Friday, November 14, 2014

I've been misunderstood. I did not claim that the Turin Shroud image was an actual sweat imprint - only that is was made to SEEM like a sweat imprint.

I called them contact scorches in a previous posting, showing their 3D properties in ImageJ.  One could have called them SIMULATED sweat imprints. That does not mean they were real sweat imprints. (The two images, showing effect of  light v stronger applied pressure,  were produced by serially pressing a heated bronze crucifix face-side up into linen with a damp cloth underlay, the latter helping to model a fairly superficial Turin Shroud-like image)

As the comments on other Shroud sites, to say nothing of editorial content, become increasingly bizarre, it's time to set out my own stall more carefully to avoid misunderstanding.

In my last posting I made what I consider to be a major new claim  regarding the faint body image on Turin Shroud - one for which I not unnaturally expect credit if it finds general support - and brickbats if not.

Nope, I don't seek commercial gain, nor media celebrity but do expect academic kudos if as I hope my ideas prove to be the correct ones- and I have reason to believe that the "simulated sweat imprint" idea is not only original, except for one passing mention discovered yesterday in googling.  Let's not beat about the bush. It's a  PARADIGM SHIFT , one that will require a major rehink about the TS and how it was able to capture the imagination through engendering assumptions that never got properly questioned, even to this day.
 From quick googling:

paradigm shift

           A fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.

 It goes to the heart, not just of science and the scientific method vis-a-vis other methods of enquiry. It has a huge amount to say about the theory of knowledge in general - and the way in which our view of the natural and material world can be coloured by our preconceptions, faulty as often as not).

No, the TS is not a painted image, which we thought had been virtually ruled out by the 1978 STURP investigation, a view now resurrected  by Charles Freeman's in his curiously blinkered article in "History Today". It was intended to be seen as a sweat imprint left on top and bottom surfaces ("frontal" and "dorsal") of a generously -proportioned  up-and-over-burial shroud (for which there is no biblical evidence btw).

But just because it was intended to be seen that way does NOT mean that the medieval artisan set out to create an image with sweat, or even simulated sweat, or indeed any liquid concoction whatsoever. So when people ask "Where does that leave the heated template/scorch hypothesis?" which for 2.5 years now has been my preferred mechanism for imprinting a superficial tan-coloured image on linen with negative (light/dark reversed character) and 3D properties, the answer is simple: it's still alive and well, and still being modified  as we speak to try and accommodate this or that detail of the actual TS image.

Why is the scorch hypothesis still in the frame? Answer: because it seems as good a way as any for SIMULATING a sweat imprint, given a contact scorch from a hot template can be as faint and superficial as one wishes - it being a fairly simple and straightforward matter to control image intensity. What's more, while the medieval artisan would not have known it, the resulting image would centuries later respond to modern technology, starting with photography and light/dark reversed  images ("negatives") on silver-coated emulsions, giving the "haunting" photograph-like positive image revealed by Secondo Pia (1898), and later still the remarkable response to 3D-rendering software etc.

But there's another aspect worth noting: if the TS was designed as a simulated sweat imprint, that helps channel one's thinking as to how a medieval artisan, with the materials at his disposal, might have set about the task. Scorching off a hot template is just one approach, but there are bound to be others. The field is wide open to others to come up with alternative suggestions and test them.In passing, it has never been my aim, as a scientist, to respond the challenge one sees almost daily on shroudie sites to "reproduce every detail of the TS image". The challenge I respond to is the one that science has never been able to reproduce the peculiar set of properties of the Shroud - extreme superficiality, 3D properties, lack of fluorescence under uv etc etc. If one could do that - reproduce all the peculiarities that are said to baffle science- then I would stop there, not being in the business of creating forgeries that are indistinguishable form the original. I'm only here for the science.
Louis Figueiredo

In the next few hours, maybe days, I shall be extending this post to take in some other housekeeping details of the scorch hypothesis. One major priority will be to address some objections from Professor Giulio Fanti which I only encountered yesterday, articulated in an interview he gave to Louis C. De Figueiredo.

Question: It has been proposed that the Shroud image was formed by scorching with a hot statue and one of the reasons you contested Luigi Garlaschelli was to say that only the primary cell wall of the linen fibre, about 0.2 micrometres thick, is coloured, also that the medulla of each fibre image is not coloured. Does that go to say that your study challenges the hot statue hypothesis as well?

Fanti's reply:  The hot statue hypothesis is absurd, it becomes evident in the paper entitled
Hypotheses regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud: A Critical Compendium , published by JIST.

The 0.2 micrometers thick layer of colour on the image fibres of the TS is only one of the many reasons why this hypothesis must be rejected. In fact, if you put a linen thread in contact with a hot body this should not last more than thousands (thousandths?) of seconds to reach such a colour thickness. An experimental test using a hot statue would colour at least the whole fibre.

I realize that there are limited opportunities in an interview to state a full case. By the same token, interview soundbites risk presenting an oversimplified view of things that others then take away and uncritically quote, allowing false perceptions to take root. The response of linen fibres to conventional energy sources, notably conducted heat, is almost certainly a lot more subtle and complex than most people think, possibly even Professor Fanti himself, due to a range of factors - physical, chemical, botanical and technological. These are just as deserving of our close attention as the newer gee whizz models, such as the laser-generated coherent uv radiation model (from ENEA's Paolo Di Lazzaro et al) or Fanti's own electrical corona discharge one. What's needed as a matter of urgency right now is more science and less technology (or, while we're about it, the blinkered history that displays a astonishing degree of scientific illiteracy, or indifference, or even contempt - a sad example if ever there was of Britain's still divisive and totally inexcusable "Two Cultures").

11:50 Saturday: Right. Let's make a start on that Fanti reply above.

"The hot statue hypothesis is absurd, it becomes evident in the paper entitled
Hypotheses regarding the Formation of the Body Image on the Turin Shroud: A Critical Compendium , published by JIST."

Click to ENLARGE

But I have not read that paper, and will not be doing so, despite it appearing in what ostensibly is a reputable and peer-reviewed journal. Why not? Because if the paper had come to me, not as an imaging specialist, but simply as a "scientist" I would have rejected it out of hand. Why? Because the proposition that the TS image was formed by any kind of radiation or corona discharge phenomenon clearly shows a pro-authenticity bias, highly visible I might say in Fanti's other Shroud papers, some of which I've heavily criticized in the past for their lack of strict scientific objectivity. It's not just that I think it wrong that a scientist should be so dismissive of the radiocarbon dating, which we know had at least statistical shortcomings. Personally, I do not buy into the argument that failure to sample from more than one site invalidates the entire conclusions. When you are required to have a blood test, you have blood taken from one site. The nurse does not sample from multiple sites, on the offchance that blood has different compositions in different locations. Unless one has strong a priori grounds for suspecting site-to-site variability, than one-site sampling  will suffice, at least initially while methodologies are compared, as was the case with three labs using different variants of the AMS technology.. The claims that the corner sample was unrepresentative does not constitute a strong a priori claim for heterogeneity in my view (whether due to reweaving, repair patch etc). In fact there's contrary evidence that those claims are untrue - notably the continuity of the peculiar banding across the sample region.

So no, I will not be shelling out $25 on the off-chance that paper has anything new or useful useful to say as regards the factual evidence on image characteristics. If Giulio Fanti wants mainstream scientists like me who regard the TS as non-authentic unless or until proved otherwise, he must hive off the objective data and publish it independently, preferably as some kind of web-based communication that researchers like myself can access without charge, and indeed without to communicate with the author directly.  Why not?  Here's why not:

So in the meantime I must work on the basis that there are no data in that paper that greatly alter the status quo re TS authenticity. If there were (published 2011) I think we would know about it.

Oh, and while I hesitate to say it it, were I ever to be interviewed about my position on the TS, I would not start with a reference to my published work, especially when behind a paywall, and expect the interviewer and his readers to mind-read the contents, or stump up the wherewithal. That rather defeats the purpose of agreeing to be interviewed does it not?

Brief aside: I' ve been accused elsewhere by one of the Usual Suspects of doing a 'flip-flop', abandoning the scorch hypothesis for chemical imprinting, with the snide suggestion that it's all to do with "politics" and not "science".

For the record, I have not abandoned the scorch hypothesis or even distanced myself from it, as this posting shows. I still consider tit he most probable means by which a medieval artisan imprinted an image on linen that he hoped and indeed assumed would be readily accepted as being a Veronica-like sweat imprint. I'm merely saying that the "sweat imprint" paradigm means that other options for creating a look-alike sweat imprint should not be neglected.

Why did I embrace the scorch hypothesis initially, and why the current focus these last 6 months or so on "sweat". In both cases the science was supported by evidence sought in the historical context (while acknowledging I'm not historian).  Initially, there seemed a rationale for a  scorched-on image that related to the slow-roasting of Templar leaders (Jacques de Molay etc) in 1314. Others too (Lomas and Knight) had made a link between de Molay and the TS, albeit on a different and 'unintended ' imprinting mechanism, so it's not as if I were breaking new ground. It was only relatively recently that the notion of sweat began to form in my mind. That was based on three disparate lines of evidence - scientific and historical. First the Lomas and Knight mechanism involved a complicated process involving the lactic acid of body perspiration generating singlet oxygen that then supposedly coloured the linen. The sweat seed was sown. Then came the recent discovery of the Machy Mould, with its Veronica-like image of the still  living(?) Jesus above the word SUAIRE, which some see as meaning burial shroud, but which in my view could equally well have meant simply "face-cloth" inviting the Lirey pilgrim to make a link between an established and much venerated Veil of Veronica and the new arrival. Then came a stumbling upon the letter that St.Francis de Sales wrote to his mother with its numerous references to both blood AND sweat on the TS. Everything was now pointing to the TS having been seen initially as a SWEAT IMPRINT. There is no "politics" guiding that view. It is simply an enquiring mind, seeking  evidence wherever it can be found as to the reasons why the TS should make so sudden an appearance and impact in European recorded history, given its  immediate  'celebrity status' despite having no accompanying documentation or even word-of-mouth testimony as to its history prior to the circa 1357 public display.

Anyway, enough of that. Time now to return to the second and final part of Giulio Fanti's broadside against "scorch technology", which is still very much the first string in this blogger's bow (he would hardly be devoting all this attention to Fanti's views were that not the case).

!3:45 Saturday

"The 0.2 micrometers thick layer of colour on the image fibres of the TS is only one of the many reasons why this hypothesis must be rejected. In fact, if you put a linen thread in contact with a hot body this should not last more than thousands (thousandths?) of seconds to reach such a colour thickness. An experimental test using a hot statue would colour at least the whole fibre."

 Am I the only one to think it amazing that Ray Rogers' estimate of image thickness, based on no more than failure to see it in cross-section when stripped off sticky tape sample with forceps, is still quoted and requoted decades latter as if it were a quantitative measurement. It's not. It's a pure guesstimate, based on the inability to "see" it, due to the limited resolving power of a light microscope. Yes, that's right. You can't see it, so it's thickness os not greater than that of the shortest wavelengths of visible light. Some avoid the spuriosu impression of precision by re-stating the image thickness as 200-600nm. personally, I have no diificulty with that as a tiny "thickness", or "thinness", given it's essentially no different from the thickness of gold leaf that medieval artists applied to their reflective illuminated pictures. Yes,though a mere and much trumpeted  fraction of the width of the human hair, it used to be applied and maneuvered into place  on the tipof a paint brush, and 0.2 micrometers is the approximate thickness of the primary cell wall of flax/linen fibres. But it would be nice to have an independent precise measure of the TS image thickness, instead of bandying around that figure as if it were (a) hard science (it's not) and (b) impossibly thin for any image formed with conventional energy sources (Who says? Has anyone checked that out? I doubt it where shroudology is concerned, conventional energy sources being oh so boring and not the stuff of electrifying conference addresses).

There are further allusions to experimental data in the remainder with no indication that I'm aware of that such data actually exist. Note the careful wording of the final sentence: "An experimental test using a hot statue would colour at least the whole fibre.". Has the good Professor ever imprinted off a hot statue and examined the scorched fibres? If so where was that work published? If he has done those experiments, which I very much doubt, then I hope they were carried out with greater finesse than that one-off scorching experiment which his countryman and fellow-authenticist Paolo Di Lazzaro reported to in an attempt to swat this free spirit back in 2012,

OK, enough of the theorizing that postures as science (it's not - hypothesis is of course he driving force of new experimental science. But without the experimentation and testing, it's still speculation, often based on a little knowledge that all too often is shown to be inadequate for the task).

This blogger has scorched linen not just scores of times but hundreds, and is not the least put off by claims of incredible superficiality, unachievable with conventional science (even if he is unable like the rest of the world to measure the precise thickness of that image on individual fibres).

Here's a result I obtained and published early on, using bas relief horse brasses to serially imprint across fabric as the template progressively cooled (more about heat transfer rates later):

One of the horse brasses, top left. Images left to right are serial imprintings from a cooling template.

Close up - approaching limit of visibility.

Scarcely any reverse side scorching (compare with images 3 and 4 on top side)

20:50  Am carefully researching an answer to the final two sentences - careful because there's an apparent contradiction between Professor Fanti's words above, and those that he and his colleagues wrote in their "Macroscopic/Microscopic Paper" in 2010, which up until now has been my bible where the fine structure of TS image characteristics are concerned.

While pausing for a coffee, I had a sudden thought, a bit off the specific topic here, but vitally important in the wider context. Outside of 1st century miracles, but within the context of first century provenance, one has what might be described as a range of 'naturalistic' image-imprinting mechanisms. They all have one thing in common, being "accidental" and unintended. Contrast that with the 14th century simulated sweat image scenario, which is non-accidental and fully intended. Which is likely to produce  the better image, indeed one that is near-perfect in its overall homogeneity of image intensity from head to foot? Answer - the intended result, the 14th century simulated sweat imprint. One might say there are human fingerprints all over the TS image - metaphorical ones that is. Olé..

Back again, Sunday 16th Nov, with one final addition to conclude this posting.

Yes, as I was saying yesterday there's a puzzling contradiction between the final words of that Fanti soundbite and scorching, and what he and associates wrote in 2010 in a (splendid) review that IS downloadable as a pdf (thanks it seems to co-author Paolo Di Lazzaro).

Cancel the Download pop-up that first appears on top of the paper using the x that top left. One can then access the full contents of the paper without needing to sign up if one does not wish to.

Here's what the above paper had to say about the distribution of colour along and around individual linen fibres:

 If a fiber is colored, it is uniformly colored around its cylindrical surface; relatively long fibers show variation in color from non-image to image area [B15]
and later:

 The yellowed fibrils (fibers) are not yellowed continuously over their entire length; the coloration does not appear under the crossing threads of the weave or penetrate the cloth.

and later still:

According to the Evans photomicrographs, the color of the image areas has a discontinuous distribution along the yarn (threads) of the cloth: striations are evident.

What these quotes from the 2010 paper say, drawn from earlier work, can be stated more simply:
where there is image colour on a fibre, it extends round the entire circumference, but NOT the entire length.

In fact, I based an entire posting (other site) on that interpretation back in early 2012 which subsequently became my most visited posting. No one has raised  ever any objection to though I do recall one commentator thanking me for pointing out a detail that he had missed, namely complete circumferential scorching (which incidentally I tried to explain, correctly or otherwise,  in terms of an exothermic pyrolysis of PCW hemicellulose, drawing an analogy with fuse wire). 

Ah, the penny has dropped with me, He's referring to the core of the fibre, extending right through to the centre, to the so-called "medulla", almost certainly a misnomer, the centre of the fibre having a tubular cavity that is bounded by what is almost certainly remnants of the original cell protoplasm (the living "stuff").

As you can see, I'm writing this in real time, and having to backtrack if I've been overhasty in my interpretation of what Fanti is saying. In my defence, his comments specifically re scorching were cursory to say the least. Never mind: let's move on. It's the alleged colouring of the core of the fibre OR the interface that core makes with the central lumen (a better description of the "medulla" that is the issue). How well is that supposed fact documented in the literature? I know that Rogers mentioned the "medulla" as an issue, but let's go back to the 2010 paper above and see if its documented there. Has Fanti done his own scorching experiments or  is he yet again, as earlier with that "200nm" thickness, merely passing the baton from Rogers to a wider readership using Louis CdF as an intermediary? We shall see. Back later.

11:20  In the meantime here's some light relief, a comment from New York lawyer John Klotz on

in response to Dan:
Colin Berry tells us, I’ve been misunderstood. I did not claim that the Turin Shroud image was an actual sweat imprint – only that is was made to SEEM like a sweat imprint. Got it? I thought I had. And I thought most of us had. But: As the comments on other Shroud sites, to […]
While I appreciate your comments on Occam’s razor posted earlier (see e.g. quantum theory) along comes Colin to make the opposite point. His complex theories and speculations all dance around a point he is beginning to prove but can not accept: the Shroud is authentic. Authenticity really is the simplest solution.

Maybe I'm reading too much into that, but is there not a hint that he sees some merit in my current thinking that the TS is to be viewed as a  sweat imprint (ignoring the sting in the tail that it was modelled in the 14th century to represent an imprint, and not of real 1st century provenance).  So maybe the proponents of authenticity will talk less in future of Rogers' Maillard model and more about "sweat imprinting", maybe with some outside help on hand in a 1st century rock tomb to achieve an outcome better than could be expected with just any old corpse. As I said earlier, the TS image is simply too good, with scarcely any missing or indistinct bits to have been  formed by any naturalistic process involving body fluids or vapours. Its perfection points strongly to it having been fabricated with such minute attention to detail as to leave no one in any doubt as to how it should be interpreted (while leaving them totally ignorant as to the clever methodology deployed behind a wall of secrecy).


Back to that 2010 paper. There's only one mention of "medulla" in the entire paper, which I have reproduced (highlighted in yellow) along with the section that follows it that makes the meaning more clear. Be on the lookout for the R word:

(4) The cellulose of the medullas (or lumen) of the 10-20   micrometre diameter fibers in image areas is  colorless [A6].

(5) The colored layers in the adhesive have the same chemical properties as the image color on fibers and according to Rogers, when using pressure sensitive adhesive tapes during 1978 STURP tests, the color of image fibe surfaces, leaving molds of the fibers (i.e.,“ghosts”) in the adhesive [A7].

(6) Chemical tests showed that there is no protein painting medium or protein-containing coating in  image areas [B10].

(7) If a fiber is colored, it is uniformly colored around its cylindrical surface; relatively long fibers show variation in color from non-image to image area [B15]. After detailed microscopic observations by Rogers which were confirmed by G.Fanti  (6,7) important evidence confirms that the image color does not involve the whole linen fiber (A6) but only an outermost layer (A4) which may be called the primary cell wall, or a thin impurity layer which is only about 200nm thick and less stable chemically than the interior cellulose. Only this outermost layer is colored.

The R word isof course Rogers, but note that Fanti is content to say he has "confirmed" Rogers findings (without saying what he used as a model system), to which he gives two further references of his own, though it's not clear whether these relate to peer-reviewed work (probably not by the looks of it)

6    G. Fanti and R. Basso,
The Turin Shroud, Optical Research in the Past, Present and Future
(Nova Science Publisher Inc., New York, 2007).

7  G. Fanti, La Sindone, una sfida alla Scienza Moderna (Edizione Aracne,Roma, Italy, 2008

Sorry, but I have neither the time nor inclination to get involed in a long and probably expensive paper chase, with no certainty of finding what I'm looking for, namely a fully documented basis for the claim that model scorches always penetrate to the centre of the linen fibre, such that the interface between secondary cell wall and lumen ("medulla") is always coloured.

Even if that were the case with the model system described, at the specified temperature, or range of temperatures (let's be optimistic that a range was studied), and given a backing underlay or overlay to act as heat-sink (standard in all my experiments to avoid excessive scorching) , who's to say the image was imprinted onto untreated linen?

Here;s an image from an earlier experiment of mine, comparing the ability of linen to take a scorch imprint after impregnation with lemon juice compared with plain water (the latter as a control). The hot template (an aluminium pencil sharpener) was moved across the juncture of the test and control fabrics as it cooled - a rough-and-ready way of testing temperature as well in the same experiment.

Control (left) versus treated with lemon juice (right)

If, as seems likely on theoretical grounds, the much darker image with lemon juice is mainly or exclusively a Maillard product, formed on the surface by reaction between heat-degradation products of ascorbic acid and proteins (or other of free amino groups) then there is imaging with NO degradation of linen fibres per se, especially as Maillard reactions are endothermic, acting as an ablative heat shield to the underlying linen. The latter explanation is supported by my earlier experiments with dried onion scale leaf epidermis, scarcely more than two primary cell walls, which takes a strong scorch - probably a Maillard product involving remnants of dried cell sap sandwiched between gossamer-thin cell walls - with near-complete protection of the underlying linen.

Back again (15:35): So, I've been back to the primary source of the "scorched medulla" story to remind myself of precisely what Rogers wrote.

Notice anything from the text that accompanies the above graphic. It was NOT a model contact scorch that produced the coloured medullas. Rogers was describing the fibres on the TS that were scorched in the 1532 fire. They were NOT simple conduction scorches that one obtains by briefly pressing hot solid metal against linen. Quite what caused them is anyone's guess. One hypothesis (and that's all it is) is that part of the silver reliquary used toi store the folded TS melted, and liquid silver dripped onto the fabric. But I (and others) questioned that version of events a long time ago, given that it's highly improbable that temperatures in a burning chapel would ever reach high enough levels to melt silver (approx 900 degrees C - I'll be back later with an accurate value). There are three ways of transferring heat: conduction, convection, radiation. A contact scorch is the first of those. The 1532 fire could have exposed the TS to scorching by 2 or even all 3 of those mechanisms.

Sorry folks,  but there's simply no hard evidence that there's a difference between the TS image characteristics at the microscopic level and those that are producible by means of model scorch systems, notably contact scorches. That's not to say there is no difference, only that the evidence being trotted out is at best anecdotal.

Time methinks to conclude this posting, and go and look in more detail at the implications of what I earlier described shamelessly as a paradigm shift. That's the good thing about paradigm shifts, indeed the acid test: they make one think thoughts one might otherwise not had. provided those new thoughts are testable, one is firmly within the realms of science, It's when folk trot out "received wisdom" as if it were established fact, that has never been properly tested, that one finds oneself steered away from highway of science into the barren desert of pseudo-science.

Nuff said, for now at any rate, except for one thing:  science is best left to scientists.

Can anyone play, at science that is? Play maybe, but that's generally as far as it goes. Scientific research requires a curious mix of disciplined and undisciplined thinking. It can take years, decades even, to find the right balance. I'm still learning.

That's it.  Comments welcome.

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