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The Devolution and Evolution of a Maillard Reaction Image Hypothesis

October 3, 2014 17 comments

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.
                                                                                   — Maya Angelou

imageColin Berry’s creative juices of lemon pouring forth from his Science Buzz blog:                

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that I’ve got the chemistry right, i.e. that the TS image was created by a binary mix of lemon juice (or some other source of active aldehyde) and protein (or some other source of amino acids), and that elevated temperature was required to produce a Maillard non-enzymatic browning reaction.

What about the technology? How might the chemistry have been achieved while at the same time imprinting the negative image of a man that is both exceedingly superficial and which responds well to modern 3D-rendering software (e.g. ImageJ)?

What follows is pure speculation, but one has to start somewhere.

[ . . . ]

. . . So what Rogers conjectured as a starch impurity coating was in my model a protein coating that provided the amino (-NH2) groups for the Maillard reaction.  Putrefaction amines were not needed in the protein/lemon juice model.

So, there you have it, in a few short paragraphs – the Invisible Ink model -  post-STURP Maillard reaction Mk2, one in which a corpse was non-obligatory – a marriage of science and medieval technology.

Interestingly, the model described allows for a ‘blood before image’ modus operandi  . . .

You should/must fill in the dots by reading Colin’s latest amendment to a posting. CLICK HERE and fast-scroll down to Friday October 3.

Has he got the chemistry right?

Secret Image Made With Invisible Ink

September 29, 2014 6 comments

imageColin Berry, we discover by reading his blog, is experimenting with lemon juice and some other concoctions: the stuff of secret writing. Here he comments on September 29, 2014 at 1:09 AM

So, there’s a range of options available to our medieval relic-manufacturer, he with a gleam in his eye, having been tipped off re the invisible ink trick.

He could have done it my way, and impregnated the linen first with sugar solution, fruit juice whatever, and then using a heated template to imprint. That would explain the negative image, and indeed one might venture to suggest that a negative image was indeed the prime objective, if the aim was to simulate a sweat imprint.

However, there’s still more mileage in the invisible ink scenario since it does not preclude a painted-on image. While no fan of that idea, primarily because it calls for painting a negative image that might seem somewhat avant-garde, certainly for the medieval era, it has its merits. . . .

[ . . . ]

In fact the technique is so adaptable, so replete with possibilities for modifying this or that detail to achieve the most pleasing and ‘convincing’ end result that I confidently expect Occam’s Police to descend on me as soon as word leaks out from these otherwise private musings, warning me against multiplying entities unnecessarily.

Am I ready to announce to the world that the TS was (or could have been) produced by invisible ink technology, an application of parental pre-TV, pre-computer era stock-in-trade for entertaining children on a wet afternoon?

Nope, I need more time to potter around, . . .

Colin then comments more on September 29, 2014 at 9:23 AM

The lemon juice effect is so potent, sensitizing linen to a deep scorch that would be unobtainable in its absence, that I’m inclined to think that so major effect might very well be the key to understanding the nature of the TS image. But what is the chemical basis, if it’s neither sugar nor organic acid that is the scorch-promoting factor?

What is the chemical basis? Here is an elementary article in Scientific American: Invisible Ink Reveals Cool Chemistry: A Mad Science Room activity from Crazy Aunt Lindsey:

What happened to your invisible message?

What other liquids work well to make invisible ink that develops under heat? When you painted the lemon juice solution onto the paper, the carbon-based compounds were absorbed into the paper’s fibers. When you heated the paper, the heat caused some of the chemical bonds to break down, freeing the carbon. Once the carbon came into contact with the air, it went through a process called oxidation, one effect of which is to turn a darker color. Oxidation doesn’t always need heat to occur. Some fruits themselves can turn brown from oxidation. Think of an apple or pear slice that is left out on the counter for too long.

Why the Shroud is not a Painting

September 27, 2014 11 comments

imageColin Berry explains*:

A medieval-provenance TS would never have been commissioned in the first place as a painting (from which pigment has subsequently been shed to leave a ghost image). Why not? Because of an obvious point that I omitted to mention – namely the double image (frontal v dorsal). It was clearly intended to represent a burial shroud, and one might even suggest that it’s the double-image and its appeal to the visual senses as having an up-and-over origin that makes it so iconic, even to modern eyes.

If one goes to the trouble of producing a life-size double image on up-market linen to represent the imprint left by a real person (no matter whom) then one does not employ a paint brush and artists’ pigments. The simplest medieval pilgrim would have spotted straightaway that he was looking at a painting, not a holy relic as billed.

Best explanation I’ve seen so far, at least in blogspace during the last few days. But then again, what does that leave. Thermal Imprinting?  Painting with lemon juice?  Non-brushstroke painting methods?  Photography?  Sun bleaching with glass templates?

There is something nobody has thought of. And maybe that something has nothing to do with faking a double image burial shroud. And since I don’t buy into any of the currently suggested naturally occurring chemical hypotheses or any of the “cosmic ray” image producing suggestions, I feel that we are, for now, nowhere except at a lot of dead ends. My gut still tells me it’s real.

* scroll down to September 26, 2014 at 2:45

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