Archive for the ‘St Louis 2014’ Category

Should a St. Louis Conference Paper be Withdrawn?

January 23, 2015 4 comments

Please, somebody who was there, tell me you noticed!

imageA reader wanted to know if I had seen Hugh Farey’s comment about Jeffrey Skurka’s presentation?  No, I had not. 

Should it not be withdrawn?, he or she wondered.

Well, now I have read it. And I read, as well, Piero’s comment referenced by Hugh (which is reproduced below). Well done, Piero!

First, here is Hugh’s comment:

Piero, you appear to be absolutely correct. I cannot be sure what the “measured age” of 106.8+/- 0.6% refers to, but the comment “reported result indicates an age of post 0 BP” means that the book was found to have been made after 1950, which is, by convention 0 BP.

The page on the [right] of slide 83 of Sturka’s presentation is a general Explanation Sheet, which shows how a normal test is calibrated. it takes, for example, a date of 2400 +/- 60 BP, and shows how it correlates, on the chart below, to a calendar date of 530 BC to 390 BC. Presumably the same sheet accompanied every report the Dating Company made. In a feat of quite staggering incompetence, Jeffrey Skurka has

1) assumed that the illustration on the Explanation Sheet actually refers to the radiocarbon test report itself,

2) assumed that a calculated radiocarbon date of 2400 BP in fact means a calendar date of 2400 AD.

At the 2014 conference where he presented this, there were a number of very distinguished, and very experienced physicists, who might have been looking out for evidence of a 2400 AD radiocarbon dating result having read about it in the abstract beforehand.

Please, somebody who was there, tell me you noticed!

Noticed?  With 112 PowerPoint charts attempted in half an hour? Strange topics like spontaneous human combustion and shrunken skulls?  High-speculation and the paranormal posing as science? I don’t think anyone was paying attention anymore by chart 83.  I wondered if we even saw chart 83? If so, what was said? I could go to the tape (see the 32 minute mark of what was a 40 minute talk – we did see it) but that isn’t the real question. The real question is should this presentation stand?

Here is what I think before a second cup of morning coffee:

  1. Jeffrey should fix the mistake and resubmit his presentation.
  2. In the meantime, should withdraw the paper and not at the next update cycle, but now. Simply annotating the list of papers is insufficient in that search engines don’t pick up warnings that way.
  3. The YouTube of the presentation should similarly be withdrawn by Shroud University.
  4. The conference program, still online, should be annotated with the fact that the paper contains a serious mistake and that it has been withdrawn pending correction.

Too harsh?  Too embarrassing?  Unnecessary?

Here is Piero’s comment that deals with more than just the above problem:

Here I want to consider another time the following questionable statement
(taken from the words by Siefker) :
>The body image would lose its optical properties, a result of alignment being lost
over time possibly just by moving the cloth through earth’s magnetic field
such as when the cloth is being transported.
(“The Enigma of the Apparent Age of the Shroud of Turin … etc. …”, slide 67 of 112)

because, in my opinion, this is a too vague hypothesis …
Where is the true proof on linen fibrils ?
Where are inherent experiments or useful references ?

Yesterday I didn’t consider the questions:
What were the exact conditions during the transport of the relic to/from Montevergine (Avellino)?
Who was the responsible about the (possible) photographic controls?

But I believe that I answered to the following question:
Where are the exact comparisons on inherent images?

because I indicated as irrelevant the possible comparison
and this was due to the inherent (probable) small magnitude
for the presumed effects…
— — —
Here the last phrase (of the same slide):
>Also, until confirmed the body image should be protected from any extraneous
magnetic fields such as magnets and electrical transformers.

So …
Which kind of magnetic fields were present during controls of 1978
(and subsequent “manipulations”)?

Another strange thing = slide 65 of 112 :
“The Resurrection Event” = “The electric current is running along
the threads of the linen cloth and normal to the surface
as is the magnetic field …”
In normal conditions electric current doesn’t run along
threads of linen because linen is an insulating material.
So, Siefker had not specified in a clear manner what
were these particular conditions.
In short, there is not this useful explanation…
Here the last curious thing.
Observing the document that appears on the slide 83 of 112
we can read:
Measured C14 age = 106.8 (and then this is not 2400 !)
Then : near 100 years old = “modern”… as you can easily read in that paper.
Perhaps that result was a “good approximation” for radiocarbon dating a modern book…
On the other side (see at right side of this slide) there was only a simple explanation about the Dendro-Calibration
( = Calibration of Radiocarbon Age to Calendar Years…) with an example…
Am I wrong in my conclusion?
I hope in your attention…

Categories: Paper Chase, St Louis 2014

A number of marks falling all over the surface of the body

January 18, 2015 13 comments

Fascinating, informative paper. Great illustrations. I learned a lot.

clip_image001With recent references in this blog to the illustrations in the Holkham Bible it seems appropriate to now consider the paper, The Hypotheses About the Roman Flagrum: Some Clarifications, presented by Flavia Manservigi (pictured) and coauthored by Enrico Morini (available at and at as of two days ago):

On the imprint of the long Sheet are also clearly visible a number of marks, falling all over the surface of the body, from the shoulders to the lower extremities of the legs: scholars interpreted those signs like the result of a terrible scourging, which was inflicted on the Man of the Shroud before crucifixion. The marks of flogging and crucifixion, like the great part of the wound marks visible on the cloth, strengthened the hypothesis of the identification of the Man of the Shroud with Jesus of Nazareth: the tortures suffered by the Man of the Shroud can be totally assimilated to the ones that, according to the Gospels, were inflicted on Jesus.

imageFascinating, informative paper. Great illustrations. I learned a lot.

BTW:  I probably should have mentioned this paper sooner. Already archived at, it was just uploaded to two days ago, which sent its page ranking soaring in Google. That grabbed my attention. This supports my theory that it makes sense to archive papers at both and and elsewhere (no, don’t ask). 

There are still other papers to explore from the St. Louis conference. Please by patient.

Categories: History, St Louis 2014 Tags:

A Quote for this Sunday

December 21, 2014 2 comments

imageFor “scientific approach to the Shroud” is usually understood that according to which the Shroud is regarded solely as an object of study and for which the only important issue is to try to answer the questions about the origin and the authenticity of the Shroud. A “pastoral approach to the Shroud” means the reading of the Shroud in the light of its intrinsic message that, starting from its close and indisputable relationship with the Holy Scriptures, becomes a valuable and unique inspirer of the life of faith and the prompter of those works of charity which are its real big fruit. In this regard at the end of his aforementioned speech in front of the Shroud on May 24, 1998 Saint John Paul II said: “May the Spirit of God, who dwells in our hearts, instill in every one the desire and generosity necessary for accepting the Shroud’s message and for making it the decisive inspiration of our lives”.

Therefore to put in antithesis the scientific approach to the religious one is very dangerous because you run the risk on one hand to reduce the Shroud to a “dead object”, to an image that has meaning only in itself and that doesn’t at all challenge our lives and on the other to turn the Shroud into a kind of idol slaved to a priori and instrumental theses. I am deeply convinced that to leave the presentation of the Shroud to a sole scientific approach or to a sole pastoral approach is neither correct nor useful for any kind of recipient. But then are these two ways of approaching the image of the Shroud really antithetic?

— Bruno Barberis
Associate Professor of Mathematical Physics, University of Turin &
Director of the International Center of Sindonology of Turin
from “Shroud, Science And Faith: Dialogue Or Conflict?
a paper he recently presented at the St. Louis Shroud Conference

New Paper by Pam Moon

December 18, 2014 20 comments

imagePam Moon has uploaded another paper she wrote to her Shroud of Turin Exhibition site: Bl Sebastian Valfrè: The Black Thread, Reweave, and Unravelling the Shroud. It begins:

It was an enormous privilege to attend the St Lewis Shroud conference and to meet so many of the world’s greatest Shroud experts. Can I give my congratulations to the organisers. The comments below are based on some of the conversations I had at the conference.

I am very grateful to Joe Marino for allowing me to present the Oxford photographs and Donna Campbell’s report, to Barrie Schwortz for finding the information online and to Russ Breault for recording the conference. Donna Campbell wrote: ‘there are signs in the Shroud sample that direct the notion of mending or reweaving of the actual woven fabric.’ One of the items mentioned in the presentation was the large black thread which is visible on the Oxford and Arizona samples. A comparison was made with the small black and large white threads also present.

I was delighted to discover from Emanuela Marinelli and Will Meacham that the large black thread was probably stitched in 1694 by Bl Sebastian Valfrè. The invisible reweave hypothesis of Joe Marino and Sue Benford supported by Donna Campbell may refer to two or three different episodes of stitch repair and Bl Sebastian’s repair was one episode. The best demonstration of invisible reweave (both French and in-weaving) I have seen is by the company Without a Trace and can be seen in the video: Please look at that before continuing! The black thread also points to the possibility that the corner strands were unravelled, rewoven back together and then stitched back into place with reweaving techniques. Below is the large black thread seen in th Oxford and Arizona photographs see: [|] Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin, Radiocarbon, 52, 2010.

A Gedankened Image Forming Process

December 17, 2014 17 comments

We believe our hypothesis can readily be tested simply by . . . 

our hypothesis depends on a completely natural mechanism.
It does not conflate the image formation mechanism with the Resurrection

imageWhen I spotted Electric Charge Separation as the Mechanism for Image Formation on the Shroud of Turin: A Natural Mechanism by D.S. Spicer and E .T. Toton on’s St. Louis Conference page, and I read the abstract again, I quickly looked for something else to read. It’s  the non-scientist in me; this was going to be difficult paper, I realized.

I was wrong. It was very interesting and easy to understand.

I always jump to the end where I found this under Discussion and Conclusions on page 15:

As should be clear, our hypothesis depends on a completely natural mechanism. It does not conflate the image formation mechanism with the Resurrection, nor should it. The image is not the recording of the Resurrection but it is an image capture of the body of a crucified man consistent with the historical records of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That no hitherto satisfying mechanism for image formation has been discovered is not proof that a supernatural explanation must be the only other choice, nor does the discovery of a credible mechanism of image formation impugn the belief in the reality of the Resurrection. If it were possible to take a photo of the Ascension-where is the miracle? Is it the Ascension or the photo of it? We believe that the Shroud Image is indeed the image of Jesus Christ’s lifeless body only and it strengthens the historical argument for His existence, death, and His Resurrection.

Got it!  That’s clear.  Now back to the beginning. This part of the introduction had me hooked. Read on!

In this paper we examine a novel image formation mechanism that comprises a uniform low frequency quasi-electrostatic field and polar molecules to produce the image of a crucified man on a linen cloth known as the Shroud of Turin. Given that to date the historical evidence tracks the origins of the cloth back to at least the 6th century AD, that forensic evidence strongly supports the conclusion that the man enclosed by the Shroud was in fact crucified, which totally undermines the assertion of forgery by revealing details in physics, chemistry and medical knowledge only available in the 20th century, and that there are additional physical tests, other than the one-off and often cited C14 test against the authenticity of the Shroud, that date the Shroud to the 1st century AD, we will assume that the crucified man was in fact Jesus of Nazareth and use the New Testament Gospels as a source of information for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Among the many STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project) findings regarding the images of a crucified man found on the Shroud of Turin (ST) there are six that point to a clear and natural explanation for both the dorsal and ventral images of the cloth [21, 16, 1, 2, 3, 8, 20]. These are:

  1. Images on the cloth exist only of the dorsal and ventral surfaces of body and these images lie only on the fibers found at the extremities of the cloth
  2. No image or discoloration exists between the two surfaces of cloth, i.e., within the cloth
  3. There is no image of the top of the head or sides of the body enclosed by the cloth [14]
  4. The image density on the cloth appears to embody information on the vertical distance between the cloth and the portion of the ventral body imaged, as if the cloth were held flat and horizontal slightly above the body or, in the case of the dorsal image, between the cloth on either the floor or shelf on which the body lied and the back of the body. In essence, the closer the cloth was to the body the darker the image, and the farther away the fainter the image [13]
  5. A body image is visible in areas where there was no contact between the body and the cloth
  6. The coloration does not appear under the threads where they cross in the weave of the cloth

And there was this timely paragraph that pertains to recent discussions on this blog about why the image does not fluoresce – of course, assuming . . .

The STURP measurements showed that the Shroud fluoresced everywhere except in regions of the image. This suggests to us that the image formation mechanism somehow changed the allowed atomic transitions that permits the rest of the cloth outside of the image areas to fluoresce. This fact suggests that identifying what is allowing fluorescence can help to determine what chemically causes the image. A good start would be to see whether calcium fluoride or residual pectins (an Alan Adler suggestion[1]) are present on the cloth.

[1] Brian Walsh private communication

Future Testing of the Shroud

December 16, 2014 13 comments

Roger Bassett’s Clarifying Art

December 11, 2014 5 comments

imageI once watched an art restorer working on a tiny spot of a damaged painting. He put down his brushes and tiny scalpels and capped the bottle of cleaning fluid he was working with. Motionless and silent, he just stared at the painting. Finally, after three or four minutes, he spoke. “I must figure out what the artist intended,” I remember him saying. “It’s art, not science. But its not my aesthetic; its systematic.”

Roger W. Bassett has “restored” (clarified) a portion of the shroud: the face. If he has indeed figured out what the artist intended, it is exciting. That artist, if the shroud is authentic, is God himself or a natural process. If not authentic then the original artist was . . . well . . .  an artist. That’s my take on it (and I think the shroud is authentic).

Roger’s St. Louis presentation, “Portrait” from the Turin Shroud: An Artist’s Study of the Shroud Image demands your attention:

It is important to note that due to the complexity of the shroud image this process of clarification is a continuing “work in progress”. What I am able to share with you today is hardly a finished work. There are areas where clarification was gained at the temporary expense of losing some clarity in other areas because for every adjustment made to any given area the perception of the surrounding areas is affected, thus affecting the interpretation of what is actually there. Some areas where data was retrieved by raising the luminosity, left some other areas over-exposed so that there are still corrections that need to be made, which when done will only further enhance the image with even greater accuracy. So having made this disclaimer, that there is much more work to be done, let me begin.

From one slide in the PowerPoint:

The narrow look to the face resolves itself as the areas of image drop-off are “equalized” to become a seamless transition into the other areas of the facial anatomy.



Categories: Art, St Louis 2014 Tags:
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