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Editorial in Thermochimica Acta by Bella, Garlaschelli and Samperi on Rogers’ 2005 Article

September 4, 2015 134 comments

with thanks to Andrea Nicolotti and Gian Marco.

imageA new article, There is no mass spectrometry evidence that the C14 sample from the Shroud of Turin comes from a “medieval invisible mending” by Marco Bella, Luigi Garlaschelli and Roberto Samperi has been accepted* for publication in Thermochimica Acta.

imageSome bullet points appear after the article, after the acknowledgments, even after the references. It’s as though having taken their best shot, the authors had to empty their gun before walking away:

  • This editorial regards a paper published on Thermochimica Acta ,425 (2005) 189.
  • The author [=Rogers] hypothesized a “medieval invisible mending” on the Shroud of Turin.
  • There is no evidence of such a “medieval invisible mending”.
  • The two mass spectra presented differ only by the presence of a contaminant.
  • When the peaks due to the contaminant are removed, the two mass spectra looks alike.

The article is behind a pay wall. If you do not have access to this journal, you can purchase a copy of the article through Science Direct for $39.95 US.

It begins:

This editorial regards a paper by the late Dr. Raymond Rogers published on Thermochimica Acta. The Shroud of Turin is a linen which has impressed a faint image of a man and some color spots (supposedly blood). A popular tradition born in the second half of the XIV century recognizes it as being the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. In 1988, three independent laboratories dated this object between 1260 and 1390 (95% confidence interval, 2 σ) by means of the C14 analysis. After the publication of these data, several theories have been proposed to explain a discrepancy with the “sought” date of the linen, which according to tradition should be around 33 AD. Among those, a popular one is the so called “invisible mending”, disclosed by S. Benford and J. Marino and based on the analysis of low resolution (JPEG format) pictures of the Shroud….

… and wraps up:

In conclusion, the unspecific qualitative chemical tests presented by Rogers are in no way confirmed by instrumental analysis (mass spectrometry). No diagnostic peak in the pyrolysis mass spectra indicates a significant difference in the two samples, besides hydrocarbon-derived contamination. Therefore, none of the presented data supports the conclusion by Rogers.

The work of the late Dr. Rogers has been exploited to support a pseudoscientific hypothesis which is in no way confirmed by the reported data. Regardless of the debate on the hypothetical authenticity of the Shroud, the scientific community and the general public can only be misled by this paper.

So it is a peer reviewed editorial, that is if I understand the “note to users” that appears on the Science Direct access page for this article:

* Note to users: Accepted manuscripts are Articles in Press that have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of this publication. They have not yet been copy edited and/or formatted in the publication house style, and may not yet have the full ScienceDirect functionality, e.g., supplementary files may still need to be added, links to references may not resolve yet etc. The text could still change before final publication.

Although accepted manuscripts do not have all bibliographic details available yet, they can already be cited using the year of online publication and the DOI, as follows: author(s), article title, Publication (year), DOI. Please consult the journal’s reference style for the exact appearance of these elements, abbreviation of journal names and use of punctuation.

When the final article is assigned to an volumes/issues of the Publication, the Article in Press version will be removed and the final version will appear in the associated published volumes/issues of the Publication. The date the article was first made available online will be carried over.

Is it really peer reviewed? Does that matter?  Those bullet points: maybe they will go away in the final editing of this editorial. 

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