An interview with Giulio Fanti and more

“Well, corona discharge is a phenomenon which typically produces two superficial images
on both sides of a cloth exposed to such electric energy because the image formation is linked to the electric field variation in this area. I do not know of any other phenomenon capable of imprinting a doubly superficial image leaving the inner volume of the fabric as a non-image area.”
                                                            –Giulio Fanti

imageLouis C. de Figueiredo, in a comment on this blog, offered to send along some material about the subject of the doubly superficial image (second face):

I still have the old interview-article covering part of this topic in pdf and will send it to Dan later, leaving it to him to decide whether it should be uploaded. After having been advised from serious sources in the realm of Shroud studies that there is no second image, the decision was taken to store it for a while.

The 1 December, 2014 update has put the latest interview-article on the “black list”, together with others that have had no peer review. I make it a point not to be anyone’s mouthpiece and do think that there should be explanations from whoever proffers any paper, whether scientific or historical.

Pictured:  Giulio Fanti, the subject of the interview.

At my request  Louis sent it along. Do read Science and religion meet in Shroud research by Louis C. de Figueiredo. Here is how it begins:

Professor Giulio Fanti teaches at the University of Padua and has been a member of technical teams of various International Space Missions. He is the author of the comprehensive and profusely illustrated book La Síndone, una sfida alla scienza moderna as well as more than a hundred papers published in Italy and in international journals. In 2004 he and a colleague, Roberto Maggiolo, discovered the faint image of a second face on the reverse side of the Turin Shroud using highly sophisticated image processing techniques. The discovery received wide attention after media reports and was published as “The double superficiality of the frontal image on the Turin Shroud” in the peer-reviewed scientific Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, of the Institute of Physics in London. It did not, however, appear to have received due attention in Turin and, for that reason, may not even have reached the right desk in Rome.

One prominent Shroud scholar who has contested the finding is Professor Bruno Barberis, Director of the International Centre of Sindonology, however Fanti is only willing to entertain such opposition if it comes in the form of scientific proof against his published results. This need to transform claims into scientific findings was also seen by this author back in 2003, when told by Professor Avinoam Danin of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, another giant of Shroud studies, that he would only answer the doubts raised over the presence of Gundelia tournefortii pollen grains on the relic by Professor T. Litt if they came in published form.

It is thus obvious that there is a lot more to be done in the realm of Shroud studies, a new analysis of the Shroud being the topmost priority, conducted of course by all the well-known Shroud scientists, whatever their points of view. After all, it is not a question of faith versus the Turin Shroud. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to unravel the mystery and in the following interview Fanti makes an in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the current state of knowledge.

The bolding emphasis in the above quote is mine. Do read on.

Paper Chase: The Second Face Defended

Realizing how easily I had accepted the second image of a face discovery
and eventually realizing the need for questioning such discoveries
was one of the reasons  I decided to actively blog.

imageThe paper in question from the St. Louis Conference is About the Second Image of Face Detected on the Turin Shroud  by Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo (Read by Joseph G. Marino).

    Maybe if Giulio had been there or maybe if there had been a PowerPoint it might have been more interesting. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the paper; there isn’t. It’s just that . . . let’s let an ellipses-for-adjectives abstract of the abstract explain why:

A second faint image of the face of the Turin Shroud has been discovered in 2004 . . .  but a recent paper has questioned . . . its presence. . .  . it explained those patterns with pareidolia and Gestalt effects of the human perception . . .  in a not proper way. This paper both discusses these results showing why the image processing used in that paper seems not proper to sustain its thesis and presents additional image processing for pattern recognition.

imageIn other words the 2004 discovery of a second face on the backside of the cloth had been shot down in a peer reviewed journal paper, Pattern recognition after image processing of low-contrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin by Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra and Barrie Schwortz. The paper is sadly behind a pay wall at Science Direct but we have the abstract and some highlights:


We discuss the potentially misleading effect of software techniques for elaborating low-contrast images. In particular, we present the example of the stains embedded into one of the most studied archeological objects in history, the Shroud of Turin. We show for the first time that image processing of both old and recent photographs of the Shroud may lead some researchers to perceive inscriptions and patterns that do not actually exist, confirming that there is a narrow boundary between image enhancement and manipulation.


► The limited static contrast of our eyes may render problematic the perception of low-contrast images.

► Brain’s ability to retrieve incomplete information interpret false image pixels after image processing.

► Image processing of Shroud photographs leads to perceive patterns that do not actually exist.

► There is a narrow line between enhancement and manipulation of low-contrast images.

Giulio Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo are fighting back or at least asking us to reserve judgment for awhile:

Before to reach a conclusion in agreement to Ref. [10] it will necessary a sure and objective demonstration that the second fainter face detected in Ref. [1] is really a trick of the human perception. Meanwhile, in agreement with various TS experts, see Refs. [23 – 26], we consider credible the presence of a second image of face on the back side of the TS. The analysis of the UV photo of face made by Turin Archdiocese in 2002 and not yet made available to the scientific community will help to confirm this fact.

Those references being:

-1. G. Fanti, R. Maggiolo: The double superficiality of the frontal image of the Turin Shroud, (J. of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, volume 6, issue 6, 2004, pages 491- 503, April 2004).

-10. P. Di Lazzaro, D. Murra, B. Schwortz , Pattern recognition after image processing of lowcontrast images, the case of the Shroud of Turin, (Pattern Recognition J., available online 31 December 2012).

-23. J. P. Jackson, Does the Shroud of Turin show us the Resurrection?, (Biblia y Fé, 1998).

-24. G. Fanti, et al. (24 authors): Evidences for Testing Hypotheses about the Body Image Formation of The Turin Shroud, (III Int. Conf. on the Shroud of Turin: Dallas, Texas, 2005), accessed January 31, 2013.

-25. G. Fanti, J.A. Botella, F. Crosilla, F. Lattarulo, N. Svensson, R. Schneider, A.D. Whanger, List of Evidences of the Turin Shroud, (Int. Workshop on the Scientific Approach to the Acheiropoietos Images, ENEA Frascati, Italy, (2010).

-26. O. Scheuermann, Turiner Tuschbold aufgestrahlt?, (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller, Saarbrucken Deutchland, 2007).