Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Shroud of Turin - think of it, if you will, as a medieval EuroDisney, designed to attract thrill-seeking tourists, oops, sorry, devout religious pilgrims...

Here are (sorry) 38 points to consider regarding the Shroud of Turin. I may add some more later. I will discuss details and/or objections on this blog (comments premoderated) and nowhere else.

Comments that accuse me of being an internet  troll or similar will not be published. Kindly read my credo, in place since I began "Science Buzz". This blog is primarily about my scepticism re media-hyped gee-whizz science, especially 'pseudo-science', as previous postings will demonstrate, NOT religion...

1.The Shroud was produced by heat-imprinting onto linen, the latter having been coated or impregnated accidentally or intentionally, probably the latter, to make it weakly thermo-sensitive. 

2. The imprinting was done from a template that could withstand heating. It was neither realistic fully-rounded 3D, eg not a statue, nor even a mummified cadaver, except possibly the hands  – as I suggested previously - nor was it 2D (obviously).

3. As many before me has suggested, it  was probably a shallow bas-relief that was created on soft stone or perhaps a soft metal by chiselling, sanding, engraving, gouging etc.

 A  shallow-cut modernistic bas-relief of the crucified Christ 

 Here is a more deeply recessed bas relief

Such objections as I have seen that attempt to dismiss bas-relief do not stand up to close scrutiny. 

4. The relief depth may have been at most a few cm, possibly as little as a cm or less.

5. Dorsal and ventral imprints may have been obtained from two different templates.  Some claim dorsal and ventral images are not consistent. A quick play around with my laptop would suggest as much.

Size disparity - dorsal and ventral images on two halves of Shroud

6. Separate templates may also have been used for the head and rest of the body. Some say the head is too small.

7.The hands and fingers especially were poorly executed, being far too long, and too bony. If really indicating an “X-ray” like quality to the shroud, then why is there not more of a skull-like quality to the head, say, or to the ribs, pelvis, feet etc?

8. Given the skeletal appearance of the hands, with the metacarpals easily mistaken for finger bones, it would be unwise to attach too much significance to a single blood stain indicating the site of a nail puncture being allegedly through or out of the wrist. 

9.  Flogging. marks were carved/gouged onto the template. The pattern looks too regular and systematic . Given the comprehensive nature of the flog markings, flaying might be a better description. It seems improbable that an individual would have survived long with that degree of trauma and rupture of skin capillaries. Fluid loss, dehydration, shock and probably death would have rapidly ensued.

10.The impregnation of the linen was inspired by the phenomenon of “invisible writing”.

Lemon juice and heat from a 100W light bulb

In its simplest form the latter requires writing on paper with lemon juice, allowing to dry and then heating. A sepia brown image is formed.

11.Probably more involved technology was used for the Shroud, e.g. by impregnating linen with one of more components like starch, simple reducing sugars  such as fruit sugars, proteins etc, that are more heat-sensitive than cellulose, but which also have the properties of turning brown when exposed to heat. 

12.There are indeed references to starch on Shroud fibres, and of the colour being confined to a superficial layer:    

13.The template would have been heated, and when at a suitable temperature, probably equivalent to a modern-day electric iron on its highest setting, the linen would have been draped on top, maybe pressed lightly, e.g. with a roller, and removed at the first sign of an image appearing on the top side (i.e. the one that is the reverse on the Shroud).

14.Some say that pressing a cloth over a real person to produce an imprint would leave a distorted image when the cloth has been removed. That opinion was  comprehensively  dismissed in the case of a cloth lightly draped over a person to give partial conformity with natural body contours. See Mario Latendresse (pdf)

15.If the model was a bas-relief then the cloth could have been pressed against the hot template more tightly without fear of noticeable distortion.

16. There is some evidence that it may have been pressed with a board or batten placed lengthwise.

Darker band in central rectangular area, allegedly due to weave

See sharp demarcation between light and dark. Some attempt to explain this away by claiming that it is batch variation in the yarn used for weaving. But the demarcation line is not perfectly straight on the right side (see cheek bone) which is inconsistent with the latter theory. However, there could have been pressure applied briefly at the margins too, to produce a softer image, less like printing, more like a painting with a gradation of tonal contrast.

17. Produced in this way, by thermal imprinting, the image would have been a negative, with most prominent features, i.e. proud of the surface in the bas relief template making greatest contact with the linen. 

18. Thus there is no need to invoke early “photography”, for which the technology did not exist, at least not one that was capable of producing a final “positive“ image which did not happen until 1898.
 Negative v positive

That “negative” image seems to have been the starting point for much of the supernatural hype, especially when the alleged “encoded 3D” claim (see later) was added later.

19.The image is formed only in the superficial thermo-sensitive coating, not on the underlying cellulose itself – except perhaps for the most superficial fibrils. That explains why the Shroud of Turin image can be stripped away with adhesive tape, as demonstrated in the generally impressive studies of Raymond N. Rogers.

20. Further evidence of the superficiality – and easy detachability  - comes from looking at midline of Shroud, which shows a white stripe with no image. The Shroud has clearly been folded along that axis, as evident from symmetry of the 1532 burn marks.

See my earlier post, showing how this  reconstruction was produced by folding and cutting

Folding has probably caused the overlying film with image to strip off.   http://www.theblaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/jesus-christ-shroud.png     see white vertical lines. 

21.The method of contact printing explains why the Shroud image has no features that resemble those of a painted image, i.e. no adhering artist’s pigments of the era, no brush marks, no directionality as regards alternation of light and shade.

22. The observation that brown fibres and white fibres are seen side by side under microscope is suggestive of highly localised heating by contact and conduction, as distinct from high energy radiation.

The highly localised "scorching" is highly suggestive of  imprinting by close contact (heat conduction rather than radiation)

(There is another lower-magnification image that makes the same point better, which I have mislaid).

23 .A second factor may operate to produce selective fibre scorching. As soon as a fibre turns brown due to contact heating, it will then tend to absorb appreciably more energy in the form of infrared radiation from a hot template as well. There is then a positive feedback effect.

24.The half-tone effect, i.e. intensity of colour due to number of coloured fibres rather than density of colour, might suggest that the limiting factor in the pigmenting was the availability of thermo-sensitizer. If the latter were limiting, there would tend to produce an all-or-nothing half-tone effect.

25.Whether considered as a fake or the genuine article, advocates from both sides are agreed that the image is in the superficial coating and that the latter is a carbohydrate that is more reactive chemically than cellulose. There is the saponin theory, the latter being used in early linen production and which contains pentose sugars. Alternatively, reactive sugars could have been added immediately prior to scorching, even something as common as sucrose which splits easily into the monosaccharide sugars glucose and fructose - both of which are easily dehydrated by heat and then prone to caramelisation (browning reactions).

26. Is there any evidence of detail in the parts of bas relief that are furthest from a cloth laid over? If yes, it speaks of photographic imaging, e.g.  with a lens or concave mirror.  If not, it suggests thermal contact printing with no sharp image focusing, indeed no depth of field at all, sharp or otherwise. Indeed there does not. Look at the sharply demarcated boundary between dark and light on both sides of the face. There is no suggestion of ears for example, lurking in that deep recess.

 No obvious ears 

An absence of any detail in the lighter portions suggests contact printing rather than image-forming at a distance. 

27.Others have commented on how the hair looks straight and lank as one would expect from a vertical subject. The template for the head may have been modelled on conventional images of the crucified Christ while still vertically on the cross. 

28.Blood may have been applied to the template when cold, then apposed to cloth before heating. Less probably, blood may have been applied to hot template immediately before draping the linen but that would have risked having some of the blood drying and chemically decomposing immediately. There would be no image under the blood marks, the latter having protected the thermo-sensitive coating from heat. Indeed that observation alone would tend to rule out high energy radiation (uv, soft x-ray etc) since the latter tends to be highly penetrating and would have reached the linen through the blood.

29 .It is not clear why blood would transfer so readily to a burial shroud hours, possibly days after being shed, especially from a crown of thorns (which the Gospel writers say was placed in position before crucifixion). It is a characteristic of blood that it coagulates to a solid, horny clot on standing, and ceases to be a liquid, except for the exuded straw coloured serum fraction. The red blood cells that contain the red pigment haemoglobin become entrapped within a network of fibrin fibrils, forming an essentially solid clot.

30. So-called 3D-encoded information is an artefact of the computerised imaging – which explains why the 1532 burn marks appear as a hologram-like 3D as well as the image itself.

Note 3D appearance of 1532 burn marks (at shoulder level) as well as the figure

It is redundant to ascribe “encoded” information to the image if the same 3D-transformation can be achieved on burns acquired in 1532.

31. With a permanent heat-resistant template it would have been possible to experiment with the same template and more than one sheet of linen to achieve an optimal end-result.

32. There can be little or no bilirubin on the cloth, even after days and weeks, never mind centuries.  Bilirubin is sensitive to light and oxygen, being easily bleached and chemically-degraded, even in vivo (as in the phototherapy of neonatal jaundice).

Bilirubin undergoes photoisomerism and then photooxidation on exposure to light resulting in more polar, readily excretable end products. (This was sciencebod's first research interest while employed as Research Specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital Medical School, 1970-72)

A colorimetric test and other incidental “quickie” spot and tests does not suffice to identify bilirubin, nor is the pigment bright red, as claimed (it is orange). Nor do people become highly jaundiced as a result of trauma: distance runner's foot-strike haemolysis of blood cells (with consequent degradation of haemoglobin-derived porphyrins to biliverdin and bilirubin) produces mild not gross hyperbilirubinaemia, insufficient to alter the colour of blood.

33. Invoking bilirubin appears to be a means of evading the observation that the so-called blood stains would have long ceased to be intact haemoglobin, and are now “haematite”, which is iron(III) oxide, Fe2O3, probably hydrated with one or molecules of water. One would indeed have expected blood to degrade over centuries to inorganic constituents, aided by microbial action in moist air. 
      34. Reports that the blood is type AB, or have markers for male chromosomes, or genes for globins etc etc appear to be at best anecdotal, possibly apocryphal. DNA cloning by the DNA polymerase assay is notoriously sensitive to contamination with recent DNA, e.g. from sweat, fingerprints even,  with a few shed skin cells.

 35. Re hair: any high energy radiation capable of scorching either cellulose or a carbohydrate coating would have degraded hair as well – the latter being keratin, which is a protein. Hair is easily singed. The hair on the Shroud shows little by way of fine detail. Indeed, but for its location, it might not have been easily recognizable as hair.

36. Hungarian Pray manuscript. Said to show same L-shaped pattern of burn holes in the burial shroud. The cartoon-like line drawings show shroud immediately after the Resurrection. There is no emphasis given to holes – they are largely lost among the other markings gs.

The holes could just as well have been a nominal attempt to portray blood spots. The biblical account makes no mention of burn holes. If the creator of the Pray manuscript had meant those few holes to represent burn marks, would he not have added flames or wisps of smoke? 

37. There is much else said about the images on the Pray manuscript that has “the eye of faith”, e.g that Christ shows the same epsilon-mark  on forehead, as distinct maybe from an indistinct squiggle  or that the artist has attempted with his fat “plus signs” to portray a herring-bone weave. One can read far too much into a sketch that gives little if any indication that it was intended to be heavy on symbolism, especially when those alleged symbols like burn marks form no part of the biblical account, and which modern day observers and interpreters  intend merely to buttress speculation about the Shroud of Turin.

38. Conclusions so far:
The Shroud is too elaborate, contrived and stylised to be anything but a medieval fake.  Why have a magically-produced imprint of a crucified man energetic enough to chemically degrade cellulose and/or other cloth constituents, yet also replicating a checklist repertoire of scourge marks (overdone)  blood flows, crown of thorns,  nail exit wounds, etc etc.

It is incredible that modern man should be be speculating and/or fantasizing about miraculous flashes of intense high-energy electromagnetic radiation, indeed coherent laser-beam ultraviolet light . What started this nonsense? Answer: 20th century computer games (converting  faint 2D markings to 3D hologram-like images in what might be called upmarket computer games) together with "revealing" details (nails through wrist etc)  regardless of whether they agreed with the Biblical account or centuries of received wisdom.

It simply beggars belief that folk should fall for this combination of digital jiggerpokery and special pleading. The Shroud can be viewed as a medieval forerunner of Euro Disney – inspired by the same motive to create a spectacle and through it to flog a dream - and about as genuine as the latter’s ersatz fairytale castle.


sciencebod said...

Anyone wishing to see mumbo jumbo posturing as science could do a lot worse than consult this link, from the originators of that "3D encoded" image.

Link to shroudstory site

There is no science there whatsoever. Yup, there is the software designer's applied mathematics (matrix transformation, mapping etc) and computer hardware technology, but there is NO SCIENCE regarding the Shroud - not one single iota. In fact what one sees there makes a total mockery of science.

Don't believe me? Then try playing a game called "spot the hypothesis".

Anonymous said...

I read the above as far as I could until I was overwhelmed with boredom. I, a real scientist with an Sc.D. would completely exhaust myself, picking this article apart.
But the writer does not see his own internal flaw that supports the Shroud. What would be the motive for anyone to go to such extraordinary lengths to create a forgery?
1. Fame and fortune? The creator had to remain anonymous in order to benefit. Any realization would be years later, long after his demise.
2. To enhance the faith of Christianity? But why? If one felt the need to create a forgery, one is obviously NOT a Christian. Why would that person want to "trick" the world into believing something that they don't?

sciencebod said...

ScD of not (in what general area of research may I ask?), when you have some worthwhile scientific points to make - as distinct from tendentious speculation on human psychology and motivation in the 14th century - then I might be moved to respond - but not before...

sciencebod said...

Despite trying to be as undogmatic as possible in Point 5 re the front and rear images, somebody on another site has laid into me, accusing me of having the two misaligned, of being unscientific, of being the class dunce etc etc (ah, the joys of the internet).

I made no attempt to choose a bench mark line for alignment, least of all the feet, given the indistinctness of the latter, especially on the ventral image. I left folk to "eyeball" the two images themselves, using their own preferred reference points, and invited them to agree that one image - the rear- looked larger than other.

However, since pressed on this point, I have just been back to Google image galleries and have discovered someone else's apposition of the two images.

ventral v dorsal

I would suggest that folk use the triangular 1532 burn marks for a quick fix, and then home in on those earlier so-called "poker holes" (L-shaped). One should notice that they are approximately at the same level, making left and right reasonably well aligned for comparison. On that basis I once again SUGGEST that the dorsal image looks taller than the ventral one.

Anonymous said...

This is not even true science( about the Shroud) this is just a bunch of dogmatic fallacious arguments and such nonsense. The sad thing is that a 9th grader can see that. However pretty nice web page and designs. My point is i have no problem with you and think your very proffesional but your arguments are outdated and useless im not debating about this just posting my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that otherwise this is a nice blog.

Anonymous said...

And one more thing saying that Shroud story is not science, i think your mad because you were ridiculed by Dan, Yannick Clement, and Ron

Anonymous said...

Read your article one more time the part on the 3d info IS complete BULLSHIT just clouded judgement and asumptions once again this will probably be my last comment. You don't have to believe it is real but please stop posting strawman arguments and fictituous reasoning with no true basis. Once again a ninth grader has outsmaryed you

sciencebod said...

What price the Shroud having "encoded 3D" information given that the 1532 burn marks also acquire hologram-like 3D images?(See my earlier post).

Playing around with pre-programmed software that makes assumptions about how the image was formed, e.g. projection along the normal onto a plane, is mathematical model-building, NOT science... It only becomes science if used to test hypotheses. No hypothesis was tested. In fact the result were used to fly a kite for an untested hypothesis that was lacking in one important indeed crucial detail - the projection of an image on to a plane at a distance requires an optical imaging system (e.g. converging lens, concave mirror, pinhole camera etc).

Anonymous said...

in case you didn't know about holography, a hologram can only be made from a true 3dimmensional object so what exactly are you ranting about just because te " burn marks" appear to have 3-D info, what you don't know is that the shroud was not expected to act like a cloth-to body relationship. Although you are admirable. Your position on the 3-D undermines scientistsand 3-D experts who know what their talking about.

sciencebod said...

How can yoo possibly know what I know about holography, anonymous? You are overstepping the mark. Not all sites accept comments from "anonymous" contrributors. I may have to block further comments from you and other "anonymous" contributors unless you agree to stick firmly to the facts and the issues.

Oh, and one other thing: I do not go in for "ranting" either. Kindly eschew the troll-like language.

Anonymous said...

Okay i am sorry yes i admit my tone was out of hand. That comment was not meant to be sent i wanted to press preview but i presssed send. My main point was that the 3D image arises from differences in hue caused by the different intensities of "burn-in" on the image, so that anything else that causes a gradation of hue (such as a burn mark) will produce a "3D effect" in an analysis that estimates depth based on hue. Forgive me if you were offended i had no right to do that.

Anonymous said...

Okay I don't know if you read my first apology. I have understood that if i choose to comment then i will be appropriate and not judgemental like i was in my previous posts. Although the first anonymous was not me though. And i will follow your terms and policies and comment in a scientific way.

To distinguish me from other anonymous from now on call me C ( that's not my name)

sciencebod said...

Anonymous (or C as you wish to be known): I still have to be convinced that you are a bona fide blogger, far less a genuine student of the Shroud. I will reflect and get back to you here - probably tomorrow. But here's a unsolicited bit of advice - don't blitz a blog site with multiple short comments, and try to focus on issues, not the man.

sciencebod said...

This is a redacted version of another comment from the above "Anonymous", aka "C" - redacted because it addresses issues raised on a different site. Sorry, C, but any opinions re that other site should be expressed there, not here.

Here's the rest of your comment:

"Forgive me for the profanity but however holography if you should know is not "pre programmed software." Holograms can only be made from 3-D information. What makes you feel the shroud isn't real 3-D? Is it the "burn marks." If doubt the validity of the VP-8 Image Analyzer developed by Pete Schummamer from NASA. Then there are other 3d-software programs that can detect three-dimensional info. Also the main problem i have with your article is lack of links from peer-review and the blood on the shroud is a HUGE problem for the believers of anti authenticity. If you wish to rebutt feel free
God bless and have a nice day"

I'll respond later if you don't mind.

Anonymous said...

Actually the gaunt appereance of the face of the Shroud is due to visual noise in the background due to variegration. Knowing what we know about the cloth, It is seems unlikely that the linen cloth used for the Shroud was produced in medieval Europe. Such cloth was field bleached after weaving. Medieval European linen was not hank-bleached. The woven cloth was soaked in hot lye solution, washed, soaked in sour milk and washed again. Following this treatment it was spread out in fields in the sun. This process virtually eliminated variegation from the cloth. Another interesting point is that Textile expert It is most unlikely that the linen cloth used for the Shroud was produced in medieval Europe. Such cloth was field bleached after weaving. Medieval European linen was not hank-bleached. The woven cloth was soaked in hot lye solution, washed, soaked in sour milk and washed again. Following this treatment it was spread out in fields in the sun. This process eliminated variegation. Since there is variegration on the shroud, It was probably not made in Medevil Europe. Another interesting point is that textile expert Methchild-Flury Lemburg that the 3-1 herringbone weave and style strongly resembles fragments from Judean First Century Masada cloths. This does not prove the shroud is from Israel first century but it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the Shroud is in fact from that period.


sciencebod said...

Who are you trying to impress with the C&P? Not me, I can assure you, having read those same words, bar the misspellings in the first sentence, just a few days ago.

Repeat after I me: must do better ...

Anonymous said...

LOL!--) I'm sure of that. Of course i wasn't trying to fool anyone. what i meant from posting that quote i feel from that the chance of it being medeival isn't very high. I mean what true evidence is there ofthe Shroud being 14th Century? And if your hypothesis is indeed true why go to all the trouble? The hypothetical forger could have used a plain old sheet and could have put some animal blood simple as that. Also wool was quite common in Middle Ages why is their no wool on this shroud? According to jewish customs wool was not allowed on burial cloths. Another point that it just so happens the shroud is 2*8 Syrian or jewish Cubits (trying to remember which is which). Think about it what would be the purpose of going through such lengths.
C ( no C&P this time). Feel free to object to any points. Up until now i've been busy so i wasn;t really able to provide you with more details. Yes I must do better and i will but i might not be commenting frequently because i am busy and yesterday was my first time posting comments on websites.