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Forbes Editors Need to Polish Up Their Headline Writing

October 31, 2015 5 comments

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.

Categories: Article, Press Coverage

A Massive Effort Called STURP

September 7, 2015 1 comment

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.

Categories: Press Coverage

Including the Truth About the Shroud of Turin

August 13, 2015 5 comments

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

August 10, 2015 29 comments

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?

July 14, 2015 22 comments

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

July 12, 2015 34 comments

"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

July 2, 2015 3 comments

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

Categories: Press Coverage
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