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.

Techno-Science and the Shroud

imageThe latest National Catholic Register has an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the history of the shroud’s “techno-scientific” era: Pia to now.

A reader who tipped me off to this article wrote, “I wouldn’t put it this way. In my opinion, there is a lot to doubt about the existing carbon 14 dating and any conclusions….”

I wouldn’t put it this way, either. The article is well written but some statements are in need of some serious editing. Can you spot the issues here?

The shroud lay virtually unknown for 1,900 years and would have been dismissed as a grubby medieval forgery if it hadn’t been for the advances of modern technoscience.

and

Shroud believers suggested that the fire that nearly destroyed the shroud in 1532 could have affected the carbon-14 dating, and closer examination revealed that the area from which the linen was taken for testing was not only the area handled by those displaying the shroud over the centuries, but it had been repaired by almost invisible interweaving in the 14th century.

and

Then, in 2012, an Italian academic who had been studying the mystery of the shroud for years released what seems to be the best theory to explain the shroud’s image. Giulio Fanti, an Italian professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, reports that the only technique to come close to reproducing the image on the shroud is ultraviolet radiation.

This blog has extensively covered the writings of Fr. Longenecker.