Friday, August 29, 2014

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.

New feature of this site (I can't speak for others):  here's a LINK that takes you straight to Comments.

Admittedly the comments are all my own on this and recent postings, possibly because Blogger Blogspot, for reasons best known to itself,  does not see fit to provide a sidebar link to Comments, at least not as a default. Folk have to scroll down through a posting, which while tedious is tolerable if the posting is short. But mine are now deliberately long, for reasons stated previously.

Hey, I've even been able to add a Shortcut to Comments to the sidebar. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Update: Sunday August 31:

A critique of this posting has appeared on Dan Porter's shroudstory site. He still seems aggrieved at my continuing references to ENEA's Dr.Paolo Di Lazzaro as a "Mickey Mouse scientist", despite my recent  line-by-line critique of a guest-posting which at Porter's instigation, PDL delivered against me PERSONALLY on shroudstory. That recent response of mine (scroll down to the blue font) should surely have convinced anyone that if anything my language was moderate and restrained, given the liberties that PDL has taken with physics and chemistry in his attempts to dismiss thermal imprinting (aka scorch hypothesis) and prmpt us all " to think more about philosophy and theology". (Groan: what's become of the country that gave us Galileo?)

 (His theology, needless to say, with its obsession and belief in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin).

I have penned a hasty response (since I'm setting off my travels again later today) and attached it to the end of this posting (more blue font, use your laptop's search  facility for "Blogmeister" to get taken straight there). While I'm away, with intermittent access to the hotel's wifi, anything further I have to say will  be here on this posting, over-long though it may be already. I will not be participating in discussion on Porter's site until I get back, no matter what the provocation (his trolls far surpassing in their insults my use of the Walt Disney descriptor, like being told I select results to "distort", or that my writings are "drivel").

IMPORTANT: The text and graphics here are my property, the end-product of a great deal of research and reflection, regardless of whether my conclusions finally prove right or wrong.  By all means paraphrase the text, and give links to the graphics. But kindly DON'T COPY  AND PASTE  - unless you are a genuine Shroud researcher with constructive ideas of your own, or willing to invest a little time and thought, as distinct from churning out a never-ending stream of vacuous musings, designed purely to entertain and titillate your client base. 

 The Shroud  represents the tip of an iceberg in our modern internet-connected society - the systematic deployment of PSEUDO-SCIENCE to push through an agenda, whether that be commercial, religious, doctrinal, political or ideological, i.e the thin-end of some kind of control-freak wedge.

As a defensive measure against the cut-and-paste merchants, those who pirate others' copy, simply to whet the appetite of their faithful clientele, then I will say this.

  Yes, we know your clients are dependent on and grateful for their daily fix of  ridicule against those who, like myself, oppose the pseudo-science of the pro-authenticity tendency. But I'm no longer prepared to tolerate your raiding my postings, often within hours of hitting the send button, simply to see eviscerated, hollowed out, spin-doctored  versions appear on your site that attempt to portray me as some kind of hopeless bumbling amateur intruding into your closed-off little world of  shroudology. You allow your clients to refer to my research as bent, biased, drivel etc etc, yet spring to their defence whenever I blow the whistle on their systematic trolling and character attacks.

I shall now make it my business to make life as difficult for the scavengers of other people's content. I've previously adopted the strategy of posting in serial instalments, sometimes over several days. I'll now take that a step further and pitch my postings to genuine  fellow researchers, using a minimum of explanation, relying on their intelligence and open-mindedness to grasp the way my thoughts are going.

I shall start today's new pirate/troll unfriendly MO with a series of pictures, with minimalist captions.  In fact, I'm in no hurry to add any further content just yet..

 I repeat, just in case you failed to get the message first time. Kindly don't copy/paste my pictures, my text, my property unless you are a bona fide fellow researcher.

Friday 29 Aug

Here's a picture that I've dredged up from my image archives. Note the two kinds of template, top left and bottom right, both metal, but differing in 3D character if deployed as templates for leaving a thermal imprint on fabric (linen, cotton etc). One is largely  "flat"and rectilinear, apart from that curving edge. The other is rounded, a  bas relief  in fact.

Note btw the strategy that was adopted right from the start - not to rely on a single imprint, but to do serial imprints, each one draining thermal energy out of the template, until the there was no point in continuing further, the template having reached a particular temperature at which it could no longer scorch fabric (while still being able to give a hiss and steam when water was run over it under a tap.

To be continued (as and when the spirit moves this patient, systematic, one-step-at-a-time but nevertheless determined blogger).


Here's a link to a Mickey Mouse scientist (speaking "as a scientist bla bla") who couldn't be bothered to do serial imprints, who relied upon just one sustained pressing of heated (probably overheated) template against linen  to get an excessively deep scorch, and who then concluded that ALL scorches would leave imprints on the opposite side of the fabic. Yup, MICKEY MOUSE SCIENCE, one of the worst examples I have seen in my entire research career, sent as an email to Dan Porter's site (at his instigation) directed at me and the 'scorch hypothesis' specifically.

More to come (please be patient, my restricted  but non-agenda driven, non-Mickey Mouse-scientist populated client base).


Here's an iconic picture, which should need no introduction:

If you don't know what it represents, please don't blame me, someone who has spent years trying to explain. Just accept that it is important.

Think pseudo-positive Secondo Pia image, a reversal of light and dark on the 'as-is' Shroud face, a mind-blowing appearance of a "photograph", not seen until 1898. It's got to be a photograph of the crucified Jesus, miraculously preserved , right,  albeit as a non-photogenic negative, intended as a present to 20th century man, right? Right? Do I hear any voices of dissension? No?  Time up, let's quickly move on.

 But it's not quite perfect is it? That sharp demarcation between image and non-image, light v dark, not just one side of the face, but TWO, and symmetrical about a vertical midline, says the cut-off image is real, but hardly photogenic.

Cue the entire "banding" story. It's all due to differences between one batch of yarn and another, those 1st century linen manufacturers having failed to get the bleaching perform in a reproducible fashion. Quality control was still a few centuries away you see,  that "cut-off" being just an accident of bleaching variability, despite that remarkable 'bilateral symmetry' about the midline. That's a green light, OK, to get busy with modern photo-editing, to do away with those pale strips making the face look too narrow, too  mask-lke. Yup, lets fiddle around with this or that to get the face to look "right", as it would if there had been no pesky defects in 1st century bleaching technology. Just intone "banding variation" enough times, and then go to town on the infilling of those otherwise unsightly cut-offs.

21:30   In the post immediately preceding thsi one, I showed what happens when the 'cut-off' Shroud face is entered into ImageJ for 3D enhancement. It seems my observations have been  questioned and/or misunderstood  in some quarters, despite mysubsequently finding they square with what previously has been reported by pro-authenticity image analysts.

More about that later. As I say, let's take on step at a time. Let's remind ourselves what happens when those scorch imprints above are entered into a 3D-enhancement program (Image J). We'll start with standard settings (natural colour, minimal smoothing, just sufficient to avoid 'spikiness', and just enough uplift in the z value (3D-producing control) to achieve an image that neither nover- nor under-exaggerates the 3d-ness of of the original template.(This is where we modellers, with our 'drivel', score over those who spend weeks tweaking the 3D images. We can compare what's on screen with the template. The sindologists who have no time for models have never laid eyes on the man whose image they say is imprinted, either miraculously or by natural processes.Their knob-twiddling and slide-control sliding is not normalised against any reference system. Mine is.

Above: 3D rendering of the scorch imprint below in ImageJ (standard original colour settings).

To those who claim that a model scorch imprint can never match to 3D properties of the TS image, my response to such pseudo-science is to say - prove it if you can (but you can't for the reason already cited - you've never seen the original

 In fact there's a huge amount of misinformation and mythologizing about the 3D properties of the TS. We are told that "no painting" shows 3D enhancibility. Oh yes it does, as I showed not so long about, merely by entering images into ImageJ that had no 3D history:

A 3D enhancement program reads image brightness (or darkness) as height on a relief map - the higher the image density, the higher the relief and vice versa.

There's one term that ought to be summarily uprooted from the literature, namely that the TS image has "encoded" 3D information. No it doesn't anymore than those flags above have encoded information.It's simply a pattern of light and dark on fabric, one that may and indeed probably was derived from a 3D subject, but there was no encoding by imprinting - merely an analogue process of capturing the topological relief - the higher the relief, the greater the density of the image. It's no more encoded than the scorch mark left by the sole of an iron held too long  or too hard against a pillow case.The proof comes from photography, where one simply captures differences between light and dark, maybe in colour too, but using a camera - not an encoding computer in sight. The computers come later, in offering options as to how that captured information can be displayed to best advantage. Repeat: the camera itself is not a computer, even if it's the modern digital type that incorporates ancillary software to assist with focusing, filtration etc etc.The use of terms like "encoded" is a slippery slope where the TS is concerned, one that quickly disposes of the line between science and science fiction.


I've only a few hours left before heading off into the wild blue yonder (the Caucasus), Icelandic volcanoes permitting, so will simply add pictures here that tell their own story, or should do, provided one is not wedded to a pro-authenticity agenda that assumes either (a) miraculous outside assistance in image formation, defying the laws of physics and chemistry or (b) a series of near miraculous processes operating over years and decades, maybe involving some initial brief contact between a corpse and linen, that gradually matures like cheese in a dark cave.

I say one should start with the obvious - thermal imprinting off a metal template - and too be too quick to dismiss it for lacking this or that incidental feature of the TS image, like say lack of uv fluorescence (which some have done, without knowing or caring about the nature of the chemical species that may or may not be present to confer fluorescence. Quick screening processes HAVE to have a solid scientific foundation if they are to a reliable aid in decision making.

That was obtained using ImageJ in 'Thermal LUT' mode. (LUT apparently stands for Look Up Table, so seems a somewhat superfluous tag to me, but I stand to be corrected).

Whenever I post a picture in Thermal mode, the aficionados (notably OK in Poland and Hugh Farey) can be relied upon to ask what level of 'smoothing' one has used, cautioning against excessive smoothing. Yes, it's important to get that optimized, which is why I've added that picture immediately above. It's been taken with the smoothing slide moved far enough towards its zero setting to get that spiky image. I then raise it one percentage point at a time until the spikiness just disappears. That would seem to my untutored mind where IT is concerned to represent the point at which the software switches from from digital (binary) display to a more user-friendly pseudo- or at any rate virtual analogue representation.

To me, the interesting, hopefully scientifically-meaningful control as I've said before in the one labelled "min" in the lower right hand corner. I'll be using this posting to report some new validation(?) findings where that min control has been systematically varied when applied to the TS image alongside a 2D relief diagram, the kind used in atlases, which has no 3D history. (There's a recurring error in shroudology that consists of confusing a map with the territory it tries to portray; I for one have no intention of falling into that particular rap).

First, lets show 2D images of the TS face, first from Shroud Scope (added contrast) with my added yellow lines to indicate the sharp cut-offs, and then the corresponding 3D-renderings in ImageJ in Thermal LUT mode at three levels of "min" control advancement. As I say, we'll worry about the nature of of that "min" re-processing shortly. let's not lose sight of the objective, which is to see if the cut-off is a property of the underlying linen that alters its ability to respond to the image-imprinting process OR whether it's a property of the subject or representation thereof (template etc) that would result in a cut-off, regardless of the yarn-to-yarn variation in the weave of the fabric, allegedly the cause of "banding".

Compare the 2D and 3D images closely, especially at the outer extremities of the left and right side cheeks. (Click to enlarge images). Notice anything? I did, and said as much, and have since discovered by googling that I'm not the first to have noticed the effect that 3D imaging has on that peculiar cut-off. Petrus Soons has reported it too (insert link), not so long ago, in fact (2010).

Dr.Soons's words (my bolding):

“The following photograph shows the difference once we applied the technique that Barrie indicated. On the left is a photograph of material we used to produce the first Master hologram and it is clear that there are very dark imageless areas in the banding. The photos 2 and 4 show the face with the corrections. Also another method was used in the conversion of 2D to 3D and that resulted also in much more detail. Photo 3 is the gray-scale information of the photos 2 and 4. The face is now much more “natural” and detailed.”

Odd, don't you think, that Petrus Soons can say it, and the godfathers of Shroudology are happy to accept it as fact, confident no doubt that there will be no anti-authenticity implications. When I say it, with a hint of an anti-authenticty message, it's not the message that is targeted (relying on guilt by association) but the very facts themselves.

Can anyone explain how the image* on Colin Berry’s blog can begin to convince us that banding is not really all that real. Maybe you can understand what Colin is saying. Something about “bilateral symmetry.” If anything, it helps to convince me that there really is banding there. You really need to see it in its full size in Colin’s blog space so CLICK HERE.

 Having thus used my posting and my graphics to provide a "new posting", with just enough words to set me up as an Aunt Sally for his client base (trolls included, who are allowed free rein to impugn my research credentials and character) he then diverts the topic onto the photographic jiggery-pokery, sorry subjective, non-validated photoediting (out) of Godfather-in-chief:

Barrie Schwortz did some of the earliest technical work to show one optical illusion effect of the banding. (Use Google translation after obtaining the linked-to page in order to see it in English). It is well worth reading.
The left image shows vertical banding on the outside portion of each cheek that extends upward and downward well above and below the face, particularly so on the right side. The middle image shows the area Barrie chose to add +20 points (Photoshop calibration) of RGB luminance. The effect is immediately obvious in the right picture.

Good, isn't it, the way that one's latest postings can be instantly flagged, only to be  instantly queried, immediately sidelined, then used to give a puff to someone who is a photographer (I don't doubt a good one) but with no scientific credentials that I'm aware of, who simple uses one device ("trick") or another to "correct" for an alleged image fault. Yes, a  near-iconic feature of the TS face - it's severe, narrow, 'rectangular-look' is clawerly seen as problematical in Shroudie Land, something to be corrected or "fixed". And what better way to do it than seize on a tendentious authenticity-friendly hypothesis, namely banding as a result of 1st century inability to bleach flax yarn uniformly without batch-to-batch variation. Thanks then to Hugh Farey for providing another explanation, a new paradigm as someone else splendidly put it. Science thrives on its paradigm changes. Agenda-driven pseudoscience does not.

There's a word for what is doing, systematically, month in, month out, year in, year out. It's on the tip of my tongue.

We'll leave the interpretation of the humanising 3D-fleshing-out effect till later. First I want to insert a word as to why I never bought into the "banding explains all" mantra from the word go, and became the target for no end of ridicule for having done so. (I might try dredging some of it up later to show what happens to us Doubting Thomases who have the temerity to question Shroudie Land's received wisdom.
There were 3 main grounds for rejecting the banding hypothesis:

1.The symmetry of those cut-offs, appearing on both sides of the face at approximately the same distance from the vertical axis, what I dubbed "bilateral symmetry" would have been somewhat fortuitous if each cut-off, and each pale zone between cheek and hair, were the result of yarn differences. Sure, accidents and other events that a priori seem improbable do happen, but  one's suspicions should be immediately aroused when those who rush to impose their models show no readiness to comment on the 'mirror image' look of those cut-offs, suggestive of something other than a chance event.

2. If the linearity of those cut-offs were due entirely to banding, due to some threads being more receptive to image-imprinting than others. then one would expect the blocking effect, if not complete, at least able to prevent major features of a face from displaying. But that was not the case, which was why I made the yellow line shorter on the right than the left. The prominent cheek bone on the viewer's right HAS been able to image onto the pale zone. (There's a hint of it having happened to the opposite side too). The crucial no-go area for image reception is NOT unbreachable, provided the subject's physiognomy offers something that interrupts an otherwise linear edge, that something being a prominent cheekbone.

3. The clincher for me is that distinctive feature of the TS image, one that was rarely commented upon until this blogger came along, namely the transverse 'crease' where chin meets neck.There are some, naming no names, who try to dismiss it as merely a crease that was acquired in folding or rolling after acquisition of the image. Well, that simply does not stand up to the facts, namely that the character of that 'crease' is indistinguishable for the rest of the body image, at least where colour is concerned. It's NOT a shadow,like so many other transverse markings are concerned , the latter being the result of oblique lighting. It has a fine structure that is a twin-track at first approximation, i.e. dark-light-dark, and one of the tracks is darker than the other. I've done a number of postings in the past on what I now describe as a 'baked-in crease', implying that it's a permanent feature that is NOT a temporary crease that one could hope to iron out. That baked-in crease is an INTEGRAL part of the TS image, and as such can be used for hypothesis-testing or for model evaluation (which amounts to the same thing).  So what's that baked-in crease got to off re the banding hypothesis? A great deal, because it is imprinted right across the chin/neck region, indifferent to the two pale 'no-go' areas. Why should a crease, somehow formed and baked-in at the instant of image capture, be able to leave an imprint on a particular type of yarn, unreceptive to main body image? It's at best an anomaly, but when combined with the two previous objections, it says that the banding hypothesis simply cannot be sustained. It fails to account for all the evidence, and indeed makes no attempt to do so (my previous objections having been brushed aside).

So, if it's not banding that is responsible for the non-image zone (Petrus's terminology).i.e. the cut-off effect, which I see is what Hugh Farey too now maintains, based on a close-look at weave characteristics, the herringbone spines especially (good work, that man)  then what is?

As I said in the preceding post, if there's  nothing intrinsically wrong with the linen, preventing it accepting an image at a particular location, then it has to be something to do with the properties of the subject, or part thereof, along the same portion of imprinting.

So the next step is to take another close look at the 2D image and those 3D-enhancements, and ask oneself the question: what could leave a 2D imprint with a sharp cut-off at both cheeks, giving an unnatural look, yet appear a lot more  human and natural when that same 2D image was 3D-enhanced by reading image density as height of relief?

My answer, for what it's worth (and I don't deny that a lot more supporting evidence will be needed to nail it conclusively): the imprint was made from a mask-like bas-relief  OR from a  fully in-the-round 3D subject or effigy thereof  ("statue") that was imprinted from in such a way as to capture uppermost relief only, thereby avoiding wrap-around effect and/or lateral distortion, i.e. to yield a quasi (pseudo?) essentially bas relief end-result.

Before moving on to explore the new horizons of the post-banding world, this might be a good moment to mention another use I've made of the Thermal mode in ImageJ (thanks again OK for the tip). I mentioned that 'baked-in' crease as a diagnostic aid, and said how it seemed an integral part of the TS image in terms of colour (original colour that is). But there was one unsatisfactory aspect, namely it's reluctance to show a convincing response to 3D imaging in standard settings. there will be some who might ask why it should, if it's simply a crease, and not an imprint off a 3D template. But I have to remain consistent. If claiming as I do that response to 3D depends purely on the distribution of light and dark in a 2D image, regardless of history (3D OR 2D) then one expects that crease to respond.

Well, I was relieved yesterday to find that the colour-coding feature of the Thermal mode, which can be amplified using the "min" control, does allow one to see a 3D response. It's not dramatic, in fact it's at the limit of visibility, but is nevertheless there.

Can you see what I can see? (viewing obliquely from a 'south-easterly' direction).

Here's the 2D Shroud Scope image from which it was obtained.

I should have taken a third snapshot of the crease before or after the Thermal mode,  to show how it was difficult to visualize in standard original colour settings. It's too late now, but I will come back later with a new comparison where everything is matched except for Thermal v Standard mode.

 Late addition: no sooner said that done

So, why the emphasis in this and the previous posting on that Thermal mode. What does it tell us that the Standard mode does not. Is it really the Thermal aspect that is the novelty, or is it a belated recognition that the "min" control should have been harnessed sooner as am image- research tool, which may have been overlooked earlier through lacking the colour-coding of relief that now makes it seem meaningful. Past oversights apart, is that min control doing something that is scientifically-meaningful and defensible. I do not like twiddling knobs unless I understand what is happening inside the electronic black box, maybe not at a detailed IT level, bit at least in broad brush terms ("one is accentuating this or that feature of an image, amyeb at the expense of something else, maybe with risk of distortions of other artefacts that can be tolerated if one can systematically track them through doing a series of small changes). The way to investigate ImageJ, using my axiom that it's merely reading image intensity as height, with no need to assume a 3D history (indeed a major error to assume so) is to create a 2D diagram with graded image intensity, with no 3D history, to check that it responds as expected in ImageJ's standard settings, and then to compare the behaviour of the TS image with that reference model alongside. I reported that exercise here some months ago, and will use the same 2D model in the next series of pictures.

Saturday mid-morning

Here's the starting point for the 'ramp up the min value' exercise, Shroud Scope TS image on left, and my colour-coded model on the right (not that the first thing that Thermal does it dismiss one's own colour scheme and replace it with its own numerically-scaled colour coding of image height (z value) above ????.. Oops.  I nearly said base plane, but if you read the scale, it's the ceiling that is being used as the reference plane. Why is that? It's because the default mode in ImageJ reads image density as depth beneath the surface, not height above, and I have corrected for that using the Invert option near the top right hand corner, which ImageJ responds to by reversing the markings on  the vertical z scale. Put another way, Image J recognizes that the input image is a negative, not positive. I could have inverted the image first - an option under Edit in ImageJ,  but chose not to, wishing to stick with the as-as image to minimize the risk of unforseen difficulties, me being a rookie image analyst.

OK, let's start racking up. Clcik on images to enlarge (when you may then be able to see the steps in the "min" value setting).

 And now for a big jump, to see what happens at the top end of the scale where the TS image becomes useless.

As one can see, ramping up the min value has a dramatic effect on the TS image, and while there are obvious changes in the strictly 2D image too, they are rather subtle, implying no great change in algorithm that governs matrix transformation and final image appearance. That gives on confidence that it is legitimate to use the min setting freely, if or when it appears to bring out, dare one say 'unmask' extra detail that might otherwise be hidden. I'm finding it hard right now to select the terms that best describe what that min value control has done, although "amplifying", possible "stretching" or "elongating" are possible candidates. Maybe there's someone reading this who can make sense of ImageJ's help files, and explain for the benefit of us greenhorns what is happening. Who knows, we might then progress up the ImageJ colour scale become yellowhorns or even redhorns.

Afterthought: I'm realizing I should have created a new 2D diagram with a narrower range of tones that match more closely those of the Shroud Scope Durante image, especially I used the latter with no extra contrast - a break from my previous practice. My model is lacking in sensitivity relative to the  TS image.

I'm tempted right now to deliver a lecture on the difference between scientific and non- scientific image-processing, and extend it to cover scientific photoediting and non-scientific photo-editing. No doubt I'd be told to get of my "high horse|", to which my answer would be that I've already spent far too much off a professional high horse and an now experiencing the downside. The scientific approach is two-fold - what you see above where there's a systematic variation to see what happens, aided with a simple model for comparison, but essentially hypothesis-free, to see what happens and report the results without imposing any model. There's the unscientific approach, which is to select particualr settings, failing to control them systematically, depriving one of a wider perspective. Then there's the totally unscientific approach, indeed pseudo-scientific approach, which is to fiddle around with settings , judging which results fit best with one's preconceived notions about "banding" as an explanation for image-cut off, and effectively to doctor the TS image in a way that can be used not only to impress the suggestible or gullible, but to  distract genuine scientific enquiry into the most puzzling iconic features of the TS image.

Pseudo-science stinks. It stinks to high heaven. Somebody has to say it.

Afterthought: that posting to which I take great except, using me simply as a coathanger for someone else's garment, also has a totally inappropriate title:

"Banding. Is it real". Banding we know is an obsession in shroudology. But my posting did not attempt to question the reality of banding. It simply points out that an image appears in the cut-off zones when 3D-rendered. It hints at a possible explanation - namely that the lack of 2D imaging is something to do with the properties of a 3D template, whether bas relief  or something more life-like. Beyond that I have nothing more to say (as yet), but am pleased to see that Petrus Soons had earlier observed the same effect. No doubt he interprets of differently if his explanation is reliant on banding. I say that banding is looking more an more like agenda-driven  pseudoscience, especially as it's touted as fact based on the assumption that the TS cloth is a product of 1st century linen technology.I t's the job of the objective scientist to seek out these cosy little underlying assumptions that masquerade as established fact.

For an extension of pseudo-science try googling "shroud quad mosaic". Look out for the bit where you are told that the different colours 'obviously' or even 'apparently' represent different molecular species. Beware of photographers posing as scientists. Challenge them to produce evidence that their zones of different colour represent differences at the chemical level, as distinct from knob-twiddling artefacts.

Then read Hugh Farey on the subject. Yer gotta larf, han't yer?

Returning to an earlier point, i.e. choosing the best word for what's been happening re this site and wider blogosphere these last 32 months. There were those lectures we had on different trophic (feeding) relationships. There was predation. Nope, that's not the right word. Predation is  sudden kill, often done quickly and efficiently by predators. Was it symbiosis? Nope, that where two organisms cooperate to get mutual benefit. Think lichen - a fusion of algae and fungus. The algae photosynthesizes, supplying sugar and other nutrients to the fungus. The fungus attaches to the stone, establishing a firm grip, absorbing minerals, some of which are passed to the algal cells. Nope, not symbiois in any shape or form. However, I seem to recall another lifestyle, one where one organism feeds off  another unwilling victim on a long term basis, gaining benefit, offering nothing in return, and in fact stunting and weakening the other. I can't for the life of me  recall what that set up was called, but think it ended in -ism, and maybe started with a p. It certainly wasn't professionalism. What I'm talking about is entirely unprofessional in blogging terms - just look at that recent offering for a glaring example, but there are scores of others, all based on the same one-way drain-the-lifeblood trophic model.

Saturday midday.

Halleluja. There's not ony a wiki entry on LookUp Tables, but a subsection devoted to LUTs  in image processing.

Here's just a couple of  selected paragraph to provide a flavour.  (Even I can make sense of them, well, in places).

In data analysis applications, such as image processing, a lookup table (LUT) is used to transform the input data into a more desirable output format. For example, a grayscale picture of the planet Saturn will be transformed into a color image to emphasize the differences in its rings.
A classic example of reducing run-time computations using lookup tables is to obtain the result of a trigonometry calculation, such as the sine of a value. Calculating trigonometric functions can substantially slow a computing application. 

(section omitted)

In image processing, lookup tables are often called LUTs and give an output value for each of a range of index values. One common LUT, called the colormap or palette, is used to determine the colors and intensity values with which a particular image will be displayed. In computed tomography, "windowing" refers to a related concept for determining how to display the intensity of measured radiation..

Oh, and here's a link to Hugh Farey's thesis, the one that drives a coach-and-horses through the banding hypothesis.

I was pleased to see that my own input received a mention, even if I'm just one of a "number of people"  who have commented on the "reflective symmetry about the midline". Now why didn't I think of that - reflective symmetry, that is  instead of my  clunky "bilateral symmetry"? I came close, mind you, referring once as I recall to "mirror images".

Saturday mid-afternoon

So where are we at? What does the 3D result in Thermal mode have anything new to say, if anything, about the nature of a putative template (I leave it to others to fathom out the consequences in terms of the banding narrative). What do the parallel image transformations with the metal templates have to say, if anything, about the reasons for a 2D image with strong linear character losing that severe cut-off look in 3D mode?

I shall deliberate on those questions some more befo0re committing thoughts to print. Even they, they will be hedged around with so many qualifications, ifs and buts to make them less porterable, correction, portable.

Saturday evening

Have just spotted this comment from Thibault Heimburger. Spot the computer-assisted image re-processing masquerading as science (I've used bolding to provide some help).

August 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm
Thank you Hugh for clarification.
” The face on the shroud has a ‘vertically aligned’ look, with sharply cut-off cheeks and vertically falling hair. The question is, are these light bands true representations of the model (dead body, bas relief,painting or whatever), or are they artifacts of the cloth, or of the photographs in which they appear?”
The banding problem is not some kind of “all or nothing”.
There are several kinds of bands on the Shroud. Here we are speaking of the alternated regular light and dark vertical bands.
You have shown that these bands are clearly connected to the herringbone weave of the fabric. I fully agree and some weeks ago I also discovered the same fact in the hands area.

The light bands on both sides of the TS man face are connected to the herringbone weave ( ‘pitch’) of the fabric.
“So the light vertical areas defining the sides of the cheeks are really present, but they are not as precise or as well defined as they appear, and are not merely artifacts of the cloth, but real areas where the image making process just didn’t happen.”
How can you conclude that in those areas “the image making process just didn’t happen.”

Thierry Castex is a true expert in imaging techniques.
From Castex and your studies, one can conclude: 1) there is an image in these light vertical areas.
2) The light vertical bands are closely related to the herringbone weave
3) If you exclude the effect of the weave, you obtain a much more realistic image.

Now, the true question is: how can we explain the relationship between the herringbone weave and the image? 

It doesn't matter how expert Thierry Castex is in imaging techniques. He knows nothing about how the image was formed, so is no better informed than anyone else as what is or is not a "realistic image".
The only thing one can legitimately do with photo-editing is to test scientific hypotheses. To start with presumptions, that are in fact hypotheses, and then "confirm" those presumptions with filtration or any other photoediting technique is not science.

Addendum: Sunday Aug 31

Blogmeister Dan Porter succeeded in finding someone in his so-called “Shroud Science Group”( (science my foot!) prepared to take me on re the TS image being a thermal imprint (“contact scorch”).

  Feb 21 2012   L

 Paolo Di Lazzaro, my bete noir since December 2011- the very same individual who raised my hackles with his daft uv excimer  experiments, telling us all to think more about philosophy and theology,  duly obliged with a guest posting on Porter’s site.

Having already shot himself in one scientific foot, he then proceeded there to shoot himself in the other with his claim, based on a single prolonged pressing of a hot coin into linen, that a scorch would ALWAYS penetrate through to the other side. Not content with that crass, self-serving  exercise, he then proceeded to preach the gospel of radiation physics according to Paolo Di Lazzaro, effectively shooting himself a third time through the head.  When a hot metal template is pressed into linen, he intoned, the initial effects of conduction at the surface are immediately followed by production of secondary infrared radiatio  (which I don’t dispute). He then went on to claim that infrared would produce further scorching at a distance, progressively deeper and deeper, right through to the opposite. Garbage. Complete and utter garbage. Perhaps he missed my  very first TS posting on this site, inspired by ENEAs tomfoolery, and directed at PDL, having reads his attempts to “explain himself” further on Tom  Chiver’s Telegraph blog. That's where I reported  a simple experiment showing that one could not scorch linen with an intense source of primary infared (and white light) holding it close to a spotlight with an incandescent tungsten filament:  to get scorching there had to something dark  or black present to absorb and retain the infrared radiation (I used charcoal, and coined the term “thermo-stencilling”)

Talk about piling error on error. PDL went on to mock those  who considered forgery was a possibility by citing the “microscopic complexity” of the TS image, thereby displaying the most profound ignorance and misunderstanding of the world of atoms and molecules. (The latter  self-organize you know, sometimes as a response to supplying with thermal energy, or even when thermal energy is withdrawn, as is the case with formation of unique six-sided snow crystals when water vapour or aerosols are cooled – producing, yes,  microscopic complexity, needing no outside assistance, either from man or On High.

I could have got very personal about seeing the subject I love, the one that has provided an immense source of satisfaction, to say nothing of a roof over my head, by roasting PDL on every internet forum in sight, starting with Tom Chivers’ blog. I did not. I was content to flag up that he and his ‘theophysicist” pals at ENEA were in my view Mickey Mouse scientists, and for my trouble immediately offended the finer sensibilities of Dan Porter. But he is not part of  the solution, whatever he may think. Dan Porter is and was part of the problem in then recruiting PDL from the self-styled, self-appointed  "Shroud Science Group" to come onto his site injecting still more  pseudo-science into Shroudology, and doing so  moreover to attack me and my orthodox science.

That Dan Porter should still be attempting to defend PDL, ignoring completely the rights and wrongs of the science, having himself set PDL against me personally, and still be banging on about my ‘name-calling’, given the discretion I have exercised in the face of huge provocation at both the scientific and personal level, says we are now beginning to see the true face of Organized Promotion of Shroudie PseudoScience. There’s no point in Porter constantly telling us about his own doubts and open-mindedness. That’s an irrelevance, since he never goes beyond expressing his doubts. He never addresses the issues in detail, and whenever I attempt to do that in my postings (well over 200 to date) the response is invariably a quick one of his own with my name in the title, followed by a cold douche that I have had the temerity to question his idea of orthodoxy, rooted as I say in pseudo-science on an industrial scale. Oh, and my graphics, and a verbatim chunk of  my words, with no attempt to write a summary( if only to show he's taken the trouble to grasp the gist).

I recently did a line-by-line dissection of PDL’s attack on me and the scorch hypothesis, and his mind-boggling misunderstanding of radiation physics as it applies to the initiation of photochemical reactions, the latter usually having unfavourable free energy changes at ordinary environmental temperature and/or a high Arrhenius energy of activation that precludes a role for infrared radiation. (And uv radiation tends to bleach rather than colour linen, so there's not a lot of wriggle-room left where electromagnetic radiation is concerned, unless as coherent light, with peaks and troughs all in step, as beamed from a 20th/21st century high energy laser with no counterpart in the natural world).

It’s not easy to find my critique, deliberately so, since I prefaced it by saying I did not wish to appear too aggressive. But it’s Dan Porter who is still banging on, still attempting to label me as some kind of villain of the piece, simply because I have derided PDL as a someone who has been trashing science in his personal mission to get us all to “think about philosophy and theology”. PDL may want to use the TS to put the clock back, to pre-Renaissance times, attempting to supplant  real science with his idiotic brand of pseudo-science, and Dan Porter , having aided him in that task, continues to offer him moral support, and turn it all into an issue of how I express myself on my website (which despite his daily poaching expeditions is MY SITE,  my space, not his, not an open house for his content-raiding expeditions. 

Oh, and I see Porter is again deploying the Don Quixote poster, the very same one that he chose to adorn PDL's guest posting on his site in 2012.  That's despite the title on his current posting "Time Will Tell", which would have us believe he's so relaxed and taking a long term view. 

Reminder: "Tilting at windmills" is generally taken to mean attacks on imaginary enemies. There was nothing imaginary about PDL'st argeted hit-and-run attack on me for championing the scorch hypothesis, done at the prompting and behest of Dan Porter. (Yes, the insufferably patronising PDL could not even be bothered to acknowledge my polite and researched response, far less respond to it).

Back to the real world:  spot  the usual sneer with that put-down graphic, spot the inconsistency, spot the control-freakery, spot the attempt to isolate and demonise,  albeit in the most genteel of Yankee fashions, spot the soft power, New Age, New Joisy Godfather at work. 

Who knows, maybe in 5 years the Porter site will be entirely legit'. As he says, time will tell...

Postcript: Have just spotted this priceless comment from Daniel R.Porter:

"I’ve decided that I no longer mind it when one scientist calls another scientist a “Mickey Mouse Scientist,” as Colin Berry does this morning in his blog. I may be wrong, but I realize now that it is a cheap shot in lieu of being able to criticize effectively."

I've been criticizing PDL's claims IN DETAIL, line by line, on and off for 32 months, and none, absolutely NONE of my points has ever appeared on So what are we supposed to think? That Porter has read my arguments and considered them so ineffective that he doesn't need to relay them to his readers? Hold on a bit. Why did he invite PDLto attack me back in Feb 2012? He said it was because he was not competent to judge in matters of physics. So has he now discovered a competence in these matters?

Back to the science (tricky though it may be where image analysis is concerned). I'm now going to make a somewhat daring claim, and it's based on my work with ImageJ in 3D Thermal LUT mode, with progressive increases in the "min" value. Here's the latest comparison, hot from the press, which has persuaded me that the time has come to stick head above parapet.

What you see is that critical region between cheek and hair, your/my right as viewed, the one that Petrus Soons and others have quite rightly described as largely "image-free", at least prior to the RGB-infillers getting busy.

Know what I think? It's not the carefully and minimally 3D-enhanced images (above) that are at risk of introducing artefacts, provided the various ImageJ settings are used sensibly, validated versus model systems as I have done. It's the initial 2D photograph  prior to 3D enhancement that is the culprit, giving the impression of a severe cut-off, left and right, both sides of face, and then prompting all the speculative hot air re banding/bleaching effects etc.

Rationalization?  The TS image is an imprint from a 3D (or semi 3D) bas relief template that has captured (captured, note, not encoded) some of the 3D-ness via gradations in image intensity. It's that 2D image that is wrong, making it seem as if there's a severe cut off, when it's not really there, as my above graphic demonstrates at 5 different levels of min-control advancement.

Back again (Monday Sep 1) on rotten lousy hotel wifi:

I realize I've not made clear the major conclusion, which is this: the pale strips are real, non-image bearing zones. They are not, repeat NOT for infilling with computer-aided wizardry, or should one say trickery if it's designed to sneak in hypotheses by the back door (like those that claim certain batches of linen yarn behave as if unreceptive to image-imprinting due to banding and bleaching differences).

No, the image-free zones are real because there IS no body image in those pale zones.  What's unreal is the apparent sharp cut off between light/dark in standard 2D (non-3D rendered) photographs. It is slight 3D rendering that reveals the truth - that the demarcation line is not linear, as would be the case if it were a genuine banding/weaving effect. It's actually quite wavy.

I'll be trying a different tack in the next few days, as and when I've a moment to spare, hopefully to make that case more conclusively.

Tester. Am in a different hotel right now, with a better internet connection. Hopefully it will allow me to edit (admittedly overlong) postings without hanging up. If so, I'll be able to add on to this posting  being disinclined right now to put up new ones, only to see them Porterized over yonder. (I see he's still trying to make out that I've failed to justify my "Mickey Mouse" tag for a certain ENEA so-called scientist. On the contrary, on the contrary, and he will now be seeing, since he's the one who is still trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

 I could have been lot more uncomplimentary about the theo-physicist in question, and now have no inhibitions in spelling out my reasons with greater force, greater detail.

 More to come: but don't hold your breath. Much else to attend to, like a plane to catch...
Update: Monday pm:
Plane caught. Now at destination with a tolerably good wifi connection. But editing or adding to an already  long posting can quickly overload bandwidth allowance on hotels' wifi.

One is made painfully aware of that fact when one's attempts at updating,  ending as often as not with a time-out message.

There are things I still want to say on this posting, for the benefit of those who follow my blog, without starting a new one and seeing it quickly godfatherized into vague and meaningless pap.

 So while I'm travelling, and reliant upon hotels' wifi, I'll try switching to my own  comments section. talking to myself, at least initially,  and hopefully avoid overloading the hotels' preset wifi allowance.

See you on my comments, if you're still interested where my thoughts are going, aided by the recent valuable input from Hugh Farey that largely dovetails with my own evolving 'hunchology'.

Saturday 6 September

Here's a piccy taken just a few hours ago in the Caucasus mountains of north Georgia.

 And here's one I took two days ago looking out over the impressive capital, Tbilisi, from a moving cable car.

Tomorrow we head back, via Kiev and Amsterdam.

Monday 8th September

Arrived back yesterday fuming, thanks to a second encounter (two too many) with the ghastly Schiphol airport terminal in Amsterdam (designed by a megalomaniac, signposted by a moron). Have resolved never to use it ever again. Thank goodness for the Museum quarter (Museumplein) a 5 euro, 20 minute bus ride from Skip (Hell) Hole (beats the extortionate 45 euro taxi any day) great for people watching, even if most are sporting those sunglasses with a most amazing range of garishly reflective coatings.

I shall now be taking a break while I research the subject of traditional Georgian winemaking (8-10,000 year old technology depending on who you believe). It will focus on what you see in the next two photos (my own) taken a few days ago on our personal guided tour of the Kakheti wine region in SE Georgia (with one super driver of sturdy SUV, both of which one needs on crazy anarchic Georgian highways and one incredibly articulate English-speaking guide).

It's just one of those kvevri, (Georgian: ქვევრი) i.e. subterranean earthenware pots use for prolonged fermentation, that are now enjoying something of a renaissance, even if based in some instances on some questionably- romanticised New Age 'organic'  mantras. Each of these impressive receptacles can typically hold 2000 litres.  That's a whopping 2 cubic metres).

 (The one in my picture one is not subterranean, but buried into the floor of the wine cellar; UK Elf-and Safety would not have allowed visitors to stand so close to the unplugged hole).

 Here are some de-commissioned ones on display outside the winery we visited, with a piccy of our splendid tour guide. 

 (We used her and the driver for a second trip up north to see the High Caucasus)

 But what's the science behind them? Splendid raconteur though she was, our university-educated guide was not really clued up as to the pros and cons of this ancient pre-Pasteurian way of doing things versus your modern stainless steel plant or those dubious oak barrels, new ones especially, that swamp grape tannins with those from wood (Bordeaux region winemakers beware: I have you in my crosshairs, the result of having toured your facilities in 2013).

So I shall spend the next few days scouring the internet for information on kvevri-contained  fermentation and maturation. If all goes well it shall the subject of my next posting (am now taking a break from the shroudie blogosphere, considering it to be a complete waste of time and effort, being for the most part an unholy alliance between agenda-pushers and internet trolls). Am off to a quite promising start, given that those kvevri have their own wikipedia entry.


sciencebod said...

First comment (my own). Yes,I know its difficult accessing blogspot comment without scrolling down through all the comment first. There was supposed to be some html text, pastable into the body of one's blg that was supposed to provide a sideaar comments tab, but I tried it some years ago, and it found it messed up the site.

Never mind. I'm going going to extend this topic of banding/cutoff om my own blog, feeling that other sites, with the single exception of Hugh Farey have nothing useful to offer except vague waffle.

Hugh's idea re prominence of certain herring bone weave configurations of threads has much to recommend it. More later, at my own pace, and totally ignoring the dross that other sites still try to dress up as 'established fact' revealing their profound ignorance of scientific principles AND the scientific method.

sciencebod said...

Apologies for the typos in that first comment, which was done in a hurry.

Here's my current working model, which I'll be working on for the next few days, while staying well clear of Porter's site. (It is now going rapidly downhill, with no attempt at objectivity, and becoming increasingly detached from the real world - as the obsession with "banding effects" demonstrates only too clearly.

I think the cut-off look of the face between cheek and hair symmetrically on both sides is appears worse than it really is, since the demarcation line in 3D renderings is wavy not straight-as-an-arrow linear. It's probably the result of the central ribs of that herringbone weave that make they eye think it's seeing a line when it's not.

So the pale area is real, in the sense that there is little or no image there, so RGB infilling is a totally misguided and misleading exercise. It's image-free because there was either nothing on the template from which to imprint, being an imperfect bas relief, OR if there was, the linen made a bridge between cheek and hair, such that no imprint was left on the cloth.

Thanks again to Hugh for the valuable and thought-provoking ideas re the herringbone weave.

sciencebod said...

Oh, and while Daniel R Porter's mock indignation at my label for Mickey Mouse so-called scientists like Paolo Di Lazzaro (entirely justified as I've repeatedly demonstrated) continues to be trumpeted on his site, I think it's time to engage in some plain speaking re that gent and his modus operandi.

He is currently claiming that I resort to insults (guilty as charged) because I have failed to make a case.

On the contrary, I have been making the case for well over two and a half years, and have patiently been waiting to hear that case dismissed, either from PDL or someone else, and it hasn't happened. The opposite has happened in fact: I've made a case, as with my post re the "radiationists" in Feb 2012 (googleable) that was totally ignored by Porter. A year or so later, March 2013, David Kyle Johnson of 'Psychology Today' cited my grounds for dismissing radiation,and guess what: Porter sneered at him as only Porter can sneer, and suggested that Johnson while citing my post and had not even bothered to read what "chemist Colin Berry" had written. In other words Porter is quite happy to lend authority to my words when it suits him, and then ignore or dismiss them later.

(Nope, I'm not adding links, since comments on Blogspot are not editable, and I can't be bothered to compose in Word first: rest assured that everything I write IS supportable by links to the chronology.

Porter pretends to be outraged at my tag for so-called scientists who descend to low comedy, yet tries repeatedly to portray me as a bumbling amateur who has failed to make his case. The facts prove otherwise, making Daniel R.Porter one very dodgy blogger,happy to spin-doctor his way through Shroudology, content to win kudos by whatever means with his adoring pro-authenticity clientele, whilst systematically sneering at those of us who see the phoney so-called science for what it is.

It's time Daniel R.Porter handed over to someone else, able to address and comment on the issues in detail, instead of engaging in genteel smear tactics.

sciencebod said...

Correction: I said the two crucial links were Feb 2012 and March 2013. They were both a year later, namely Feb 2013 and March 2014.

sciencebod said...

One may well ask why Blogspot does not provide a tab in the sidebar for accessing Comments. Why not? Why do folk have to scroll down through an entire posting to find the Comments tab.

Some years ago, when first using Blogger Blogspot, I asked myself that question, and communicated with fellow bloggers on the subject. In fact, there was supposedly a trick for adding a Comments tab to the sidebar using a widget add-on recommended by another blogger, and I tried it, which seemed to work at first, as I recall, thinking back 6 years or more, but then proceeded to foul up access to the complete site. (Needless to say I went back to default mode in short order).

Maybe there's a more foolproof way of adding a Comments tab to the sidebar. If there is, and someone knows how, then please advise.

sciencebod said...

Even my current 'good' hotel wifi connection does not allow me to add to or edit this posting. It seems that the entire thing has to be uploaded/downloaded, and bandwidth restrictions are presumably operating (you would think that software should be capable of allowing incremental editing changes that don't require transmitting or receiving the entire thing, lock, stock and barrel).

Anyway, all I wanted to say was this, and it's to do with Hugh Farey's excellent analysis of weave pattern in relation to image configuration, the herring bone weave especially.

I've been looking at the Durante 2002 pictures on Shroud Scope, using the Face Only option which has a higher resolution than the whole body image, and which allows one to see the herring bone weave in relation to body image. What's more I have been adding contrast in MS Office Picture Manager to improve visualization.

The reason for the 'apparent' sharp cut offs in the region between cheeks and hair, at the junction between cheek and vertical pale strip, and then pale strip to hair, does indeed appear to be an artefact of the herringbone weave. It's due to the fact that the central spines of the weave at the angle of the V run vertically, and tend to act like pencil-drawn score line that give a sharper delineation at the two boundaries mentioned than would be the case than if they were not there.

The sharp cut-offs are, in other words, mainly an optical illusion. In reality the boundaries are wavy, not straight. But the intervening pale strip appears to be real, so there's no case for thinking there is 'missing image' due to 'banding' or other speculative effects. Infillers please note.

Given the pale strip is real, the facial image is almost certainly an imprint from a flattish template, and the fact that it's a negative imprint makes it highly probable that the image is derived from an inanimate template that was hot enough to scorch by contact (only): there is simply no scientific basis for thinking that a corpse could leave so sharp an image on linen, least of all a negative one consistent with 'contact' only, whether by 'magical' radiation or by slower chemical processes that imagine chemically reactive vapours able to leave reasonably sharp coloured images on linen fibres.

It's high time the Mickey Mouse scientists were told to put up or shut up.

sciencebod said...

Here's how I introduced this site on Aug 22, 2009:

"Some people keep a old boot handy when watching TV - or is that a cartoonist's creation? Irrespective, I feel the need for a virtual old boot when perusing the media's handling of science. Think of this new blog on the block as that "old boot", but don't be surprised if some constructive comments creep in from time to time, or even new, highly questionable, indeed suspect hypotheses. What is science if it's not sticking one's head above the parapet?

Never is my spectator ire more keenly felt when there's no facility for readers to post responses, or when one's gems of wisdom/vitriol/jaundice fester unpublished in the moderator's in-tray during three-hour lunch breaks, or fail to appear at all.

Think of this, then, is a talking-shop for making sense - or nonsense- of the science we read on the main sites."

See also the same credo being expressed at the top of my Home Page.

The take-away message should be "beware becoming a target for an old boot (or two) from this irascible retired science bod, one with a deep loathing and contempt for Mickey Mouse science."

Then ENEAs laser beam boys came along some two years later,describing themselves as scientists, under newspaper headings that read "Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural".

I'll spare my readers a line-by-line stocktaking of their outrageous pseudo-science. But one line is in my head right now, namely that there was no known means by which science could reproduce the Shroud image.

I thought briefly about the science I had learned at school (school note, before going to university) and duly responded with my first TS posting on thermostencilling, showing how one could draw or paint an image with a charcoal stick or slurry respectively. and then convert it to a scorch by exposing to a mix of visible and infrared radiation.

Note that the radiation is incoming, not outgoing from a corpse as we were invited to imagine by those Mickey Mouse scientists as ENEA.

Rest assured that this retired science bod will continue to aim those old boots, AND deploy the M words freely, for as long as bloggers, media and attention-seeking theo-so-called-scientists continue to take their liberties with science.

sciencebod said...

Help. I need a word for what initially seems like a plausible explanation for a phenomenon, one which immediately satisfies most people’s curiosity, especially if pronounced with seeming authority, with the result that a potential fallacy then remains in place indefinitely.

In other words, it's "simply taken for granted that such and such is the explanation" and nobody needs to waste their time on it further.

Motto of the Royal Society: Nullius in verba

Or in plain English: "Take nobody's word for it".

sciencebod said...

Postscript to my previous comment. Yup, am still thinking of a form of words. How about this?

Beware instant interpretation, articulated as if firm fact. As likely as not, it's misinterpretation through failure to collect and consider all the relevant facts.

Through constant repetition, that premature rationalization comes to be seen as established fact that few will stop to question.

Think of it if you like as a mentally-ossifying growth of insidious low-profile urban myth.

Suburban myth?

sciencebod said...

It's always been a mystery to me why the site's host (Google's Blogger Blogspot) does not provide a sidebar link to Comments, requiring visitors to scroll down through each posting.

As I mentioned a few days ago, there was a way of working around that, explained to me some years ago, that involved inserting some html code, but I had to abandon it in short order when the site froze up.

Anyway, it's just occurred to me that clicking on the Comments tab, once you've found it, generates a new URL, so why not cut-and-paste that to the start of each new posting? I've just done that with this one, and so far it seems to work fine.

I shall shortly experiment to see whether or not a similar link cannot be added to the sidebar, even if it has to be refreshed for each new posting.

Expect a posting soon on the latest discoveries from Stonehenge (BBC, Guardian sites etc) which I have to say give a big boost to some unfashionable ideas, not for the squeamish) that I set out here on this site back in 2012 and on my dormant WordPress site. Seek and ye shall find.

The buzz word is excarnation, i.e. stripping of flesh from human bones, though I'm still waiting to see that linked to the rearing of large numbers of pigs (fed on what in the winter months?) that occurred in the vicinity of Stonehenge at nearby Durrington Walls, provided the wherewithal for communal feasting on roast pork, arguably the secret of survival for Neolithic folk out the main growing seasons for primitive agriculture

sciencebod said...

Took a look at my Stonehenge blog today for the first time in many months (double digits at least), and was pleasantly surprised to find it's had 22 hits today, the most it's ever had in its short history.

That just goes to show the power of media interest and search engines, especially when one gets the keywords right.

sciencebod said...

This comment appeared on That Other Site:

September 11, 2014 at 1:28 am

This is off-topic, but a great research find.

Leave it to the Germans!

German Scientists Prove There is Life After Death


To which I replied with this (copied and pasted) after a few minutes of googling:

September 11, 2014 at 1:52 am

Don’t believe a thing you read in the World News Daily Report. It bills itself as a satirical site, as I discovered through chasing up its other story on the ‘discovery’ of an aboriginal city in the centre of Australia.

In any case, it stands to reason that there is life after near-death.

Colin Berry

... which just goes to prove my earlier point: you can unload pretty well any kind of palpable nonsense you like on some unsuspecting folk provided you say it with an educated voice while keeping a straight face.

The BBC proved that some years ago with its priceless April Fool's day documentary on the gathering-in of the spaghetti harvest from orchards in the Italian (or was it Swiss?) Tyrol, with the camera panning lazily over the prized pasta hanging down vertically in long fronds.

sciencebod said...

Reply from "Angel"

September 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Thanks, Colin.

So “World News Daily” is similar to “The Onion”?
I’m surprised, since the article was also carried on the “JewsNews.” site. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to be able to differentiate between articles that contain truth and those that contain satire.

I shan’t respond directly, feeling anything I say on the site in question is to cast seed onto stony ground (or feed the resident trolls).

To Angel, and Angel alone, I would say this: I too was puzzled initially as to why anyone would set up a site that specializes in spoof stories, while disguising them as if fact, and not making immediately obvious the reason for doing so. Gradually, the penny dropped, as a result of watching the streaming of new “stories” across the top of the screen. They are very, very clever, may with a germ of seeming plausibility (I’ll list some later), albeit disturbing when you spot the pattern and begin to understand the relevance to the mass media and the vulnerable element that exists among the readership generally.
(One can fool all of the people some of the time etc etc).

What that spoof-story site demonstrates is a frightening feature of the modern world, best seen when one encounters displays of obsessive-compulsive promoting of one or other mind-warping "answer" to all life's uncertainties and challenges.

Yes. A little knowledge is indeed dangerous – creating a point of entry to those who, operating on the basis that most folk in the modern world are partially but not thoroughly well-informed, will cleverly use that modicum of knowledge as a kind of primer or undercoat for adding new layers, first of misinformation, then of ever-more agenda-driven disinformation. Each is cleverly designed to attach to the existing topmost layer, and to serve as an ever more receptive surface for the next.

It’s that 'serial coating' control-freak strategy that attracted the attention of this general science blogger to shroudology in the first instance - starting with the realization that a particular project with high energy radiation was being cynically deployed as an additional primer or undercoat to promote first interest, then wonder, then puzzlement, then mysticism, subsequently followed by ever-thicker layers of theo-science with its weasel-word references to "traditional science". So far I’ve been content to label it “Mickey Mouse science”. Some who should know better have taken the Disney label to be a personal insult, perhaps oblivious to the broader attack on the systematic promotion, not just of pseudo-science, but what is in reality an attempt to circumvent and side-line "traditional" (sic) science.

One can hardly be “personal” about those whom one has never met, at least not in person, and indeed has no wish to meet. A targeted - and risible attack on one's own ideas was enough to convince me that "Mickey Mouse scientist" was an over-flattering description for the kind of agenda-pushing control freak that so concerns me, with easy access to the media, especially when allowed to publish under the imprimatur of a Government research establishment what by all accounts was an out-of-hours project between agenda-driven 'chummies'.

Yes, I must list some more of those spoof stories. Methinks that site may be serving a valuable purpose, especially when it catches people out, exposing a deficit in their critical faculties. Nullius in verba.

sciencebod said...

Here they are as promised.

Spoof site stories

Heroic Poodle Saves Owner From Grizzly Bear Attack -

India: Man With Third Testicle Claims God-Like Strength -

Ruins of Ancient City Discovered in Australian Desert

Russian Physicists Turn Lead Into Gold

Brother Of Top ISIS Leader Repents, Converts to Christianity

England: Construction Workers Discover Skull of William Wallace -

Canada Claims Sovereignty Over Greenland

Britain: Diary of Darwin’s Gay Lover Sold At Auction For £1.6 Million

German Scientists Prove There is Life After Death

Giant Man-Eating Catfish Finally Caught In Mekong River -

Alabama Man Cheated On His Wife With A Goat

New Evidence Shows Columbus Carried Map of America on His Exploration Voyage

Man’s House Collapses Under His Own Weight

Emasculated by Botched Circumcision, Man Sues Rabbi for 5M$

USA: Woman Gives Birth to Triplets in Walmart Store

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sciencebod said...

My comment posted just a minute ago to, awaiting moderation (read possible shroudieland censorship):

Colin Berry
September 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

“…it may be negligent to only partially portray Rogers’ position on the matter.”

Or there again, it may be negligent to quote Mr. Raymond N.Rogers (often though inaccurately prefaced with Dr. or Prof) as if the last word on the subject.

He was employed by a US Govt. agency to work on the safety assessment of chemical explosives on prolonged storage. He pioneered differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) as a means of monitoring changes in crystalline order that might provide clues to stability/instability characteristics related to decreasing Arrhenius energy of activation and thus kinetic susceptibility to spontaneous, non-detonator-triggered explosive decomposition. Along the way he acquired expertise in pyrolysis mass spectrometry, a handy tool for investigating unfamiliar chemical species that research chemists etc frequently encounter when pursuing open-ended studies, but was prone to premature publication, notably on detecting hydroxyproline in TS blood that he immediately adduced as evidence for a non-thermally-imprinted TS image, a conclusion that does not stand up to close scrutiny by those of us more experienced with mass spectrometry where biochemicals and physiological fluids are concerned.

Beyond that. Mr.Raymond N.Rogers was a fairly anonymous middle-level scientist, doing the job for which he was paid, competently and conscientiously. But then the same could be said for thousands of other research scientists the world over, with or without specific training in research (Mr. Rogers being without, which occasionally showed in his prima donna style of writing that invited no response to some quite tendentious ideas and propositions).

The main complaint this retired biomedical scientist with 12 years additional research in the area of plant polysaccharide (dietary fibre) research is concerned is that Raymond Rogers, having been invited to lead STURP’s chemical investigation of the TS, did not bother to acquaint himself with the detailed chemical structure of flax and linen fibres at the microscopical level. He repeatedly referred to them as if they were simply pure cellulose, referring just occasionally to chemically- reactive and thus easily pyrolysable hemicelluloses and pectins as if “impurities” and never making a single reference to the superficial hemicellulose-rich primary cell wall (PCW), and choosing to lumber shroudology instead with an entirely hypothetical entity – the starch/saponin allegedly image-receptive impurity coating.

It’s time for a realistic assessment of the sadly-deceased.Ray Rogers’ strengths and weaknesses as an experimentalist and STURP team leader. With no disrespect to the dead (science being indifferent to its practitioners’ birth and death dates) it’s time that some took Ray Rogers off that pedestal and ceased referring to him as a scientific “great”. The latter description is simply not borne out by the facts, especially his googleable published work. I repeat: Ray Rogers had been a relatively anonymous middle level scientist, only acquiring a high profile AFTER acquiring visibility in his role as STURP team leader.

sciencebod said...

Two comments have just appeared in quick succession Over There. It's the second of the two that interests me, coming as it does from an engineer who, like all engineers, thinks he understands the scientific modus operandi, and then proves otherwise as soon as he posts a comment:

September 15, 2014 at 4:16 am

The TS was created by the miracle of the resurrection, that’s why DaveB.

daveb of wellington nz
September 15, 2014 at 4:59 am

That is a valid opinion which may eventually be shown to be an inevitable conclusion, but as yet remains untested, because of insufficient serious attempts to duplicate the properties of the coloration. Investment, skills, true dedication and perseverance remain as yet fully untried.

Fact: if something, say an observed phenomenon, is not immediately evident as something that defies the known laws of nature, say gravity, like the sight of water running uphill, or one's wife levitating in her deck chair, then the chances that something that is not obviously the result of a miracle, like a sepia image in linen, being shown to be one via a patient process of elimination is to all intents and purposes zero.

What possible observations on an after-the-event image created centuries ago could lead one to the conclusion that only a miracle could have made it, given one was not there at the time it was made to see what was happening, and over what time-scale?

In fact, engineer daveb of Wellington, NZ, is deploying precisely the same line of argument as the self-styled "scientist" Paolo Di Lazzaro. On checking the latter's published work, I'm minded to think that he's not a scientist,as he would have us believe, certainly not a fundamental scientist. He's at best an applied scientist, indeed closer perhaps to what we in the UK would regards as a technologist and engineer, a doctoral degree notwithstanding (one can acquire a doctorate in any subject).

So we now see two instances where engineers who imagine themselves to be au fait with the scientific method revealing a huge ignorance as the the kind of propositions that can be tested by the methods of science. No, one CANNOT test the proposition that an image formed centuries ago was the result of a miraculous process, unknown to science, since one does not know the precise variables that were operating. The most one could do would be to say that certain aspects were not easily explicable by known science - but that may be the result of unknown technological factors operating, or age-related change that cannot be easily replicated.

As I've said many times before, I believe that quasi-engineer2 (Di Lazzaro) tried with indecent haste to endow the TS image with supernatural properties, notably by claiming that its depth of penetration was too small to have been achieved as a result of a contact scorch. He failed to produce any evidence back in 2011 to back up that assertion, and when he attempted to do so in Feb 2012 in response to my scorch experiments, he described a risible one-off experiment with an over-heated coin guaranteed to produce a penetrating scorch.

Reminder: one can serially imprint scorches with a heated template right down to the limit of visibility with as great or as little superficiality as one wishes, and what's more a medieval artisan could have done the same, simply by testing his template at intervals as it cooled with a small sample of linen until the desired scorch-intensity was guaranteed.

Engineers should leave the testing of scientific propositions to scientists, and stick to the things they know best - like making things - and NOT go crashing their way into the subtle and nuanced world of ideas, trying to beat scientists at their own game.

I repeat: butt out you engineers. You are seriously boring - and boorish.

sciencebod said...

I don't believe it. Paolo Di Lazzaro is still publishing his miraculo-theo-physics under the aegis of his ENEA employers.

I refer to the following, copied off Daniel R.Porter's authenticist-friendly shroudcockandbullstory site:

Now Available: Two ATSI Bari Papers on ENEA Frascati Website


"The following two papers have been discovered:

1) Shroud-like coloration, conservation, measures and image processing

A survey of experiments at ENEA Frascati by Paolo Di Lazzaro Daniele Murra
2) Le misure dei ricercatori dell’ENEA di Frascati sulla copia della Sindone di Arquata del Tronto (giugno 2014) A report about recent measurements on a copy of the Shroud found in Arquata del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno, Italy) by P. Di Lazzaro, A. Danielis, §, M. Guarneri, M. Missori, D. Murra, V. Piraccini, V. Spizzichino, S. Bollanti (this paper does not appear to be in the conference proceedings given to attendees)

Reminder (from me): ENEA is an Italian Government-funded research centre.

From its own site:

ENEA: Italian National agency for new technologies, Energy and sustainable economic development
ENEA is the name for the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development.
Pursuant to art. 37 of Law no. 99 of July 23rd, 2009, the Agency’s activities are targeted to research, innovation technology and advanced services in the fields of energy - especially nuclear.

ENEA performs research activities and provides agency services in support to public administrations, public and private enterprises, and citizens.

Frankly I consider it simply appalling that Dr. Paolo Di Lazzaro is still able to publish his tendentious, speculative and agenda-driven ideas re a first century "supernatural provenance" for the TS under the ENEA banner, totally at odds with the radiocarbon dating? Why is he (or his employers) not pushing for a repeat of the radiocarbon dating first? Why are they acting as if it never happened?

This is scandalous. This is an abrogation of every known principle of the scientific modus operandi.

There is something rotten in the state of Italian science and technology. (I exclude the splendid Prof. Luigi Garlaschelli from that observation).

Science has no business propping up relic-adulation in the Roman Catholic Church, even if the latter is the state religion.

Paolo and his mates should be run out of science - pronto! Thrown out on their ear...

sciencebod said...

Correction: Roman Catholicism has not been the (official) state religion in Italy for some 30 years.

Having said that, there still seems to be a hankering in some quarters, Governmental-funded research agencies included, for the good old days...

sciencebod said...

Naturally.. I shall be providing a commentary in the next day or two on the latest Di Lazzaro blockbuster, all 36 or so pages of pdf. But having taken a quick look at it, I see nothing that is significantly new, so shan't dignify that self-serving pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo with a new posting. Anything I have to say will be here.

sciencebod said...

More from our engineer-turned scientist:

"An important observation for me is that Rogers claimed to have removed the image coloration from a fibre by using dimide. This left the underlying fibre exposed, intact and unaffected. For me that is a strong argument in favour of his hypothesis that the image lies only on the coating of the fibre, not the fibre itself."

First, it was Adler's and maybe Heller's experiment, not Rogers'.

More importantly, diimide works at the molecular sub-microscopic level. Nothing can be deduced from colour or texture changes about structure at the macroscopic level (coatings etc).

The very term 'colour removal' is itself misleading if implying that anything is physically removed. Colour 'removal' is a chemical change that does not physically remove anything (diimide actually adds hydrogen atoms, e.g. across C=C double bonds, that interferes with the chromophore's light-absorbing properties).

To his credit he got the second part right:

"I think it can only be refuted by demonstrating that Rogers (sic)was mistaken about the results of this experiment. But like so many other experiments involving the Shroud, it was only ever done once, no-one else is reported as ever having repeated the experiment, and we remain as ever in the dark about the placement of the image. A fundamental principle of experimental science, is that results should be repeatable, before acceptance of their truth value. This is so seldom done in experiments involving the Shroud. It always seem to lead to unnecessary controversies, and debates which go nowhere, and we remain as ignorant as ever, despite the various assertions made by persons professing their favourite theories or denials of same."

sciencebod said...

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.

PDL has shamelessly doctored the STURP summary to suit his own preferred model, one that required an initial rejection of scorching by contact. He could not be bothered to do his own contact-scorch experiments - he tries instead to make out that others have done the work for him.

PDL - I've said it before, and I'll say it again. You are what I regard as a Mickey Mouse "scientist". Go back to your laser beam technology. You simply haven't the first clue as to the scientific modus operandi.

sciencebod said...

Oh, and PDL would have us believe that STURP considered the image to be present in "both contact and non-contact areas".

Again, STURP made no such claim, at least not in the Summary that follows that one takes as representing the consensus position. (We know that particular individuals had opinions that were not part of the consensus view expressed in the Summary, but these cannot be cited as if "STURP conclusions").

Repeat: references to 'cloth-body distance' AND imaging in so-called non-contact areas are both MODEL-DEPENDENT. It's the task of science (and genuine scientists) to test and evaluate models, not to go proselytizing them in pdfs at conferences as if unchallenged fact.

Here's the STURP summary:

No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it. Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography.
The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry. For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin. The scientific concensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.
Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.
We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin. The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved.

sciencebod said...

There are other misquotings of STURP (or at any rate blurring of the distinction between Summary and subsequent writings) notably with respect to blood and serum, but let’s stay with the physics for now:

Quoted passage (page 8/36 of the pdf):

“Energy carried by short-wavelength radiation breaks chemical bonds of the irradiated material without inducing a significant heating (photochemical reaction)”.

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.

sciencebod said...

From The Other Site (in bold font)

daveb of wellington nz commented on Let’s Agree to Agree?.
in response to Dan:

A reader writes: It is important that the shroud community stick together and speak with one voice. Let’s agree to agree for a change. Please stop attacking people like Mark Antonacci and Stephen Jones who are working so hard to convince non-believers that the Shroud is authentic. Did you see what Stephen said about you? […]
It seems likely to me that a lot of the problem results from protagonists peddling their latest favourite theory, even sometimes with supporting experimental and interpretive argument, as if it were proven fact, when it clearly is not. The Shroud image has not been proven to be a scorch, a Maillard reaction, nor the result of any kind of radiation, nor the emission of any kind of atomic particles. Its age has not even been proven, but continues to be argued, and it cannot be proven that it is the burial cloth of Jesus. Nor let it be said, that it has not been proved to be none of these things (note the double negative).
The assertion of proven facts, which are clearly not proven, is provocative to all thinking persons. And those who assert them set themselves up as fair targets. It would be a far better approach if protagonists demonstrated their honesty, by admitting their hypotheses and theories, together with any arguments they may have, by conceding the limitations of their case. We can exercise some tolerance, patience and courtesy towards them, and it would be a far better thing if arguments were based on the issue, rather than the person. However for most of us, human endurance of the intolerable can sometimes be too much of a test altogether.

My response (italics)

Based on the limited chemical and spectral evidence from STURP (which one wished had been supplemented with more detailed carbohydrate analysis) one can be fairly certain that the image IS a scorch, inasmuch as it does not compromise external pigment and appears to be the result of superficial chemical modification of intrinsic linen carbohydrates. That makes it a scorch (Rogers’ Maillard non-enzymatic browning reactions would not count as a scorch in my book, requiring at least one external agent – ammonia etc - but the failure to explain how an adventitious and indeed conjectural starch coating can become reducing sugar is the chief difficulty). So the question is "what kind of scorch – contact or non-contact (conduction v radiation)?" and whether the mechanism is entirely thermal, entirely chemical or a combination of the two.

I refer to the scorch hypothesis initially without specifying a precise mechanism, and indeed considered a radiation one initially, i.e. charcoal-aided thermostencilling. Contact-only scorching came later, having being encountered by accident, not through design or reading.

I now favour a contact scorch hypothesis, based on the negative image and further experimentation, but still see it as a hypothesis. Yes, it would be nice to dream up a specific chemical signature that one could ask the Turin custodians for permission to seek. But contact scorching is a subtle process chemically, one that does not give rise to any unambiguous fingerprinting molecules that I know of. Maybe a flash of chemical inspiration may one day come from nowhere, but more likely not. Scorching-by-contact may have to depend on expsoing the flaws of rival models, and dismissing the objections raised to one's own model (which I regard as "common sense", needing no wacky new physics).

sciencebod said...

Typo in my reply, line 3: "comprise", not "compromise".

sciencebod said...

Observant visitors to this site may have noticed a new and I think attractive and useful feature on the Home Page, namely a listing in the sidebar of one's most visited postings. No, it's not my design - simply a standard Blogger "gadget" menu option I discovered recently when adding that Comments tab (which WAS home-made as described earlier). I especially like the way that one's introductory words to each posting are displayed (editable!) as well as a eye-catching graphic.

I long suspected that my CO2 posting was the most popular offering on this site, and have just discovered from checking this site's hit meter that it accounts for some 65% of visits.

The posting is discovered through googling questions such as "why doesn't CO2 sink and suffocate us?" i.e. the title of that posting. Given its 'high profile' I'm in the course of beefing it up with some new content and explanation. In so doing, I've learned some new things myself, notably that the escape of hydrogen and helium from planetary atmospheres into outer space is not so much a gravitational effect (though gravity plays a permissive role), more one of diffusion and mean molecular velocity, which varies as the inverse square of molecular mass.

sciencebod said...

Returning now to PDL and that pdf:

“Energy carried by short-wavelength radiation breaks chemical bonds of the irradiated material without inducing a significant heating (photochemical reaction)”.

Why has he tried to rule out heating effects in the context of his uv-scorch model, given that heating effects are a standard accompaniment of uv absorption (with or without chemical reaction, see below)? Is he afraid there might be some perceived overlap in people's minds with scorching-by-direct-physical-contact (despite a minimal, i.e. zero air gap, aka physical contact, giving presumed maximum coloration in the cloth-body distance models of Jackson and others).

As I say, thermal dissipation is always on the cards, as these 4 passages taken from an excellent on line source demonstrate.

Verbatim quotes from the above source, my bolding

1. Since many photochemical reactions are complex, and may compete with unproductive energy loss, the quantum yield is usually specified for a particular event.

2. The Franck-Condon principle requires that excitation occur by a vertical transition, shown by the red line, resulting in the population of higher vibrational levels in the excited state. Several events may then take place.
1. The vibrational energy may be lost as heat, relaxing the excited state to its zero vibrational level...

3. The Jablonski diagram shown below is an example, in which the spatial orientation of the various electronic states is not specified. Nevertheless, Franck-Condon transitions are expected.
One important feature conveyed by the diagram is that more than one electronic excited state is likely to exist for a given molecule, six are drawn and labeled in the diagram. Each electronic state will have a group of vibrational (and rotational) states, depicted by light blue lines above each state marker. Transitions between electronic states often occur to higher vibrational levels which then relax to lower levels by collisional loss of heat (translational energy).

4. The distinction between singlet and triplet states is important because photon induced excitation always leads to a state of the same multiplicity, i.e. singlet to singlet or triplet to triplet. Since most ground states are singlets, this means that the excited states initially formed by absorption of light must also be singlets. Internal conversion of excited states to lower energy states of the same multiplicity takes place rapidly with loss of heat energy (relaxation).

Of course, one might argue that any effects of local heat dissipation might be small in "scorching" terms, compared with highly localized photochemical reaction at susceptible chromophores (which PDL fails to specify or even provide possible candidate molecules - a curious omission). That may be true of uv light from sunshine, or even from a mercury lamp or other intense laboratory source. But it is PDL who has chosen to use non-natural laser-generated uv light with its exceptional high-energy output where heat dissipation would be enormous, and so cannot, or rather should not, be casually excluded as a mechanism for producing diffuse yellow colorations in linen. It should be the first thing to consider in detail, especially when as I say there is no specific uv-absorbing chromophore on offer.

My next comment will address PDL's point re molar absorbtivities of linen, and will attempt to place that in the context of the behaviour of organic compounds generally under uv irradiation. Prepare to be underwhelmed. The shorter the uv wavelength, the more likely it is to be absorbed, given what we know about the 3 main bond types and the possibilities that arise for uv-instigating electronic transitions that account for the peaks and/or broad absorption bands ones sees in uv spectra.

sciencebod said...

Tester (for Greek symbols)



sciencebod said...

Still on Page 8/36 of Paolo Di Lazzaro's pdf (still a long way to go)

“Moreover linen has a molar absorptivity which increases when decreasing the radiation wavelength: the smaller the wavelength, the thinner the material necessary to absorb all the radiation"

Here’s another handy online source for helping one understand why certain molecules absorb uv radiation, and why the phenomenon becomes easier and more predictable as one moves from longer to shorter (more energetic) uv.

If unfamiliar with this topic, you will need to go to the link to see the diagrams that explain the following, starting with the least energetic (longest uv wavelengths)


n-pi* and pi-to-pi* transitions

(That’s n-π*, but I’ll use pi since it’s less likely to be rejected)

Most absorption spectroscopy of organic compounds is based on transitions of n or π electrons to the pi* excited state. This is because the absorption peaks for these transitions fall in an experimentally convenient region of the spectrum (200 - 700 nm). These transitions need an unsaturated group in the molecule to provide the pi electrons.
Molar absorbtivities (aka absorptivities) from n-pi* transitions are relatively low, and range from 10 to 100 L mol-1 cm-1 . pi-pi* * transitions normally give molar absorbtivities between 1000 and 10,000 L mol-1 cm-1 .

Yes, molar absorbtivities will indeed continue to increase as one goes to lower wavelength and thus more energetic uv:
That's because additional albeit more "difficult" electronic transitions become possible:


n-sigma* transitions

(That’s the Greek letter σ needless to say)
Saturated compounds containing atoms with lone pairs (non-bonding electrons) are capable of n-sigma* transitions. These transitions usually need less energy than sigma-sigma* transitions. They can be initiated by light whose wavelength is in the range 150 - 250 nm. The number of organic functional groups with n-sigma* peaks in the UV region is small.

And finally, in the shortest uv wavelengths:


sigma-sigma* transitions

An electron in a bonding sigma orbital is excited to the corresponding antibonding orbital. The energy required is large. For example, methane (which has only C-H bonds, and can only undergo sigma-sigma* transitions) shows an absorbance maximum at 125 nm. Absorption maxima due to sigma-sigma* transitions are not seen in typical UV-vis. spectra (200 - 700 nm)

Is it any surprise then that the molar absorbtivities of linen increase with shorter wavelength? Why did PDL bother to state this, since it entirely predictable from the structure of linen
carbohydrates and other compounds, containing as they do a diversity of chemical bond types of increasing stability, increasing reluctance to be excited except by uv radiation of shorter wavelength? Is the reason to have us believe that there will always be a susceptible bond in there somewhere, even if one has not bothered to specify it, and that yellowing by uv light is an inevitability, if not at longer wavelength then at some shorter (similarly unspecified) wavelength? Maybe, but as stated earlier, absorption of uv does not guarantee chemical reaction, and even when it does, one cannot be certain that it was a highly specific chemical reaction, dependent on highly precise bond-breaking/bond-making, as distinct from a more generalized thermal effect that could have been achieved more easily by contact-scorching alone, requiring no gee-whizz media-attracting 20th/21st century technology.

sciencebod said...

I've just told Daniel R.Porter on his pro-authenticity PR site that his setting me up as an Aunt Sally for his resident trolls while holding up my responses with "comments awaiting moderation" is the final straw.

There will be no more comments or even responses from this blogger on his insistently proselytizing pro-authenticity

Time methinks for a long-overdue change of management. New blood needed.

sciencebod said...

Quote from PDL's pdf (continued)

Then, we have chosen the ultraviolet radiation as an “acting at a distance” mechanism to obtain at least two of the main characteristics of the Shroud image: the thin coloration depth and a low-temperature image-formation.

The essence of science is the testing of models taking strenuous steps to eliminate as far as humanly possible all likely sources of bias (and that must obviously include all presuppositions).

So one might have said at the outset, let’s compare contact v non-contact scorching, e.g. using conduction from physical contact v radiation acting at a distance and then compare similarities v differences in the linen re coloration, depth of penetration, and whether or not a negative TS-like image can be formed.

But PDL has not done that! He’s opted for a particular model because “it acts at a distance”, which is clearly agenda-driven, meaning he has ruled out of contention a contact-only model. But one what grounds? Certainly not on experimental grounds. His dismissal of contact-only is based on nothing more than presupposition re a contact scorch being insufficiently superficial (which he later tried to reinforce with his risible one-off experiment reported on How can he know whether the faintest, scarcely visible scorches are not just as superficial as the TS image or his laser-induced coloration?

While I have no data on superficiality at the individual fibre level, I have recently shown that a heavy contact scorch on linen affects only a few fibres in the immediate contact zone of each thread, the latter comprising upwards of 100 fibres. Scorching is FAR FAR more superficial than many folk imagine. But that’s the difference between ordinary folk who are content to imagine and presuppose, and experimental scientists who take nothing for granted, who ALWAYS test (or try to test) those comfortable little assumptions that we all tend to make. By that reckoning, PDL. As I’ve said repeatedly, does not deserve his self-awarded label (“speaking as a scientist etc”), notwithstanding his doctorate (which I suspect was gained more for technology than science). He has taken comfortable narrative-friendly supposition as fact, and indeed prosleytized those suppositions as if fact, and done so moreover under the ENEA banner that appears on every one of his 36 pages of pdf slides.

Methodological postscript (from a real scientist, one who takes nothing on trust): Those who have been following this blog will know that I have gradually developed a scientific rationale for my assertion that a contact scorch can be far more superficial than one might expect at first sight, even one that is quite prominent. It began to take shape with my air-dried onion epidermis experiment. How could a single layer of dried plant cells, comprising little more than two PRIMARY cell walls (no secondary cell wall in the onion epidermis) and some desiccated cytoplasmic remnants give such complete protection to underlying linen while itself taking a heavy scorch. The latter is the answer, if one makes the reasonable assumption that scorching is a highly endothermic (heat-absorbing) process., i.e. with a positive value of delta H (enthalpy). So a hot template may leave a superficial scorch because the heat abstracted by the chemical reactions required ofr scorching lower the temperature sufficient to allow for more scorching in deeper layers. It’s similar to the ablation principle used to protect space craft on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere: have the leading surfaces lines with a sacrificial covering that can scorch or burn away, taking with it the unwanted heat.

sciencebod said...

Sorry, typo in the preceding comment:

"... because the heat abstracted by the chemical reactions required for scorching lower the temperature sufficient to PREVENT more scorching in deeper layers".

sciencebod said...

Two things of interest: the first is a welcome show of support from Hugh Farey, now editor of the BSTS Newsletter. In a comment to he agrees with the line I have taken re Di Lazzaro's erroneous claim that STURP ruled out of contention the TS image being a scorch. STURP as I've said did no such thing, and indeed described its chemical nature (admittedly based on somewhat rudimentary evidence) as a scorch in all but name (oxidation, dehydration, conjugation of carbohydrates intrinsic to the linen).

Secondly, this site has a hit meter which shows a visit this morning from Lazio, Rome, referred to here from Daniel R.Porter's coverage on of this posting. The ISP? Guess what? ENEA has its own ISP! So don't be surprised if Paolo Di Lazzaro makes a reappearance shortly on Porter's site with an attempt to rebut some or all of my charges of unscientific conduct.

However, anything I have to say will be here on my own site. I have no further time nor patience for Porter's troll-infested site. If PDL's defence looks substantive, I'll devote a new posting with my responses. If as I anticipate it's just a jargon-laded repetition of the same old mantras, unsupported with any new experimental evidence and/or detailed critique of the points made here, then the most he can expect is a continuation of this comments thread.

sciencebod said...

"Then, we have chosen the ultraviolet radiation as an “acting at a distance” mechanism to obtain at least two of the main characteristics of the Shroud image: the thin coloration depth and a low-temperature image-formation."

(my bolding)

Er, what are the grounds for thinking that the TS image was formed at low temperature? Physical evidence? Chemical evidence? Botanical evidence? Any kind of evidence - hard or even soft?

Or is that statement not based on any kind of empirical data? Is it simply another hypothesis dressed up as fact?

Answer: yes, of course it it. We are looking here at an egregious instance of Mickey Mouse science, brought to us under the ENEA imprimatur.

sciencebod said...

"The image is superficial, no more than 0.6 microns thick (work by others has shown 0.2 microns).

Invisible halos surround blood.

Blood went on before image (no image beneath blood).

The blood stains contain haemoglobin and serum albumin.

Calcium and strontium and iron are uniformly present on the Shroud in small quantities."

What a ragbag! Even accepting it's a slide for a conference presentation that one can talk around, emphasizing this or that by tone of voice, de-emphasizing something else, I fail to see how that jumble of physics and physiology serves any useful purpose where structured exposition from a podium is concerned. (And if anyone thinks I'm talking down, they should see what I had to endure in the reverse direction, back in Feb 2012, not only from Dr.Paolo Di Lazzaro, but the host of with his choice of accompanying graphic, redeployed a second time more recently, the Don Quizote allusion being an scurvied attempt to write this blogger scientist off as an irrational obsessive).

I shall rearrange those disparate points in a different order, starting with what I consider the least significant. See next comment.

sciencebod said...

Typo: Don Quixote.

New order for discussion (in my preferred order):

"The image is superficial, no more than 0.6 microns thick (work by others has shown 0.2 microns).

Calcium and strontium and iron are uniformly present on the Shroud in small quantities.

The blood stains contain haemoglobin and serum albumin.

Invisible halos surround blood.

Blood went on before image (no image beneath blood)."

sciencebod said...

"The image is superficial, no more than 0.6 microns thick (work by others has shown 0.2 microns).

That's the physics - already dealt with. The superficiality is no big deal unless one has hard evidence that a simple contact scorch (or any other man-made scorch for that matter) can never be as superficial. PDL does not have that evidence, except for that belated cringe-making foray into contact-scorching that he attempted to use against me at Porter's instigation on back in Feb 2012 - see previous link.

What's it doing anyway in a list that is otherwise concerned with blood, or at any rate "?blood"?

Let's move on.

sciencebod said...

"Calcium and strontium and iron are uniformly present on the Shroud in small quantities."

And your point is?

sciencebod said...

"The blood stains contain haemoglobin and serum albumin."

No, there is only suggestive evidence for those two, based on colorimetric and other spot tests. But there are anomalies too, like the atypical porphyrin spectrum that Adler tried to explain away by supposing there were "extraordianry amounts" of interfering bilirubin present - shame he did not bother to isolate and identify bilirubin, e.g. by chromatography of mass spec' which is what I would have done (having spent two years studying the photochemical behaviour of bilirubin in the test tube and in congenitally-jaundiced rats). Serum albumin too was only identified by a screening anionic dye-binding test (bromocresol green.

The "proof" that the stains represent the remnants of typical human blood rests on some fairly rudimentary testing, and in any case Adler maintained that the blood was NOT typical, that it had trauma-induced characteristics consistent with - guess what? (Yes, you guessed correctly - crucifixion).

Yup, it's that narrative again, warping the design and interpretation of STURP's investigations, and making it well nigh impossible for those of us 30 years later to separate the objective evidence from the fanciful notions. Never mind. Let's move on.

sciencebod said...

"Invisible halos surround blood."

One can only suppose that is a reference to Adler's notion that the "blood" on the TS is not whole blood, lacking as it does recognizable red cells,or even remnants thereof, but a serum exudate of "retracted blood clots".

Maybe. Maybe not. Can haemolysed blood lacking red cells be safely assumed to have been derived in situ from whole blood deposited on linen, as distinct from being a forger's wishy-washy blood substitute? But there's no mention of "retracted blood clots" or any other kind of blood attenuation or fractionation, natural or artificial, in STURP's summary, so it's (a) uncertain that Adler's views were a consensus view, and in any case, (b) how can/could there be a STURP consensus view when just one or two individuals are/were assigned to particular aspects of the TS, essentially handing them a privileged view and effective monopoly?

Let's move on then to the final point, by far and away the most crucial in my opinion.

sciencebod said...

Finally, "Blood went on before image (no image beneath blood)"

This appears, like all the other points, on a slide headed "Main findings of STURP"

But it's nowhere to be found in the STURP Summary of October 1981. So can it really be described as a STURP finding, given it's the work of just two STURP collaborators (Drs.Alan Adler and John Heller), both with solid research credentials to be sure, but neither of whom accompanied the other STURP members to Turin to see the TS and its blood stains in situ with their own eyes, being content to work with the sticky tape samples provided to them by Raymond Rogers?

The evidence for blood-first image-second rests on a single line of evidence, i.e. visual monitoring of the effect of a proteolytic enzyme on "serum coated" image fibres under a microscope.

Personally, I don't consider that test to constitute hard evidence (being difficult to document anyway). While I too have no hard evidence, I strongly suspect there IS image under bloodstains, obtained from looking at Shroud Scope images where it would seem that blood has flaked away in some places:

(one of a number of my postings addressing the crucial claim that blood preceded image).

I may be wrong. Maybe blood did come first. But if I were an advocate of that position, I would not be putting up slides at conferences that attribute that view to "STURP" and doing so moreover under my employer's ENEA logo suggesting there to be double-wrapped authority to back a claim that is somewhat tentative and in any case less-than-thoroughly documented.

sciencebod said...

Here's a conversation in which I've been reluctantly drawn into, Across The Way.

I’m having to post it in 2 instalments, due to character-count restrictions

September 20, 2014 at 12:4 pm

Colin Berry says:

“I too learned about transition elements, degenerate d orbitals and crystal field field theory in Prof Ron Belcher’s inorganic chemistry department, University of Birmingham, England, 1963-66, while studying for a first degree in biochemistry.”

***Angel’s response: Sorry, I missed your post, Colin.

Well, I must say that disclosure is impressive. Dr. Belcher was also the mentor of T.S. West.

I have also worked for a few giants in the chemistry field. One was the late Dr. Ross C. Terrell (anesthetic pioneer). Ross was our Vice President for 10 1/2 years, although my research project was the synthesis of novel and innovative neuromuscular blocking drugs. (neuromuscular junction -nicotinic receptors).

Dr. Ross C. Terrell

Colin Berry says:

“Before and after that, I also learned to spot deliberate deceit by snake-oil merchants, albeit cleverly and laboriously disguised as “science” (University of Life, 1944-present).

Nuff said.”

***Angel’s response:

Colin, it may be the fact you view everything with a jaundiced eye that you either overlook the obvious or disregard, without hesitation, some process that may or may not be feasible: Meissner effect, Cooper pairs, etc., referencing monoatomic gold.

I’m actually surprised you haven’t researched out Kerala’s red rain (#4 on the link), in support of your own “Blood on the Shroud Theory. Yet, I digress. :)

With respect to the Shroud of Turin, all avenues, for and against, should be investigated, including those of Piero. IMHO!



Colin Berry
September 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm

“Colin, it may be the fact you view everything with a jaundiced eye…”

Really? Even part-time trolls need to do their homework.

sciencebod said...

September 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Colin, I’ve seen your images previously, including that of nutella. I am not stating you haven’t spent an enormous amount of time and energy attempting to recreate a likeness that would disprove the Shroud image. That is commendable, although antithetical to Christian belief. Yet, it is your right, as a scrutinizing scientist. The viewing, on your part, with a jaundiced eye referred to *everything* that might prove the Shroud authentic.

With regard to trolls, most of the posters on this forum (according to the definition of internet trolling,) would fall into that category, including you. And some posters go far beyond what I would consider civil behavior. I’ve not called anyone derrogatory names on this thread.

Arguing a point is not trolling, just because others (who are of a different opinion) disagree. Actually, this is human nature and it is a characteristic of anyone who thinks outside the box. Why should posters feel that any form of intense questioning, beyond what is considered the norm, is ignorance or to be taken as insult to their intelligence?

Speaking of the Shroud, iron and strontium were found in trace amounts. See link below:

More on the Dirt of the Shroud of Turin | Shroud of Turin Blog
In fact analysis of particles of limestone also found adhering to the Shroud … found particles of aragonite with small amounts of strontium and iron on the Shroud …

Well, iron-based systems containing strontium and other elements (as new research details) are also found to be superconductors.

Check out “Magnetism in Fe-based superconductors”

And Jesus’ feet would have picked up iron from the soil on the path to the cross; therefore, since iron too is a superconductor, this element may have contributed to His levitation at the resurrection. Don’t shoot the messenger!



Colin Berry
September 21, 2014 at 3:15 am

Angel: there’s nothing “antithetical to Christian belief” in being a sceptic where the TS is concerned. Ask the Vatican if you don’t believe me.

I’ll be spending the rest of today reviewing the totality of my evidence (presented in some half dozen postings spread over 30 months or more) regarding one tiny detail of the TS image. I refer to the transverse twin-track imaging of a crease in the linen at chin/neck level. I believe my observations on the fine structure of that crease, captured as some kind of scorch, constitutes prima facie evidence for the TS body image having been imprinted via physical contact between linen under applied tension and/or pressure and a heated template, probably metal. It’s based as experimental hands-on science always is – on patient, detailed model construction and testing.

What models will you be testing today, Angel, you being a scientist an’ all, or so you would have us believe? Superconductor-aided levitation? Good luck with getting your feet off the ground. My advice, for what it’s worth, would be to concentrate on keeping your firmly feet on the ground… Occasional blue sky thinking is fine, provided you then return to terra firma.

As regards your description of me having a ‘jaundiced eye’ for “all” authenticity-supporting research: wrong. That’s troll-speak whether you realize it or not. My ridicule and contempt is reserved for jargon-laden pseudo-science that postures as real science, invariably deployed by sad, mind-control fanatics to promote their obsessional pet theories or agendas (political, philosophical, theological, ideological etc etc). These people, with their easy access to the media, risk damaging the brand (real, model-testing science, that is) in the public’s perception, especially when they preface their soundbites with “speaking as a scientist”.

sciencebod said...

As I say, I have done some 6 postings on that neck/chin crease since the first in February 2012, and the current one that revisits what I consider to be a crucial 'spy clue' as to how the imaqe was formed.

Methinks the time has come to take each of them, one at a time, to see how a an idea evolved, gradually morphing into a testable model that was indeed tested, at least partially quite recently. Indeed, more testing is needed, especially with the heads and necks life-sized people or effigies thereof.

Here are the 6 postings in chronological order, which will then be summarised one at a time throughout the day as a continuing series of comments.

Sorry for the absence of hotlinks. My HTML tags insert dead links with a 404 error message for reasons I do not understand.

1. Why does the Turin Shroud appear to have scorched-in crease marks? Tell-tale signature for medieval forging?

February 6, 2012

2. Shroud Scope 4: No matter what process mysteriously produced a negative ‘snapshot’ of the Man on the Shroud, it captured that of creases in the linen too. Why?
June 15, 2012

3. Could this be clinching evidence that the Shroud image is a contact scorch?
February 1, 2013

4. Modelling two distinct types of BAKED-IN crease in the still-enigmatic Shroud of Turin, ones that provide important clues to the image-imprinting mechanism.

March 23, 2014

Oh, and I showed recently that the crease shares the 3D properties of the body image, making it virtually certain that their physical and chemical characters are the same, consistent with simultaneous pyrolysis contingent on physical contact between linen and hot template.

5. Could this be the Turin Shroud image that puts paid to imaging via mysterious radiation?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

6. (This posting!) 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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

sciencebod said...

1. Why does the Turin Shroud appear to have scorched-in crease marks? Tell-tale signature for medieval forging?

February 6, 2012

New Summary (written for today's Review discussion)

Drew attention to the crease at chin/neck level. Described its twin-track appearance (dark border–pale centre–dark border). Proposed it was formed by an invagination of linen along the course of a crease (exvagination might have been a better description), providing a diagram. That would prevent the doubled-back-on-itself region making direct contact with hot template, accounting for the pale centre when the linen was subsequently spread out flat, opening out the crease marks. Suggested the feature to be evidence of imaging requiring direct physical contact, as distinct from imaging at a distance proposed in radiation models. Flagged up the fact that the latter model proposes linen draped loosely over a human subject, such that no creases etc would be expected at the instant of image imprinting. (They would come later, but without being ‘captured’ in the form of a linear scorch.

Assumed that the imprinting was done in a face-down sandbed set-up. Had not considered the LOTTO configuration at this point (Linen On Top, Then Overlay). LOTTO allows manual moulding of linen to effigy relief. Does that make entrapment of a crease more or less likely? Answer: it depends, as we shall see.

sciencebod said...

2. Shroud Scope 4: No matter what process mysteriously produced a negative ‘snapshot’ of the Man on the Shroud, it captured that of creases in the linen too. Why?
June 15, 2012

Had by this stage knowledge and direct access to Shroud Scope/Durante 2002 as-is “negative”images, which with magnification and added contrast reinforced the initial impressions gained from earlier positive image (unknown provenance, possibly Shroud Scope)/Enrie negatives. Stressed that the crease was in the linen, not the neck skin of the subject, given it extended left and right both sides. Emphasis again on the fact that PRESSURE of some kind would have been needed to create the crease. Loose draping alone under gravity would not be sufficient.

Wondered why so little attention had been paid to so prominent a feature of the TS image, albeit a non-photogenic blemish.

sciencebod said...

More from Troll Central:

September 21, 2014 at 7:19 am

You know the problem of the C14 dating is more basic and has much to do with bad sampling and arrogance. You know the problem of Colin has much to do with promoting scorching on a bogus basis and arrogance.

The Vatican supports science, evolution, astronomy and whatever makes sense.

My reply:

September 21, 2014 at 7:32 am

Contact scorching is a feasible model with a sound scientific basis. But then I would not expect troll anoxie to know much about the role and rationale of scientific models and their testing. Fanatical belief and personal vituperation are more her tasse de thé.

sciencebod said...

3. Could this be clinching evidence that the Shroud image is a contact scorch?

February 1, 2013

Some say the neck of the TS is too long, some say too short, and I too found it hard to make sense of the image initially. Then the scales fell from these eyes, resulting in the above posting, third in the series.

The neck has been imaged, but above the neck is a pale less-intensely imaged area separating it from the tip of the chin. What is it? I believe it to be the underside of the chin that one would not have expected to be imaged in a ‘radiation model'(assuming one can be found that generates an image!) with a loose draping of linen that would form a bridge between chin and chest. However, in a contact-imprinting model, continuous uninterrupted imaging between tip of chin and chest is available as an option, albeit with some potential practical difficulty in manually moulding of cloth to contours that might cause buckling of cloth and crease formation PRECISELY AS SEEN.This model would make the LOTTO configuration more probable, facilitating the manual moulding.

Encountered first and only criticism of my interpretation – from French physician Thibault Heimburger MD who claimed the neck-crease was “nothing to do with the image formation process”, that it was a product of post-image handling (rolling and unrolling etc). Firstly, with no alternative model of imaging to offer, Dr.H really has no basis on which to criticize the contact-scorch model. His passing reference to Mechthild Flury-Lemberg cuts no ice either: she is a textile-restoring specialist, not an experimental scientist. Secondly his claim that the neck crease is just one of many creases did not stand up to close scrutiny. It’s a relatively small number of creases on the TS that show the distinctive twin-track appearance with what I later described as a ‘baked-in’ appearance. There are many more that are simpler single line creases that may indeed be later handling or optical (shadow) artefacts.

Fine structure is everything when looking for clues as to the TS image provenance. No detail is too small to be ignored. Thank goodness we have Shroud Scope to assist us. Thanks again, Mario Latendresse.

sciencebod said...

4. Modelling two distinct types of BAKED-IN crease in the still-enigmatic Shroud of Turin, ones that provide important clues to the image-imprinting mechanism.

March 23, 2014

A new discovery;, making that “fine structure” referred to earlier even finer: the twin track of the neck crease is not symmetrical. One of the tracks is larger than the other. Why should that be?

Returning to the proposed reasons for the twin-track imprinting, i.e. exvagination of linen through a bunching and crumpling effect, when attempting to mould fabric to abrupt changes of relief, the reason for asymmetry soon became clear: it can result in a triple thickness of linen adjoining a single thickness. A hot template placed across the junction produces a more intense scorch on the slightly elevated triple layer than the single layer, which when opened out reveals an unsymmetrical twin track.

Yes, I was able to demonstrate that effect experimentally. The working model was finally yielding dividends in accounting for otherwise curious and inexplicable features of the TS.

The other simpler types of crease could be modelled by starting with a simple opened-out crease, either a V or inverted V in cross-section, and imprinting across the midline. The first displayed a central narrow image-free zone, the second did not, all explicable in imprinting terms (see posting)due to slight differences in intimacy of physical contact between template and linen.

sciencebod said...

5. Could this be the Turin Shroud image that puts paid to imaging via mysterious radiation?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just another small detail, but one that is consistent with contact imprinting: the image of “hair” below the chin crease is out of alignment (“stereoregister”) with that above.

Might that be another glitch associated with an attempt to manually imprint the receding relief around the underside of the chin, creating a loss of continuity between template and hair?

sciencebod said...

6. (This posting!) 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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The neck crease extends across the relatively-image free zone between cheek and hair. The absence of image in the latter region, somewhat surprising one might think if a real human subject had been imprinted, has been “explained” as an artefact of yarn-to-yarn variation due to bleaching differences (an attempt to account for “banding” though other explanations have been proposed notably that by Hugh Farey based on the ridge-like characteristics imparted by the herring bone weave).

The ability to imprint neck-crease onto that otherwise image-poor zone suggests there is nothing intrinsically unusual about the linen in that region, merely that there was nothing to image, i.e. an absence of relief.

That is hard to explain, unless one assumes that the “subject” was a template that had no raised relief between cheek and hair, as might be the case for a mask-like bas relief (or a fully 3D statue, from which care was taken to imprint from highest relief only to avoid lateral distortion, i.e. a pseudo- bas relief).

Finally, this most recent post shows that the neck crease responds a little to 3D enhancement in ImageJ (one might have wished for more) as should be demonstrable if its image characteristics are/were essentially the same as those of a contact scorch from 3D subject, albeit as an artefact of manual moulding of cloth to contours.

sciencebod said...


To hear some folk, one could be forgiven for thinking that I’ve been pushing an entirely fanciful notion in proposing that the TS is a simple contact-scorch, made by apposing linen and hot metal. In fact, a certain spokesperson for a “sindonological” institute who shall remain nameless referred scathingly not so long ago to the “infamous” scorch hypothesis. One could almost here the thumbscrews being made ready.

Personally, I find it’s the various radiation hypotheses that are the oddball ideas, especially when no one is prepared to specify the precise wavelength range, or make any attempt to produce an image without a lot of fancy 20th/21st century optics for focussing or collimating the radiation to produce a homogenous body image. That’s without even asking how a body can emit radiation able to imprint an image on linen, and do so in a manner that manages to colour, dare one say scorch the fabric without apparently burning off the subject’s hair (curiously also imaged on the TS).

Nope, it’s the contact scorch image, akin to branding cattle hide with a hot iron, that is the common sense position, one that explains immediately why the image is a light/dark reversed negative, why it looks remarkably scorch-like and indeed has the colour and spectral characteristics that one expects of pyrolysed (i.e. scorched) linen, as described by STURP in its 1981 Summary.

The problem has been to prove that the image is a contact scorch, which is no mean feat, given the subtle and superficial nature of scorches generally, and the inability to harvest TS samples at will for performing this or that test.

So one’s has to box clever, or stupid as one’s detractors might uncharitably say, and go looking for the tiniest clues that might indicate that the image was formed as a contact imprint, probably a thermal scorch, but not ruling out a chemical one that mimics the properties of a heat scorch (again, that possibility being flagged up in the STURP Summary).

I believe the ‘neck crease’ is precisely the kind of spy clue that points strongly in the direction of imprinting by direct physical contact, which incidentally prevents imaging of any part of the template not in direct contact. It is the result of a decision on the part of a medieval artisan to produce an imprint, possibly of the naked Jesus post crucifixion, possibly of someone else (a Templar martyr?), in which there was no gap between chin and chest as would be the case if linen had been loosely draped over a corpse, with bridging across extremities. The artisan decided to apply either stretching tension to the sides of the fabric, or downwards pressure or probably a combination of the two, so as to get contact between linen and the underside of the chin, ensuring continuity onto the neck and then the chest. But that moulding process introduced a crumpling effect, that in turn produced piping-like exvaginations of the linen (“creases”). The end result was the peculiar and distinctive twin-track, baked-in image image we see extending across the base of the chin. To the best of my knowledge no one else has ever tried to explain that prominent and disfiguring feature of the TS image, or even show the slightest interest in it. Where do we go from here?

Expect one more comment, probably in a day or two.

sciencebod said...

It is unhelpful and unconstructive to judge the TS as a choice between authentic or non-authentic. It’s like deciding whether a stuffed swan one is about to see in a natural history museum is black or white – it could be either.

The rational and constructive way of viewing it is to ask whether the TS is a contact or non-contact scorch.

If it’s a contact scorch, then it’s fairly certain the image is man-made, using a heated template to imprint the image (which will of course be a negative, explaining what might otherwise seem peculiar at least from an artistic standpoint, being much more photogenic centuries later when Secondo Pia-era photography and light/dark reversal became practicable).

If it’s a non-contact scorch, then all options are open, pro-authenticity ones, radiocarbon dating notwithstanding.

But while there are groups who promote their own preferred non-contact scenarios (laser beams, corona discharges, sugar-seeking putrefaction vapours, earthquake-releases of radioactive emissions etc) few if any of them are willing to generalize and say it’s a non-contact process that is being proposed, and that the image characteristics are consistent with, and can be modelled in the laboratory as a non-contact process with a qualitatively-different outcome from the simple, uncomplicated man-made contact one I favour.

In short, we see systematic evasion of the scientific essentials, the latter based on model-testing and evaluation. Not a pretty sight.

Some folk's thinking might be described as pre-Renaissance. Indeed, there may well be a hankering for pre-Renaissance certainties, when everyone, the unwashed, uneducated classes especially, knew their place and did not dare to question their social and intellectual superiors.

sciencebod said...

Comment from PHPL on shroudstory:

September 22, 2014 at 12:35 am

Hi Colin,
Is “contact scorch” the same thing as ” bas-relief ” ?
All the best

My response
September 22, 2014 at 1:40 am

Good morning PHPL (British Summer Time).

I use “contact scorch” to indicate there is no imaging except where template is in direct physical atom-to-atom contact with hot metal, ceramic, whatever. If there’s the slightest air gap, then there’s essentially no scorching, though a slight yellowing might just be possible from hot convected gases.

There are those who maintain that the TS image includes parts of the subject that could not have been in contact with linen. They have yet to convince this sceptic. All the important parts, i.e. raised relief, could or would be accessible, especially if linen were draped over template (whether bas relief or fully 3D) and then manually and forcibly impressed in and around important contours. The places most likely to get ‘missed’ are precisely those that appear as pale poorly or non-imaged areas on the TS (eye sockets, around the crossed hands, the gaps or even curvature between fingers etc.).

I use bas relief to imply something like the head on a coin with a little raised relief but much less in relative terms than the real live or dead subject, or a fully 3D representation of the latter (statue, bust etc). The wiki definition is OK seems OK for starters:

“Bas-relief is a type of sculpture that has less depth to the faces and figures than they actually have, when measured proportionately (to scale). This technique retains the natural contours of the figures, and allows the work to be viewed from many angles without distortion of the figures themselves.”

I believe the face (at least) of the TS image was imprinted from a bas relief (as incidentally did Prof Luigi Garlaschelli). The sharpish break in image continuity between cheek and hair on both sides is the give-away, suggesting there to have been a groove or trough in the template such that no imaging was possible in that gap. The idea that the break is just a banding effect in the linen, that the ‘missing’ image is retrievable with the right ‘enhancement’ with computer software etc, simply does not stand up to close critical scrutiny. That knob-twiddling-solves-all view is an example of what is known technically in boring old mainstream science as “pure tosh”.

sciencebod said...

Have just added this to the end of my CO2 posting (see top of Most Popular listing in sidebar):

Update: September 22 2014

I discovered today why this posting attracts far more visitors each day than any of my other postings, despite having been written some 5 years ago. Assuming that most visitors were finding it via their search engines, I tried entering strings of search terms that correspond with the title, and then whittling them down to a core set. To my surprise, I find that one has simply to enter (CO2 heavy) and this posting tops the list of returns! It's clearly achieved that virtuous circle, aka critical mass, where its present prominence helps ensure continuing prominence!

Never one to rest on laurels, I've been making some additions by way of afterthoughts, and picking up on points that others have raised elsewhere, notably on science discussion forums where the content comes chiefly in serial additions from the participants themselves, starting with someone's primer question. In fact there's just such a forum that arrived three years after this one, posing essentially the same question, and is now third in my list of Google returns.

From 'Spoogington' some 9 months ago, currently with 109 comments:

"If CO2 is heavier than O2, why is our atmosphere not stratified with a layer of CO2 closer to earth?"


Looking at the points made, I'm more than ever convinced that I was right to raise the question, since clearly there is some confusion in people's minds (as there was initially in my own) as to the importance or otherwise of bulk density v molecular weight where the behaviour of 'heavy' gases is concerned, before and after mixing in a gravitational field.

At the risk of giving this post an intimidating length, I might try supplying my own answers to some of the points raised. Or there again, it might be wise to create a separate follow-up post so as not to overload this one.

sciencebod said...

Still responding to comments over there:

John Klotz
September 22, 2014 at 4:31 am

Do I detect a new openness on CB’s part? Could this be the greatest conversion since John Newman. Oops. Sorry Dan.

My reply
September 22, 2014 at 5:22 am

New openness? I wasn’t aware I had shifted position since homing in on ‘shroudology’ back in December 2011. The target then, as now, was not religious belief or even relic/icon adulation. It was and still is a certain type of heavily media-promoted, internet-proselytized jargon-laden pseudo-science that serves merely to push an agenda.

Nope, this biochemist’s beef is not with those who believe that the TS image was produced as a miraculous by product of Resurrection, not if they add the rider that scientists can never hope to reproduce or indeed explain it, even with recourse to counter-intuitive quantum physics (where the distinction between physics and metaphysics becomes hopelessly blurred). If one believes in the Resurrection it is entirely reasonable that one sees the remarkable and indeed unique TS image as a side-product, even a gift to mankind. Fanciful, romantic even, but all part of life’s rich tapestry.

My beef is with those who employ (or as often as not, cynically deploy) the language of science, often with a token attempt at mimicking the methods of science (model building and testing). It’s an agenda-driven exercise that has as its aim the promotion of some kind of belief system – political, ideological, theological etc – under the guise of rational objective science. It’s called pseudo-science.

There’s a simple test one can do to separate science from pseudo-science. Look closely to see whether the investigators have acknowledged ALL the current scientific hypotheses and./or working models that are TESTABLE IN PRINCIPLE, and by that criterion alone can be considered legitimate subjects for inclusion in experimental design or interpretations. Or do they begin by immediately ruling out of contention certain scientific and entirely legitimate models for consideration, focusing their attention entirely on their own pet model. If so, one then looks closely at the latter. Is it really testable in principle, or so exceedingly difficult to test in practice as to make it virtually untestable in anyone’s present lifetime, at least with currently available technology. In short, is there real underlying science, or is it mere eye-catching window-dressing, designed to glaze the eyes, to lull folk into dropping their defences, and finally to abandon altogether their critical faculties, placing their trust in others who “seem to be so much better informed”?

Folk who resort to pseudo-science to push an agenda, especially those who like to bask in media limelight, are not just displaying one of the darker sides of human nature – a desire to influence others by deceit and trickery. They are damaging the image and reputation of science. In proper trustworthy hands, science offers a unique and powerful approach to addressing pressing problems that face us all, ranging from air pollution and climate change, to defence against bacterial and viral diseases to increasing obesity and premature death to ????? (others will have their own priorities) But good research risks being instantly discounted on the grounds that “those scientists just push their wild theories, wrapping it up in their incomprehensible jargon simply to fool us all.

Continued next comment (overlong character count)

sciencebod said...

Continued from previous comment:

With the possible exception of fad diets and nutrition, there is arguably a greater concentration of pseudoscience in shroudology than in any other topic that one meets in the mass media. Put “shroud of turin” into your search engine and check the first 100-200 listings. See which ‘stories’ show the greatest staying power. Yes, shroudology is just the tip of the pseudo-science iceberg, but that strikes me as good a reason as any for targeting it mercilessly. Expose its tricky little methods for all to see – making it harder for those who may be thinking of deploying the same dark arts to promote new agendas, disguised yet again as enlightened scientific opinion.

Sorry to go on like this. We all have our bêtes noires. Mine as you will have gathered is pseudo-science.

Anonymous said...

Hello Colin,
I just wanted to let you know that my new ‘paper’ on blood and serum is online at and . It is very long, so it’s not printer-friendly, but has many figures. I hope you can appreciate it.

sciencebod said...

Thanks Adrie. I'm looking forward to reading it, and will get back to you in due course.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot the page numbers. Now they're there...

Anonymous said...

And I corrected the caption of fig. 4.12.

sciencebod said...

From John Klotz on Troll Central:
(note the reference to 'pseudo-skeptics' which places him firmly among the troll community that infests that site)

John Klotz
September 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm

To say that something can be forged is not evidence that it was forged. It’s merely speculation.

I repeat my previous challenge to all those busy pseudo-skeptics. Before you claim you have an answer, show me an example of the application of your answer circa 1530 or before.

And don’t forget the variations in intensity that can be used to create a 3d representation of the image data.

Without being able to illustrate your argument with a reasonable historical precedent your speculations are so much blather. They really are.

Isn't trolling John Klotz forgetting something? No sooner had the TS made its debut in western Europe, the first unambiguously documented appearance ever of what is now in Turin, and it became not just an object of veneration but of merchandising too. Think the first public display of the TS in Lirey approx 1355, close to the date Klotz mentions. Think the Lirey Pilgrim's badge. See how little has changed in approx 660 years when you see the plans being made in Turin for the 2015 "Exposition" aka marketing jamboree.

So it's an insult to the intelligence to have the TS represented as if it were an artistic one-off that lacks a genre in which to pigeon-hole it. It had to be a one-off, so as to be promoted as the genuine burial shroud of Jesus. To have prototypes or other versions lying around for sceptic or scholars to discover would have been totally self-defeating. Yes of course it is and was a one-off and HAD TO BE. It's the economy, correction, economics, stupid. Supply and demand and all that. The demand depended on supplying just one. Supply more than one and the demand collapses instantly.

As for the comment re 3D, words fail me. They never failed me in the past, but rumbustious John Klotz clearly has not bothered to read my extensive research and writings on the non-uniqueness of 3D properties elicited from 2D scorch and other images, including those with no 3D history, e.g. his country's own Stars and Stripes.

sciencebod said...

Have spent an hour or so skimming Adrie's paper. One is reminded more of a doctoral thesis, in terms of both length and detail, and written in that cautious style that doctoral candidates employ, knowing that ever word, every claim, will be closely scrutinised by the External Examiner, and could be the basis for close line-by-line inquisition in the all important viva.

Well, I have no intention of role-playing External Examiner (and thankfully have not been invited to do so). But a dissertation of this length and complexity deserves more than an instant response.

My strategy? There are some 230 pages before one gets to the bibliography. Let's say I read and deliberate on 10 pages per day. That's 23 pages to complete the task - let's say a round 3 weeks. Expected completion date: 14th October.

Primary aim? To decide whether or not the claimed madder-dye connection is likely on a priori grounds, offering a credible explanation for the anomalies in the blood data, or whether it's an ingenious but possibly artificial exercise driven by a desire to find common ground between Rogers and his excised 'coated' allegedly late-inserted threads, an attempt to debunk the radiocarbon dating, and Adler and Heller's earlier attempts to impose a pro-authenticity line through invoking alleged evidence for crucifixion-induced trauma (the "bilirubin story") which I consider was never properly documented and indeed should never have seen the light of day without rigorous backing evidence.

Having said that, I shall attempt to put STURPie tendentious claims out of my head while reading Adrie's thesis, and try to imagine her to be the first to be publishing in this area. How much of what she writes is theoretically feasible? More importantly, how much is probable?

sciencebod said...

Apols for the typos above. Every (not ever) word. 23 days, not 23 pages etc etc.

sciencebod said...

Daniel R.Porter, host of writes:

Samuel Johnson Meets His Match
September 22, 2014

In a comment, Colin wrote:
It is unhelpful and unconstructive ...
(see my earlier comment on this posting)

He continues:

So, is Colin redefining the word scorch to mean anything that “resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself* (or perhaps of an impurity coating on the microfibrils)? Is that fair? Samuel Johnson did define the word as also meaning, “to be dried up.”

We’ve been here before, when I was using the term “pseudo-science”. I was challenged to define it, as if one goes through life defining every term that is already in common use, where some ambiguity may exist, where one adds extra words as I usually do to make one's meaning clear, though the context is usually sufficient. One does not need to define an everyday word like "scorch", one that has no specific technical use that I'm aware of. As Porter's title and general drift indicates, the term has been in common use for centuries. What’s more the particular definition dredged up from the very first dictionary of English words is I suspect not one that most folk would have suggested i.e. “to be dried up”. We have other words for that(dehydrated, desiccated to name just two).

A scorch to most folk is the characteristic and permanent yellow-brown discoloration that is left on paper, cotton, linen and other organic materials that have been over-exposed to heat. When it’s food we generally say “toasted” rather than scorched. The manner in which the heat is applied – by direct physical contact or by being placed too close to a red hot element etc – is of no concern – it’s a scorch.

Now for the science. Knowing as we do that scorching of paper, cloth and other carbohydrates is the result of various chemical reactions, chemical dehydration being predominant, usually accompanied by oxidation, conjugation (which generates the colour via creation of –C=C-C=C- i.e. conjugated double bonds, then knowing that dehydrating chemicals such as conc. sulphuric acid can mimic the effect of heat scorches, one can refer if one wishes to “chemical scorches”. One is not “re-defining” anything. One is simply selecting the words that most folk can understand, and doing so in a manner to avoid ambiguity and misunderstanding.

Are we to assume then, when Colin says all options are open for non-contact scorches, he means to allow, in addition to all-natural chemical processes, scorches produced from the imagined energetic or sub-atomic particle byproducts of miraculous events? Is that fair?

I don’t deal in miraculous events, no matter how folk like Daniel R.Porter may imagine them happening especially when they resort to hifalutin physics jargon and other pseudo-science. If it’s a miracle, it ain’t reproducible and it ain’t testable, so is accordingly outside the purview of science. Maybe the miracle occurred, maybe not, but D.Porter can no more answer that question than I can, assuming he does not have a direct line to On High. If he could, with phenomenon-reproducing science, then it would no longer be a miracle.

In other words, in the context of semantics, he’s free to create semantic problems for himself in his world of magic if he so desires, but should not pretend or imagine he’s creating problems for others.
Does ‘all options are open’ extend to the appearance of a scorch that might have miraculously appeared on the cloth without any chemical process taking place?
No. Where the TS is concerned I operate as a scientist. He should know that by now, having routinely filched content from my site to display on his these last 30 months (usually with some negative spin or mocking cartoon or other graphic, but that’s by the way).

(Continued next comment)

(Continued next comment).

sciencebod said...

(continued as over-run from previous comment)

By without process I mean something that was not at some time partly formed or forming as we might imagine water changing into wine in steps. By without process I mean without heat or chemical reaction. By without process I mean without the passage of time, as if a changed visual state could have been photographed by an unimaginably fast camera in only two frames, visually not there and then visually there.
Sorry, I have lost you there, Daniel R.Porter. Are you familiar with the term “obscurantist”?

If we are thus open to miraculous images that seem to be non-contact scorches and might not have involved a formation process, must we not also be open to miraculous images that seem to be contact scorches and might not have involved a formation process?

When we see a scorch, we may or may not speculate or deduce how it happened, but that’s no reason to abandon the term “scorch”. It refers simply to appearance, possibly but not obligatorily showing evidence of causation. Thus a scorch shaped like the sole of an electric iron is self-explanatory. A scorch on a table cloth may or may not have been formed by a cigarette butt.

Frankly, if we allow for miracles, we are beyond the limits of science. I don’t see any difference between contact and non-contact in this context.

My expositions are always within the limits of empirical science. That leaves just two options for a scorch – contact v non-contact.

It would be fair to argue that I threw miracles into the mix and that was never Colin’s intent. Fair enough. But that doesn’t solve anything, does it? Are not the investigators of UV, for instance, contemplating miraculous causation in some way or other? Is there a philosopher in the house? David Hume, where are you?

If investigators of uv want to throw miraculous causation into the mix, so be it, but that places them outside the remit of science, which is restricted to testable models and hypotheses. To specify a particular part of the electromagnetic spectrum, e.g. uv, and then to invoke a miracle sounds suspiciously like false-flagging of pseudo-science as if science, something I deeply deplore, and condemn at every opportunity whenever and wherever I see it, which in the case of shroudology taints almost every so-called “scientific claim” one encounters.

sciencebod said...

Speaking of chemical dehydration effected with chemicals instead of heat, Hugh Farey yesterday was mulling over sulphuric acid as a possibility. (While the common commodity is dilute acid, it has the unusual property of becoming more concentrated as it evaporates - pure H2SO4 being relatively involatile - and it's the conc. acid that has the dehydrating properties on account of its huge avidity for water. If it can't find liquid H2O, it will proceed to abstract hydrogen and oxygen atoms from carbohydrates and other organic compounds in a 2:1 ratio - effectively making its own water to produce browning and then charring).

Luigi Garlaschelli described the use of artist's ochre pigment, red iron oxide, Fe2O3, as a medieval technique for capturing the relief of a 3D relief of the human form. What's especially interesting is the link between the pigment, used initially as visible colouring agent agent, and its ability, if contaminated by sulphuric acid, as was possible (see following comment) then to etch the linen chemically via dehydration reactions that mimic the effect of heat-induced scorching.

sciencebod said...

Quote from Garlaschelli's landmark paper:

"Life-size Reproduction of the Shroud of Turin and its Image"

Journal of Imaging Science and Technology 54(4)040301-14 (2010)

"We conclude that the image on the Shroud today is formed by dehydrated cellulose of the linen, that is, the alteration of the cellulose was effected by some component, still undetermined, of the pigment or binder. There is no doubt that this dehydration took place since the linen of the Shroud image areas is distinctly yellowed compared to the off-image areas. This alteration might presumably have a tonal variation derived from the original pigment or binder, which subsequently evaporated or decomposed, leaving the ghostly image that we know so well today.

It is safe to assume, too, that a loosely bound pigment residing on the surface of the weave might have worn off in time. Furthermore, the tiny amount of residual pigment still tenaciously clinging to the cloth would account for the very large number of microscopic particles of iron oxide (ochre) found by McCrone only in the image areas , and by others between the Shroud and its backing cloth

If the original pigment used by the artist was a natural ochre, it can be assumed it would contain at least small amounts of foreign materials, such as carbonates , humic acids, organic impurities, various salts, etc., which could be responsible for the degradation of the cellulose fibers..

Nickell suggested yet another possibility. Reddish ochre could be manufactured during the Middle Ages starting from ferrous sulphate (a mineral named “green vitriol”).When heated, the salt gives off fumes containing sulphuric – this was indeed the way this acid was first obtained – leaving behind a residue of iron oxide (ochre). The residue, however, is still rather acidic, and, if used for the rubbing technique, would account for the chemical degradation of the cloth.

This technique can also explain why the image is superficial, i.e. resides on the topmost fibers of the cloth. A dry powder or a thick slurry would not have soaked through the cloth;when the pigment is gently rubbed onto the fabric, comma, only the highest parts of the weave are heavily covered with it. If some small particles had found their way deeper through the weave, their concentration would have been too small to possibly generate a visible after image."

This is inspired chemistry (the kind I used to lap us as a teenager from the small-font detail-packed chemistry textbooks in public libraries, the sort don't write anymore, it being all about broad theoretical principles now, based on Periodic Table Group number, stripped of all the tiny but often fascinating details.

sciencebod said...

Still more pseudo-science is in the pipeline, if one reads Daniel R.Porter's latest posting on

It flags up the presentation that is on the St.Louis programme next month (October) from one Jeffrey Skurka (not a name I've encountered previously, which has yet to imbue me with an overwhelming sense of loss, judging by this quote from his conference abstract:

“But if my hypothesis is correct, I do know why the superficial body image is on the surface of the cloth. It was ‘Superparamagnetism’ just before the resurrection event that left a residual alignment of the unpaired electron spin in the hydrogen and possibly even the nitrogen atoms in the cloth. It’s also this Superparamagnetism which is responsible for the shrunken skulls of George Mott and Mary Reeser and is what gives my hypothesis credibility.
This alignment of the electron spin is also what is giving the body image the properties of being like a hologram, which is normally created with constructive/destructive interference from the monochromatic light of a LASER, and the other optical anomalies known about the image.”

Reminder: outside of a high temperature plasma (or its application to everyday life – the atomic hydrogen blowpipe for welding metals in a reducing atmosphere – there are no unpaired electrons in hydrogen, whether elemental or combined- under normal environmental conditions on Planet Earth (suns are a different matter).

The gas molecular hydrogen, H2, has its two electrons spin-paired. In organic compounds, where separated hydrogen atoms are bonded to carbon, oxygen, nitrogen etc, one again has paired electrons, one from the hydrogen, one from the other atom. It is only in atomic hydrogen, H, whose formation by fission of H2 requires a high input of electrical or thermal energy, and which then has an exceedingly short survival time (recombining with other H atoms to reform H2) that has the unpaired electron. RIP the gentleman’s pseudo-science.

sciencebod said...

Why the TS is not a painting.

See my earlier comment addressed to Hugh and others, the starting point for which was his suggestions some weeks ago that the TS may have originally been painted onto linen, maybe in Byzantine eastern Europe, but the pigment has long ago flaked off leaving some kind of ghost(ly) image.

That bears some similarity to Garlaschelli’s frottage model in which dry ochre powder, or a stiff paste, was first applied to a subject to capture 3D features, and that with oven baking (“artificial ageing”) and subsequent flaking off a similar kind of “ghost” image was left. What makes that model at least superficially attractive (scientifically as well as artistically!) is that he and Joe Nickell have provided an explanation for a proposed chemical etching effect of linen (highly superficial, natch) that leaves an image sans the original pigment (due to proposed H2SO4 impurity in the ochre if derived as it may have been from calcining green vitriol).

But Garlaschelli recognized the limitations of his model where frottage from a real person was concerned, and proposed that the face itself was imprinted from a bas relief template. If nothing else the imaging of hair would require a surface that was rigid and unyielding when manual pressure was applied for the ‘frottage’ (rubbing etc), i.e. not real hair. Once you acknowledge the existence of a metal or other template, then it is no longer a painting, is it? It’s more a case of imprinting, more akin to brass rubbing. And once you acknowledge a metal template, then why bother with messy and cumbersome multi-step processing that does not leave a ghostly image until pigment has attached (years? decades?). Why not go for broke and employ a heated template to scorch a negative image directly onto fabric which can then be promoted with still more metal (brass neck) as a sweat imprint for which precedents already existed, notably the Veil of Veronica, attracting hordes of pilgrims in the mid-14th century?

sciencebod said...

Typo in above comment: "detached" pigment (not attached).

sciencebod said...

As I’ve said, if it’s a superficial chemical imprint from, say, an H2SO4 or other chemical scorch (not impossible) employing a template, then it’s an imprint, not a painting. What if the H2SO4 had been applied freehand, say as a paste (Hugh Farey is presently experimenting with mixtures of iron oxide and sulphuric acid)? Then yes, it’s a painting. But how likely is that, viewing the TS image?

Why paint in the negative? The only rationale I can think of would be if the aim were to simulate some kind of imprint, most likely the Veil of Veronica type of sweat imprint suggested earlier on this site and thread. But if the aim is to simulate an imprint, then why paint free hand? It would make a lot more sense to use a template, rather than guess which features would imprint and which not.

In fact, several features of the TS image may be considered give-away clues to a template having been used – the largely empty eye-hollows with no attempt to portray proper eyes, whether open or closed, the nominal rigid-looking hair with those severe unnatural-looking gaps between cheeks and hair, the bony, indeed skeletal fingers (an effect that can be simulated by imprinting off one’s own hand even with fingers held together) etc etc.

If the TS had been intended to be a painting, even one from which the pigment has now flaked off, then why use blood to portray wounds? Why not use an artist’s red pigment, so as not to have to worry about darkening with ageing and/or other deterioration? The imprint came first, looking like sweat, so real blood (or an approximation thereof) was applied (probably later) so as to preserve credibility. It may have been a blood substitute chosen for improved keeping qualities (see my earlier ideas re the potential for semi-digested blood from medicinal leeches in that respect).

Free-hand painting makes no sense to me whatever. One does not paint a life-sized image onto linen (as distinct from canvas) of a naked man unless the aim is to simulate a REAL contact imprint left somehow by the corpse, whether as sweat (my preferred view) or as a miraculous flash or radiation (that more fanciful interpretation probably having arrived much later – possibly centuries). If the aim is to simulate a sweat imprint, one does NOT paint free hand. One imprints off a template.

sciencebod said...

Something has changed with the Blogger software. Previously my link to Comments in the sidebar took one to the last comment, with the test-entry box underneath. Now it takes you to first comment, with the box on the right. One can but hope there's a special purgatory awaiting compulsive software fiddlers and 'optimizers'. Maybe they will find their ID is not immediately recognized on the keypad on the pearly gates, and needs re-entering a few thousand times before the gates finally creak open. Then there's just the buggy fingerprint and iris recognition optics software that needs to be negotiated.

sciencebod said...

The question folk are currently asking is:

Why not use real sweat to imprint that whole-body negative image - you know, like the one on the Veil of Veronica that was imputed to be a sweat imprint of the face alone, and might thus have served as an existing (role) model for a medieval artisan to try and trump?

Answer: the Veil of Veronica was only reputed to be a sweat imprint. Who's to say it was made using real sweat, if fashioned as a simulated sweat imprint? Who's to say it was not produced using, say, lemon juice, i.e. the "invisible ink " effect that anyone can demonstrate in 5 minutes in their own kitchen? Who's to say that a medieval fabricator of the TS assumed the Veil of Veronica to be authentic, and had to start at Square 1 for simulating a sweat imprint, and being ignorant of the invisible ink 'trick' had opted for contact scorch technology instead?

sciencebod said...

Daniel R.Porter flagged up an article from one Jeffery Schweitzer that appeared on the Huffington Post site (one I rarely get round to reading except when accessing emails from a ‘legacy’ ISP from the time I lived in France.

It expressed a host of sentiments close to my heart re the interface between science and the ‘meeja’ even if he was a little cavalier in his non-nuanced lumping together of shroudology with media mindless folly.

So I penned this short piece and hit the SEND button.

“Beautifully written article.

One small aside re the Turin Shroud (this commenter's special interest on his sciencebuzz blog). It's not so much ignorance and superstition that fuels the continuing interest and publicity. It's agenda-driven pseudo-science. Shame on the media for not submitting each new press release re uv laser beams, corona discharges, radioactive emissions from earthquakes etc etc to a panel of appointed mainstream scientists before polluting first their own outlets then the search engines with this kind of self-serving drivel.


Result – a brazen attempt by that same meeja to inter-net snare me, merely for responding to a "blog". Because up popped a Facebook page, asking for my password, or offering me the alternative of joining up so as to allow my comment to appear.

Shame on you Huffington Post for entering into this shoddy arrangement with Facebook. The latter is supposed to be a social networking site, one that you opt into voluntarily (which I choose not to, along with Twitter etc). It is scandalous that one cannot respond to an MSM so-called "blog" (ha ha) without being served up as fodder to the likes of Facebook. And it’s just plain bad manners to give no warning of said link-up BEFORE one composes one’s comment. (PS: Have just gone back and spotted a minuscule entry at the foot of Comments called ‘Facebook social plugin’ which I missed, as indeed I suspect most would).

As for newspaper articles (and even BBC reports) that consist of little more than a series of 140 character ‘tweets’, or ‘twerps ‘n’chirps’ as I call them, words fail me (while the Delete key finger acts instantly).

Am I the only one to think that the MSM set out deliberately to kill citizen blogging in its early days (circa 2005 onwards) by drafting in its own journos and others to write MSM so-called “blogs”? Blogs they ain't. (Blog being short for weblog, there being no log about it of there's no personal or thematic interest, merely a series of disjointed pieces that are designed as click-bait for those who instal themselves on MSM Comments sections, using them as their own "blog" to browbeat others. Ring any bells?

sciencebod said...

Afterthought on the painting v imprint debate:

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.

Forget about painting for a moment. Think about imprinting. Thermal? Chemical? Thermochemical? In most of those instances, it is the linen that becomes degraded and coloured, such that there's no obvious microscopist- or chemical analyst-friendly physical or chemical signature.

Let's not be too quick to rule out a thermochemical "trick" alluded to earlier, namely the use of lemon juice as invisible ink.

I did a posting on it a while ago.

Heat converts lemon juice to dark coloured pigments, even on a glass surface. What I omitted to do was to see whether the "ink" that appears on linen after painting (oops) and gentle heating can be washed out or not. If it cannot, then one has a problem. What's the chromophore? Is it thermally degraded lemon juice only, or have the linen components been attacked also, despite not being needed? Might there be dual action, with colour from both lemon and linen, with the possibility of washing out the lemon-derived chromophore, leaving just the modified linen one behind as an apparently "non-painted-on" image to cause 20th and 21st century heads to be scratched...

That's a different scenario, note where one can get away with initial painting or dabbing on, as distinct from more technically-demanding imprinting off a template, provided it's followed immediately by laundering so as to cover one's tracks, or rather to lose those give-away brush marks, leaving behind just the subtle and intriguing etched-on image.

sciencebod said...

PS to last comment:

I knew I should have checked to see what I wrote two years ago re lemon juice. I DID check to see if the heat-developed "ink" would wash out, and NO, it did not (see next comment below).

That keeps the lemon-juice model in contention in my view. Note that I did not paint with lemon juice. I impregnated the cloth with juice, dried, then imprinted from a template. But lemon juice could have been used either as free-hand paint or for impregnating and template-imprinting as described.

Methinks it warrants further research. I think I lost interest when finding that citric acid did not substitute for lemon juice. It would be so much easier to work with a chemically-defined system, one that might be described, say, as "organic acid", an alternative to (arguably) more problematical liquid sulphuric acid, given that the organic acids are solids, at least after impregnation with solution followed by drying to leave tiny crystals that might then have allowed for highly superficial imprinting of an image (?).

Has Hugh Farey done anything with lemon juice or organic acids one wonders?


sciencebod said...

Here's that cut-and-paste from October 2012:

(One might think that the above “burnt on” residue would have been difficult to shift, though not so (according to the missus). So I got to wondering whether the ‘burnt lemon juice’ pigment would wash easily out of the linen. Answer: no, despite kneading in cold water quite vigorously. At the moment I have to keep an open mind as to whether or not the linen carbohydrates have been modified, or whether there is merely a strong physical association between ‘burnt lemon’ and otherwise pristine linen. From a modelling point of view, a strong association between ‘thermosensitizer’ and linen is preferable, given the evidence that water stains have failed to elute body image from the Shroud’s fabric, i.e. transport from their original location with the moving solvent front, indicative of weak pigment-linen interaction.)

We now have to consider the interesting possibility that a medieval forger, cognizant of the ‘invisible ink’ effect, might have impregnated some linen with citrus fruit juice (or maybe some other acid/sugar combination) and been able to thermally imprint an image from a suitable template (metal? ceramic? plaster of Paris?) at a much lower temperature than that required using untreated linen. Is the Shroud image really modified linen carbohydrate or a coating that has become caramelised? Shades of Raymond N.Rogers, and his ‘impurity coating hypothesis’ but my model still incorporates the template/scorch model to account for that highly superficial negative image, concentrated mainly on the most superficial parts of the weave which rival models struggle to explain (Rogers with his migrating sugars) or which simply ignore (all the radiation models) ….

David Roemer said...

I think Christians should stop promoting the idea that the Holy Shroud is authentic. I explain why here:

My correspondence with the Vatican about this matter is here:

sciencebod said...

How odd. The software on this site is behaving again, with my newly installed Comments tab (top of side bar) taking one to the end, not start of the current thread. (OK, so they are largely my own comments, but they serve my purpose of keeping a low profile while the inanities continue apace elsewhere).

Yesterday I gave vent to another pet hate of mine, apart that is from pseudo-science, mainly, nay exclusively of Californian origin (might it be something in the water - or wine?).

Yesterday's target was Facebook and Google. After writing those few words, and seeing them mulled over elsewhere and deemed to be much ado about nothing, I came across this item on my pre-breakfast scan of the news headlines:

iPhone? It's a spyphone: Apple devices can record your every movement

Hidden in Apple phones is a function which logs every journey you take.
Frequent Locations feature was quietly introduced to iPhones a year ago
iPhones are able to analyse the data and work out where you live
Apple claims the data never leaves your phone without your permission
Professor Noel Sharkey said Apple’s ability to track people is 'terrifying'

I rest my case. We all thought the threat of a 1984ish creeping Big Brother society would come from the east. Nope, it's coming from the west instead, some 20 years or so after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I now have Microsoft email getting ever more insistent that I give them my mobile phone number, strictly for security reasons they say (yeah, right). Before I would hit the Next button, and the request would lie dormant, only to pop up again, and again... MS has now started a daily countdown, starting at 7 days, at the end of which I HAVE to give them my mobile phone number (or less threatening second email address, though that could just be the thin end of the wedge).

I must see if I can track down a soundbite I read quite recently from a US Eastern seaboard business magnate. He said he no longer recruited in California, given the number of folk there whose lives and values were plainly out of balance. Modesty prevents me from saying which major European capital was now his first choice when recruiting. Clue: it's mainly English-speaking, and has conspicuous buses that allow tourists a good view.

sciencebod said...

Latest in the BBC's generally excellent but curiously spasmodic series of chemistry is today's on the element bromine, Br2, under the title "Looks sinister".

What marks this series out from all the rest is the care the BBC has taken (generally) to distinguish the elements from their compounds. Thus elemental bromine is correctly described as something that needs to be handled with great care (though I have to confess I was ignorant of the fact that aluminium foil takes fire spontaneously when exposed to bromine - something my teenage-era chemistry tomes carelessly omitted to mention).

However, there was a small frisson on this blogger's part when reading of the mishap with bromine that caused burns and scabs that took months to heal. One of my triumphs as a late 1950s amateur chemist with bedroom laboratory was to groom the local pharmacist (or "chemist" as we used to say) into supplying me with increasingly aggressive chemicals. The day he handed me the bottle of elemental bromine could be described as a red-letter day, or should one say red-brown (fuming liquid) day. I can't as yet recall the various experiments I did with it, except reacting it with white and red phosphorus - also pharmacist supplied. One one memorable day I recall trying to decant bromine from the wide-necked bottle into a narrow test-tube, and wondering why there was none going into the tube, despite having the bottle at a steep angle. Shock horror. It was not going into the tube, but between the angles of all my fingers. There is a big advantage with having a bedroom laboratory: the bathroom is right next door, to which I hot-foooted to flush away one of the most chemically reactive of the non-metal elements.

I have to say I'm envious of those BBC science journalists. Their writing style is lean but friendly, which is quite a difficult thing to pull off. One may moan about the side-lining of real scientists in the media - about the so-called ghettoization of science - but when it comes to exposition, the liberal arts graduate who tries his hand at science invariably producess (grrrr) a much better read than the scientist who tries to write for the general reader. I blame the convention of having to write up impersonal scientific reports in the passive tense - it produces a stultifying effect that is difficult to discard, once it becomes second nature, the "done thing".

Anyway, BBC - generally well done (except for that lumping together of two halogen ELEMENTS with halogen compounds (the fluorides). When are you going to do a feature on fluorine the element - the real beast. (I once attended a lecture at the Royal Institution on fluorine the element, F2. Did you know that one puff of the gas is enough to set your clothes on fire?).

sciencebod said...

Have just entered "google glass" "creepy" into Google. There are 342,000 results. Only 342,000? Isn't it time the adolescents of Silly Con Valley grew up?

sciencebod said...

I see that Hugh Farey, BSTS Editor, is quoting Thomas de Wesselow, Cambridge art historian, as saying: “Technically, conceptually, and stylistically the shroud makes no sense as a medieval artwork.”

Of course it doesn't. When was a negative, light/dark reversed image ever offered as a piece of art to be savoured and admired?

The TS was not intended to be seen as art. It was intended to be an unflattering in-your-face imprint on a linen up-and-over burial shroud of a naked traumatized man who had recently departed his mortal coil.

All this talk of art and aesthetics strikes this science bod, philistine warts 'n'all, as a complete distraction from the gritty reality (and, while I hesitate to say it, regardless of one's position re authenticity).

It's the economy (of artistic input) stupid.

sciencebod said...

Headline today's Telegraph:

US threat to British online privacy

"Private information stored online by British computer users could be scrutinised by American law enforcement agencies under new 'right-to-snoop' rule."

See how it ramps up steadily, day in, day out. Uncle Sam, whether governmental or non- governmental (a distinction which hardly matters anymore when the two are operating hand-in-hand) is working overtime to usher in the age of Big Brother.

I'm now seriously thinking of quitting the internet. It won't be easy, but let's face it: our so-called friends across the water have been systematically manipulating and corrupting the World Wide Web from Day 1 as an instrument of snooping and control.

sciencebod said...

No term of abuse was calculated to turn me off quicker in the past than "Western imperialist".

Some of us are old enough to recall the so-called Cultural Revolution in Mao's China, with constant references to "the running dogs of Western imperialism". That was a theme that was parroted by the mindless urban guerillas of our big cities in the 70s and 80s, who falsely claimed to represent the downtrodden of society while covertly seeking to capture and amass protest votes that would catapult them to power.

In Britain, it took Margaret Thatcher to instil some commonsense and send these folk packing.

Now there's a new threat. Let's call them the running dogs of Californian imperialism, ones whose bytes are worse than their barks.

How do we deal with it?

I confess I haven't a clue, but am now seriously thinking of returning to a pre-internet, pre-mobile phone lifestyle, refusing even to book flights and hotels on the internet, dealing direct by landline, paying extra if necessary.

California dreaming? Nope, California scheming. It's time the world turned against these adolescent control freaks, for whom it's a case of "If it's technically feasible, stripping away ever more layers of privacy, then let's do it".

sciencebod said...

The Californian control freaks and the media barons now have the web tamed and controlled. It is now organized so as to serve their click-bait interests only. There is no longer anything that could be described as grass roots internet. Everything is now made to conform to their commercial templates.
When did you last see a newspaper highlight a comment submitted to one of its own threads, the latter under a journalist's article or so-called blog? The only time that vox pop is seen 'above the line' is in the form of 140 character "tweet", usually chosen for to be as bland and unprovocative as possible (only journalists are allowed to have good ideas). The really good points, often surpassing in their analysis anything in the journalist's intro, simply languish and perish for lack of attention.

So why do we tolerate this instant euthanasia of our opinion? Might it be that we are so pleased with that instant oxygen of publicity on MSM forums that we overlook the enveloping blanket of CO2 that follows?

We like to think that web forums transmit our views to the world. They don't (for the most part). They bury them in a morass of new words. Why? Because it's that never-ending stream of 'new words' that is their raison d'etre.

Am I the only one to think (admittedly late in the day) that sensible folk are well advised to steer clear of internet forums? They consume vast amounts of time and effort with little or nothing to show for it. They sap the energy and spirit. They render one easy game for those unhappy misfits for whom the internet is seen as a heaven-sent opportunity to exorcize their own demons by demonizing others.

As I say, the internet has not turned out to be the liberating experience that it once promised to be.

So what's the alternative to the internet, to those of us who like to keep abreast of current affairs and important issues?

That's something to which I shall be giving some thought in the next few days. I can't promise I'll have any new ideas to offer, but if I do, I'll let you know.

sciencebod said...

Speaking of chemistry laboratories, there's one at the centre of the Milky Way, a gas cloud called Sagittarius B2. The heat from nascent stars acting on microscopic dust grains triggers chemical reactions which can form what are described as the building blocks of life. What's more their emission spectra can be picked up on Earth at places like those dish aerial arrays in the Atacama desert.

See the report on the BBC from 2 days ago.

The chief interest for this humble science blogger was the focus on one particular molecule that has recently been detected, the most "complex" thus far, namely isopropyl cyanide, CH3 CH(CH3)CN. It has a branch in its carbon chain, as does many of the aliphatic amino acids that are in our proteins and enzymes, so is being mooted as a possible precursor for amino acids.

Yet nowhere in the article is there a mention of the purine and pyrimidine building blocks of the nucleic acids, DNA and RNA. Where did they get their C-N linkages? Some years ago I figured they could have been derived from hydrogen cyanide or the related cyanogen. It's all in my fourth most-visited posting (see sidebar), backed up by laboratory evidence (not mine!) that the building blocks of DNA/RNA do indeed form spontaneously if one mixes cyanides with caustic alkali. Well, now we have evidence that the vital cyanide precursors - preformed organic ones, some at least with branched carbon chains - are floating around in dust clouds. What a feat of spectroscopy to be able to pick up their signatures thousands of light years away.
It'll be interesting to see what chemistry is uncovered, assuming next month's planned landing of the European probe on that comet goes according to plan after its remarkable 10 year journey to "catch up". The lander comes equipped with a drill for extracting a sample several cm beneath the surface and analysing it in situ. Will it find cyanides - or, assuming them to have been originally present, will they all have been vaporised off by now in the comet's 'fiery' tail?

sciencebod said...

From this morning's Mail on Sunday:

Super-rich married Minister... and a fatal penchant for social media sites: Brooks Newmark's undoing comes just two years after becoming first MP sacked for his obsession with tweeting.

"Brooks Newmark, 56, lost his job as a Tory Whip two years ago after posting a stream of showbusiness-themed messages – including whether he should watch Downton Abbey or Spooks."

Welcome to the celebrity-obsessed twittering class - who run (or claim to run) the country as a sideline.

Might there still be that hidden epidemic of mad cow disease still lurking that was threatened back in the 90s? Or is quasi-viral Twitter a bigger threat than prions and BSE to the sanity of mankind (well, Westminster MPs anyway, assuming optimistically they qualify for that description)?

sciencebod said...

As indicated, my disillusionment with the internet as a medium for transmitting research results is now total, and indeed it's clear it's useless for conveying ideas generally, thanks to the cosy consortium that has developed between Silicon Valley and the MSM, epitomized by the Facebook-moderated MSM staff so-called blogs etc. Speaking for myself, I'm not into head-banging or flogging of dead horses, and can think of better ways of spending my retirement.

But there's one bit of unfinished business, alluded to earlier, namely my lemon-juice model alluded to earlier. I've just updated that posting from nearly two years ago with some confirmatory data and improved photographic record of what was seen, namely that line that has been thermally-sensitized with lemon-juice impregnation responds to contact-scorching at a lower temperature, and that the resulting scorch imprints do NOT wash out with water.

Notwithstanding Occam's razor, I do believe the tweaked scorch model, incorporating the "invisible ink" effect that is achievable with lemon juice (or maybe a close relative in chemical terms) offers an explanation for the superficial TS negative image, one whose provenance might be described as 'thermochemical' (as distinct from purely thermal or purely chemical). It actually has much in common with Luigi Garlaschelli's model, while employing natural organic acids, sugars etc as distinct for those suggested mineral acid (H2SO4?) impurities in artists' ochre.

I'll maybe do some additional tests with model systems, e.g. to see whether glucose/citric acid might substitute for lemon juice, since it's clearly preferable to operate with a chemically-defined system.

But I shall do this at leisure, being in no hurry now to report new findings (if any)in real time, and this site will now return to general science reporting. (I'll make an exception, as flagged up earlier, for Adrie van der Hoeven's thought-provoking pdf which I'm still working my way through, trying to get my senescent head around its plethora of chemical detail, which as I said previously may take weeks (not days) to fully appreciate and digest).

sciencebod said...

Typo: for "line" read "linen".

sciencebod said...

Well now. Life is full of surprises. As I said earlier, I confirmed the lemon juice findings yesterday, and then went on to compare a mixture of citric acid and glucose ('artificial'lemon juice) with a glucose control. Guess what? It's the glucose that it the crucial ingredient that permits scorching at lower temperatures, presumably by a caramelization reaction. The effect is totally indifferent as to whether the citric acid is there or not!

So why is lemon juice routinely recommended for the "invisible ink" effect, if all that's needed is sugar (though I've yet to compare sucrose, i.e. cane sugar with glucose)?

Sugar coatings will inevitably cause the name of Raymond N.Rogers to be invoked, but note my system used the reducing sugar (glucose), and not Rogers' starch (which is NOT reducing sugar unless or until extensively degraded, by means that Rogers failed to enlighten us on). There is no need either for ammonia or other putrefaction amines in my simple scorch system, relying as it does on simple pyrolysis ("caramelization") as distinct from a Maillard reaction needing protein or those simple amines.

I have no intention or desire to report or discuss these findings elsewhere, or my plans for future research, recalling what happened last time my foray into lemon juice as a scorch-sensitizing adjuvant was reported and mauled elsewhere, with one especially vicious 'shroudie' commenter dismissing me and my observations out of hand as unscientific, on the grounds there were no quantitative data. How little some folk know about the scientific method (and oh how they love to advertize that ignorance).

sciencebod said...

There's a crucial ground-preparing role for qualitative research, designed to identify the key variables in a new and familiar system, following which there may then be advantage to be gained from quantitative studies.

To suggest as that commenter did that my preliminary ranging shot experiments were unscientific has to be one of the most crass, half-baked comments I've ever had laid at my door regarding correct v incorrect scientific modus operandi.

Might medieval knowledge of the "invisible ink" effect have served as the inspiration for trumping the Veil of Veronica with a whole-body image, one that could then be marketed as a "sweat imprint"? Sorry to repeat myself, but that's the way my thoughts have been going for quite some time. Think of it as a commercial application of invisible ink that few if any would spot as the enabling technology and which could be hushed up, so as to preserve the idea of 'uniqueness'.

I see I'm not the first to mutter about "invisible ink". Lynn Picknett and Clive Price have popped up in my Google searches, they you recall being the authors of the claim for the TS image being that of Leonardo Da Vinci, the result of his supposed experiments with a camera obscura read precocious 'photography'. More on that later maybe.

sciencebod said...

Typo: "unfamiliar" system, of course.

sciencebod said...

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. The chief objections raised so far to painting are that it should have left either traces of pigment or brush marks or both. But suppose one painted with a sugary syrup or similar as invisible ink that scarcely penetrated the weave, and then 'developed' the image. (That could be done either by placing the entire fabric in an oven long enough to brown the sugars but less so the linen OR to let the syrup dry and harden, and then go over the image areas with a small heated flat iron.

Hey presto, one has an image that needed no extrinsic pigment as such (one can hardly count sugar precursor as pigment) and there would be little risk of brush marks - especially if a dabber had been used instead of a brush.

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, doing my "unscientific" experiments, attempting to get some insights into possible ways of distinguishing different kinds of superficial scorch - thermal, chemical and thermochemical. Invisible ink is of course thermochemical in its action.

sciencebod said...

Oops. I've been overhasty and jumping to conclusions. Cancel that comment, 3 before this one.

I have this minute compared lemon juice and glucose-impregnated linen. There's a VAST difference, i.e. the scorch is far more intense with the first than the second. So while I earlier excluded citric acid as the crucial ingredient, but found glucose to be better than plain water (control), I still have not found what it is in lemon juice that predisposes so well to scorching.

If it's not citric acid and not glucose, then what else could it be?

sciencebod said...

Whoops. Have just discovered that my technique of OVERLAPPING two treated fabrics and imprinting across the boundary to make comparisons is NON-VALID. The top layer of linen that has the same linen underneath takes a much more intense scorch than the one that has my standard damp underlay underneath, with no protection from another sheet of linen. I had never appreciated until today the importance of that damp underlay in protecting against an excessive scorch intensity. Well, now I know, and must in future abut one sheet against the other, edge-to-edge (as I've done in the past when in less of a hurry). All my current experiments will need to be repeated.

sciencebod said...

OK, so I've just repeated the comparison of lemon juice versus glucose then (separately)versus glucose/citric.

The lemon juice gives a better scorch than either of those, although the difference is not nearly so great as first seemed to be the case in the ill-considered overlap configuration.

So I'm still back at Square 1, wondering what the heck it is in lemon juice that makes it work so much better than glucose or glucose/citric acid.

I'll re-do all the current experiments tomorrow, and then be taking a break from experimentation for a while (I'm running out of linen, among other things).

sciencebod said...

Nine test strips of linen, variously impregnated, were hung out on the washing line a few hours ago, but then the rain came on, which meant unpegging them quickly and transferring quickly to the bathroom, to be draped over the top of the glass shower screen. Fortunately I had cut an assortment of notches in the fabric as an identification code for the different treatments, so there is no risk of getting the various treatments mixed up.

One thing I noticed as they dry (accelerated with electrical heaters) is that the three strips treated with lemon juice are a lot more stiff and coarse than the others, treated with glucose, glucose/citric acid and sucrose - not forgetting water control. Either the lemon juice is a lot more concentrated than I had imagined in its various solutes, or there's a constituent in there that stiffens fabrics on drying. No, it's not starch, at least according to the analytical tables ("negligible starch") unless it's been slipped in as an industrial additive - not impossible - or, alternatively, there's something else there that 'doesn't make sense' at least according to routine analytical data.

The plot thickens...

sciencebod said...

Well' I've just this minute
completed the DEFINITIVE set of comparisons, with linen edges butted, not overlapped, and I can tell you this dear reader. The invisible ink effect that is achievable on linen (I can't speak for paper) does NOT depend on either sugars (glucose or sucrose) or citric acid, nor a mixture of glucose and citric acid. So what does it depend on?

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?

I'll try and write up the latest results on this site in the next few days (but am busy with other things right now).

sciencebod said...

Hunch: it's the phenolics of lemon juice (flavanones etc) that are the responsible agents for producing an intense yellow-brown colour when thermal energy ("heat") is supplied. It looks like a scorch, and it's probably pointless to quibble re the semantics, but if it's a reaction involving phenolics that produces non-enzymic browning then it's more correctly described as, wait for it, a chemical, non-enzymatic browning reaction.

To see the chemistry in all its glory, simply put some lemon juice in a Pyrex dish and place in the oven. I've a photo of what you will see (link in next comment).

Yup, think phenolics. My money's on those phenolics.

sciencebod said...

See the fourth photograph in my lemon-juice posting from nearly two years ago. It shows what happens when you simply heat lemon juice on its own, in a Pyrex glass dish.

Is it any wonder that lemon juice is the agent par excellence for demonstrating the invisible ink effect (and maybe for simulating the sweat imprint left by the founder of Christianity on the 'genuine' burial shroud?)

sciencebod said...

Oops. I forgot the link:

sciencebod said...

So what's the effect of diimide, N2H2, on thermally-changed phenolics? Are the quickly decolorized, as per TS image (Adler and Heller)?

Phenolics have spectral characteristics that are peculiar to aromatcic ring systems. Admittedly there may be some interference from the lignin phenolics of flax and linen, but might it be that ave a potential marker for identifying the presence of an intruder, so to speak - plain old lemon juice as a sensitizing agent, aka invisible ink (or paint, or impregnating medium).

sciencebod said...

See the wiki entry on "Browning - food process".

Note it's subdivided into two sections. the first is enzymatic browning.

It's the second (non-enzymatic browning) that I consider relevant to lemon-juice-aided 'scorching' and maybe (who knows?) the TS too.

Thermal imprinting is far too fast to be an enzyme-catalysed reaction, e.g involving polyphenol oxidases etc. The temperature would almost certainly denature the fragile proteinaceous enzymes.

Nope, I think we are looking at a chemical reaction involving initially largely colorless phenolic precursors that brown rapidly in response to heat and oxygen. Sure, it's just a working hypothesis at present, but hopefully might be testable experimentally in model systems, with a view to developing a test for a diagnostic signature, the presence of which might be detectable in the TS image.

sciencebod said...

Here's a link to the first page (in lieu of abstract) to a paper that focuses on the phenolics of lemon juice.

Has anyone ever linked the lemon-juice invisible ink effect specifically to phenolics I wonder?

Answer: don't know, but if that connection could be established it might provide an important first step in linking the TS image to invisible ink technology.