Archive for the ‘Image Theory’ Category

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

September 3, 2015 32 comments

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).


Categories: 3D, Image Theory

You may reassure Mr. Berry

August 27, 2015 28 comments

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

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

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

Paolo’s response:

Dear Dan and All,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs

Have we all been looking in the wrong place?

August 23, 2015 47 comments

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?

Categories: Image Theory Tags:

Close to the finishing line or the starting line?

August 21, 2015 32 comments

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.

Categories: Image Theory

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

August 15, 2015 14 comments




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

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs

From out of the strong came forth the sweet?

August 15, 2015 3 comments

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.

Categories: Image Theory, Other Blogs

Lightening Striking the Other Crucified Person in His Shroud

August 14, 2015 7 comments

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.

Categories: Image Theory
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