Saturday, June 20, 2015

A new and simple thermal imprinting model for the Turin Shroud needing only plain white flour and a hot iron - in 12 pictures.

1. Make a thin slurry of plain white flour with cold water.
2.Paint skin with slurry
3. Drape linen over coated skin
4. Gently pat linen to mould to contours.
5. Peel back linen. Flour imprint scarcely visible at this stage.
6. But most of the slurry transfers to the linen, being sticky.
7. Press with hot iron on opposite side from imprint (highest temperature setting) on part of the flour imprint. Leave one side cold as control.
8. Result - a faint image, reminiscent of the Turin Shroud.
9. Is the image wash-resistant? Detach a test portion (right)
10.The imprint withstood 15 minutes immersion in cold water
11. Would it withstand washing with soap?
12. Answer - yes, though a little fainter.

This is very simple technology, needless to say, requiring only plain flour and a hot flat iron (smoothing irons must surely have existed in the 14th century, when the Shroud of Turin was first put on public display (Lirey, France, circa 1357).

Regardless of authenticity, this simple demonstration is my answer to those investigators in Italy and elsewhere who claim that the image of Shroud of Turin can never be reproduced under laboratory conditions. It CAN be reproduced, at least as regards macroscopic aspects, in one's own home living room. Microscopic characteristics need further investigation.

Update: Sunday 21 June

Mechanism of enhanced browning in image zone? Presumably a non-enzymatic Maillard browning reaction between reducing sugars and proteins.

 reducing sugars + protein (or free amino acids etc)  ->  complex mix of yellow melanoidins

(The reducing sugars provide reactive carbonyl groups , the protein etc provides reactive amino groups)

But there are 3 combinations that will need to be considered  that are not mutually exclusive, i.e. two or more may be operating simultaneously:

 Reducing sugar (white flour) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (linen fibres)
 Reducing sugar (white flour) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (white flour)
 Reducing sugar (linen fibres) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (white flour)

The fourth combination,  i.e. reducing sugar (linen fibres)/protein/amino acids (linen fibres), is not listed since that would account only for the slight "scorching" of background linen one sees outside the image areas, i.e. background coloration.

There is also the possibility that proteins are not involved, that the tan coloured image is the result of pyrolysis (aka caramelisation) reactions involving carbohydrates only. Expect to see a postscript here shortly (a few days at most) on the effect of replacing whole white flour with gluten-free starch. The latter will use starch granules isolated from white flour by water-washing and sedimentation, as described in an earlier post here in which nitric acid was used for  colour development of the primary imprint, dubbed the "stick 'n' stain" variant of the generic 2-stage imprinting/developing model.

Speaking of which, nitric acid that is, which was the first means of Stage 2 colour development to be reported on this site, its use is emblazoned on the banner of this blogger's specialist Shroud site., despite being a vicious corrosive reagent towards human flesh,.

Present banner (June 2015) on my site

 But which of the two chief variants of 2-stage imprinting (3 if one counts the promising results with hot limewater) would medieval forgers have been more likely to use:(a)  the use of a hot smoothing iron, as described here, or (b) exposure to nitric acid vapour or solution?

Is the hot iron (or maybe an oven roasting) more likely than treatment with a novelty chemical reagent that was probably little known in the 14th century outside of alchemists' secretive laboratories? Do I need to substitute a collage showing the steps in this posting for the one you see above, if only to flag up the variant that is more user-friendly, i.e. safer to deploy in one's own 21st century home should any readers be minded to check out the claims made here?

I shall make the collage, but may not replace the present one immediately. Better maybe to hold fire on whether the putative forger of the Turin Shroud was more physically or chemically minded. (He did not need to know the chemistry of Maillard reactions to make an educated guess that a hot iron would  scorch a flour imprint more readily than the linen on which it was deposited). (Afterthought: I could make a twin-collage, showing both the "iron" versus "non-iron" method. There's no need to make an instant decision as to which was more probable in the mid-14th century.)

But there again, our medieval forgers, even if alchemist- (aka proto-chemist)- assisted, did not need to know the molecular mechanism as to how nitric acid reacts with proteins to give a yellow colour (xanthoproteic reaction). All they needed to know was its reputation for staining skin yellow, and then have seized on that as a way of simulating an ancient  then 1300 year old whole body imprint (as sweat) by imprinting with ANY convenient organic substance - a proxy for sweat - and developing chemically with any reagent that might turn it a permanent non-fading yellow.

Here's a link to a site on the history of ironing. It's not entirely clear when the box iron, loaded with hot charcoal, first put in an appearance (one trusts they knew to keep the windows open, to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning).

Box irons are still used to this day, e.g. in India:

Box iron with lid raised to show smoking hot charcoal

 Might there not have been a risk of getting red hot embers onto one's prize linen? Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking. Yes, those "L-shaped poker holes".

Source acknowledged(with Autocorrect in MS Picture Manager):
Were they incorporated right from the start  - when the TS image was created, using a box-iron to develop the colour? If so, then from the symmetry, the linen would have been folded in 4 - lengthwise then width-wise (see above link). It's not impossible that the linen would have been folded before 2nd stage thermal development. Indeed, that might provide an explanation for the divider-like faint longitudinal and transverse 'seams' one sees, somewhat paler than the rest of the body image or background regions.

Later thoughts:  prompted by the result of the wash tests with water then soap/water, one could hypothesize/rationalize as follows. When the imprint is heated with the iron, there are two distinct Maillard reactions - one with the flour "impurity layer" and one with the linen itself, each providing carbohydrate, protein or both. It's the browned coating with its Maillard/caramelized products that washes off with soap and water, but those associated with the linen fibres stay put. It is presumably the latter we see today in the faint, scarcely visible image. Originally, the image would have been more intense, due to the impurity derived carbohydrate and/or protein. For Charles Freeman to claim as he does that investigators have totally ignored image degradation over the centuries (to sustain his scientifically-bankrupt line that the TS is  'just a painting')  is not only wrong. It is insulting. Maybe if he took the time to read the scientific literature, instead of dismissing scientists as art history philistines, which they may or may not be (it being of little consequence and probably irrelevant where the enigmatic TS negative imprints is concerned) he would see that image degradation is something that always has to be factored into everyone's thinking, and indeed is and has been, whether formally acknowledged or not, at least where this investigator is concerned. The man is way, way out of his depth in attempting to brush aside decades of detailed scientific investigation that shows the TS image is UNIQUE, and cannot therefore be subsumed into art history, least of all when that requires the qualifying assumption (read fix) that the original artist's pigment have (conveniently) detached leaving no trace of their original presence, merely an unexplained negative image (which Freeman mistook at least initially to mean left-right reversed, as in a mirror image).  Forgive my saying Charles, but you're an incorrigible time waster.

 Update: 21 June

Have separated starch from gluten, and tested them singly and in combination with a hot iron. No obvious browning reactions were seen.  It might be soluble flour proteins that are needed for a Maillard reaction (gluten protein is highly insoluble, which explains why it's so easy to separate from starch granules, simply by washing out the latter from a stiff dough with water). Soluble reducing sugars of flour may also be needed, with intact starch not substituting, even at high temperature.While it's of interest scientifically to understand the chemistry, in particular to confirm or disprove the presumed Maillard reaction, ignorance of the precise chemistry does not detract from the hypothesis proposed, namely that the TS image was formed by a browning reaction in an extraneous organic material imprinted onto linen, probably flour glue (its adhesive properties making it an imprinting medium par excellence).

Update 22 June

Here's a headline that appeared in yesterday's Daily Mail (or Daily Wail as some prefer to call it!).

Note there was an estimable 127 comments when I did that screenshot a few minutes ago. Some of them are mine (as Colin Steven, the first two thirds of this blogger's full name). Began with a brief plug for the latest 'hot iron' model, it being simplicity itself, though the Mail does not as I recall permit links so I chose not to risk it. Got into a quite upmarket discussion (for the hard-bitten, don't-give-me-that-bullsh*t  regular clientele of the Mail that is) with one "Birchy of Blackburn" who says he knows this blogger from "Mr. Porter's site". Has he left comments there one wonders? Can't say as I recall input from the north of England.

Thank goodness those green up-vote arrows and red down-vote arrows of the Mail are not copied more extensively. They seem to bring out the worst in people. I much prefer systems like Disqus, where a down-vote simply reduces the tally of up-votes.

Speaking of which (Disqus) here's an opportunist comment placed just a minute ago on the Disqus-hosted Telegraph:

The Pope joins the EU in a sad world of make-believe


ColinB 9 minutes ago 

Title: "The Pope" ... "sad world of make believe".
Fiddlesticks. For one moment I thought that might be a reference to his paying homage to the Shroud of Turin, allowing one shamelessly to plug (without splitting an infinitive) the latest Blue Peter* "Make Your Own Turin Shroud" shamelessly immodest breakthrough discovery. (Link to this posting).

Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one's 3D subject - whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one's subject.Nope, it won't wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those 'mysterious' 3D properties if you use dowloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding "3D" wherever there's tonal contrast in one's 2D image.

Yup, strictly for home (UK) consumption, I call it the Blue Peter model, it being one you can try at home.

"Here's one we made earlier"

Next experiment: the face/head is the major problem as regards contact imprinting. Luigi Garlaschelli said as much, and considered that a bas relief was needed in place of a real face. But why? Most of the face is fairly flat relief, except for (a) the nose and (b) the eye hollows. That's provided one has made a decision NOT to imprint the sides of the face, so as to avoid lateral distortion. It is a simple matter to imprint off the highest relief, simply by patting the linen vertically downwards against 3D relief, never sideways.

Is it mainly the nose that is the problem? What kind of imprint might one obtain if an imprint were taken with linen that had a cut-out, allowing the nose to protrude/poke through? It's a purely theoretical exercise of course, designed to see if the nose is the major problem, and seeing what kind of contact image is obtainable if the nose is prevented from causing too much deformity in the linen.

It was quite difficult to see any 3D imaging of the nose using ImageJ in its Thermal LUT mode. That might be telling  us something (like the substitution of a more forger-friendly bas relief for a real face?)

I shall also try imprinting crossed hands as per Shroud.. There's a simple explanation for why the thumbs are missing.  Try crossing your own hands, dear reader, as per Shroud, in such a way as to lock them together, to prevent one sliding on the other.  Where's the best place to put the thumbs? The 'thumbless' hands may be prima facie evidence for imprinting off a LIVE cooperative subject who's been told to maintain a fixed immobile position  (as if deceased) while imprinting is in progress.

Update Tuesday June 23

Yes those are the next two mini-projects - modelling the crossed hands and "noseless " face, in that order.

The image on the left are the crossed hands one sees with Shroud Scope (Durante, 2002 with added contrast). At first sight it looks as if the subject's right hand is crossed over his left, partly obscuring the latter. But it's an imprint which creates a mirror image (left-right reversed). The image on the right shows how the subject would have looked had one seen him with one's own eyes and/or taken a photograph. So that is the configuration that I (or my partner) will have to adopt prior to pasting with flour glue, draping with linen and then imprinting: left hand will be placed over right. The thumb of the left hand will be slipped out of sight behind the wrist of the right hand, serving as an anti-slide lock (see earlier) so will escape being imaged. Likewise the thumb of the right hand -  which will simply be kept out of sight by hiding behind the fingers of the same hand. Yes, those "missing thumbs" are easily accounted for in a contact imprinting model. Why might a forger not want thumbs "in the picture"? Easy. Look at one's own hand. The thumb is not in the same plane as the fingers, being rotated at almost 90 degrees out of plane.  It also occupies a lower horizontal plane than the fingers unless the hand is pressed flat  against a hard surface. Any attempt to imprint the thumbs risks producing a result that looks a bit "wrong" as an imprint, even if anatomically correct. Solution: tuck the thumbs out of sight, so they don't get imprinted. Summary: left hand will be crossed over right, then the two coated with flour paste. Linen will be draped over and patted gently, with no attempt to imprint right into the junction of the two hands, thereby achieving that gap in the image where the linen has bridged the step between higher and lower levels. I may even place a small  adhesive pad  at the approximate site one would expect a nail to be used if through the palm rather than wrist to see where it appears as a dimple on the imprinted image.

Afterthought: one does not wait for one's partner to be free if one imprints in "LUWU" instead of normal "LOTTO" presentation. LUWU (Linen Underneath With Underlay) is where the linen is draped over something soft, like several thicknesses of bath towel, and the "subject" pressed into it from above. That can be done solo to get a quickie result. What's more it's more likely to have gaps in the image due to bridging across steps in level, because there's no means of manually moulding linen to contours unless in LOTTO mode (Linen On Top, Then Overlay).
 Preliminary result: will appear here shortly.

Flour imprint of my own crossed hands, LUWU mode, before and after photo-enhancement.

The image on the left is the as-is imprint ( no photediting) that stubbornly remained after (a) thorough rinsing and kneading with cold water (b) vigorous brushing of surface with a tiff-bristle toothbrush (c) application of soap and water. In other words, the image, while very faint (as per Turin Shroud!) is one that might still be there in years, decades, mainly longer. The image on the right is the same, after applying my favourite settings in Microsoft Office Picture Manager (mainly an increase in contrast, with minor adjustment to brightness and midtone setting). Note the missing region (as per Shroud!) where the linen has bridged the height-difference between upper and lower hand.

Negative aspects: there is excessive lateral distortion, an effect no doubt of employing the LUWU imprinting mode with too soft and underlay, causing too much contact between linen and the sides of the wrist etc. That can be easily remedied by switching to LOTTO mode (tomorrow), using manual moulding. My wife has agreed to be the subject, but that will require hands folded in the opposite configuration (right over left) to avoid contact between flour paste and rings!.

Update: Have been accused of trolling for the first of 5 comments placed on a Christopher Booker thread in the Telegraph (currently 6737 comments in total!).

Judge for yourselves dear reader whether this blogger is a troll. Here are ALL my comments to that thread in chronological order. That's not counting the hundreds I used to send to the Telegraph some 2-4 years ago on the topic of climate change when it was a main interest.

Methinks there's a certain blogmeister in South Carolina, USA who needs to lighten up. He also needs to stop using that obsessional single-issue site of his to snipe and make wholly unjustified character attacks.

The Pope joins the EU in a sad world of make-believe

Title: "The Pope" ... "sad world of make believe".
Fiddlesticks. For one moment I thought that might be a reference to his paying homage to the Shroud of Turin, allowing one shamelessly to plug (without splitting an infinitive) the latest Blue Peter "Make Your Own Turin Shroud" shamelessly immodest breakthrough discovery.

(Link to this site).

Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one's 3D subject - whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one's subject. Nope, it won't wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those 'mysterious' 3D properties if you use dowloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding "3D" wherever there's tonal contrast in one's 2D image.

ColinB to Starland sound a day ago 

Seems there's been an awful lot of going up - right from the time when CO2 records began, without a single break in the upward trend. Guess we'll just have to be patient and wait for it suddenly to start zig-zagging, and then collapse back again, as you seem to be optimistically forecasting. Ah, those confident forecasts. Seems they exist on both sides of the argument.

ColinB to SuffolkBoy a day ago 

You surely don't think there could have been that amount of fluctuation in the 19th century CO2 levels, i.e. in different parts of the globe, in different years, so as to make the average the same or even higher than today's?
If the state-of-the-art measurements we get today show consistent values centred around 0.039% (? adjusted for geographical location, seasonal effects etc, proximity to volcanoes etc) that are consistently nudging upwards year-on-year then some might think it's scarcely possibly that levels were yo-yoying wildly as your cited chart suggests when Trollope or Dickens were writing their novels, and went on doing so right through to the sudden stabilizing effect of 'Love Me Do' and the Merseybeat.

ColinB to SuffolkBoy a day ago 

Thanks for the clarification. I checked your link. It's a snapshot of course, with a relatively narrow time window - 6 weeks- with most of the extra CO2 coming from south of the equator. Reasons? Maybe biodegrading of old roots and foliage before new growth and/or rainy seasons get underway. Am not sure. But the pattern on that chart is a result, needless to say, of unequal heating of the Earth's surface and the seasonal effects due to the Earth's axis being tilted relative to its plane of rotation about the Sun. Those same effects create climate but also weather of course, i.e. cyclonic updraughts in the tropics, anti cyclonic down-draughts in the more temperate regions, all helping to even out and eventually equalizing the localized excess or deficit of CO2 relative to the global mean. Moral: beware snapshots, even those on 6 weeks long exposure if discussing weather and/or climate. Best to focus on annual averages, where the CO2 chart is a smooth consistently upwards curve, not the sawtooth one we see in plots of month-by-month values.

ColinB a day ago 

AGW or not? Here we have a supra-scientific, quasi-theological conundrum, one that is setting one Homo interneticus at the throat of another. But there are far more important issues (well, immediate ones) that need our attention, like external threats to our polity and way of life. Sorry, grandchildren, you'll have to wait your turn in the queue.
We need the equivalent of the First Council of Nicea urgently to thrash out the issues, to adjudicate, and then rule on what's a heresy (or at any rate, a sterile tail-chasing exercise that helps no one) and what's orthodoxy.
Or there again, we could compromise (old English pastime). Let's watch closely what happens to the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. If there's progressive melting, regardless of what happens to air or sea temperature, then we can conclude the planet is warming dangerously, and take no chances with those GHGs . Get those solar panels installed and quick.
If on the other hand the ice cover were to remain the same, give or take a few good years and bad years, then let's discuss other more important issues affecting our security and welfare, like, say, the current visa-free mass migration via overloaded vessel from Africa into Europe, the progressive sovietization of the eurozone, the imminent incorporation of Greece into the Russian sphere of influence...

Today, I've put up another 7 or so comments on an entirely different topic, but not a single plug anywhere to my new Shroud model. That trolling must have been a passing phase...

Middle-lane hogging is a dangerous act of wilful stupidity

Further update: 21:10  June 23

This comment has just appeared on the shroudstory site from Thibault Heimburger MD.

in response to Dan:

From Colin in “the Telegraph”: “Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one’s 3D subject – whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one’s subject. Nope, it won’t wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those ‘mysterious’ 3D properties if you use downloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding “3D” wherever there’s tonal contrast in one’s 2D image.”

Colin seems to be a very strange person.
Here and on his own blog he looks like a true scientist.
Now, in “the Telegraph” (!!), we have the very simple final answer.
No Colin, your results have nothing to do with the TS image properties.
Is Colin serious or not ?

Yes, Colin is serious, even when he writes to the Telegraph. TH may not be aware, that this blogger has a long association with the Telegraph. It was at a Telegraph/E.on -sponsored BrainsTrust ("Talking Energy") that he got to meet and talk to Sir David King, UK's Chief Scientific Adviser and other influential policy makers on various matters to do with Green initiatives. I'll see if I can find some links (from 5 or 6 years ago).  Yup, here's something unearthed from from the sciencebod archives.

Daily Telegraph Jan 2, 2010

Close-up. lower right. That's your host, who was invited to pen 10 weekly blogs for the main newspaper, and then invited to put the first question to the expert panel.

And yes, Colin is deadly serious about the new simple two-stage imprinting process. It may not have used white flour (which incidentally was available to the well-off in medieval times, being simple to make in principle by sieving stone-ground wholemeal flour) and it may not have used a hot iron, or nitric acid or limewater for Stage 2 colour development. But I do maintain with a high degree of certainty that the image was produced by a two stage imprinting/colour development that resulted in the image appearing to be intrinsic to the linen fibres themselves, whether that is or is not the case. In fact, the fibres from the latest experiment above could serve as a handy model system for investigating that very question, with a view to applying them to the Shroud itself.  So far, I've avoided speculation as to what remains after the washing procedures described - whether it's still modified flour components, modified linen fibres, or a mixture of both.  Researching the TS image has to be a slow and methodical trial-and-error process, given we have no clues whatsoever as to the processes that took place to produce that image. The STURP findings tell us next to nothing about the chemical make-up of the image layer. Thibault Heimburger, sad to say, is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem, being relentlessly negative and non-constructive in his never-ending stream of dismissive observations.

Update: Wed 24 June

Have posted this to the article by Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield: entitled "The EU referendunm is a race against time"

"Just a few days ago, an Ipsos MORI poll – if you believe any poll since May 7 – reported that 66 per cent would vote to stay in the EU and only 22 per cent would vote to leave."

Where on earth did the writer get that figure? At the DT's recently updated poll (see link to the Ipsos Mori chart) the gap has narrowed to 55% IN and 45% OUT. What's more the two plot lines are converging!

PS The same chart is at the end of the article. Hover one's pointer over the latest portion to get the actual figures I quoted.

Further postscript (IMPORTANT!): there's something not quite right about the DT's chart. If one moves the pointer slightly, one finds there are TWO snapshot polls given for June 2015, with a big difference between the two. Michael Fabricant MP (who penned this article) has quoted the earlier of the two values, which are those put out recently by the pollsters themselves.

Either there's been a mistake in plotting out the IpsosMori data, OR, opinion is shifting rapidly towards OUT, and IM knows that, explaining why there are now two quite different results for June 2015. OK, so opinion polls can be misleading, as shown by the GE results, but there's no need to make them any more misleading than they already are by quoting out-of-date results when things are in a state of rapid flux.

Further update (last on this posting): with help from my wife, yesterday's experiment has been done, but in LOTTO mode(so far at Stage 1 imprint only) I decided finally to use my hands  as the "subject", having tutored my assistant in correct patting technique, use of my camera etc, in the course of which a sudden thought occurred to me which should have come sooner: the way to avoid lateral distortion in this technique is to apply paste only to those parts one wants to be imaged. That way, it doesn't matter if one's assistant is overzealous, gets pat-happy, straying round those forbidden sides! Result,assuming the result is not a total disaster, will be reported on the next posting.

Successful result - a good set of photographs. Draft title for next posting:

Man on the Turin Shroud:  the mystery may finally be solved - at least in principle.

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