Tuesday, February 7, 2012

One final post from this science bod on why he thinks the Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake

Update: added 10th April 2012:  My continuing research and ideas on the Turin Shroud are now to be found on two specialist sites, the more important of the two being this one.

 This site is somewhat past its sell-by-date now as far as the Shroud is concerned - and needs re-writing anyway. Those who are only here for the Shroud should click on the link above.)

Further update December 2014: I see this posting still gets a sizeable number of hits, so it's as well to point out that this site is once again my major one for any and all science-related topics, the Turin Shroud included, and has been since March this year. In other words, the title of this posting is no longer valid!

Original posting

 Let's start with some cut-and-paste from one of Dan Porter's sites.   There is a graphic and an excellent account of what it shows (and, more to the point, does not show):

Computerised representation of the Shroud image with 3D enhancement

Here is the accompanying text:

"Look at a full frontal picture of a man. The tip of his nose approaches white and the depth of the recesses of his eyes are darker. The roundness of his face from his cheeks towards his ears is progressively darker.  At first glance, the face on the Shroud of Turin appears to be such a picture. It isn't.
How do we know this? All regular pictures, be they paintings or photographs, represent light coming from some direction and being reflected towards our eyes. The eye of the painter or the camera lens is a proxy for our own eyes. The reason the recesses of a man's eyes are darker than the tip of his nose is because less light gets to into the recess. Image analysis shows us that this is not so with the facial image on the Shroud. There is no direction to what seems like light. Something else is causing the lighter and darker shades. That is looks like light to us is an optical illusion.

... with special computer software we can plot the data, the brighter and darker tones, as an elevation. That is exactly what we can do with the image on the Shroud of Turin: plot it as an elevation. 

Let's be clear: You can not plot a regular photograph this way. Nor can you do so for a painting, even a brown and white painting. You can do so with a precise copy of the Shroud, however. 

Not only does this show that the image on the Shroud is not a photograph or painting, it shows that something extraordinary occurred to form the image".


I shall return later and suggest how the original Shroud image was produced, and why it gave rise to the peculiar pattern of light and dark that we see in the green computer-enhanced image above:
First, let's go to the original introduction to this post:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here are two pictures that I consider make it 99% certain that the Shroud of Turin is a medieval fake. You may need to consult some of my previous posts on the subject  - some 20 in all - to appreciate the background - which relate an accumulation of steadily growing evidence from simple kitchen experiments - but I shan't clutter up this final post with a lot of verbiage - the pictures tell all.
The first is a picture of a small metal trinket I brought back from Ghana, which I heated over a cooker ring, then thrust face down into a sheet of linen placed over a tray of sand. It shows the scorch mark left by the artefact.

The second is a picture I took after just 30 minutes of playing with an unfamiliar bit of software, one which anyone can download off the internet - which  converts 2D images to 3D representations.

3D metal object with scorch mark left on linen

 From 2D scorch mark (previous picture) to 3D visualisation
 (This was my very first experiment with the software -  if you feel like further tweaking then I will provide a link to the free software)


Hot from the press!

The scorch mark could be said to contain "3D-encoded" information, right? Based on the intensity of the scorched-on image, right? Just like the Shroud of Turin image right (scorched on?) one that has millions of folks the world over mesmerised?

Take your pick from the 20th century photo album of computerised reprocessing of the Shroud image

What a wonderful thing is this modern computer imaging technology  - able to enhance in glorious 3D a supposedly first century AD image of the crucified Christ. What's more, it was captured, would you believe it, on his burial shroud in his tomb, at the very instant of Resurrection, by a mysterious flash of light - or even uv or x-rays - according to some Shroud scientists?

Nuff said methinks. I shall use the Comments sections to add, or clarify, or respond to reasonable criticism. Message to internet trolls: please don't waste your time - or mine - since abuse will neither be tolerated nor published.

sciencebod aka newsjunkie aka ColinB

Colin Berry MSc PhD (Biochemistry)

emails to: sciencebod01@aol.com

Postscript: arising from comments, another test for my model has come to mind, but it's a little involved. Are you sitting comfortable? OK, I shall begin:

Suppose one took a bust of a person and chose, let's say, 50 points at random, and then, with the aid of camera and computer, converted the image to a relief map, showing contour lines linking points at the same height above a reference line.Suppose one then put that data into a 3D image analyser to produce the kind of image obtained for the Man on the Shroud? How closely would they compare?  Is the Shroud image really a relief map based on elevation?  I don't think it is, so here's what I propose. Take the same bust, and at each of the 50 points that were selected for relief mapping attach a sensitive electronic pressure monitor. Then push the bust with attached monitors into linen/sand and get a pressure reading for each of the 50 points. That can then be used to plot "isobars", i.e. lines joining points of equal pressure. Then analyse that image for 3D properties. It's my guess that "pressure" map would give a better match to the Shroud image than one based on supposed elevation.

Here's another perhaps simpler way of looking at it. The most intense scorch mark in my sand bed model is not necessarily from points that are highest, e.g. the nose but from points that present square-on to the sand when one presses in, giving the greatest pressure, the closest contact between linen and hot metal, the greatest intensity of scorching..

Look at the Shroud image again. Am I not right in thinking that it is the flattest parts that give the greatest image density, regardless of elevation? That is why those closed eyes are so prominent, despite being  relatively low. That is why one does not see the sides of the face, not because they are particularly low in elevation terms, but because they offer little or no resistance to the linen/sand.

I believe the Shroud image should be re-scanned to see whether it fits a relief model better or worse than one based on angle of plane surface relative to an applied force. (I'm aware there may be potential cans of worms in making this comparison, but it seems at least worth flagging up the idea now).

Something else to consider:  Others, e.g. the Bad Archaeology site, have pointed out that the image is "anatomically impossible", that for example "neck is too long". There is a simple explanation for that in my sand bed model. When the metal effigy (bronze statue or whatever) is pushed into the linen/sand the cloth is first pressed against the "square on" features of the face, and then turns a right angle at the end of the chin, when it is then pressed lightly against the underside of the chin before it hits the next plane square-on surface, i.e. the neck.

 Note the two crease marks at the chin and just below. One is dark, the other light, suggesting the cloth is folded in opposite directions, as might be expected if forced to change directions twice.

But here's the crucial point: when the linen is then removed and laid flat, the neck will look too long because the top portion represents the underside of the chin, which can be a considerable length (it is about 10 cm on both me and the missus.)

Oops. I said I would  attempt to explain the peculiar 3D image (green) at the top of the page. OK, here we go. Observe closely where there is shade. The shade is under the eyebrows, under the eyelids, under the nose, under the lips etc. It's almost as it there had been a source of light above the face that had cast into shadow any feature that was beneath an "overhang", no matter how small. Well, once could suggest thatthe face is an image in the harsh glare of an overhead light, captured by some kind of photography, but I do not believe photography had any role to play, and (curiously) those who think the image is in some way or another miraculous have failed to comment on the "top-lighting" effect.

Here's my explanation: all the shaded regions represent parts of the face on a 3D replica, e.g. bronze replica of the crucified Christ that would not be able to compress the linen onto the sandbed, due to being in a plane that is vertical to the one that gives compression. Consider the nose: a small part of the bridge of the nose, pressed into linen/sand, would encounter resistance as the sand is compressed, and would leave a branded imprint. But the underside of the nose, with the nostrils would not. The sides of the nose, being slightly angled, would leave a small imprint, but not a major one.

 It is time that the Shroud image was thoroughly re-examined to see if the image density corresponds to my sand bed theory, and is a mapping of contours in relation to compaction pressure, and with it the degree of close contact between hot metal and linen to result in differering degrees of heat-scorching.

So much then for the Turin Shroud where this site is concerned. I have created (Feb 2012) a new WordPress blog that will report any further results and ideas I may have on the subject:

Spotlight on that Shroud of Turin Without All The Hype


Anonymous said...

Since this is your final post i will post my final comment. I have to say even though i don't believe that it is a fake at all. Nonetheless this has beeen a procative and intresting blog. ALthough the shroud is probably real your tjeories are very intirguing and quite enjoyable.
Congratulations Colin

sciencebod said...

Thank you C, one of just 2 or 3 commenters so far (would there were more, but such is life). Maybe when you have a spare moment you would care to enlighten as to why you think the Shroud is the genuine article...

Anonymous said...

Im at school right now so i probably won't be able to give a detailed response till maybe Saturday but one main reason I am convinced it is real is becauseby one of the feet. Inside the blood there is some sort of trangle that forms in the blood that resembles a roman nail Anotherthig about it is that the triangle is equilateral and corresponds to the Gravity of the blood flow. I asked my Uncle who is a surgeon what tghis meant ( hedoesn't know about the shroud) and said that the Gravity of the blood flow probably came from a realbody. Nonetheless thanks for this great blog anyways.


Anonymous said...

I must say I'm very disappointed by your level of proof. For example your image is almost two grey levels (burnt or white), so your 3d effect is really a plateau or valley effect of eyes, nose and mouth, without the subtlety of in between grey scale values. Looking at your 3d imaging, it looks as though a fair bit of the 3d effect is in fact due to the shadows on the cloth when the photograph was taken (see the off image contours which have nothing to do with the burn marks).
A suggestion on how you might improve on this: try not to burn the cloth, by maybe using a heftier object at lower temperature (ie greater thermal energy but at less intense temp, so perhaps giving time to create some of the subtleties grey scale values in the Shroud ). I still think there are a number of other artifacts on the Shroud that would need to be incorporated in eventually, but all in due time. Lets see how you can improve on this first flaky attempt.
BTW I liked your idea of trying to explain where the crease lines come from, but again I think you fail to be duly self critical to see the glaring faults. For example in your theory, which I initially liked, that it was due to two near parallel edges of a fold in contact with the hot metal surface...but a moments look at the image, display that the parallel fold markings extend even into areas where there is no body image (eg the top of the head creases) and so shouldnt be in contact with metal to make the marks. I dont mean to be unduly critical given that its a first stab at this theory, but I think its way too premature to claim 99% certainty that its a medieval fake based on such shaky data.

sciencebod said...

My interest in the Shroud is as a scientist (or at any rate a retired one), so it's enough for me to know that a 2D scorch image can be rendered in semi-3D with the appropriate software. The rest is technology, which I leave in more capable hands. Yes, there may have been a contribution from contours in the cloth (though I doubt that the shadows would have been able to compete to any great extent with the scorch marks re intensity) and yes, I used a heavily scorched-on image for the trial. Lighter ones are available, as I showed in an earlier post.

I don't intend to pursue the imaging further myself, but if there are those - possibly yourself - who wish to do so then I can give a link to the software, or even give you some close-ups of less-heavily scorched images.

I'm thinking about those crases and the point you make re being outside the image zone. That may be simply because the extremities of a crease, notably the pleats, were pressed up against hot metal while the surrounding flat portions of cloth were not. It's something that could be investigated further by experimenting with a metal life-sized bust or similar, but again it's something I regard as less to do with scientific principles, more to do with technological detail. My interest is not with reproducing the Shroud in every tiny detail - only with showing that none of its image characteristics contravene scientific principles. Thank you however for your contribution, which is gratifyingly "down to earth" so to speak...

sciencebod said...

PS: Something else has occurred to me overnight. It is your assumption of there being just two grey levels, burnt or white. I believe that is unjustified. Yes, I recognize that it might seem like that if one had a very flat bas relief (with either/or relief - raised/non-raised). But it's a lot more complex - and interesting - if one has a fully 3D object, or even as in my experiment a bas-relief that is intermediate.

Imagine one was imaging a hot metal sphere that was pushed into linen/sand. Obviously one will never imprint more than a solid circle, with the same diameter as the sphere. But one might expect a gradation of density in that planar image of the sphere - darkest at the centre, but grading off to the periphery. Why? It's to do with the compression of the cloth against the hot metal. That would be greatest at the point where the sphere first encounters the linen/sand, because the compression is normal to the surface of the sphere. But as the sphere is pushed deeper into the sand, the force between hot metal and cloth will decrease as the angle of contact becomes progressively more tangential, i.e. away from the normal.

So it could be differential compression, and with it differential heat conduction and scorching, that is the true "encoding" process, one which moreover is responding to changes in relief.

I suspect strongly that my scorch images would show subtle differences in density, due to mapping of relief via the differential pressure and scorching I propose. But that is more by way of IT and mathematics, and there are those much better qualified than I to research that area. There's also the point that the 3D image enhancement program is very heavy on memory - it had my laptop fans running at full speed, so I was relieved to get an image when I did and quickly log off...

I consider my job as a scientist is done - having proposed what I consider a realistic and practical model for how the Shroud image was produced. Anything else I do would still be seen as "modelling" and attract the usual putdowns that I see elsewhere ("childish experiments" etc.).

Those who want to pursue it further can feel free to do so. But if they attempt to demolish my thermal/sand bed model then they can rest assured I shall immediately sit up and take notice... ;-)

sciencebod said...

Friday 10th Feb: I have been challenged elsewhere on what might loosely be called the "Raymond Rogers" objection to scorching. It's an issue on which I have been preparing a detailed critique. For now I will simply give a hint as to the way my thinking is going. Here's what I left as a comment:

"One can boil water in a paper bag (mainly cellulose) held over a Bunsen flame. Think what that is telling you about the strength of those zipped up beta-glucan chains of cellulose – and their ability to conduct thermal energy away from hot spots without falling apart … ".

If anyone is interested in hearing more, then let's discuss it here.

Suffice it to say that I am 99.9% convinced that the Shroud image is a scorch, and that given the relatively minor chemical change that accompanies mild scorching (chemical dehydration, introduction of some C=C double bonds that cause yellowing) I think the onus is on others to propose a realistic alternative to scorching - rather than construct internally-inconsistent arguments that maintain the surface damage is minimal, yet in the same breath to suggest that the same highly superficial damage should wreck the internal structure of a cellulose fibre, indeed entire threads. Talk about wanting to have one's cake and eat it.

sciencebod said...

Have just had a sudden thought re those crease marks at the chin and temple especially. They do look exceedingly sharp. Yes. I know linen can be stiff, more so than cotton, and forcing a statue or bas relief into it will tend to crease it up - but that much? One wonders if Raymonfd Rogers was not on to something in suggesting that the linen was impregnated with starch, either because it was used as an aid in weaving, as he suggested, or because it was used to produce a more intense image than would be obtained with cellulose alone. Maybe the starch itself , or rather impure starch, was more prone to browning, or maybe it was used as a carrier for other substances even more prone to browning, thinking of "invisible ink". A coating would help explain why the image-bearing regions of the Shroud could be stripped off with adhesive tape. Better to have the option of making image-formation less rather than more demanding in terms of temperature and other process variables...

sciencebod said...

A scorch is a very subtle change. Were it not for its colour you would generally not know an ironing scorch (say) was there – you could put that scorched item through the wash many more times with no fear of it falling apart. Why? Because a scorch is highly superficial. One has only to introduce a few double bonds into a previously saturated organic molecule such as cellulose, i.e. one in which all atoms are linked by single bonds – each bond being a shared pair of electrons – and that molecule will start to absorb some light in the blue region of the visible spectrum, such that the mix of scattered (reflected) light looks slightly yellow.

This is why there is no quick or definitive chemical test for a scorch – the chemical change is too minor to be readily detected, far less measured, at least by “wet chemistry”. So what did the STURP team do? They turned to fluorescence under uv light as a marker. That is a minefield for possible misinterpetation, especially when comparing scorches of entirely different provenances – like the one that created the Shroud, and that which caused the 1532 burn marks. For start the latter occurred we are told in a sealed silver reliquary which then dripped molten silver to produce those hugely disfiguring holes with charred edges. The conditions for the latter were far more extreme: temperature was much higher, oxygen access would have been limited, pyrolysis gases (hydrogen, carbon monoxide etc) would have been trapped etc etc not only affecting the nature of the new scorch, but probably modifying the properties of the existing ones. Yet because modern or 1532 scorches give “red fluorescence” and the Shroud image does not, we are told the latter CANNOT be a scorch, and even admonished for failing to pay homage to that work. Sorry, STURP team, but I don't think you will be getting calls any time soon from Oslo or Stockholm for that bit of “conclusive” ground-breaking research, and you don’t even get the sciencebod seal of approval either as a consolation prize either... Perhaps if some survivors of the STURP team concentrated more on the science and less on the polemics, they would make greater progress in identifying the chemical nature of the image, and with it some realistic ideas as to how it was formed.

sciencebod said...


sciencebod said...

It's interesting, and perhaps instructive, to compare the 3D imaging of my thermal imprint with the original artefact. Note the prominence of the cheeks that look raised in the 3D image, but are not in the artefact. That's because the cheeks made quick and close contact with the linen, mad a quick scorch imprint, so are accentuated in 3D. Now look at the Shroud image. Is there not a similar effect at work? Look at the features that are accentuated. Is it not more to do with flat surfaces rather than elevation?

Anonymous said...

Here is a comment I have just posted elsewhere - on a site that is giving my ideas a sustained bombardment of negative comment (indeed, it has drafted in some heavy artillery):

"What you see when you look at the negative is what might be described as a "face pressed up against the glass" effect:

Now imagine the process occurring in stages - first the bridge of the nose, then the moustache and beard, lips, forehead, cheek, chin etc. The first to impact against a resistance (in my model the linen/bed sand) will imprint the most, giving the greatest scorch density, then progressively less as it becomes harder to push deeper into the source of resistance.

In other words, what is being mapped - and subsequently displayed in an "encoded 3D image" is a kind of physical relief but instead of picking out the highest points, it is picking out a series of planes. The difference is subtle, i.e emphasising flat surfaces rather than peaks, and might explain many, indeed most of the peculiarities of the image."

sciencebod said...

Note - the above comment,under anonymous, was mine. There's a glitch at present in sending comments under my own profile/site-owners name.

sciencebod/Colin Berry

sciencebod said...

Testing: Introduction to new comment that previously contained a "script error" that prevented it posting here:

Seems there is a determined effort underway right now to dispel once and for all any resurgence of the idea that the Shroud image is simply a scorch. It's a pest, isn't it, that scorch idea. Just when you think you have airbrushed it out of existence with a "conclusive scientific evidence", someone else comes along and gives it the kiss of life - that someone being me right now - but could just as well be someone else with a scientific bent or background and a bit of time on their hands.

Here, off the top of my head, are a few ideas that leave me wondering why anyone would imagine the Shroud image to be anything other than a scorch.

sciencebod said...

Follow on from previous comment (first 5 points in favour of scorching as the mechanism):

1. It's the right colour - a faint yellow-brown

2. It's very superficial - just 200nm thick we are told (though there's some doubt as to whether it's an even 200nm thickness across the entire image areas of the Shroud as someone was claiming earlier today). Be very wary of such categorical statements - the evidence is usually unsatisfactory to say the least.

200nm is the typical thickness of a sheet of gold leaf, by the way, or, we are told the cell wall of flax linen (something I have yet to confirm but have no reason to doubt).

3.Despite some claims to the contrary, there is no compelling evidence that the Shroud image represents an applied chemical pigment, and no evidence of anything having been painted on (i.e. no brush marks or other indications of direction.

4. The image is said by at least one author (Rogers) to be confined to the crowns of the linen threads, i.e. where one loops over another, and is not seen underneath when one probes. This is consistent with a scorch, especially one formed by contact with a hot solid surface, as distinct from electromagnetic radiation regardless of wavelength(there are no grounds for thinking that radiation could selectively scorch crowns and not immediately adjacent areas as well).

5.There is no evidence for anything that might be described as a photographic emulsion, i.e. photosensitive chemical such as silver salts.

sciencebod said...

Follow on from previous: next 5 points

6. The fact that the image is light/dark reversed need have nothing to do with photography. Simple branding, e.g. pressing a hot template against organic material, like a branding iron to the hide of cattle, produces a negative image with no photography, no light, no photosensitive emulsion. It is simply a scorch imprint caused by highly localised conducted heat.

7. The fact that we have separate front and rear images, with no imaging of the sides of the subject is fully consistent with scorching by contact, with cloth making no more than 180 degrees of contact on each surface, rather than a wrap-around effect.

8.There are limited data on the chemical properties of the image. I've read that it is bleached by diimide, N2H2, (apparently formed in situ in a mixture of hydrazine and hydrogen peroxide) which suggests that the chromophore can be chemically reduced, i.e. accept electrons, hydrogen atoms etc, with loss of the chromophore properties. That is consistent with the chromophore having one of more double bonds that can form saturated addition compounds with hydrogen etc, but does not tell one anything terribly specific about chemical structures.

I've also read that the image areas do not bleach with hydrogen peroxide alone, and that it is non-fluorescent under uv irradiation, both atypical we are told of a recent scorch. But the Shroud image is not a recent scorch, and may have lost some "scorch-like" properties over the centuries, e.g. as a result of oxidation by constituents of the atmosphere - oxygen, ozone, NOx, SO2 etc etc. or exposure to em radiation (visible light etc.)

9. The image is currently very faint. It seems improbable that it was always thus, suggestive indeed of a progressive chemical modification over the years that have caused loss of the initial chromophore(s).

10. There is said to be a faint image of the face on the reverse side. Can that be consistent with contact printing an scorching? maybe. I will make that the subject of a separate comment. Clue: I shall cite Newton's cradle as an analogy ;-)

sciencebod said...

Final 4 points:

11. I've read somewhere that the coloured image fibres are weaker than surrounding ones, based on greater ease of detachment with adhesive tape. That seems fully consistent with scorching.

12. The detachability generally of the image areas with adhesive tape, and the presence of the image in a kind of surface skin has been cited by Rogers as evidence that it is not the cellulose fibres themselves that are scorched, but non-cellulosic carbohydrates 9e.g. starch, saponins, pentose sugars etc) acquired during weaving. That is interesting, and needs careful consideration, but is not evidence against scorching. Cellulose is not the only carbohydrate that is susceptible to pyrolysis to form yellow or brown chromophores by simple chemical dehydration and secondary reactions (introduction of double bonds, new cyclic structure etc). There is also the possibility of Maillard reactions between carbohydrates and the amino groups of proteins etc, which are largely responsible for the colour of toasted bread etc ("molenoidins") but those again can be viewed as a subset of scorch marks.

13.The "encoded 3D" information in a Shroud image is fully consistent, at least at a gross level, with a scorched imprint. The 1532 burn marks give a 3D-like image as well as the figure itself, John Jackson obtained a "reasonable" 3D realisation with a heated statue, and so did I with my Ghanaian bas-relief trinket (see this post). Thermal imprinting may be mapping changes in curvature, as discussed earlier, rather than elevation per se above a reference plane, since the former will affect the degree of pressure that can be applied between the hot metal and linen.

14. There is the literature on those blood stains, (or should that be "blood" stains?)and evidence that the stains were on the linen prior to the image. That is not directly relevant to the question re scorch or not, except that a scorch might be expected to thermally degrade the blood, which is something that Rogers discounted based on his hydroxyproline test. The latter is not in my view a conclusive test, for reasons I may expand on in a later comment. For now I would simply say that hydroxyproline seems a strange choice of marker for blood, heated or otherwise, and its measurement by pyrolysis without prior chromatography against standards or derivitization prior to mass spectrometry also seems open to criticism (shame the man is no longer around to take questions).

Fourteen points that say that the image is consistent with the properties of a scorch, and no one seems as yet to have provided a viable alternative. But then if you believe the image was caused by a miraculous flash, there is no great incentive to investigate further - one can devote one's time instead to brainstorming reasons on internet forums for why it can't possibly be a scorch mark, and fashioning putdown remarks for those who think it is a scorch, albeit one that has lost some alleged tell-tale indicators of thermal scorching, like that quickie fluorescence test.

sciencebod said...

Stop Press

I was asked elsewhere if the same 3D effect as I showed on my "branded" trinket image could be obtained with a fainter image input. The answer is YES. I have inserted the new image into this post directly under the original one.

sciencebod said...

I have decided to hive off my interest in the Turin Shroud to a new website hosted by wordpress.

Its web address will be shroudofturinwithoutallthehype.com

The aim of the site will be to de-mythologize the Shroud, to show how it could have been made quite simply in a blacksmith's forge, or even in a monastery with a bread-making oven, or, more probably, a link-up between the two. It will address all those "defensive science" arguments that are fielded against anyone who dares to question the idea that the Shroud defies modern scientific understanding (with the often unspoken default position that it must be at least be considered as a miraculous entity and therefore continue to be revered and protected as a holy relic).