no faith,” says Halligan. “There is no doubt that our music speaks volumes to our Catholic Church following, but it is completely inclusive of anyone who has a yearning for God, love, joy, togetherness and/or peace.”

Ceili Rain is available for events of all types in and out of the US. CD’s and related merchandise can be purchased from their website. All songs and albums are also available on iTunes and all digital outlets worldwide.

For more information, press kits, bookings and interview opportunities contact Ceili Rain through their website, facebook or twitter account.

www.ceilirain.com

The Shroud of Santa Cruz

clip_image001For just a second when you saw the picture you asked yourself, “What are they doing to the shroud?” Right?  Maybe it was just me. Maybe it is because I haven’t had coffee yet.

This appears in The Santa Cruz Sentinel this morning:

To a dispassionate or incurious eye, they are merely two planks of gray weathered wood, something you might come across moldering in the brush behind a log pile at someone’s Santa Cruz Mountains cabin.

But through the eyes of Kim Stoner or Geoffrey Dunn or Bob Pearson or Barney Langner or any number of surfers and/or spectators at a special ceremony at the Museum of Art & History last Thursday, these two planks of wood carry a staggering cultural meaning. In the world of surfing, they are the Rosetta Stone, the Shroud of Turin, the Hammer of Thor. They are the paintings on the cave walls at Lascaux, Shakespeare’s first folio, Babe Ruth’s first bat.

They are the First Surfboards.

In the Eyes of the Befuddled

Apparent image of a man!
Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning
from what you intend it to mean.

imageThe wonderfully outspoken Fr. Dwight Longenecker speaks out about MSM reporting on religion in the Catholic Channel over at Patheos. The title of Longenecker’s posting, The Shroud the Pope and the “Strip of Cloth”

Can the main stream media get any dumber than when they try to report on religion?

This article at CNN reports on Pope Francis’ recent visit to Turin where he prayed before the Shroud.

Pope Francis prayed Sunday before the Shroud of Turin, a strip of cloth that some believe was used for the burial of Jesus Christ.

The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.

“A strip of cloth…”??

It’s that last line, “The shroud appears to bear the image of a man who resembles paintings of Christ.”–not only is it badly written but it reveals that the writer knows next to nothing about the shroud itself–which is one of the most extensively researched relics of Christianity.

He is right, of course.  Look at the Huffington Post for another example.

The Shroud of Turin has captivated thousands of Christians over centuries, some of whom believe it covered Jesus Christ during his burial — and on Sunday, Pope Francis joined a throng of pilgrims to see the 14-foot strip of cloth in the Italian city of Turin.

[…]

Those who believe the shroud to be authentic point to the apparent image of a man imprinted on the cloth, whose wounds seem to reflect those described in the narrative of the crucifixion.

Different writers. Hmmm?  Nah!

Appears to bear! Apparent image of a man!  Oh, that awful word ‘apparent,’  a word which insanely gets it meaning from what you intend it to mean. According to Merriam-Webster:

 

apparent

adjective ap·par·ent \ə-ˈper-ənt, -ˈpa-rənt\

: easy to see or understand

: seeming to be true but possibly not true

 

But let’s not kid ourselves.  Longenecker is right. There is, after all, an obvious image of a man on that strip of cloth.


Other postings in this blog that mention Fr. Longenecker:

Imagine what Mary looked like from the Shroud of Turin?

Funny that when it comes to the Shroud of Turin the carbon testing must be considered watertight scientific proof.

Is the Shroud Evidence for God’s Existence?

Superhero Fr. Dwight Longenecker Believes in the Shroud of Turin

Ten Questions for Shroud Skeptics from Fr. Longenecker

The Day Was Not About the Shroud

imageReuters journalist Philip Pullella wrote the report that got the most early-the-next-day shroud coverage among English language newspapers. The headline: Pope prays at Turin Shroud but skirts authenticity debate

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday before the mysterious shroud some Christians believe is Jesus’s burial cloth but skirted the issue of its authenticity, saying it should remind people of all suffering and persecution.

On his first day of a visit to the northern industrial city of Turin, he defended migrants flocking to Europe to escape war and injustice, saying it "makes one cry" to see them mistreated.

He also spoke of the city’s 19th century reputation as a center of devil worship and anti-clericalism, saying today’s young people faced new snares of high unemployment, drugs and unbridled consumerism.

Pullella said very little about the shroud. But he did pick up the gist of what the pope did and then said about the shroud:

After praying for several minutes before the cloth that has baffled scientists for decades, he touched its glass case and moved on to say Mass for 60,000 people. There he said the Shroud should spur people to reflect not only on Jesus but also on "the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person."

Despite the headline, the last several paragraphs of Pullella’s filing are about migrant workers.

The pope began the day with an outdoor rally on the theme of workers rights and immigration. Turin’s factories drew in waves of poor southern Italian peasants in the post-war period. Today it is home to migrants from developing countries and social tensions have increased along with unemployment.

That same day, Pullella filed two other stories.

Pope says abuse of migrants ‘makes one cry,’ visits Turin Shroud

Pope says weapons manufacturers can’t call themselves Christian

Pullella may understand this pope very well.  The day was not about the shroud. It wasn’t about what the pope might think about the shroud. 

The AP story to some extent picks up this theme

Francis sat for several minutes before the shroud, contained in a protective glass case. He lowered his head at times in apparent reflection and occasionally gazed up at the 4.3-meter (14-foot) long cloth. Then he took a few steps, placed his hand on the case, and walked away without comment.

Later, after celebrating Mass of the faithful in a packed Turin square, Francis gave his impression of the cloth as he spoke of the love Jesus had for humanity when being crucified.

‘Icon of Christ’s love’

“Icon of this love is the Shroud, which, even this time, has attracted so many people here to Turin,” Francis said. “The Shroud draws (people) to the tormented face and body of Jesus and, at the same time, directs (people) toward the face of every suffering and unjustly persecuted person.”

The AP story also switched gears, perhaps a bit less gracefully:

Skeptics say the cloth bearing the image of a crucified man is a medieval forgery.

Turin, the heartland of Italy’s auto industry, is considered Italy’s blue-collar labor capital, and Francis used his two-day visit to the city to denounce exploitation of workers, singling out women, young people and immigrants as frequent victims.

BBC News Magazine: The Perplexing Image

it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate
is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.

imageAppearing online just hours ago: How did the Turin Shroud get its image?

You’ll notice that this says nothing about its authenticity. The Catholic Church takes no official position on that, stating only that it is a matter for scientific investigation. Ever since radiocarbon dating in 1989 proclaimed the 14ft by 4ft piece of linen to be roughly 700 years old, the Church has avoided claiming that it is anything more than an "icon" of Christian devotion.

But regardless of the continuing arguments about its age (summarised in the box at the bottom of this page) the Shroud of Turin is a deeply puzzling object. Studies in 1978 by an international team of experts – the Shroud of Turin Research Project (Sturp) – delivered no clear explanation of how the cloth came to bear the faint imprint of a bearded man apparently bearing the wounds of crucifixion.

A painting, perhaps? McCrone is mentioned. Then there is this:

Another idea is that the image is a kind of rubbing made from a bas-relief statue, or perhaps imprinted by singeing the fabric while it lay on top of such a bas-relief – but the physical and chemical features of the image don’t support this.

A natural chemical process, a photograph, and energy release?

According to an international team of scientists and other interested folk called the Yahoo Shroud Science Group, hypotheses about the genesis of the shroud "involving the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be rejected". Among them, the group members write, "are hypotheses correlated to an energy source coming from the enveloped or wrapped Man, [and] others correlated to surface electrostatic discharges caused by an electric field". Since these hypotheses appear to invoke processes unknown to science, which presumably occur during a return from the dead, it’s technically true that science can’t disprove them – nor really say anything about them at all.

Some, however, are not deterred by that. Italian chemist Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua has proposed that the image might have been burnt into the upper layers of the cloth by a burst of "radiant energy" – bright light, ultraviolet light, X-rays or streams of fundamental particles – emanating from the body itself. Fanti cites the account of Christ’s Transfiguration, witnessed by Peter, John and James and recounted in Luke 9:29: "As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." This is, to put it mildly, rather circumstantial evidence. But Fanti suggests we might at least test whether artificial sources of such radiation can produce a similar result on linen.

According Raymond Rogers, all kinds of pseudoscientific theories have been put forward that invoke some mysterious radiation, which not only made the image itself but distorted the radiocarbon dating. In general they start from the notion that the shroud must be genuine and work backwards from that goal, he said. Little has changed in the decade and more since Rogers made this complaint. But still it has to be said that the piece of cloth Pope Francis will venerate is genuinely and stubbornly perplexing.

Also Because of the Shroud of Turin

imageMike Stechschulte writes in Port Huron’s The Times Herald Why I am and will remain a Catholic:

In light of the recent Pew survey showing Catholicism as the biggest loser in the nationwide exodus from organized religion, pundits from all corners of the woodwork have come out with their diagnoses (and in some cases, prognoses) regarding what ails Christianity, and Catholicism in particular.

There have been stories and opinions written by ex-Catholics, non-Catholics and never-will-be Catholics. But as a Catholic, rather than tell you all the reasons I think people are leaving the Catholic Church, let me tell you why I won’t.

[…]

I am a Catholic because of history, as well. Not only the history that shows the Gospels as the most trustworthy ancient documents we possess (with 25,000 existing manuscripts to check and cross-check for accuracy and authenticity), but the history since then, too. I am a Catholic because of the incorruptible saints, the Shroud of Turin, the thousands of unexplained healings in Lourdes, France, Fr. Solanus Casey’s care for the poor, Our Lady of Fatima, the miracle of the Eucharist and the powerful weakness of St. John Paul II’s dying breath.

Double Dipping in the Ink Well?

imageShortly after the Shroud Exposition opened in Turin, the story broke that Italian police had created a “forensic” picture of what Jesus looked like as a boy. They used the image on the shroud. The story overshadowed other exposition coverage.  The story made it into big daily papers around the world and into morning and nightly national television news. The picture is from ABC News a few days ago.

I repeated the story after reading about it in The Times (of London) with Computer Generated Young Jesus From Image on Shroud

Here is how Ariel Cohen wrote it up in the Jerusalem Post. It was syndicated out and many big name, high credibility papers like the San Francisco Chronicle repeated it:

Police detectives in Italy claim that they have revealed how Jesus looked as a child based on forensics from his supposed burial cloth.

The Turin Shroud, one of the most famous Christian relics to date, provided the scientists with an approximate image of Jesus’ face on the material. From there, scientists created an image, and reversed the aging process using cutting edge technology to reveal what Christ may have looked like as a young boy.

The scientists used the same technique often employed to capture Italian mafioso who have been on the run for decades. By reducing the size of the jaw, raising the chin and straightening the nose, the replica of Jesus as a boy became clear.

[…]

The digital image was created to go along with the displaying of the Turin Shroud’s two month public display which began this week at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin. Pope Francis is even expected to stop and pray before the cloth on June 21st.

(emphasis mine)

imageDid anyone notice?  Does anyone remember ten years back?  This forensic stuff was a Christmas Day story by Jason Horowitz in the New York Times in 2004. The second picture shown here to the right accompanied that story. (Of course, no one at the Grey Lady realized that this story had nothing to do with Christmas):

ROME, Dec. 25 – Using the same technology that adds wrinkles to the drawings of Mafia bosses to identify them after decades on the lam, the Italian police have shaved years, and a beard, off an image taken from the Shroud of Turin to create what newspapers here this week hailed as the very visage of a young Jesus.

"Here it is, the real face of the baby Jesus," declared the front page of the newspaper Il Giornale. Italy’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, ran a more cautious headline, "Here Is Jesus at Age 12 (According to a Computer)."

At the Heart of the Shroud Exposition is a Great Mystery

Doubtless Pope Francis will have some arresting and unexpected things to say
when he arrives next month. . . .

imageThe Economist’s blog, Erasmus: Religion and Public Policy has published what I think may be so far the best exposition-time article on the shroud. The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden is fair, perhaps more so than I unfairly expected when I began to read it:

And at the heart of all this activity is a great mystery. The last few popes have spoken of the shroud with awe and encouraged people to contemplate it, but the Vatican has in recent years avoided any pronouncement on whether the cloth really is the one that covered Jesus. In 1988, carbon-dating tests were carried out in laboratories in three countries, and concluded that the fabric had been constructed in the 13th or 14th century; it was a medieval fake. But believers in the shroud’s authenticity point to countervailing evidence: traces of pollen from plants found only in the east Mediterranean, for example. It has been argued that extraneous matter, or radioactivity, could have skewed the carbon-dating results.

To the naked eye, images of the front and back of a slim, dignified man are only dimly visible. But in certain ways, the picture on the Shroud has become more accessible over the past century or so, as it has been subjected to different forms of photographic analysis, and the three-dimensional qualities of the image have been studied. The image does correspond with the Biblical account of a man who was lashed all over his body with a particular kind of whip, commonly used in Roman times, and crowned with thorns which caused heavy bleeding. It also looks clear that the victim was hung up to die after nails were driven through his wrists, not his palms as most religious art would have it. If this was a forgery, it was an ingenious and anatomically intelligent one.

Do read it:  The Shroud of Turin: Both visible and hidden

Computer Generated Young Jesus From Image on Shroud

image

Philip Willan writing in The Times:

Italian police are accustomed to “ageing” photographs of wanted gangsters to help them track down fugitive.

Now they have reversed the process to generate a photofit image of Jesus Christ as a child, using as their starting point the adult man captured in Turin’s famous shroud, believed by many Catholics to represent the face of the crucified Christ.

The computer-generated images were released to mark a two-month exhibition during which the 14-foot-long sheet, normally kept in a sealed container in a chapel next to Turin Cathedral, will remain on public display in the city. Pope Francis is due to visit . . .

Student Newspaper Article About the Shroud

imageThere is an interesting perspective on the shroud by Nathanael Jones in Southern Accent, the student newspaper of Southern Adventist University, a Seventh Day Adventist school. The article is  What the Shroud of Turin and you have in common:

As the school year comes to a close and it’s time to start summer ministries, I was looking for a bit of new inspiration. Where is God? How can I know He’s with me? How can I see Him, know for sure that I’m not taking part in a make-believe ministry?

According to the Wall Street Journal, this past Sunday the Shroud of Turin was displayed for the first time in five years. The Shroud is a Catholic relic that they believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Over 1 million people reserved tickets to see it and the Pope has plans to pray in front of it in the coming months.

“Relics are proof that God shared our history,” said Paul Badde, a well-known Catholic author.

All of this got me thinking about whether protestant Christians have proof that God shared our history, since we don’t keep physical relics of God’s Holiness on earth, and if we do, what it is?

[. . . ]

To my way of thinking, there is a bit of misunderstanding about Catholics, Protestants in a broader context, the shroud as a relic and the meaning of proof. But I like the measure and spirit of the article.

Short Shrift Article at HuffPo-UK

imageThere is, on a single page, an excellent AP video and an awful short-shrifting by Paul Vale, the New York based Night Editor for the Huffington Post UK on the HuffPo-UK site. The article is probably short enough to repost the whole thing without violating fair use. The video, unfortunately sandwiched in between the headline and the story, is well worth watching. It can be accessed by clicking on the picture on the right:

A piece of cloth scientifically proven to have no connection to Biblical times has gone on display in Italy, with millions expected to make the pilgrimage to see the medieval forgery. The infamous Shroud of Turin — a 14 foot piece of linen once believed to be Christ’s burial cloth — went on public display on Sunday after a 5-year hiatus, with Pope Francis reportedly planning to see the “sacred” garb in June.

The linen boasts a faded image of a bearded man, which for centuries was said to be an imprint of the face of Christ. However, in 1988 researchers dated the shroud with Carbon 14 testing, the results placing the garment’s creation within the period 1260-1390. Still, many members of the clergy dismissed the facts, with one Archbishop even decrying the findings as an "overseas Masonic plot" designed to discredit the Roman Catholic Church.

Recent Popes have been careful to avoid pronouncing on the issue, unwilling to reject the shroud while opting to highlight its more symbolic resonance. Yet despite its inauthenticity, the relic remains a big draw for tourists — believers and non-believers. "It’s an occasion that brings everybody together and aims to give a precise response to the violence in this world. It tells us that the way to build a fairer world is not violence, but love," Cesare Nosiglia, Turin’s current archbishop, told the Associated Press.

The shroud will remain on display in the Cathedral of Turin until June 24.

The Imams Who Came to See the Shroud

imageA Google translation of a story in Avvenire, an Italian language Catholic-focused daily newspaper about a group of imams who came to see the shroud:

There are some imams today in Turin with visitors queuing to admire in the Cathedral of the Holy Shroud. Among them,Mohamed Bahreddine, national president of the League of Imams . "It’s the first time we visit the Shroud. We want to broaden the dialogue – he said – our presence is a strong signal after what has happened in the world. We want to lead by example. We want to appeal to all, we are all brothers. Today we need closeness, to show that we are united, there is no need to say no to violence. " "We are for the maximum integration – said Amir Younes, head of the Intercultural Center Mecca of Turin – there is much interest in the Shroud and we are here to enrich our knowledge. Our presence is a sign of integration. "

Bahreddine and Younes drove in all’ostensione visit the Shroud, a group of Muslims. "Even to your celebrations for the end of Ramadan there are always representatives of the Church – explained Bahreddine – why we decided to come to give a signal, to say that we are all brothers and that we are citizens of this country is in this city" . "You – he added – a space to expand the dialogue and, especially after the dramatic events that are happening in recent months, we are here to launch a new appeal and say that we are all brothers." "Today we really need – intervened Younes – to demonstrate the closeness between Christians and Muslims, to say no to all forms of terrorism and violence and yes to living together. You have to be strong together."

With the group of Muslims was also don Tino Negri, director of the Diocesan Centre for Christian-Islamic dialogue Peirone Frederick. "I’m glad of this participation – he says – is the sign of a desire for integration and acceptance of religious and cultural differences."

At the end of the visit the representatives of the Muslim community have commented: "Today we have added to our culture another important piece and we hope we have given a beautiful message of brotherhood." "It is a journey through time and history – said Mohamed Bahreddine – where we saw the figure of Jesus in the vision of the Christian brothers. " For Amir Younes, "there is something that touches the soul, it is a moment that brings together people towards peace, a moment of which today we have much need and that is what we hope to happen even in our territories where war is waged for nothing. "

Charles Freeman and the Huffington Post Caption Writer

Skeptics have suggested various weird and wonderful ways in which it might have been
produced; they all contradict each other, and none is remotely plausible.


imageCarol Kuruvilla writes HuffPo’s story about the exposition:

In a 2011 book, British scholar Charles Freeman suggested that the shroud was created for medieval Easter rituals. The earliest mention of the shroud he could find was in 1355, when the cloth was displayed at a chapel in Lirey, France.

“On Easter morning the gospel accounts of the resurrection would be re-enacted with ‘disciples’ acting out a presentation in which they would enter a makeshift tomb and bring out the grave clothes to show that Christ had indeed risen,” Freeman told The Guardian.

Italy’s former royal family, the House of Savoy, acquired the shroud in 1453. Freeman says the family “converted” the cloth “into a high-prestige relic” in order to bolster the kingdom’s reputation.

A caption writer for an accompanying gallery of pictures had a different story to tell:

This image cannot be a medieval fake: the image does not match the style, technique, or concepts of medieval imagery, and it cannot be a painting or a rubbing. Skeptics have suggested various weird and wonderful ways in which it might have been produced; they all contradict each other, and none is remotely plausible.

And there is this caption for a photograph of the frontal full body image:

The Shroud was first photographed in 1898, revealing that it is an astonishingly realistic negative image. This unequivocally proves that the Shroud cannot be a medieval man-made forgery, for no one knew how to produce such an image in those days – or would have wanted to. And no, Leonardo couldn’t have either – apart from anything else, he was born a century after the Shroud is first documented in France.

And this caption for a picture of the Hungarian Pray Codex

Folio 28r of the Pray Codex, a Hungarian manuscript produced between 1192 and 1195, depicting two scenes from the Passion. Most people believe the Shroud is a fake due to the 1988 carbon-dating test, but the botched sampling of the cloth and the last-minute abandonment of agreed-upon procedures mean that the carbon-dating test had severe flaws. Carbon-dating is by no means 100% reliable, and the carbon-dating of ancient cloths appears to be particularly error-prone. Contamination or a medieval repair can account for the problematic Shroud test. This miniature painting, dating from the 1190s, depicts the Shroud, complete with a distinctive pattern of burn-marks, at least a century before the date suggested by the carbon-dating.

Feature Story in National Geographic

Looming above all other issues is what physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro calls “the question of questions”: how the image was produced, regardless of its age.


imageThe Shroud of Turin, as featured on the home page of National Geographic. Note, however, Nat Geo rotates principle articles so if you click on it you may not see this page as it is portrayed here.

The MUST READ article’s title is  Why Shroud of Turin’s Secrets Continue to Elude Science.

The lead reads: “As the venerated relic goes on public exhibition, its origin remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.”

The author, Frank Viviano, has written a fair and balanced story. A couple samples:

clip_image001The sum result is a standoff, with researchers unable to dismiss the shroud entirely as a forgery, or prove that it is authentic. “It is unlikely science will provide a full solution to the many riddles posed by the shroud,” Italian physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro, a leading expert on the phenomenon, told National Geographic. “A leap of faith over questions without clear answers is necessary—either the ‘faith’ of skeptics, or the faith of believers.”

[…]

Looming above all other issues is what physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro calls “the question of questions”: how the image was produced, regardless of its age. Every scientific attempt to replicate it in a lab has failed. Its precise hue is highly unusual, and the color’s penetration into the fabric is extremely thin, less than 0.7 micrometers (0.000028 inches), one-thirtieth the diameter of an individual fiber in a single 200-fiber linen thread.

Di Lazzaro and his colleagues at Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) conducted five years of experiments, using state-of-the-art excimer lasers to train short bursts of ultraviolet light on raw linen, in an effort to simulate the image’s coloration. The ENEA team, which published its findings in 2011, came tantalizingly close to approximating the image’s distinctive hue on a few square centimeters of fabric. But they were unable to match all the physical and chemical characteristics of the shroud image. Nor could they reproduce a whole human figure.

In the Interest of Scientific Openness

imageFrom a Google translation of an interview conducted by Maria Chiara Strappaveccia with Piero Savarino. the scientific advisor to the Papal Custodian of the shroud published yesterday in L’Indro:

Began an initial period of organizational and preparatory work that enabled him to begin work on 20 June 2002. It began with the unwrapping of the patches, and then with that of Holland cloth. With the removal of the patches was noted that the amount of material semicombusto was greater than the assumed one. Then it was provided to collect and catalog all the material, indicating for each sample the precise site of collection. Even the filaments are not strictly bound to the sheet were collected and cataloged but were not made cuts or burns on the edges or on the edges so as not to affect the textile does not compromise. At the end of this phase of work, the Shroud, unstitched cloth from Holland, was later turned over to gain access to the back of the sheet. It was noted that the figure of the man of the Shroud was not visible on the back while the bloodstains were. Was provided then perform a series of photographs to document this side not normally accessible. Was effected then a detection scanners. The scanner was brought on different positions by means of a translation system with mobile bridge able to reach all positions on the Shroud without dragging effects. On a limited number of positions, corresponding to particular sites (areas with bloodstains, areas corresponding to image areas with strinature) previously identified on the normally visible, some withdrawals were made by the method of adhesive tapes Method, widely tested and used in campaign of studies carried out by STURP in 1978 . In the same positions were made ​​some spectroscopic measurements (UV-VIS spectroscopy for reflectance and fluorescence, Raman spectroscopy). Finally were made of photographic recording using a special microscope whose objective could be brought (by means of the usual mobile bridge) on individual sites previously identified. All data collected, the samples taken, photographs, scans and all the carbonaceous material and semicombusto, properly cataloged and provided minutes of collection were delivered to the Papal Custodian, at the time the Card. Severino Poletto). At the end it was provided to stitch the Shroud on a new linen cloth (also of Dutch origin) in order to provide the necessary support to the mechanical tarp badly damaged by fire in 1532 and not in a position to be able to exist without adequate external support. The whole was placed on the appropriate bed sliding and suitable to be housed in the display case of preservation. The project was completed July 23, 2002.

(bold emphasis mine)

Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro

In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results,
works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.

From a Google translation of an interview conducted by Maria Margherita Peracchino in L’Indro, Shroud: the image impossible according to the ENEA: Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati:

Among the most recent studies, there is one made by the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati. "Our laboratory has tried a new approach," says Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of ENEA Frascati, "trying to play a Shroud-like coloration of linen fabrics through photochemical effects induced by ultraviolet light, which in principle has the characteristics needed to get at least two of the characteristics of the Shroud image, which is the low temperature of formation and coloring extremely superficial, limited to a thin film sub micrometer. "

Lazarus, we explain the work you have carried out on the Shroud and the fundamental results to which you have come?

Since 2005 the Laboratory of Excimer ENEA Frascati Centre carried out a large number of irradiation of ultraviolet laser light on linen fabrics woven in the years between 1930 and 1950 never used and never washed with detergent, in order to avoid the presence of bleaching chemicals that can alter the optical properties of the tissue. By radiation means sending laser pulses on the fabric, which alter the chemical bonds of the same tissue, which in turn changes its surface properties and appearance. The main purpose of irradiations was to verify whether an intense ultraviolet radiation was able to create a linen coloration with characteristics similar to those of the body image on the Shroud of Turin. After numerous irradiation and with great difficulty we managed to find the right combination of laser parameters (pulse duration, intensity, energy density and number of shots) that allows a color-like shroud. We got a shade of color, a superficial staining, an effect of alternating colored fibers and not colored, the negativity of the image that are similar to those measured on the Shroud of Turin by STURP. Based on our thirty years of experience of irradiation and interaction of light with many materials, was the first time that we have found a range of values ​​so critical to get the desired effect: during the irradiation of the fabric is in fact sufficient to vary by a few percentage points one only the laser parameters mentioned above to stop getting any coloration of linen. Really amazing.

In addition to the experiments of laser irradiation and coloration of linen, more recently you have faced the problem of different written and invisible images that some scholars fail to highlight after a digital processing of the contrast and brightness of the photographs of the Shroud.

Yes. And our results suggest that in some cases (the alleged written, the alleged face on the back) is probably illusory perceptual effects related to the phenomena of psychological Gestalt and pareidolia well known to scholars of human perception and optical illusions. Our results have been presented in detail in several articles published in international scientific journals of great prestige and impact, and therefore are available to all interested scientists to reproduce our results and maybe get better. In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results , works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.