Watertight Evidence

imageJust this morning Charles Freeman was writing in a comment:

… I shall not be the first nor the last to say that this was originally a painted linen. MacCrone, of course, and then we have the late and lamented expert on painted linens, Caroline Villers, who talks of the Shroud as ‘one of the best-known surviving medieval images on a textile support’….

And just this morning the Duluth News Tribune ran this letter from one of its readers, Kenneth L. Johnson, a retired chemist who was trained in microscopic analysis by Dr. Walter McCrone at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago.

On Nov. 1, the News Tribune published an article headlined, “Shroud of Turin mystery deepens.”

The mystery to me is how this subject continues to get press coverage. In the 1970s, Dr. Walter McCrone examined a portion of the shroud that was purported to contain dried blood. He found no blood, but he did find red ochre and vermillion paint particles. Dr. McCrone, who literally wrote the book on the analysis of microscopic particles (“The Particle Atlas,” published in six volumes from 1973 through 1979), was eminently qualified to conclude that the shroud was a 14th century painting. The “scientists” who refuted his work had no qualifications to perform the analyses on which they claimed to rely.

In fairness to Charles, he writes:

I have had several responses that say that my views are plausible or that i seem to be on the right lines so I can only sow seeds . One day I hope some expert will come up with the watertight evidence!

I, too, would like watertight evidence.  But I doubt it will be what Charles hopes for.  Colin Berry has certainly demonstrated how weak Charles’ argument is.  I also doubt, even with watertight evidence, that the belief it is a painting will ever fade – no pun intended, Charles.

Nevertheless, the images are real enough!

imageOur resident Kiwi, daveb of wellington nz, of late, has been mentioning Giovanna de Liso, repeatedly, as we continue to struggle with an explanation for the images on the shroud  He has been talking about de Liso since at least April of 2013. Most recently — like a couple of hours ago — in a comment to Because I Don’t See It, he wrote:

I have yet to see a satisfactory explanation of how or why Giovanna de Liso obtained her Shroud-like images from her 12 years of seismic experiments. A protegee of Giulio Fanti, I cannot believe that she faked them. However, neither Fanti nor anyone else has come with what to me might be a satisfactory explanation. She claims that she only ever obtained images under very specific conditions, including the detection of radon! Nevertheless, the images are real enough! […]

And, Hugh Farey, our resident 60/40 skeptic, quickly responded:

Daveb is quite right about the possibilities of geological explanations; they just haven’t been explored or quantified sufficiently for anything much to be said about them. Yet. […]

That woke me up this morning. I realized it is time to read or re-read, as the case may be, Shroud-like experimental image formation during seismic activity by Giovanna de Liso. 

The abstract reads:

Seismic oxidative phenomena on vegetal structures and ferromagnetic rocks, occurring only along parallel surfaces to the ground, led me to verify experimentally if, naturally, in conjunction with earthquakes, it is possible to form images with a 3D character similar to Turin Shroud image, of objects placed between the two edges of linen cloths folded in two and soaked with different solutions. Some similarities with the Shroud image were obtained only on ferromagnetic rocks, during seismic radon emission, with electrostatic discharges and geomagnetic variations, in agreement with Lattarulo s theoretical hypothesis.

Why did I not pay more attention when the paper was included in the Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Scientific approach to the Acheiropoietos Images in Frascati in 2010? Did it then seem too much off-the-wall?  And now, not?

The Process of Resurrection

imageDuring the past several days, I have noticed several comments with the phrases “resurrection process” or the “process of resurrection.” Why do we think the resurrection was a process?

We are all familiar, at least in principle, with the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. It is a process. We can make a time-lapsed movie of it and see each and every step. Some will say they see a miracle unfolding. Others will say it is nothing of the kind; it is a perfectly explainable biological process.

If you were to take the first frame and the last frame from the movie of the process, splice them together and pretend that nothing happened in between then you could pronounce and demonstrate with a very short, two-frame movie that a miracle transformation had taken place without a process.

The resurrection, if we are to believe in it, was a miracle. And if we are to take our knowledge from scripture alone, there was a before and after, a first frame so to speak and a last frame. There was nothing in between that we know about. So, why do we think there was a process? Why do we think, for instance, the body dematerialized such that a cloth might fall through it or that that the body might releases some form of energetic byproduct during the resurrection? Why do we think, as Mark Antonacci suggests that Jesus might have passed through a traversable Lorentzian wormhole in space-time or as Frank Tipler suggests that the process of resurrection might have been a form of electroweak quantum tunneling and the images on the Shroud the consequence of a Sphaleron field?

imageThomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica tried to explain that angels in going from one place to another did not pass through the place in between. Nor did they consume time doing so.

By this sort of local movement an angel may, at will, be present successively in several places and thus may be said to pass through the space between the first and the last place of the series. Or an angel may cease to apply its powers in the first place and begin to apply them in the last, not passing through the space between.

Since there is succession, that is, before-and-after, in the application of an angel’s powers, now here and now there, it must be said that an angel’s local movement occurs in time, and is not instantaneous. This time, however, is not measurable in our minutes or seconds; these units of time are applicable only to bodily movement.

For angels, at least in how they traveled, there is only a first frame and a last frame, so to speak.

Thomas was much into angels and was brilliant at logical speculation. We can leave it at that. We don’t need to agree with the saint. Nonetheless, this notion of his provides a useful metaphor for pondering supernatural action. There is in his imaginings a change of state and no measure of time.

Might the resurrection have been that way? What about other miracles? When Jesus healed the blind man was there a moment in time when the man’s eyesight was partially restored? When Jesus turned water into wine were there moments in time, no matter how brief, when the wine was still mostly water and when – perhaps fractions of nanoseconds later – the water was mostly wine?

Might the resurrection have been just a miracle with a before and after and no in between process?

The problem, for us in the shroud world, is we need something to get that image on the cloth.  Or do we?

Bob Rucker: A Burst of Radiation Did Three Things

Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned
anywhere in the Critical Summary.

clip_image001Bob Rucker (pictured) posted what follows as a comment last evening. I have added a link to a previous comment by Bob and some links to more information.

It is my opinion that enough evidence has accumulated that we should now realize that there was no invisible repair/reweave in the C14 sample area, and that the solution to the C14 dating problem is what I presented at the St. Louis conference in 2014. I showed that MCNP nuclear analysis calculations indicate that if 3.0 x 10^18 neutrons are emitted uniformly in the body while it was in the shroud in the tomb, then three mysteries related to C14 dating are solved:

1) Neutron absorption in N14 in the shroud creates new C14 in the shroud that is identical to the original C14 in the shroud so that the C14 date is shifted from 30 AD to 1260 AD. The dating laboratories, not realizing that the shroud had been through a neutron absorption event, would have misinterpreted their result by assuming the wrong C14 decay curve.

2) The results reported by the three dating laboratories were not in good agreement with each other. Statistical analysis indicates only a 5% chance that their results were within their measurement uncertainty, so that the differences were probably (95% probability?) caused by something. Plotting their results as a function of the distance from the end of the shroud indicates that there is a slope or gradient of 42 to 57 years per cm across their data depending on the sampling done in Tucson. This slope in the C14 dates from the three laboratories agrees with the MCNP nuclear analysis calculations, which calculate that a uniform neutron emission in the body causes a neutron distribution in the tomb which produces just this range in the C14 dates across the sample region, so that the disagreement between the laboratory values is the result of the slope of the neutron distribution at the sample location resulting from homogeneous emission of neutrons in the body.

image3) These same MCNP calculations predict that a piece of cloth placed on the side bench about a foot in front of the back bench where the body in the shroud was located would date to about 700 AD. This location in the tomb is a natural location for the person working on the body in the tomb to lay the face/head cloth. According to tradition, the Sudarium of Oviedo is the face/head cloth of Jesus. It was C14 dated to 700 AD, in excellent agreement with the MCNP results.

We should realize the importance of not making the common a priori presupposition of naturalism, so that we not automatically rule out anything that is beyond the laws of science as we currently understand them, so that we can follow the scientific evidence where it leads. When this is done, I believe that the scientific evidence indicates that the solution to the enigma of the shroud is that a burst of radiation occurred within the body that did three things: 1) It caused the image, perhaps either by protons or ultraviolet based on experiments. 2) It thrust the blood off of the body, heated it turning it into a liquid, and thrust it against and into the fibers of the shroud, and 3) It caused the shift in the C14 date from 30 to 1260 AD and the slope in the C14 dates as discussed above. Bob Rucker

I’ve noticed that as you age, you learn that when the morning coffee isn’t yet ready, the mind wanders somewhere between wakefulness and wackiness. Hey, I thought in this state, what does the Critical Summary have to say about this. Alas,  I could not find that Bob Rucker or his work was mentioned anywhere in the Critical Summary. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was too early in the morning to find such stuff.  But then I did find this interesting paragraph on page 82:

Neutron Flux: In the same issue of Nature that reported the 1988 radiocarbon testing results there was an important letter to the editor. This letter rings out today with possibly more force than when It was first written. It causes one again to ponder and adopt a position of caution. The correspondence was with Thomas J. Phillips of the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Harvard University. Phillips suggested that the Shroud might be a fundamentally altered fabric with respect to its C-14 content due its possible witness to some unexplained event, possibly in the tomb of Jesus. He hypothesized that such an unexplained event, which itself cannot be the subject of scientific inquiry, may have had an effect on the Shroud that can be studied scientifically. The unknown event may have generated a flux of neutrons that could have skewed the C-14 / C-12 ratio of the linen doth…..

I met Bob in St. Louis. Nice guy. Undeniably brilliant. Maybe he is on to something. But I’m just not there yet in being able to accept this or any other hypothesis, at least when it comes to how the image was formed. To restate with a bit of on-the-fly-rewrting of what I’ve said before, I say …

With regard to the image I’m stuck in the “it is inexplicable” camp.

You don’t like that? Well then you can consider Bob Rucker’s radiation, John Jackson’s cloth falling through a mechanically transparent body whatever that means, Tipler’s sphaleron quantum tunneling, Giulio Fanti’s corona discharge, Paolo Di Lazzaro’s ultraviolet (with or without the cloth falling through the body, Rogers’ Maillard reactions (quite natural if it could work but requiring every bit as much of a miraculous manipulation to produce such an image as any of the other byproduct of a miracle hypotheses would), Charles Freeman’s it’s-not-a-fraud painting (if STURP and Colin Berry are wrong) and Colin Berry’s fraud-by-Maillard if everyone else is wrong (which is not unreasonable to suppose).  Or think of something else.

As for the C14 question, I’m also stuck in the “so far inexplicable” camp.

Here are some resources for understanding and thinking about Bob’s ideas.

Another Comment by Bob Rucker: Reaction to Ray Rogers’ Paper on Radiation

Abstract for the Following Paper

MCNP Analysis of Neutrons Released from Jesus’ Body in the Resurrection (54 Slides)

Notes for the 54 Slides

Video of the Presentation in St. Louis (1 Hour)

Comment Promoted: The Punch Card Chart

imageRobert W. Siefker comments about posting, Available: Critical Summary Version 3.0

Dan, the “punch card chart” is not aimed at being “scientific” analysis. As clearly stated at the top of the chart with the word “judged”, this is TSC’s analysis. We have included only 17 image characteristics because we think that these seventeen, in and of themselves, can be used to evaluate image formation hypotheses that have gained at least some traction through the years. The chart itself does not stand alone. Appendix 1 gives our reasoning for each mark. Again it is judgment and if the image characteristics are indeed true, as we judge them to be, understandable to anyone. We also state that the The fall-through hypothesis cannot be tested or proven. In fact it is a very “unscientific” explanation as we acknowledge in its description and in the Conclusion. It just fits the data. Read it. Think about it in the context of the whole body of Shroud evidence.

Fair enough.  I stand corrected. I was probably unfair. We still need to crawl through the details, however.

That doesn’t make sense …

image… writes Andrew, who follows this blog while taking the train into work in the morning. Based on the shroud …

… does Jesus have blond or white hair?  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if he was Jewish. Although there are no descriptions of what Jesus looked like in the New Testament, I think this would have stood out so much it would have been mentioned.

Maybe. I don’t know. We can only speculate. What are the odds?  This is from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia under the subject of Hair (there may be something more current):

The true explanation of the existence of Jewish blonds has been the subject of lively discussions among anthropologists. Some believe that it is due to climate and environment (Pruner, Bey, Pritchard, Jacobs), while others attribute it to racial intermixture, particularly to the admission of Aryan blood into modern Jewry (Broca, Virchow, Schimmer, Ripley, and others). Elkind shows that the color of the hair is independent of the cranial index. Virchow’s investigations show that in the eastern or darkest provinces of Germany the proportion of blond types among Jews does not decrease; whereas in the Prussian provinces, which are predominantly blond, the Jews show the highestproportion of brunettes, and in Silesia, where the non-Jewish population is of very dark complexion, the Jews have a high percentage of blonds. The same has been shown by Schimmer to be the case in Austria. Andree ("Zur Volkskunde der Juden," pp. 34-40) points out that the fact that red and blond Jews are found in North Africa, Syria, Arabia, Persia, etc., is proof that intermarriage has had little to do with the production of the blond type in eastern Europe. He is of the opinion that there were blonds among the ancient Hebrews, and that the modern red and blond Jews are their descendants. Luschan agrees in this view. Jacobs attributes the erythrism of the Jews to defective nutrition, and shows that it is present not only among the European Jews, but also among those in Algiers, Tunis, Bosnia, Constantinople, Smyrna, and Bokhara, where the presence of Aryan blood could not be admitted.

Another thought:  Ray Rogers and Anna Arnoldi in, Scientific Method Applied to the Shroud of Turin: A Review, wrote:

imageHowever, it has long been recognized that the images of the hair, moustache, and beard are anomalous. Figure 26 (sic, should be 27, shown here) shows a slightly contrast-enhanced view of the area of the face and hair. The density of the image is greatest in those areas. That can easily be explained by the inhibition of vapor diffusion through a mat of hair. Ammonia is first evolved from the lungs; therefore, amine concentrations would have been highest in the vicinity of the nose and mouth (moustache and beard).

Of course, this is assuming a diffusion model or something similar – a natural phenomenon.

Faint Images: The Case of the Shroud of Arquata

imageOver at Academia.edu, Paolo Di Lazzarro has posted an uncorrected proof of a paper, Non invasive analyses of low-contrast images on ancient textiles: the case of the shroud of Arquata by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Massimiliano Guarneri, Daniele Murra, Valeria Spizzichino, Alessandro Danielis, Arianna Mencattini, Veronica Piraccini and Mauro Missori. The paper is to be published late this year in in the Journal of Cultural Heritage

Here is the abstract:

We present the results of the first in-depth measurements of the linen cloth of the shroud of Arquata, a precious copy of the Shroud of Turin, which dates back to 1653. The measurements aimed at finding the nature of the faint and low-contrast body impressions on the linen cloth, which are not produced by drawings or paintings as in the other copies of the Shroud of Turin. In general, the optical analysis and the imaging of low-contrast stains on ancient textile is a complex task, due to the irregular surface and the influence of spectrum, position and uniformity of the illuminating source on colour accuracy and rendition, A correct evaluation requires a multidisciplinary approach. We used noninvasive technologies. including imaging topological radar, laser induced fluorescence, absolute diffused reflectance and absorption spectra, which were previously used to study frescoes, paintings, antique papers, but were never exploited on ancient textiles. The combined results of our measurements and data elaboration allowed identifying the origins of the body impressions. of the stains simulating blood and of the other marks embedded on the linen cloth. Our results can be used to plan the proper long-seem conservation of the linen cloth and of marks on it.

Colin Berry’s Latest and Greatest. Is it Enough?

Is a high energy laser beam really needed to model the Turin Shroud? Maybe those Italians should have tried pizza ingredients first, and a hot oven…

clip_image001Sometimes, you need to wait for Colin Berry to finish adding bits and pieces to his postings. When things settle down,  it is easier to report on them. Colin seems to have done so now. It is time to look at his latest and greatest technique for creating an image that may or may not be like the image on the shroud:

“It’s a distillation of some 40 months and more of virtually non-stop effort since Dec 2011 to ‘model’ the ‘enigmatic’ TS body image,” he tells us.

He goes on:

It would have been nice to use a real human subject instead of the plastic toy The technique lends itself to scaling up, and leaves the volunteer (?)  unharmed, except for a coating of vegetable  oil and plain white flour (most of that being imprinted onto linen, leaving less to be showered off).

Alas. I do not have a 4m x 1m length of linen, and even if I  did, one suspects the sourpuss contingent of sindonology would waste no time in telling me it had to be herringbone weave, centuries or millennia old, traditionally-bleached, lacking modern-day optical brighteners etc etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Nope. This science bod is content to model the TS characteristics, showing that no fancy gee whizz 20th/21st century technology is needed, certainly not pulses of intense uv rays  from excimer lasers or neutrons from rock-crushing tectonic activity etc.(the sort of things that could theoretically have affected a particular linen shrouds in a 1st century rock tomb we are solemnly assured).

No real argument there. I don’t know, however, if it is scalable. It seems that it would be. And I don’t know enough about chemistry or the science of images to weigh in on the issue of bleaching “etc etc etc ad infinitum, ad nauseam.”

clip_image001Let’s stick with the small scale model, and show how, step-by-step, the above image was created that, from where I’m standing, ticks an ever-growing number of boxes that says: YES – it is looking increasingly like a valid model, despite it using homely medieval technology that today’s blog-readers can confirm for themselves in less than an hour in their own homes if so inclined.  It requires nothing more than: (a) linen (I get mine from the clothes rack in charity shops, ladies’ white summer trousers especially) (b) plain white flour (c) vegetable oil (d) a hot oven (e) a bar of soap. Yes – indcredibly, insultingly some might say, that’s my DIY list for what’s needed.

Nothing insulting about any of that. It is actually intriguing in a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” sort of way.

Okay. Now you need to read: Is a high energy laser beam really needed to model the Turin Shroud? Maybe those Italians should have tried pizza ingredients first, and a hot oven…

The rest of this posting will be in two instalments: first, the procedure for obtaining the above result, namely a faint, fuzzy, negative TS-like image and then, later, possibly tomorrow, the evidence from studies reported already on my other site that the image you see above meets many , possibly most, of the criteria of the TS image at both macroscopic and microscopic level.

Lots of good pictures help us understand.


3D properties? Do the faint and fuzzy imprints you see above respond to 3D rendering in software programs like ImageJ? is that too much to hope, given typicaly awestruck observations such as this one from the shroudstory site:



Fact: there is nothing in the least bit "profoundly mysterious" about the 3D properties of the Shroud image, especially if it’s a contact imprint. This investigator has shown over and over again in the course of  3 years of entering a large variety of images into Image J that the 3D response of the TS, far from being ‘profounsly mysterious’ is in fact entirely predictable. What would be unusual would be for it NOT to respond to 3D rendering, given the way the software operates. Here’s an image that hopefully illustrates my point:


3D-rendered image of plastic toy(left) verus Shroud Scope image of TS (right). Note the embedded 2D reference (concentric circles with stepped intensity gradient) and the DEFAULT non-zero setting of z scale elevation setting (0.1)

Yes. One can enter 2D diagrams with no 3D history, like those concentric circles above, and they show a comparable 3D response (top left) to that of the model image OR the TS. Why is that? Look at the z scale next to the red arrow. It is on its default MINIMUM setting of 0.1. The software sets that non-zero default setting, meaning that ANY image one enters that has any kind of intensity gradient, simple stepped ones included, produce a 3D response.The latter is entirely artefactual unless one has evidence to the contrary. This investigator knows of no evidence to suggest that the so-called "3D properties" of the TS image are any different from those of contact imprints generally.

Late insertion: I’m saying there is no 3D mystique until proven otherwise. Right on cue we hear the rejoinder: "There is 3D mystique until YOU prove otherwise", adding technical details like RGB balance that were addressed previously in discussion with "OK" in Poland,.

Nope. i’m not buying into that pro-authencity attempt to shift the burden of proof. I repeat: there is NO 3D mystique until proven otherwise. The so-called "unique 3D encoding" of the TS image is pure agenda-driven moonshine.

See also this later comment from the inestimable Hugh Farey, with new 3D rendered images of this blogger’s hand both in original colour AND grayscale. Both show 3D enhancement (needless to say).  Thank you Hugh.

I said “profoundly mysterious” because I don’t know how, and nobody knows how, the 3D information was derived in the shroud image. Maybe it was Colin’s way? I don’t know. I would not have introduced the word “mystique”  as he did. Language is too tricky for that.   That is also why I don’t say the 3D data is “encoded.” 

In the shroud image we are looking at a brightness-map that seems, when smoothed, to represents elevation. It  happens to also look like a picture. Put the other way around, that is still true; it is a picture that, when smoothed, functions as a brightness-map (height-map, bump-map, etc.).

I’ve said, clearly, that I don’t think we can say with any certainty that the brightness information, the 3D information, means body-to-cloth distance. I’ve said that there are other methods of deriving that sort of information and that the information might be real or imaginary.  Regular photographs and paintings, by-the-way, can contain that information. It is wrong to say they can’t. Most don’t, though.

Colin has created an image that is also a brightness-map.  You can plot 3D images with it using ImageJ. The real question is this: Does the brightness-map correctly represent the shape of the body (the plastic soldier)? I’m not convinced it does. Or it is too crude.  We need some better pictures to work with. We need to do more in ImageJ. We need to be sure that ImageJ is being used correctly.

By-the-way, I have been impressed with the 3D imaging of Colin’s hand. So maybe Colin is onto something.  In his blog, however, he is trying to make an issue out of nothing by playing with the word mystique.

(Click on the image of the hand to see this image enlarged).


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 Academia.edu

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

Have we all been looking in the wrong place?

Are Di Lazzaro’s laser-generated pulses of uv radiation
actually targeting that S1 lignin, not “cellulose”

Colin Berry, looking through a microscope sees something. We’ll get to that. But first, parenthetically, he informs us know:

(sorry about the poor resolution,” he says in parentheses, “but that’s probably due to the cylindrical 3D light-reflecting/bending geometry of linen fibres).


He goes on:

See the link to a paper reporting from detailed microscopy – light and electron microscope- that some of the lignin of flax bast cells (as used for linen) is not only inside the fibres, but in the S1 layer that would put it just below the PCW.

When Colin writes, “See the link…” I think he is referring to Lignification in the flax stem: evidence for an unusual lignin in bast fibers. We find that in his blog. Colin continues:

Have we all been looking in the wrong place? Are Di Lazzaro’s laser-generated pulses of uv radiation actually targeting that S1 lignin, not “cellulose” as claimed, generating hot spots that may then cook what’s around them? First Law of Photochemistry: light – regardless of wavelength or how generated – has first to be absorbed by one or more chromophores for there to be any chemical reaction – which would include faint yellow/brown coloration. So the first priority of photochemists (I can’t speak for laser physicists) is to identify your chromophore. Uv light is far more likely to target an aromatic compound like lignin, albeit as a minor constituent of linen, than a non-aromatic carbohydrate like cellulose.

Have we all been looking in the wrong place? That’s one question. It’s a good one.

Another one comes to mind.  Colin didn’t ask this. I am. At what point is increased contrast more detrimental than helpful by introducing exaggeration, blocking detail and creating image artifacts? At what point does reliance on increased contrast cross the line between science and pseudoscience?

Close to the finishing line or the starting line?

clip_image001A reader writes:

My reading of things is that STuRP tried a few ways to try and create the image. Finding none, they declared the image a scientific mystery. The unfortunate consequence of this was a tendency of apologists for the faith to stupidly declare that modern science could not reproduce the image. The failure of STuRP only means that no one has yet found a way. It means nothing more, unless, of course, there was a miracle.

I have been reading Colin Berry’s blog posting about testing a method of coating a human subject with flour and imprinting an image onto a wet cloth which is then cooked in an oven. It is ingenious and possibly correct. Maybe modern science can find a way that does not count on a miracle. That means that a medieval craftsman might have been able to create the image on the Shroud. It does not mean that he did.



Philosophically, at least, this serves to remind us that there may be many other ways of producing the image that no one has yet thought of.  At least one of those methods might be a phenomenon of nature in the tomb. One might be the consequence of the byproducts of a miracle.  One might be an arts and crafts method.

Colin’s ingenious work warrants examination:

There’s something very odd about the coloration of the “Shroud” fibres at the microscopic level. It’s to do with (a) the unifomity of coloration between different fibres (b) discontinuities on coloration, i.e. a sudden loss of coloration on particular fibres and (c) the coloration affecting the entire circumference of each fibre (we’re told). The model studies to date reported here with the dry flour/wet linen imprinting seem to match at least two of those characteristics , i.e. (a) and (b) . Who knows, maybe (c) too if I make an effort to view each fibre in the round, maybe by using high magnification on coloured fibres that have separated – or been separated – from neighbours in a thread.


Where are we at? Close to the finishing line would be my guess as regards the body image. It can be accounted for as a dry flour imprint onto wet linen that seeped its natural flour oil (1.5% approx by weight) during oven roasting, causing the hot oil to track along individual linen fibres producing yellow half-tone coloration with discontinuities when/where oil was limiting. It is not impossible that imprinting of the TS body image was carried out, as here, using  flour supplemented with a small amount of added vegetable oil or some other lipid-like or lipid-rich material.

3D of the Day: Imprinted in a Contact-Only Mechanism?




Suggesting that the image may be a contact image?

According to Colin Berry who rendered this in ImageJ:

(Techie stuff: the height setting on the z scale was kept at 0.1, i.e. its default setting, one that cannot be reduced, as my embedded B/W reference shows, given it has no 3D history ,having been constructed in MS  Paint. Minimal values were used for smoothing and lighting (10.0 and 0.2 respectively).

The Tease:

So what makes this image different from most others – like having those EYES!  Look carefully and you may see the ‘trick’ that was used – which some might regard as perfectly legitimate, exploiting another fixed feature of ImageJ, albeit one that you can work around (CLUE!)  and indeed was worked around.  Answer – will be given in 24 hours.

imprinted in a contact-only mechanism

From out of the strong came forth the sweet?

imageColin Berry tells us in his posting with the unwieldy title Is the Shroud of Turin really just 18 years short of its 2000th birthday? SEE THIS BLOG FOR A DAILY ACERBIC OVERVIEW OF CURRENT WRANGLING (currently 2015, Week 33):

This posting rep0rts what this blogger/retired science bod considers to be significant progress in modelling the “Shroud” image, so as to reproduce more of its allegedly  ‘iconic’ and/or “unique” properties (negative image, superficiality,  3D properties, fuzzy border, possibly even some of those so-called microscopic properties.


Topic 3: Here’s Dr.Positive (science bod) calling a certain Dr.Persistently Negative, he who dishes out his “science” as if medicine to treat disease. This is an important posting, probably the most important from my years of “Shroud” research, and it’s dedicated to the man with the  prescribing tendency.  Why? Because his negative nitpicking, from countless sniping  and indeed hostile comments and, especially his snipingg- from-cover pdfs, were what spurred me to switch from imprinting with flour paste/slurry to imprinting with dry flour. Check out these results for (a) that “Shroud” like fuzzy image by which he sets so much store (rarely if ever considering the effect of age-related degradation) and to (b) 3D properties (which he flatly claimed lacked 3D properties, unsupported by data, and which I demonstrated yesterday to be false).

First, the new improved fuzzy-look image, obtained using flour dust as imprinting medium, colour development with a hot flat iron*  or in  a hot oven, and a new 3rd stage (image attenuation by washing with soap and water).

(*Late addition: it’s probably the hot iron – its pressing action being responsible for the coloration being confined mainly to the crowns of the weave. Microscopy is in progress, but needs careful evaluation).


Tone -reversed negative of dry-flour imprint, 3D-rendered in ImageJ. Note the relative lack of distortion, compared with the wet-flour imprint in Topic 2.  Dr.Negative please note.

Not bad eh?  One is put in mind of that biblical quotation based on the bees around the deceased lion (“from out of the strong came forth the sweet” or words to that effect, even if the biology is suspect) …  from out of the negative came forth the positive…

Eh! But what say you all?


In the Judges 14 we find Samson travelling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and on his return past the same spot he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: "Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness".

12 Then Samson said to them, “Let me now propound a riddle to you; if you will indeed tell it to me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes. 13 “But if you are unable to tell me, then you shall give me thirty linen wraps and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Propound your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 So he said to them,  “Out of the eater came something to eat,  And out of the strong came something sweet.”  But they could not tell the riddle in three days.

15 Then it came about on the fourth day that they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband, so that he will tell us the riddle, or we will burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us to impoverish us? Is this not so?16 Samson’s wife wept before him and said, “You only hate me, and you do not love me; you have propounded a riddle to the sons of my people, and have not toldit to me.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told it to my father or mother; so should I tell you?” 17 However she wept before him seven days while their feast lasted. And on the seventh day he told her because she pressed him so hard. She then told the riddle to the sons of her people. 18 So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,  “What is sweeter than honey?  And what is stronger than a lion?”  And he said to them,  “If you had not plowed with my heifer,  You would not have found out my riddle.”

19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. 20 But Samson’s wife was given to his companion who had been his friend.

Lightening Striking the Other Crucified Person in His Shroud

imageAcilius, in the Red Panther blog, wonders, Does the Shroud of Turin disprove the Gospels?

In April, I noticed a post on Rod Dreher‘s blog about the Shroud of Turin.  Mr Dreher had been impressed by a book, Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery: Six Holy Objects That Tell the Remarkable Story of the Gospels, by David Gibson and Michael McKinley, a companion volume to the CNN series of the same awkwardly punctuated name.  The other day, I saw that the Reverend Mr Dwight Longenecker, a former Anglican priest turned Roman Catholic, had also posted about the shroud, quoting at length from an article at National Geographic in which the shroud’s puzzling nature is explored.

Quoting Longenecker, Acilius writes:

De Lazzaro explained that the ultraviolet light necessary to reproduce the image of the crucified man “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today.” The time for such a burst would be shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and the intensity of the ultra violet light would have to be around several billion watts.”

The scientists shrug and say the only explanation lies beyond the realm of twenty-first century technoscience. In other words, the extraordinary burst of ultra violet light is not only beyond the ability and technology of a medieval forger. It is beyond the ability and technology of the best twenty-first century scientists.

He goes on:

What could explain all of this?  If no known technological process could have produced the image on the shroud, and the only unknown technological processes that could have produced it would be the result either of the greatest design fluke in history or of contact with visitors from outer space, perhaps we should discard the forgery hypothesis and turn next to a search for a natural process that could have produced the image.  There may in fact be such a process.  Lightning is an extremely energetic and poorly understood phenomenon; it was only in 2009 that it was discovered that lightning often produces significant amounts of antimatter in the upper atmosphere.  No one had expected to find this, and no one can explain it.  Bursts of ultraviolet radiation is a lot less exotic than appearances of antimatter, and so would be significantly less surprising as phenomena associated with lightning.

So, perhaps at some point in the middle decades of the first century CE in or near the city of Jerusalem the body of a man who had been scourged, jabbed in the side with a spear, mounted on a cross, fastened to that cross with nails through his wrists and feet, and subjected to a group of small puncture wounds on the forehead was wrapped in the shroud that has been on display in Turin for the last several centuries.  Before that man’s body was buried or entombed, it was struck by lightning, producing a burst of ultraviolet rays that created the image on the shroud.  This event, occurring in an urban area and centering on the body of a man whose gruesome death a crowd would have witnessed at most a few hours before, would certainly have been very much discussed.  One must suppose that people would try to find religious significance in it, and that in the course of those discussions many people would claim, whether truthfully or not, to have been associated with the man during his lifetime.

Perhaps the whole story of Jesus, as it has come down to us, grew from the reactions to this event.  Or perhaps the story of Jesus as we have it represents the conflation of several stories.  It is difficult to imagine that the man whose image is preserved in the shroud is not the man whose crucifixion is described in the Gospels, but not so difficult to imagine that stories about another man, who was also crucified in Jerusalem around the same time and who was well-known locally before his crucifixion as the leader of a new religious movement, would be combined with the story of the man whose crucifixion was followed by the spectacular event of a lightning bolt and the transformation of his burial cloth into the object we now see in Turin.


Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that Jesus’ body was struck by lightning after it was removed from the cross.  If the image on the shroud turns out to have been created by lightning, the evidence connecting it with first-century Jerusalem, the fact that its appearance in first-century Jerusalem would certainly have caused great excitement there, and the similarity of the wounds the man had to the wounds the Gospels attribute to Jesus makes that silence a tremendous obstacle to accepting the historicity of the Gospels, I would say a far bigger obstacle than any of the gaps or discrepancies of detail that New Testament scholars have yet uncovered.

All the other problems fade pretty quickly once you start thinking of the Gospels as what they originally were, a collection of liturgical resources more akin to a hymnal than to a biographical study.  The Gospels are series of pericopes, distinct passages designed to be read aloud or recited at particular moments in worship services.  So, for Christians, there seems to be a great deal at stake in the question of what precisely the Shroud of Turin is.  If the recent studies of it are all wrong, if the researchers have been led astray by their religious biases and it is after all a forgery from the Middle Ages, then the crisis is averted.  If the studies hold up, and if the image does prove to be the result of a lightning strike, do Christians have a way out?

A bit of speculation too far, I think. But it is thinking, and thinking is a good thing.

A Guest Posting by Yannick Clément

imageReflecting about the body image on the Shroud, I came up with what I consider to be a quite interesting reflection and I would like to share it with everyone. It takes the form of philosophical question: What if the image formation on the Shroud would be in the very same category as the apparition of life on Earth more than 3 Billion years ago, i.e. a wonderful event that came out of God’s will through the natural laws that he created and which science is still unable to fully explain today?

I think it can well be the case and, if it is so, I think we could still consider both events (the apparition of life and the Shroud image formation) as being “miraculous” in a way. Effectively, it’s not because an event happened through the natural laws created by God that it cannot be considered by us as “miraculous” in a way (or at least “wonderful” or “amazing”)…

— Yannick Clément, Louiseville, Québec, Canada

Tantalizingly Close Enough?

In The Imaginative Conservative, Fr. Dwight Longenecker summarizes the scientific work of Paolo Di Lazzaro (pictured) and his colleagues. The article is entitled The Shroud of Turin: Evidence for Everything? :

So what formed the image? The best description is that it is an extremely delicate singe marking. Italian physicist Paolo Di Lazzaro concedes in an article for National Geographic that 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.”


They came tantalizingly close to replicating the image’s distinctive color on a few square centimeters of fabric. However, they were unable to match all the physical and chemical characteristics of the shroud image, and reproducing a whole human figure was far beyond them. De Lazzaro explained that the ultraviolet light necessary to reproduce the image of the crucified man “exceeds the maximum power released by all ultraviolet light sources available today.” The time for such a burst would be shorter than one forty-billionth of a second, and the intensity of the ultra violet light would have to be around several billion watts.”

As good a summary of De Lazzaro’s work as I have seen. But is tantalizingly close close enough?

imageWe’ve featured Fr. Dwight Longenecker many times in this blog. He is a graduate of Oxford University. He was an Evangelical Christian, later an Anglican priest and is now a Catholic priest.  He is the author of sixteen books and contributes to many magazines, papers and journals including Crisis, Integrated Catholic Life, National Catholic Register and Intercollegiate Review.

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.



Comparing Colin Berry’s Methods to Those of Sam Pellicori

imageI spent considerable time in the car yesterday on Interstate 10 between Pensacola and Tallahassee. Just sightseeing; I had never seen the Florida Pan Handle. Lots of trees. Lots of rivers. Lots of time to think about…

Colin Berry’s 1) comparing his methods to those of Sam Pellicori (pictured):

My experiments match those of Pellicori’s almost down to the last detail, but with one crucial difference. My imprinting medium is macromolecular, indeed whole cell in size, namely the crushed endosperm of wheat grains (“white flour”) so greatly reducing the theoretical risk of “capillarity”, though I still have to do detailed microscopy.

2) Colin’s supposition that the shroud is meant to be thought of not as a burial cloth in the tomb but as a stretcher of sorts to transport the body to the tomb.

3) Colin’s strident distain for our all too frequent way of begging the question (he is right on this point, of course).

<!>  reminded me of a paper by Serge N. Mouraviev, published in Applied Optics in 1997 and now available as a reprint of The Image Formation Mechanism on the Shroud of Turin: A Solar Reflex Radiation Model (the Optical Aspect) at shroud.com.

Previous studies have shown that both images appear like rectilinear orthogonal projections of an unknown nature coming from the body and oriented in two opposite directions onto both halves of the Shroud such as would have been possible if the source of the image had had only two dimensions and been suspended between the flattened planes of both halves of the Shroud. Such a situation, which is scientifically untenable but helps us better understand the geometrical proportionality of the images, has been labeled the vertical alignment of the image and strongly speaks in favor of a radiational acting-at-distance transfer mechanism.xxi

On the other hand, the high resolution of the images [at least as good as 0.5 cm (Refs. 11, 16) or even approaching 0.1 to 0.2 cm (Ref. 22)] suggests rather a contact mechanism of transfer. But in that case the way the Shroud must have been laid on the body seems to require the formation of lateral images on both sides and of an uninterrupted transition between the image of the face and that of the back of the head with all the distorsions they involve.

The so-called tridimensionality implies a reverse correlation between the intensity of the shading and the estimated distance from the body, which indicates that only the darkest parts of the image could have been in direct contact with the body whereas other parts were acted upon at a distance.

Finally, note that the image itself was produced by some agent that left on the Shroud a superficial brownish degradation of the cellulose by oxidation, dehydration, and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the topmost microfibrils of the linen, changes that can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat but usually at the expense of superficiality.12

Such are the main elements of the problem that led STURP to the conclusion that the image is “an ongoing mystery”.

3. Misleading Presuppositions

The contradictions just described — between vertical alignment and wrapping, full contact, partial contact and action-at-distance, the uniformity of both images, the gravitational asymmetry of the frontal and dorsal sides of the body, etc. — are the logical result of a number of tacit presuppositions none of which has been questionned so far.

Three are particularly important.

Presupposition 1. The images were produced by some chemical or radiant agent originating inside the body.

Presupposition 2. The images were formed while the body lay in the tomb.

Presupposition 3. Both images, the frontal and the dorsal, were produced simultaneously.

None of these presuppositions is substantiated by anything except the involuntary association of these images with the subsequent resurrection of Jesus, as described in the Gospels. In our opinion, resurrection is not a matter for scientific investigation, and the only assumption we are entitled to as scientists is that the images could be either a natural accidental byproduct of the burial procedure itself, not of the mysterious disappearance of the body, or a forgery (but, as stated, the hypotheses based on the latter assumption must cope with new problems and reject an important part of the available evidence).

Once we eliminate Presupposition 1, we no longer need to look for sources of energy, radiation, evaporation or whatnot inside the corpse of a dead man or try to understand how their pluridirectional diffusion or emission could have produced on a complex surface an image the optic quality of which requires either a focalizing lens or at least a beam of strictly parallel rays and a flat surface.

Once we eliminate Presupposition 2, we immediately identify the nature of those parallel rays. On a spring afternoon in the Middle East the whole atmosphere vibrates under the burning rays of the Sun. They could not have sprung out of the body, but they could very well have been reflected by it.

Eliminating Presupposition 3, we have solved once and for all the problem of alleged gravitational asymmetry between the frontal and the dorsal images. The rays of the Sun could not have reached the body on both sides at once, but nothing prevented the body from being turned over alternatively from front to back. And if so, there would have been no asymmetry.

Certainly this does not solve the main problem, and it even creates new ones, e.g., why both sides of the body were exposed to the Sun, but it clears up many sources of confusion.

Hence we have the following hypothesis. Both images were created by solar rays when and because the Shroud containing the body was exposed to the Sun, first face up, then face down (or the other way around). The rays were transmitted through the linen, reflected by the body and projected onto the inner side of the Shroud.

Could this lead to the formation and transfer of an image of the body onto the cloth such as what we have? This is the optical aspect of the problem. And if yes, how was this image imprinted on the linen? This is the photochemical aspect of the problem. Finally, what combination of circumstances could have created the unusual photochemical and optic conditions required to produce and record the image? This is the historical or, rather, philological (exegetical) aspect of the problem.

We answer the first question exhaustively in Section 4 (although without discussing in detail the concrete local effects on the accuracy of the image), suggest with others the most likely answer to the second question in Section 5, and try to reconstruct in Section 6, on the basis of the Gospels, the most probable sequence of events, acts, and motives that accidently created the necessary and adequate conditions for the images to be produced and recorded on the linen.

And there was this from Colin:

Coming next: my comment placed on shroudstory (though increasingly I ask myelf why I bother with that wet-blanket of a site, one that  persistently evades the detail, trotting out the cut-and-paste words of this or that ‘expert’ to say in effect “You’re wasting your time and ours chum”).

Wasting time? Not at all. Your ideas may in the long run be right. Or they may get us – together even maybe – going down new unintended paths of exploration and thought.

Not a Work of Art by Leonardo da Vinci

Russ Breault writes:

Here is the second part of an interview I did with Isabel about 7 years ago and in this segment, Isabel addresses whether the Shroud could have been the work of Leonardo da Vinci. 

A New Astonishing Phenomenon?

imageOne click away from the home page of the INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ADVANCED STUDIES OF SPACE REPRESENTATION SCIENCES: Projective geometry, Descriptive geometry, Survey, Photogrammetry we find:


Photogrammetric restitution on the Shroud of Turin has revealed a previously unknown phenomenon that opens up new horizons for science.
The strength of this discovery is stressed by the fact that the geometrical data used for restitution can be verified with tools that are accessible to everyone.

Photogrammetric restitution on the Shroud of Turin has revealed a previously unknown phenomenon that opens up new horizons for science.
The strength of this discovery is stressed by the fact that the geometrical data used for restitution can be verified with tools that are accessible to everyone.

and a 53 minute YouTube:

1999 Interview with Isabel Piczek

A few hours ago on Facebook, Russ Breault announced the availability of …

Another episode of The Shroud Report, here is renowned artist Isabel Piczek who discusses whether the Shroud could be the work of an artist. Filmed in 1999 but still very current.

The video runs just over 30 minutes. It is definitely worth watching.

Colin Berry on Rogers, Groupies, Me and Trolls

That experiment of Rogers was frankly fudged to give the desired result.  This researcher despises fudged demonstrations. What we see above is pseudo-science. This is the kind of “science” that assorted trolls and fanatics are so keen to promote on Porter’s site, and the site’s owner let’s them do it, year after year after year.

The idea that starch ‘falls apart’ with time to make what Rogers called “crude starch”, conveniently a source of reducing sugar for his Maillard reaction, is a complete fiction. Rogers may be some people’s chemical guru. He is not mine. His Shroud reseacrh(sic) is rifddled(sic) with serious errors and/or blind spots and a serious deficiency of strict scientific objectivity.

— Colin Berry

imageThose are pretty serious accusations Colin has made during the past three days in his blog. Can he possibly be right?

Colin gets upset if you don’t read his full postings as he writes  them on his own site. But he makes it hard by posting his thoughts in chunks that are halfway between a blog posting, diary entry and a scrambled egg. Here is a Texas Two-Step process for finding what he wants you to read:

  1. Click on his posting, Here’s an updated version of my ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud” (probably a misnomer).
  2. Scroll down until you see a paragraph that starts with, “This blogger has already been accused of plagiarizing Rogers’ ideas.”  It’s about 80% of the way down an overly long page.

After reading for a minute or less you’ll get to this:

It’s an experiment that Dan Porter describes as a “success”. Did he bother consulting a chemist before making that judgement?

It was NOT a success at all, if intended to show that a Maillard reaction can occur between starch and ammonia at room temperature as a model for the Turin Shroud. Note first that it did not use starch, which we are told was an impurity coating on the linen. It used “dextrins” which are  highly degraded starch,  more sugar than starch. That substitution, easily overlooked because Rogers makes no attempt to justify it, gets around the small difficulty that Maillard reactions require reducing SUGARS. Starch is not a reducing sugar. Nor does it easily “fall apart” to make reducing sugar. Google “lintnerization”. It gets worse. Saponins have been added as well. Why? Because the linen is now said to be impregnated not only with starch (pity about the absence of analytical data) but with saponins too (they were used as a kind of soap see in the 1st century AD). Saponins (again, no analytical data) that just happen to have lots of pentose (5-carbon) sugars in their carbohydrate polymers. Pentose sugars are chemically more reactive than 6-carbon sugars like glucose or highly degraded starch. Pentose sugars react more readily than hexose sugars to give Maillard reaction products.  But it doesn’t end there. Note Rogers’ choice of “putrefaction amine”, the simplest amine of all – ammonia- a highly volatile gas, half as light as air. Note that his mixture of degraded starch and saponins was exposed to ammonia gas for 24 hours. We are supposed to be impressed that he demonstrated a Maillard reaction at room temperature. What’s easily overlooked is that excess ammonia raises pH, and that Maillard reactions that are normally sluggish at room temperature are greatly assisted by an alkaline pH. So on three counts – degraded strarch, saponins and alkaline pH – we see Rogers’ so-called Maillard reaction being assisted by dubious means, of no proven relevance to a 1st century tomb.  To cap it all, we are given no evidence that the yellow colour was in fact a Maillard product. It may have been, it may not – some supporting data was needed before ASSUMING it was a Maillard product and not (say) a product from exposing saponin or sugars to alkali and oxygen. Why were there no controls?


There is this on groupies

Note too by the way the absurdity of claiming that Rogers found starch on the STURP samples (he didn’t) while his model requires reducing sugars that would require highly degraded starch that would no longer give a positive test for starch (e.g. a blue-black colour with iodine).  Good, isn’t it?  Day after day we see one Rogers ‘groupie’ banging on endlessly that Rogers DID find starch (no he didn’t) and another Rogers’ groupie insistent that Rogers’ Maillard model is the correct one, despite unfavourable thermodynamics at low temperature/ordinary pH,  requiring reducing sugar, not starch.  Why does Dan Porter allow this self-contradictory, self-defeating nonsense to continue, month after month, year after year. Why does he allow his site to be ruled – and ruined – by this kind of fanaticism that is blind or indifferent to the facts?


On Rogers’ experiment:

That experiment of Rogers was frankly fudged to give the desired result.  This researcher despises fudged demonstrations. What we see above is pseudo-science. This is the kind of “science” that assorted trolls and fanatics are so keen to promote on Porter’s site, and the site’s owner let’s them do it, year after year after year.

And how was Rogers’ able to substitute dextrins, i.e. highly degraded starch, made commercially by heating starch with strong acid, or digesting with amylase enzymes, for intact starch? Simple. He refers to his dextrins as “crude starch”.That is taking one enormous liberty with words. When one extracts starch from a planr source, one may use the term “crude starch” to imply there are non-starch contaminants, e.g protein or cell wall material. To describe  the starch as crude to imply that it is partially degraded to low molecular weight dextrins, simple sugars  with reducing properties, as needed for Maillard reactions. etc  is quite simply appalling. If Rogers were here today, I would tell him to his face that he was at least deceiving himself if he imagined that linen initially impregnated with “crude starch” would supply the “reducing sugar” needed for his Maillard reaction, with or without prior ageing of the manufactured fabric. Starch does not, as I said earlier, easily fall apart. The glycosidic linkages in starch are strong and not easily broken.


On cowardly people with pseudonyms and trolls

Message to Dan Porter: this blogger is a retired professional biochemist. If anyone doubts my professionalism, then they must come to this site under their real name and be prepared to argue the science in detail. What I am not prepared to tolerate is having my science cut-and-paste to your site site for a cowardly individual, operating under a pseudonym, to attack my professionalism, usually with no attempt to address the detail. That is trolling. You have no business using my content, while allowing a troll to operate freely and unhindered on your site.  If you wish to use my material, then eject the troll from your site, or ban her from commenting on my material. If you wish to allow the troll to carry on as usual, attacking my professional credentials, then kindly stop using my material. In short, observe comm0nsense netiquette.


And on serious errors and/or blind spots:

The idea that starch ‘falls apart’ with time to make what Rogers called “crude starch”, conveniently a source of reducing sugar for his Maillard reaction, is a complete fiction. Rogers may be some people’s chemical guru. He is not mine. His Shroud reseacrh is rifddled with serious errors and/or blind spots and a serious deficiency of strict scientific objectivity.




Again, here is a Texas Two-Step process for finding what Colin wants you to read because you may want to read it:

  1. Click on his posting, Here’s an updated version of my ‘iconoplastic’ modelling of that Turin so-called “Shroud” (probably a misnomer).
  2. Scroll down until you see a paragraph that starts with, “This blogger has already been accused of plagiarizing Rogers’ ideas.”  It’s about 80% of the way down an overly long page.