Posts Tagged ‘Paolo Di Lazzaro’

Tantalizingly Close Enough?

August 11, 2015 21 comments

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.

Who Proposed Ultraviolet?

July 9, 2015 21 comments

imageA reader writes:

I am confused. Facebook Pages by you, Barry (sic) Schwortz and Russ Breault featured an article that claimed that Giulio Fanti figured out that UV radiation is the only thing that comes close to making the image on the Shroud. I thought it was Paolo Di Lazzaro.

Yes and no.

Barrie, Russ and I were reporting the fact that the article, The Shroud of Turin and Technoscience, appeared in The National Catholic Register. I think it was mainly a service to our readers. Here is what the article you refer to says.

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.

Paolo certainly did suggest UV at least a year earlier. But the explanation needs some nuancing and clarifying. Alan Boyle did a nice write up for NBC’s Cosmic Log in December of 2011. Here is a piece of it:

The Italian studies, conducted at the ENEA Research Center in Frascati, addresses a specific question in Shroud science: Could a burst of radiation have created the coloration seen on the linen? The answer is yes, although the results reported in the latest studies aren’t a perfect match. So does that mean the Shroud image could only have been created by the flash of a miraculous resurrection? The answer is no, despite what you might read on the Web.

Five years of tests

“Sadly, we have seen many claims spread in the Web made by journalist/bloggers that discuss the content of a paper they never read,” lead researcher Paolo Di Lazzaro told me today in an email. “It is obvious that a serious scientific work cannot prove any supernatural action. We have shown that the most advanced technology available today is unable to replicate all the characteristics of the Shroud image. As a consequence, we may argue it appears unlikely a forger may have done this image with technologies available in the Middle Ages or earlier. The probability the Shroud is a medieval fake is really low. In this sense, the Shroud image is still a scientific challenge.”

Di Lazzaro and his colleagues based their conclusions on five years of tests, using an ultraviolet laser apparatus and strips of modern-day linen. They blasted the cloth with UV at different power levels, and reported that they “achieved a very superficial Shroud-like coloration of linen yarns in a narrow range of irradiation parameters.” The best effect depended on laser pulses lasting less than 50 nanoseconds.

“These processes may have played a role in the generation of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” the researchers report.

They don’t go so far as to claim a miracle. But the fact that UV laser blasters didn’t exist in the 13th century, let alone in Jesus’ day, strongly implies that they suspect something out of the ordinary was going on.


Over the years, Di Lazzaro and his colleagues have published a long list of studies, including peer-reviewed papers (see below). The latest studies were presented at a May conference in Frascati and published in November as an ENEA technical report (with a disclaimer saying that the contents didn’t necessarily express ENEA’s opinion). But they didn’t really get traction until this week, just in time for Christmas, thanks to a series of sensationalized British news reports.

Actually, we can go back further to a paper, Deep Ultraviolet Radiation Simulates the Turin Shroud Image. Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra and Antonino Santoni of ENEA are listed as authors. So is Giulio Fanti from the University of Padua.  And Enrico Nichelatt. And Giuseppe Baldacchini.

imageJohn Jackson (pictured) should also be getting some credit here. As early as 1991, he was suggesting that ultraviolet radiation was a possible factor in the image’s creation. Here from a complete copy of John’s paper, An Unconventional Hypothesis to Explain All Image Characteristics Found on the Shroud Image  (published in its entirety by Stephen Jones on his blog):

Chemical Nature of the Image. Electromagnetic radiation that is absorbed strongly in air consists of photons in the ultraviolet or soft x-ray region. It happens that these photons are also sufficiently energetic to photochemically modify cellulose. Such photons are strongly absorbed in cellulose over fibril-like distances. Experiments performed by the author have shown that subsequent aging in an oven of photosensitized (bleached) cloth by shortwave ultraviolet radiation produces a yellow-browned pattern like the Shroud body image composed of chemically altered cellulose. Thus, I posit that radiation from the body initially photosensitized the body image onto the Shroud. This pattern would have appeared, if the radiation was ultraviolet, as a white (bleached) image on a less white cloth. With time, natural aging would have reversed the relative shading of the image to its presently observed state where it appears darker than the surrounding cloth (which also aged or darkened with time, but not as fast). This mechanism is consistent with (1) the observed lack of pyrolytic products in microchemical studies of Shroud fibrils expected from high-temperature cellulose degradation (in this case image coloring occurs by natural aging at ambient temperatures over a long period of time) and (2) the absence of substances in the image areas that chemically colored the cloth (Note that image coloration is produced onto the cloth only by radiation and without any extraneous chemicals).

Bottom Line:  The article in the National Catholic Register misrepresented the facts.

Note:  I don’t maintain a Shroud Facebook page It is an automatic echo of my blog postings. Unfortunately it is the only way some people see my blog and as a result they miss the discussion that follows.

Paolo Di Lazzaro to Speak at Fiat Lux Conference

May 19, 2015 3 comments

in the company of Nobel Prize winners and many other prominent speakers

From the Program of the Fiat Lux Conference:



Paolo Di Lazzaro
Chief of Research, ENEA Research Centre of Frascati

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth bearing the front and back body images of what appears to be a crucified man. Although it is considered one of the archaeological objects most studied in history, nobody was able to replicate the microscopic complexity of the chemical and physical characteristics of its faint images. After countless attempts, the inability to replicate the image on the Shroud prevents formulating a reliable hypothesis on the process of the image formation.

In this talk we summarize the experiments done at the ENEA Research Centre of Frascati, which have demonstrated the ability of vacuum ultraviolet light pulses lasting few nanoseconds to generate a Shroud-like coloration on linen that matches many characteristics of the Shroud image.

Our results are fascinating, and to some extent suggestive about the hypothesis of image formation, but cannot lead to definitive conclusions. We never addressed the theological and philosophical issues, that go beyond our scientific expertise, on how it is possible generating these specific radiation pulses at the time of the formation of the Shroud image. We have dealt with only about a topic that is within our expertise, namely the understanding of the photochemistry processes able to generate a peculiar linen coloration that has many features in common with the image on the Shroud. The implications of our findings are left to scholars competent in theology, metaphysics and philosophy.

Science must recognize its limits, and at the same time we cannot remain indifferent to the charm of an object like the Shroud of Turin in which the physics of light, chemistry, medicine, history, metaphysics and philosophy meet and overlap each other, in an unprecedented attempt to solve a multifaceted enigma.

Rogers’ Impurity Layer and Di Lazzaro’s Experiments

April 16, 2015 19 comments

Yes, maybe. But what if Rogers is wrong about “a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities”?

imageA reader writes in response to the Interview with Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro:

Scientifically speaking, this is not the main objection we can have concerning the coloring results obtained by Di Lazzaro and his team. No. According to a Shroud specialist like Ray Rogers (who knew one or two things about radiation and its effects on linen fibers), the main objection would be that it is virtually impossible for a mechanism like a burst of UV light (or any other burst of intense radiation like heat, proton, neutron, etc.) to only color a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities that is resting on some linen fibers without, at the same time, coloring the first wall of those fibers and leaving distinct damages there. For Rogers, this kind of coloring result that would affect and color not only the impurity coating but also the fiber itself IS NOT the same kind of result as what he observed on the samples he took in the image area of the Shroud.

Again, we can say that even if something can look like the image on the Shroud, it is [erroneous] to say so if the results obtained do not match with ALL the chemical and physical properties of the image (or in this case, of the color). In the case of Di Lazzaro’s results, if we believe the expert point of view of Rogers, they don’t, even though the coloring results he got are looking quite similar (at first sight) to the color on the Shroud.

I’m afraid science has to look at a much milder process (probably natural and coming from the highly traumatized corpse that was inside the cloth) to explain once and for all the image on the Shroud.

Yes, maybe. But what if Rogers is wrong about “a thin layer of carbohydrate impurities”?

Caption for image at Wikipedia:

Phase contrast microscopic view of image-bearing fiber from the Shroud of Turin. The carbohydrate layer is visible along top edge. The lower-right edge shows that coating is missing. The coating can be scraped off or removed with adhesive or diimide.

Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro

April 14, 2015 14 comments

In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results,
works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.

From a Google translation of an interview conducted by Maria Margherita Peracchino in L’Indro, Shroud: the image impossible according to the ENEA: Interview with Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati:

Among the most recent studies, there is one made by the Laboratory of the Center Excimer ENEA Frascati. "Our laboratory has tried a new approach," says Paolo Di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory of ENEA Frascati, "trying to play a Shroud-like coloration of linen fabrics through photochemical effects induced by ultraviolet light, which in principle has the characteristics needed to get at least two of the characteristics of the Shroud image, which is the low temperature of formation and coloring extremely superficial, limited to a thin film sub micrometer. "

Lazarus, we explain the work you have carried out on the Shroud and the fundamental results to which you have come?

Since 2005 the Laboratory of Excimer ENEA Frascati Centre carried out a large number of irradiation of ultraviolet laser light on linen fabrics woven in the years between 1930 and 1950 never used and never washed with detergent, in order to avoid the presence of bleaching chemicals that can alter the optical properties of the tissue. By radiation means sending laser pulses on the fabric, which alter the chemical bonds of the same tissue, which in turn changes its surface properties and appearance. The main purpose of irradiations was to verify whether an intense ultraviolet radiation was able to create a linen coloration with characteristics similar to those of the body image on the Shroud of Turin. After numerous irradiation and with great difficulty we managed to find the right combination of laser parameters (pulse duration, intensity, energy density and number of shots) that allows a color-like shroud. We got a shade of color, a superficial staining, an effect of alternating colored fibers and not colored, the negativity of the image that are similar to those measured on the Shroud of Turin by STURP. Based on our thirty years of experience of irradiation and interaction of light with many materials, was the first time that we have found a range of values ​​so critical to get the desired effect: during the irradiation of the fabric is in fact sufficient to vary by a few percentage points one only the laser parameters mentioned above to stop getting any coloration of linen. Really amazing.

In addition to the experiments of laser irradiation and coloration of linen, more recently you have faced the problem of different written and invisible images that some scholars fail to highlight after a digital processing of the contrast and brightness of the photographs of the Shroud.

Yes. And our results suggest that in some cases (the alleged written, the alleged face on the back) is probably illusory perceptual effects related to the phenomena of psychological Gestalt and pareidolia well known to scholars of human perception and optical illusions. Our results have been presented in detail in several articles published in international scientific journals of great prestige and impact, and therefore are available to all interested scientists to reproduce our results and maybe get better. In the website of our laboratory is the web page where you can find all the results , works, publications, interviews and films related to the Shroud studies conducted at ENEA.

Out of Bari: The Shroud of Arquata in Contact with he Shroud of Turin

October 9, 2014 Comments off

From the Charlotte, North Carolina Airport en route to St. Louis

imageRecently uploaded to Multidisciplinary study of the Shroud of Arquata, “extractum ab originali” by P. Di Lazzaro, A. Danielis, M. Guarneri, M. Missori, D. Murra, V. Piraccini, V. Spizzichino, S. Bollanti

An outline:

  1. The Shroud of Arquata, a touch of history
  2. Analyses of the cloth and stains
  3. U V induced fluorescence
  4. Imaging Topological Radar Scanner
  5. Laser Induced Fluorescence
  6. U V-visible-near infrared absolute reflectance
  7. Summary of the results
    . . . a touch of history:

1655: Parchment signed by the Bishop of Alba, stating that during the TS exposition in Turin on the 4th May1653, a copy of  the TS 20 hands long and 5 hands wide was put in contact with the . . .

Colin Berry: OK, I’ve made a start on that Di Lazzaro pdf

September 18, 2014 14 comments

Misquoting STURP?

Until social media came along, Shroud of Turin conference papers did not get
much public scrutiny. Are comments like these below the way of the future for conferences?

imageDeep down in the comments to a drawn out, rambling posting in Colin Berry’s Science Buzz blog, Colin takes on Paolo Di Lazzaro for a paper he presented at ATSI Bari. To read it in the raw click on Let’s move things along one easy step at a time – making life as difficult as possible for those who leech off other people’s content and scroll down to the comments dated September 16 and 17 wherein Colin writes:

OK, I’ve made a start on that Di Lazzaro pdf (36 pages!).

Already I am appalled at the liberties he has taken in his quoting, or rather misquoting, of the 1978 STURP report.

Here’s what he says:

Main findings of STuRP The Shroud is not a painting, no pigment, any directionality, not a scorch

Wrong. The STURP summary does not use the word "scorch" at all.

However, it does describe the coloration as due to surface chemical modification of the linen carbohydrates themselves via oxidation, dehydration and conjugation reactions, and helpfully points out that such changes can be the result of thermal OR chemical treatments, which in most people’s books would be described as "scorches", to distinguished from applied pigments etc.

Paolo di Lazzaro is entitled to reject scorching by whatever means if he so wishes (though his laser beam -induced coloration is surely another type of "scorch"). What he is NOT allowed to do is claim that STURP specifically rejected scorching. STURP did no such thing.

The image encodes cloth to body distance, and it is present in both contact and non contact areas.

The STURP summary makes no mention whatsoever of cloth-body distance.

Cloth-body distance is a model-dependent variable, based usually on loose draping of linen over a human subject. STURP did not propose (far less embrace) that model.

The reference in the STURP summary to the capture and encoding of 3D information has possible explanations that do NOT obligatorily require any postulates re ‘cloth-body’ distance.

[ . . . ]

At one point, Colin quotes Paolo thus: “Energy carried by short-wavelength radiation breaks chemical bonds of the irradiated material without inducing a significant heating (photochemical reaction)”.

And then comments:

This is a massive over-simplification, and even as a generalization simply cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

The majority of substances in our everyday lives can be exposed to sunshine, and can be expected to absorb some or all of its uv component WITHOUT undergoing chemical reaction. It’s (fortunately) a minority of white substances that tan (human skin being a notable exception, where there is a protective mechanism operating that involves melanin pigment) and it’s a minority of yellow substances that quickly bleach (yes; let’s not forget bleaching: uv tends to bleach, not yellow and exposure to sunshine was once used, notably in Holland, for large scale bleaching of new linen). It is a minority of uv-susceptible molecules that have given sunshine its bad press, and one is right to flag up the dangers of excessive uv exposure where humans and their crops are concerned, but to reiterate: while a lot of uv light is absorbed, chemical reaction is by no means automatic.

Yes, the First Law of Photochemistry states that for a photochemical reaction to occur, radiant energy of some kind or other must first be absorbed. But the converse is NOT true: radiant energy can be absorbed without necessarily producing chemical reaction. The energy of the uv CAN be dissipated safely in other forms, notably as thermal energy (producing a rise in temperature). So what does PDL have to say re thermal effects of his chosen instrument of TS image-formation at-a-distance, i.e. ultraviolet radiation. More to come.

More to come? We can hardly wait.

Are we getting a taste of the treatment St. Louis papers will get with an online commenting system to be provided by the conference organizers? Probably. With or without such facilities, social media is here to stay and papers will be publically challenged as never before. I think it’s a good idea.

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