In photos – 10 simple steps for reproducing a Turin Shroud-like image

Hello again. It’s almost  3 years since I last posted to this site. It was set up in March 2012, shortly after I set out to discover means by which the Turin Shroud’s ‘enigmatic’ body image could or might have been produced as a medieval ‘forgery’.  (More politely, a modelling of what Joseph of Arimathea’s ‘fine linen’ with a body imprint of Jesus might have looked like 13 centuries later).

Why this site, separate/in addition to my main Shroud site? Answer: the latter was intended to report, possibly for the first time, day-to-day, week-by-week progress in real time of an experimental research project. But when I started to attract flak on Dan Porter’s now discontinued shroudstory site for my second  model (the so-called “scorch” hypothesis)  I decided a separate site was needed to deal with the more disputatious aspects. In fact there were only 8 postings to this site, but one or two I still consider to have made useful points that will be returned to in future postings here (since the same old pseudoscientific mantra continue to be wheeled out, notably on the Stephen E.Jones site from which this investigator is repeatedly stated to be ‘permanently banned’ and his ideas not fit for the slightest mention. How’s that for Jones’s unique brand of , let’s not mince our words, religious bigotry (which wouldn’t be so bad were it not accompanied by his cavalier treatment of the science, full of short cuts, blind spots, over-simplifications etc etc.).

First, however, it’s necessary to flag up here the state of progress with this researcher’s latest and I believe FINAL model for the Turin Shroud. I refer to the two step thermal imprinting model that uses a combination of WHITE FLOUR and  VEGETABLE OIL  to imprint off a real live human subject, followed by THERMAL DEVELOPMENT of the imprint by oven-roasting.  (That’s as distinct from the hot metal templates used previously to scorch imprints directly in single step mode, now discarded, though having earned their keep in many  useful respects (about which more later).

Here in photos are the 10 or so easy steps for producing an image that matches up closely to many, indeed most of the pecuiar characteristics of that image in its argon-filled glass display case in Turin.


Fig.1: smear one side of hand with vegetable oil.


Fig.2: sprinkle with white flour from above, using a sieve. Shake off excess flour.


Fig.3: drape wet linen over coated hand. Add an extra layer of spare fabric, e.g. a towel. Press down firmly onto top surface only (not sides). Peel of linen with near-invisible oil/flour imprint.


Fig.4: now do the same with the other side of the hand, smearing first with oil.


Fig.5: dorsal side now coated with flour. Excess shaken off. (Note way that hair traps extra flour).


Fig.6: after imprinting onto the same sheet of linen, heat in fan oven up to max temp. of 190-200 degrees C. Note thermal development of the imprint (linen scarcely affected!)


Fig.7: linen after removal from oven, cut lengthwise (see below).  Back of hand on left, palm side of hand on right.


Fig.8: one of the cut halves washed gently in soap and water. Note the way the imprint ‘plumps up’ like a bas relief!. The linen is then vigorously washed with rubbing  to abrade off the loose crust, leaving a faint ghost TS-like image only, incorporated onto/into the linen fibres.


Fig.9: Comparison of unwashed versus final washed/abraded image, top and bottom respectively.


Finally, here’s the appearance of the  before-and-after washing images in the 3D-rendering program, ImageJ:

3d double hand.png

Fig.10: Imprint (before/after washing) with 3D rendering in ImageJ.

As stated many, many times before, 3D properties are by no mean unique to the Shroud image. They are shown by any imprint that has gradations of image density (the software simply elevates image density to height on an imaginary third  dimension (i.e. ‘height’ above the xy plane, the ‘z axis’). Imprints, indeed simple printed images like flags etc with no 3D history respond to ImageJ. There should be no mystique re apparent 3D properties, and no justification for the frequently encountered references in sindonology to the image having “3D-encoded” information as if it were a computer program waiting to be decoded. It’s simply a contact imprint that captured certain features of the relief more than others during the imprinting proocess,  due to factors like planarity  as well as height. (Planariry , i.e. level horizontal surface, favours retention of sprinkled flour in the present model).

More to follow.

Posted in shroud of turin, Turin Shroud | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five technical and long-winded reasons why Barrie Schwortz should stop claiming that bilirubin is the clincher (pithier ones can come later once the media are involved).

1. Alan Adler and John Heller did NOT make a positive identification of bilirubin. Chemical spot tests, or weak fluorescence under uv, do not constitute a positive identification.

2. Technology then available to them in the late 70s was perfectly capable of extracting an isolating bilirubin if it had been there, e.g. Folch solvent partition, removal of lower organic layer, running on tlc against authentic standards. How do I know? Because I was using it myself in the early 70s.

Alternatively the diazo-coupled conjugates (chemically more stable, easier to handle and visualize) could have been extracted and chromatographed as I once told Thibault Heimburger MD.

3. Even if bilirubin had been on the original Shroud centuries ago, the chances of any of it still being there now are essentially zero, given that bilirubin is unstable towards light and oxygen, especially a combination of the two that results in self-sensitized photo-oxidation to non diazo-positive products (colorless, or near-colorless dipyrroles etc). For bilirubin to be suggested as a candidate molecule that would confer stability on the red  colour of fresh blood is quite simply bizarre.

4. Even the suggestion that the blood on the Shroud is “real” is insecure, given that two crucial component  were lacking – recognizable red blood cells and potassium. How can something that Adler and Heller were forced to describe as incomplete blood (“a serum exudate of retracted blood clots) be described as “real” blood without knowing its precise history, and indeed imagining the clot scenario under New Testament guidance (and what’s the latter doing in a scientific investigation of authenticity where the aim was to seek evidence for and against biblical authenticity, and not to go “begging the question”?).

5. A vital piece of evidence needed to be certain that the Shroud blood was “real” is the precise chemical nature of the iron-binding porphyrin centres of haemoglobin, of which there are 4 per molecule. That presumably was the reason for employing the services of Alan D. Adler (a porphyrin specialist). But Adler  was content to monitor uv/visible spectra, plus a few other non-specific tests, and when finding that the spectrum for Shroud porphyrin was atypical, he should have wasted no time in isolating the porphyrin to check it was the right type (protoporphyrin IX).

Protoporphyrin IX, as in human haemoglobin. The central position of the iron atom in haemoglobin is shown by the grey sphere, whose oxidation state can vary (+2 in native haemoglobin, +3 in denatured methaemoglobin)

Protoporphyrin IX, as in human haemoglobin. The central position of the iron atom in haemoglobin is shown by the grey sphere, whose oxidation state can vary (+2 in native haemoglobin, +3 in denatured methaemoglobin)

But he omitted to do so, choosing instead to imagine that the atypical spectrum was due to the presence of his purely hypothetical “trauma” bilirubin. He even embellished the story, claiming that the porphyrin too was an exotic “high spin” species which was also trauma-related.

So the” bilirubin story” is not science but pure conjecture. What’s more the conjecture was narrative-driven, meaning that Adler, and perhaps Heller too, betrayed the very principles at the heart of the scientific method. Result: you now have people like Barrie Schwortz, and even ENEA scientists like Paolo Di Lazzaro claiming that Shroud authenticity is backed up by science, citing the “bilirubin story” which in fact is pseudo-science. That pseudo-science should  substitute for science to make a good “pro-authenticity” story is quite simply scandalous. It’s time the media took an  interest, given it’s been manipulated so easily to make the “bilirubin story” seem as if it were unchallenged fact.

Here’s one retired science bod who spent the first two years of his long research career monitoring the photo-decay of bilirubin in vivo and in vitro, and I tell the world with near total confidence that there is no bilirubin on the Shroud of Turin, at least not in any blood that it acquired centuries ago. The bilirubin story is total moonshine, with the probability of that statement being wrong being  infinitesimally small. If anyone violently objects, the answer is simple. Seek permission from Pope Francis to repeat the analysis on some new blood scrapings. If it’s really the blood of Jesus on the Shroud, would He object to losing a little more (for test purposes) to show the sceptics how wrong they are, he understanding better than most it seems the sceptical Thomasian mindset… (“Oh ye of little faith”).

Expect additions.

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The latest attempt on to put words into other people’s mouths, words they have not used…

The title is a reference to the posting that has just appeared on from Kelly Kearse PhD, immunologist, someone I was quick to praise when he summarised the difficulties of applying ABO blood grouping to Shroud bloodstains.

To say that a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then would be an understatement.

He’s done a posting on John H Heller RIP of STURP. From the first paragraph he wants the reader to know that Heller’s memory and specific contributions to Shroud science, blood especially, are being unfairly attacked by Shroud sceptics (nothing could be further from the truth) and one phrase in particular indicates that he has me firmly in his sights. It’s the one that describes Heller’s colleague, Alan D.Adler as having been described by sceptics as a “mere” porphyrin specialist.  Yes, I described Adler recently as a “porphyrin specialist” but I did  not use the word “mere”. I was responding to the description by STERA President Barrie M Schwortz of Adler in a recent TV interview as being a “world-renowned blood expert”. No he was not, I said. He was not a blood anything.  He was a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in porphyrins. Note the absence of the word “mere”. To suggest I would describe a fellow science specialist as a “mere” anything  in the opening paragraph of a defence of STURP scientists is dirty pool.  (Though  Adler and Heller’s right to be classified as part of the STURP team is questionable given that  neither went to Turin in 1978 and did their work on specimens supplied to them which they had not seen and selected themselves in situ). Are you reading this Kelly Kearse? If you are, then here’s some advice, Kelly Kearse. Quit the dirty pool. (Oh, and kindly stop sniping at my scientific reasoning on the absence of “blood” potassium by the way – you do yourself no credit whatsoever. If there’s little or no potassium there, how can it be described as blood?  Even Adler and Heller did not describe it as whole blood – being forced to use ‘ serum exudate of retracted blood clots’, an attempt to explain away in an authenticity-promoting manner what was NOT there (red blood cells, potassium etc)  thus elevating their brainstorming pseudo-science to Shroudie World received wisdom).

This posting will not just set the record straight on John H Heller and Alan D Adler, and why this particular sceptic has felt the need to research and describe their backgrounds and qualifications, but more importantly the tactics that are now being adopted on, either by its owner, or by certain of its more assertive commentators, to misrepresent sceptics like myself.  As I said a few days ago, the gloves are now off. Dirty tactics are being  deployed, and dirty tactics will be mercilessly exposed  to the light of day (HERE!). Yes,  I shall do that on this (resurrected) site, set up deliberately for just this purpose of confronting polemics and propaganda, rather than sully my main site which addresses the science.

I shall spend the next 24 hours or so explaining why I felt it necessary  to describe Alan D Adler as “porphyrin specialist” without the “mere” anything (given scientific progress depends on the labours of specialists) and why it then became necessary to research the background of his partner John H Heller. John Klotz on knows the reason why. It’s to do with his grubby internet tactics that in an ideal world should have got him slung off for obsessive tracking and trolling.

But here’s a clue to the line I am taking – namely stating the facts. Kelly Kearse claims Heller wrote  a “textbook” on the reticuloendothelial system. No he did not. He edited a multi-author bound volume,  one that at first glance might look like a textbook, but was not.  Textbooks can remain useful for years, decades even. Multi-author volumes of extant research  are bitty and lack flow, and can look dated very quickly, and can involve little effort from the editor apart from selection and foreword, and a short paper or two of his own, none of it peer-reviewed if as usually the case it’s merely a record of symposium proceedings (as was the case with the 1960 bound volume).  Fancy Kelly Kearse not bothering to distinguish between the two.

Update: here’s a link to Kelly Kearse’s response.

He’s clearly missed the point about his decision to insert the word “mere”, and chooses instead, for reasons best known to himself, to concentrate on my use of quotation marks, as here, intended on my part to ensure it was not read as part of my sentence. Forgive me folks if I don’t get drawn into his world of obfuscation and evasion. There are better more edifying ways of wasting time.

As for his tacit acknowledgement  that Heller’s volume was not a textbook, but instead an edited collection of conference papers, with the all-too common perception that being Editor confers high regard and status in one’s field (which I too could claim on that basis, but won’t, since it was an imposed chore) note the difference in modus operandi. Kelly looks to see the way that the book is listed (author or editor) on US versus UK sites.  How did I suss out that Heller was not a textbook author? First I looked at his research publications in Google Scholar, and found scarcely any on aspects of the reticuloendothelial system.  How could he possibly write an authoritative textbook?  So I then put his name and “reticuloendothelial” into Google and began searching both text and images. I quickly found a entry for someone in Google books who had had his conference submission published in Heller’s book. It was then a easy matter to find entries and images that showed Heller was the editor, basically a collator, an intermediary between symposium and publishers, and NOT a textbook author. So, regardless as to who has the greater clout (I say the author, usually) Kelly Kearse was wrong to boost Heller’s credentials by crediting him as the author of a textbook.

More to come tomorrow. But I shall not be content to set the record straight. I shall be exposing this and all future attempts on the part of to make the record ‘unstraight’. It’s been almost two years since I first ventured onto that site, and its modus operandi is abundantly clear. Its business is promoting a narrative, an agenda that says the radiocarbon dating was wrong, that the Shroud “probably” is authentic, and anyone seen to be off-message is perceived and targeted as fair game for baiting and discrediting. Sorry guys, but I don’t bait easily – and my scientific credentials stand up to closer scrutiny than anything you are capable of bringing to bear with your skin-deep acquisition of basic physics, chemistry and biology. Even Kelly Kearse PhD appears at times to be struggling outside of his specialist expertise in immunology, like not appreciating that while potassium is not a specific marker for blood or any tissue, it still has to be there as part of the inventory. If it’s not, then one cannot confidently describe a red stain as being real whole blood, much less 1st century or even medieval blood.

Further update: Thibault Heimburger MD has just posted this comment:

He says that between the, Adler and Heller showed it was “real blood” based on the methaemoglobin presence.

Firstly, the methaemoglobin was detected primarily by a peak in a spectrum – hardly the most definitive test on something that is a red (some have said too red) stain on linen. But that’s not the crucial issue, which is that something missing two key ingredients (red blood cells and potassium) cannot be described as “real blood”. One can only conclude that some constituents of blood were present but curiously not others. What one does not do, in a scientific paper, is then proceed to describe the blood fraction as a “serum exudate of retracted blood clots”, and claim its anomalous red colour is due to trauma (read crucifixion)-related  bilirubin and an exotic species of methaemoglobin without providing more detailed experimental confirmation, and to do all this in a manner that can be seen as playing to a gallery, namely the gallery desperate for assurance that is not just blood, but the blood of the crucified Jesus. What we see here is not science. The speculation goes far beyond that provided by the facts, and in fact distracts from the anomalies that question whether the stains were real blood, as distinct from some handy substitute. I’ve said all this before, and will go on saying it. It is shameless of Barrie Schwortz to proselytize that bilirubin/red blood story as being STURP-based science when in reality it was the fanciful narrative-friendly conjecturing of a porphyrin specialist operating out of area (synthetic chemistry) and posturing as an expert in post-traumatic physiology. As for John Heller, it is Barrie Schwortz and other who constantly invoke the name of Alan Adler, with  scarcely a mention if at all of John Heller. I only became interested in the latter when told I was a poodle barking at a Great Dane., to which I say, check Google Scholar, and open your eyes to the facts.

The more I think about the more appalled I am by Kearse’s language. “dismissed by some as a mere porphyrin specialist” is such an distortion of the words I used as to make one very wary of attempting in future to engage with him as a scientist.  Repeat: it was Schwortz’s hyping of Adler as a “world-renowned blood expert” that was the target, not Adler’s specialization in porphyrin chemistry – which has only limited relevance to Shroud blood unless there is physical isolation and fingerprinting of porphyrin, which Adler and Heller omitted to do. His choice of graphics for the pdf is also highly questionable, some might say begging the question:

kearse graphic croppedEven if from Heller’s own book (left) a picture of ordinary blood with RBC (red) and WBC (blue)  and, presumably, platelets (yellow) is highly misleading, since nothing like it was seen on the Shroud. As for the diagram of RBC breakdown inside phagocytes to bilirubin., what is that but an attempt to give respectability to wild imaginings about the Shroud blood and bilirubin, the kind promulgated yet again recently by Barrie Schwortz (bilirubin keeps Shroud blood bright red, and the bilirubin was due to trauma, see). Yuk. This is Mickey Mouse science, pseudo-science and lots of other impolite things.  It is frankly disgraceful that these fantasies are still being disseminated in the name of religion. Mostof the problems re the Shroud seem to go back to Barrie M.Schwortz. It is ludicrous that STURP’s Documenting Photographer (or one of them) should be pronouncing on matters of detailed science that tax the best specialist minds, yet trip glibly off his tongue in homespun fashion. Likeable banter maybe, but he’s the one who sports the title “President of the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association” and who regards himself the continuing embodiment of STURP research, including matters of chemistry etc. that he is simply not equipped to deal with and discuss. He also needs to allow Google to place all STURP findings on the internet, open-access.

Update: Monday am. Have just placed this comment on Dan Porter’s site:

December 2, 2013 at 2:45 am | #10

“The endless controversy is meaningless”.

For the President of STERA to continue citing that permanently crimson (?)Shroud blood as being due to trauma-induced bilirubin, whether attributed solely to Adler, or by others to both Adler and Heller jointly, is not a meaningless controversy. It is a never-ending scandal that damages the reputation of science. What we see is Shroud authenticity being promoted on the back of phoney science where imagination, a narrative-friendly imagination, substitutes for hard facts, and it’s STURP science, or perhaps post-STURP free-enterprise shoddy science that is being used to give an aura of respectability. It’s so flagrant a scandal that it now needs to be tackled head on, naming and shaming all those responsible for perverting the truth, and being prepared to blow the whistle whether the perpetrators of the phoney New Age science are alive or dead.

I shall use my resurrected strawshredder site to help put the record straight once and for all, and only appear here to challenge blatant misrepresentations and untruths, or to flag up new postings on the other site.

Final reminder: this sceptic has never tried to dismiss Alan Adler as a mere porphyrin specialist. What he has felt necessary was to challenge (yet again) Barrie Schwortz’s repeated description of him as a world-renowned blood expert. No, he was not. He was a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in porphyrins. He was not a blood anything, except that a particular porphyrin, protoporphyrin IX, is part of human haemoglobin, but neither Adler nor Heller took the trouble to confirm whether the atypical spectrum of the putative porphyrin in Shroud bloodstains was or was not protoporphyrin IX. These distinctions matter in science. They are not meaningless controversies.

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop press: here’s the latest example of Shroudie tunnel vision

Here’s a comment that I have just posted to Dan Porter’s shroudofturin.wordpress site .
The image to which it refers is shown at the end of the posting. Do you see the Shroud of Turin in that picture?  Think again, Matt. better still, look before you think. Oh, and please stop giving your highly coloured, self-serving accounts of what I write on Dan’s site,especially on the site of third parties, one which does not welcome my comments.
June 17, 2012 at 5:41 am | #75

If you wish to see hot from the presses the latest example of Shroudie tunnel vision, of seeing what you want to see, then spare a minute to have a look at the current post on Stephen E Jones’s site, and look at comment no.9 from Matt (yes, our very own Matt, who uses that site among other things to totally distort or misrepresent what I say here).

Here’s what he wrote. Take a look at the St.Alexius fresco, and see if you agree with me that he has overlooked the obvious fact (with so many figures duplicated) that it is a before-and-after scene, and that what he interprets as the Shroud of Turin is in fact the sick girl at death’s door – shown on the right again as being “on the mend”.

Matt’s comment

Stephen I got an interesting book on the Christian World in the Middle Ages, I found an image from the 11th century, a fresco from the church of San Clemente, Rome. It depicts scenes from the life of St Alexius, who lived in the fifth century, and interestingly was based in Edessa.
In this image, St Alexius is praying over a sick girl, but look at the object by his right side. It looks suspiciously like a representation of the Shroud of Turin, although it is a bit hard to decipher the detail. At the very least, it is Jesus’s full length image on “something”.


June 17, 2012 3:54 PM

Sorry, playmates, I am not able to embed the picture, since it’s sternly stated to be copyright. Never mind. Simply click on the link above. (Which saves me having to think up a caption, like “Move along, Shroudies – there’s nothing to see here, move along…)

Postscript: entry from the Merck Medical Manual (20th edition): SOTVD Syndrome  (Shroud of Turin Visual Disturbance Syndrome) – a tendency to see the Shroud of Turin in all representations of religious art that predate the Shroud, as determined by radiocarbon testing.  (With a subset of patients exhibiting a variant of the condition in which they make plaintive and  equally delusional  claims that the sample taken for analysis was modern material inserted by “invisible re-weaving”)

Treatment: mainly palliative, with constant reassurance to the patient that he or she is not suffering a generalised cognitive disorder. Advise patient to take plenty of bed rest,   with strict avoidance of internet websites that reinforce their wish-gratifying perceptions.

OK, just kidding, playmates. The current Merck Manual is presently into its 19th edition…. But I’d be more than happy to offer a new entry…

Update( June 18, 10:45 UK time): this comment has just appeared from Matt on that other site:

Matt  said…

“Colin has stated several times that he thinks the pray codex is an inconsequential distraction, given that it is strange he spends so much time trying to debunk it”

In fact, this Colin is on record as condemning what he calls “Shroudie XYZX circular debate”. First field argument X.  If that doesn’t do the trick, field argument Y, then Z, and hoping everyone has by then retreated in boredom, cycle back to X…”  And what is argument Y, the first line of defence of every diehard Shroudie, endlessly recycling the same old repertoire of “debating points”? Yes, you guessed correctly. It is that Pray Codex, which is why I have used up valuable moments of my life in looking at it in detail – long enough to see its obvious deficiencies, and its blatant selecting and moulding of facts to fit a preconception .

In fact, another flaw occurred to me a few minutes ago. We are told there is a mark on the forehead of Christ in the Codex anointing scene (not in any of the others in the series, but never mind). We are told that it is in EXACTLY the same place as the “reversed 3” aka  Greek letter epsilon that is a prominent feature of the Man in the Shroud. But it is not a reversed 3/epsilon – it is just a vague mark.

Spot the epsilon/reversed 3 on the Pray Codex( right) that “exactly” matches that of the Shroud (left) – well, its position on the forehead, well, roughly speaking, well, allowing for some artistic licence and symbolism, well… (Spot the eagle-eyed art historian too who does not miss the finer details that you or I might overlook).

If the Codex illustrator had wanted to show an epsilon-shaped character as evidence he was basing his imagery on the Shroud, then he could, and indeed probably would have shown an epsilon – not a vague mark – and would probably have shown it consistently throughout the series of images. To suggest that a vague mark is a token effort at displaying a particular Greek letter is not only a sad reflection on the mental acumen and critical faculties of those who log  and tediously list so-called  “points of correspondence”, while flaunting their  science degree.  It is to insult the intelligence of his readers – such as still visit there – to say nothing of wasting their time.

Yes, Matt, I shall continue to make reference here on this my ‘strawshredder’ blog – the one I use to show up the level of Shroudie debate, and its use of pseudo-science and pseudo-scholarship. Those who bang on about the Pray Codex demolish their own credentials with no help from me – all I need to is flag up their desperate search for “clues”, any clues, that might temporarily prop up their disintegrating Tower of Babble.

Reminder – my mission is to expose pseudo-science wherever I find it, and I don’t care who I offend in the process, since I believe pseudo-science and its practitioners are responsible for impeding human development and progress.

Oh, and no, I have not been submitting comments to that site under a new username, and the host is revealing himself more and more to be a religious fanatic – one who is pursuing an evangelical agenda, indeed waging war against those whom he labels as “agnostics” or “atheists” simply for expressing scepticism re the authenticity of the Shroud.

People can think what they want, but that’s all they can do, i.e. speculate, since I rarely if ever discuss my theological and/or philosophical beliefs on Shroud forums. I try, as all scientists should, with a ranging shot across the bows to those who flaunt their BSc degree, to keep the testable science separate from the untestable faith and religion.

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Preliminary opinion on that Pray Codex, aka Hungarian Pray Manuscript (the one that is supposed to show the Shroud of Turin)

This is a quickie post, in response to yet another debate (or “wrangle”)  over that Hungarian Pray Codex, and whether or not it shows the Shroud of Turin (complete we are told with L-shaped poker holes).

I’ve already pointed out that what some folk see as the Shroud is nothing of the sort – it is the patterned  lid of a sarcophagus – and the idea that the pattern is an attempt to represent the herringbone weave of the Shroud is interesting. But the lid of a sarcophagus appears in numerous medieval pictures of the Entombment, usually broken up with a pattern to represent some kind of monumental masonry, maybe mosaic tiles etc.

Those who believe the lid is the Shroud then interpret the discarded cloth as the separate head cloth which the Bible said was folded and left in a separate place.

To those who think that, I suggest they take a close look at the following pictures, zooming in on their so-called “head cloth”.  It is much bigger than they perhaps have assumed, extending back towards the angel in a series of folds, decorated with crosses, and ending with a furled end, marked by two wavy red lines. The latter may indeed represent blood, as some have suggested, but the tracking of the blood along the wavy end denotes where the shroud ends – shroud, note, not face cloth.


Homing in on that “face cloth” which I believe represents a shroud.

I’ve blanked out superfluous detail here with a blue marker pen to show what I believe to be the full extent of a shroud in the Pray Codex (shroud, not face cloth), ending in blood-stained folds at the lower left. The fabric is far too big to represent a face cloth, and why would a medieval artist focus on that instead of the shroud?

IMPORTANT: This is not my major SHROUD site.  The current topic there is the detail one can see (or not see) using my new Shroud Scope magnifying glass.

For a lawyerly approach to the Pray Codex, see the site of Stephen E Jones BSc, Grad Dip Ed. (as he signs himself off).

Reminder to whomsoever it may concern (not that it should be necessary):  a lawyer uses evidence to obtain a preferred verdict; a scientist uses evidence to arrive  at the truth.

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

A “Johnny Come Lately’s” eighteen stumbles in Shroud research, all in the space of four months

Please note: this is not my major “Shroudie” site. See also this one, more scientific, less argumentative…

I’ve been described today on that increasingly vituperative Other Site  of being a “Johnny come lately”,  of  “stumbling” on account of inadequate knowledge of the literature. Well, the first Shroudie posting on my sciencebuzz site was certainly not that long ago – Dec 30th 2011 – and since then I’ve produced some 30 postings on three different sites, plus some commentary on The Other Site which today allows a lawyer to brand me as McCarthyite, an internet troll etc – yet one more reason to give that site wide berth.

Here, off the top of my head, and not in any particular order (a bit of a jumble in fact) are what I consider my chief contributions to Shroud science. Science, note, not wild and fanciful speculation… just patiently acquiring and interpreting experimental detail on model systems for imprinting negative images onto cloth and their subsequent photo-editing and enhancement, with occasional looks, often critical, at what else is in the literature.

OK, so here’s what I have “stumbled” upon these last 4 months:


From left to right: 1. A horse brass with image of King George VI; 2. A scorch imprint (“thermograph”) onto linen, then left/right restored; 3.Inversion (negative back to positive); 4. 3D-enhanced in ImageJ software
1 and 2 could have been used to create the Shroud image. 3 reproduces  Secondo Pia’s 1898 reversion of the pesudo-negative Shroud image to the iconic luminous positive photograph while 4 reproduces John Jackson’s 3D VP-8 enhancement based on converting image intensity to vertical height  on z axis above the 2D x.y plane.

Scorching produces negative images that respond well to light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement, comparable to the Shroud’s sepia-coloured pseudo-negative image, probably also a scorched-on image (cf branding by direct contact with a hot template).


Scorch imprint of hot pencil sharpener onto onion scale leaf epidermis, one cell thick, without affecting underlying linen

Demonstration that thermal scorches can be intense, yet still be highly superficial. The onion skin experiment shows it is possible to scorch onto a layer of cells, just one cell thick, with little if any effect on underlying linen.


Scorch imprint from Ghana trinket obtained by pressing it down into linen with underlying sand bed – helping to achieve even contact pressure. (See photo under Stumble 5 below for the dramatic way in which this and other scorch images respond to 3D enhancement in ImageJ software).

A bed of sand or other yielding material, used as underlay, makes it easy to imprint from a hot bas relief onto linen. What would have served as bas-relief for the Shroud image? Metal perhaps, not necessarily in one single piece, but separate pieces that could be imprinted one at a time – the head, the torso, arms etc.

Lirey Badge, aka Cluny Medal.  Click to enlarge.  A mid-14th century souvenir for pilgrims to take home after viewing the Shroud in Lirey Church. But note the figure, who while naked (at first sight) bears little resemblance to the image of Christ – the one that is supposed to have been bestowed by the Shroud. Really naked? Or at least partly decked out in armour? And what about the chain across waist (dorsal view).

Here’s a possible clue to what may have been used as templates for scorching – the Lirey Pilgrim’s Badge, aka Cluny (Museum) Medal, which depicts an image of the Shroud shortly after its first recorded appearance in western Europe when owned by the knightly crusader, Geoffroi de Charny.  There is an armour-like appearance to the dual frontal/dorsal image of the man on the badge (see below under Stumble 18).  Maybe sections of armour plate were used,  for Shroud Mark 1 and the Badge, circa 1355, as a further allusion -cum- metaphor for the last of the Knight Templars  – hideously slow-roasted to death in 1314 at the stake (see below).


From crude cartoon to Shroud-like image (with light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement)

Simple cartoon like sketches with charcoal can be turned into Shroud-like images with light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement


That same scorch from the Ghana trinket, after 3D enhancement., “encoded 3D information” it being an intrinsic property of scorch imprints.

Extensive experiments with bas relief templates, showing sharp imprints that can then be photo-enhanced to produce results that correspond to those when the Shroud image is similarly processed.

6      Re Adler’s hypothesis for centuries old “blood” that is still bright red: involvement of trauma-induced bilirubin is highly improbable, indeed probably impossible, given the chemical instability of bilirubin and its proneness to photo-oxidation . This and other ‘acute trauma-induced’  special pleading rather begged the question.

Alan Adler was an acknowledged expert on porphyrins, but not as far as I’m aware of bile pigments, whereas the latter were my first research interest (phototherapy of neonatal jaundice). In fact my first published paper (1972) was on the photo-oxidation of bilirubin. Linear tetrapyrroles such as bilirubin lack the chemical stability of cyclic tetrapyrroles such as the porphyrins of  intact or oxidised  iron-containing haem pigments.

7       Paolo Di Lazzaros’  and his ENSA colleagues’ ideas on energetic radiation are also highly improbable, not least because they fail to account for  the Shroud image coloration being confined primarily to thread crowns. Their approach to science also begs the question.

As for Raymond Rogers’ vapourgraph theory, the one that requires a steady production for putrefaction amines (from a recently deceased individual?) there are so many qualifying assumptions (starch and saponin pretreatment of linen, elevated temperature to produce rising convection current etc) that Occam’s razor quickly loses its edge. The main objection, as stated elsewhere, is the hair. Why is the hair (“hair”?) imaged so well?  Hair cannot putrefy, yet can hardly assist passage of amines from body to cloth, and indeed would tend to trap gaseous amines. Rogers’ hypothesis was  over-elaborate –  embroidered one might say, and his dismissal of scorching invoked some novel, some might say quirky science (hydroxyproline as a marker for unheated blood etc  etc.   Unheated meat with its high collagen connective tissue, certainly, but not blood).

8         There is a dearth of information on mineral salts to back up evidence that there are degraded blood stains on the Shroud. See my previous posting on this site.


TURIN was painted on with a thin charcoal paste. After drying the cloth was held close to a source of heat (a 60W spotlight). The charcoal was then washed out to leave the scorched-in lettering. The charcoal was needed as a thermosensitizer.

Discovery of thermo-stencilling – which shows that thermal radiation can scorch white linen, but only when a light and heat-absorbing black pigment, e.g. charcoal,  is present. Washing out the charcoal then creates a ‘wot dunnit?’.

Thermostencilling with charcoal could in principle be sued to create a Shroud image by painting a negative-like image onto cloth with charcoal paint, heating,  thorough washing etc, not dissimilar to Luigi Garlaschelli’s pigment/baking procedure, with the advantage that nothing is left at the end except scorch. But it seems unlikely that medieval folk would have gone to all that trouble, given they had no inkling that their efforts would centuries later produce that iconic ghostly luminous positive that looks so deceptively  ‘photograph-like’. A one-off effort to represent a scorched Templar martyr (Geoffroi de Charney (said to have been the uncle of the previously mentioned Geoffroi de Charney) ?Jacques de Molay? see later) seems altogether more credible, i.e. to produce a Mark 1  Shroud. Branding has a practical and logistical edge over  thermostencilling , having the crucial advantage that it  ALWAYS produces a pseudo-negative image – which although looking odd to the uninitiated would probably have been  instantly recognizable by the cognoscenti among surviving Templars as a thermal metaphor for the hideous manner in which the last of the Knight Templars were executed in 1314 on what is now the Ile de la Cité in Paris, at the time a separate small island – the Ile des Juifs).


Those scorched-like  crease marks  on the  Shroud –  a mechanism for their formation via entrapment of a cold spot  – shown in blue above – and scorching of the margins to explain the twin-tracks.


Evidence from 1532 burn holes that the Shroud was curiously and irreverently  folded down the mid-line, bisecting the face of someone supposed to be Jesus Christ. Or was it originally someone else on a Mark 1 Shroud, circa mid 1300s – see 18 below?

12     Criticism, mainly on the Other Site, that the Pray Manuscript has anything useful to offer, certainly not those so-called poker holes. Nobody commented on the red crosses – elsewhere described as stylised blood – yet absent in the “before resurrection” image with the body on the Shroud.

13 First to point out that the Chambery 1532 burn/scorch marks respond to 3D imaging

14     Suggestion that “wrist” nail wound was due to conflation by medieval artists and craftsmen of metacarpals and phalanges (easily done).


I believe I was first to point out that David Rolfe was using as banner a high-definition image that has previously not been available, apparently a still from video footage, which kills stone dead any fond notions about coins in eyes, real eyebrows, real hair etc. But why was that image not been available before, and why is the rest still not in the public domain, or even the scientific domain? How much time and speculation has been expended on artefact-laden prints from silver-salt photographic emulsions? Did anyone at Valencia put this question to David Rolfe? I doubt it somehow… Shroudie conferences are as much about protecting the mystique as advancing the science…


Optimised settings, developed with model systems (scorches onto linen), applied without any further adjustment to the Man on the Shroud

Development of optimised settings for 3D-enhancement of 2D images,  based on a reference 3D  template  (horse brass).  Successful application to the Shroud image. (I discovered today purely by chance that someone else by the name of Geoffrey Ashe as long ago as 1966  had used horse brasses  to produce thermal imprints to simulate the Shroud image (was his also King George VI like mine?). “There’s nothing new under the sun…”


Note the open structure of the primary cell wall, with lacy hemicellulose and cellulose, in contrast to crystalline arrays of cellulose in the much thicker secondary cell wall.

A hemicellulose model is proposed to explain how scorching can be confined to the primary cell wall, PCW, typically 200 nm thick  (1/5000th of a millimetre, roughly the thickness of gold leaf).  It focused on the relatively open network of cellulose and hemicelluloses in the PCW, with relatively little cellulose crystallinity in contrast to the much thicker secondary cell wall with highly crystalline, chemically-resistant cellulose.  It also proposes that the exothermic nature of hemicellulose pyrolysis (cf endothermic for cellulose) may permit selective pyrolysis of hemicelluloses within fibrils, accounting for the half-tone effect (pyrolysis being all-or-nothing within localised compartments)


The Man on the Lirey Badge aka Cluny Medal, generally held to be the same as the Man on the Shroud, but looking more like he had been roasted than crucified, especially when knees are examined in close-up (burned to bone?)

The Lirey pilgrim’s badge aka Cluny medal/medallion shows a man who appears to have been burned/slowly roasted at stake, not someone who has been crucified (see chain round waist in dorsal view- not shown above – possibly filed off in frontal view).

Close-up of that Lirey badge- chain across waist (dorsal view)

Suggestion that the Lirey image, and a putative Mark 1 Shroud image represented a Knight Templar, burned at stake, rather than crucified, but metaphorically “crucified” for standing by his beliefs and refusing to recant.

That’s 18 “stumbles” so far. Not bad for 4 months work, eh?

And with that folks, my Turin Shroud period is over. That’s yer lot, as they say. Time now to let these ideas percolate into the blogosphere and MSM, and see how things look in a year’s time, or even 5 or 10 longer if I’m still around.  Scientists, retired one’s included, need  to take a long-term view, and not imagine that ideas will be instantly accepted – or even rejected. I shall now pursue some other interests, while keeping an eye on other sites, though any comments will for the most part be here where I can blue-pencil the kind of absurdly OTT fulmination that plagues so many internet forums.

Bye…  as regards new content.  (But please feel free to comment/criticize on what’s already here). I may do some editing of this post from time to time – have begun already in fact.

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A retired science bod’s response to David Rolfe and his 7 point Valencia must-do list for scientists who ‘wish to claim scientific credentials’…

Please note: this is not my major “Shroudie” site. See also this one, more scientific, less argumentative…

Foreword: this post replaces a brief one I posted yesterday, written in haste as a first reaction to David Rolfe’s control freakery, his attempt to make prescriptions to  scientists on what they should be doing.  It having received no comments I  decided this morning to delete it, not so much for what it said as what it did not say, substituting this  one instead. But that deleted post has now appeared this morning as the subject of yet another of Dan Porter’s  hugely patronising putdowns of yours truly on The Other Site, which I do not intend to dignify with an answer. But tell me this Dan: what original contributions have you made to Shroud research – not counting the provision of an otherwise useful news-aggregating site? Oh, and here’s a simple experiment  reported yesterday on my other site. 

Just a taster

You and your STURP associates could and should have done it  years, ago, but did not, choosing instead to bang on about the Shroud’s ‘unique’  image properties.  Why not Dan? Answer me that… Could it be that you  and the world of Shroudology – the kind that assembled recently in Valencia – are only interested in one thing – the kind of  “science” that lends further mystery, so will studiously ignore that which de-mystifies? There is NOTHING mysterious about the Shroud image – its strange luminous quality can be reproduced in a few minutes with charcoal, a camera and ImageJ software for light/dark inversion and 3D enhancement. It even works to a degree on a Mickey Mouse cartoon…

Before and after 3D enhancement in ImageJ software

End of foreword

Here’s a picture from the latest in the long-running  series of Shroud Congresses. It shows the organizers, behind whom,  projected on the wall, is  7 point check list of what they must do if they wish to persist with the view, based on C-14 dating, that the Shroud is medieval.

Valencia Shroud Congress, April 2012, showing that prescribed “must do” list for scientists, inserted, apparently, at the behest of documentary maker David Rolfe, as part of his Shroud Enigma Challenge.

Here’s the same list, after removing the parts this retired science bod does not consider need immediate attention, if at all…

Edited version, to remove irrelevant or biased criteria that in many cases are based on preconceptions, in particular that the C-dating was out by about 1200 years due to ‘invisible reweaving’ etc

For those who reject the C-dating for having failed to deliver the answer they wanted, here’s a 1-point must-do checklist:

1. Urge the Vatican to get the C-dating repeated, using a pre-agreed  sampling and analytical protocol that is made public beforehand, and, most importantly of all, is ADHERED TO.

In the meantime, for those of us who remain vigilant to the use and abuse of science, who consider it time well spent to put a spotlight on pseudo-science, here’s my own “might do” checklist, assuming I had the time and resources, and (improbably) access to Shroud samples. But I am not a control freak, not like some I could mention: the list is purely advisory, is not being imposed on anyone, and is not being promoted as a test of “scientific credentials”.  I judge a person’s scientific credentials by their qualifications and their published work, not by whether they see eye to eye on what needs to be done next. For the record, i am a biochemistry PhD, one time Head of Nutrition and Food Safety at a major UK food research association, with some 40 odd years of research and teaching experience.

And David Rolfe? Renowned documentary maker, certainly, but what are his scientific credentials?  More to the point, why is he so keen to impose his priorities for research on others? Or is this less to do with research,  where it is he who lacks obvious credentials, except what he hears at second hand, and more to do with his fixation with Richard Dawkins and the latter’s supposed atheism. I have previously pointed on The Other Site, criticizing   Rolfe’s conflation of the latter with scientific scepticism  when he first mooted his Enigma Challenge. (One can be religious, while considering the Shroud to be of medieval origin; one can consider the Shroud once wrapped a 1st century victim of crucifixion, without being religious). It is not the way to ‘win friends and influence people’, I grant you, but that was hardly a reason for him to instantly place a block of comments I tried to place on his site.  (He still has not explained how he comes to have high-definition images of the Shroud that he uses as a banner, a resource that should be, or rather should have been available to researchers years ago,in the absence of which we have been assailed with fanciful notions about coins in eyes etc etc, much of it  based it would seem on pre-digital  silver-salt photography).

Shroud “might do” checklist (still under construction):

1         Are there serious grounds for thinking that the image is not a scorch, e.g. lack of fluorescence under uv light, superficiality (more correctly double-superficiality if there really is a faint obverse side image)? Do the spectral changes that accompany bleaching by powerful reductants, e.g. diimide,  match those obtained by bleaching ancient or modern scorch marks?

(ed: see second comment below which addresses this question of reversibility of scorching by diimide, and whether it would be expected to cause a change in visible appearance, as claimed by Rogers in 2004)

2         Are the image characteristics consistent with those of a contact scorch as compared, say, with an at-a-distance radiation scorch, e.g. confinement of image to crowns of fibres, all-or-nothing  half-tone effects, 360 degree annular coloration of individual fibrils, obverse-side imaging  etc.

3     Is it true, as some persist in saying, that one cannot produce a scorch without it scorching the obverse side as well?   That claim needs to be rigorously tested  (and probably dismissed) e.g. by suitable control of temperature, time, moisture content, nature of underlay, contact pressure, nature of weave pattern etc?

4         Are there reagents or spectral techniques that can distinguish between the chemical  bonding in a Maillard reaction product (sugar-amine reaction) and caramel-like pyrolysis products of linen fibres with no exogenous source of nitrogen that could then be applied to the Shroud, were re-testing to be permitted?  Is there evidence for additional nitrogen in the imaged areas that would be required by Rogers’ putrefaction amine hypothesis?

5         Do some model studies with ageing blood, with additions of bilirubin, to see if Adler’s hypothesis is more than just a hunch. The added bilirubin will not only need to produce a bright red colour, preventing the stain from going brown or black, but confer total chemical stability to light, oxygen, moisture etc etc INDEFINITELY…

Expect further additions from time to time…

Like this one (6 May):  how exactly was the crucial observation made that there is no image under the (purported) bloodstains? Did that involve simply peeling of the blood and finding non-imaged linen underneath? If so, how can one be certain that the blood was not acting like Rogers’ adhesive tape, and stripping off the image? Had that occurred, I doubt if the stripped image would have been visible if attached to the underside of a blood flake, due to its thinness and/or masking of colour

And this one:  Adler said that he found iron in all those bright-red “blood stains”. But his hypothesis for why the blood would still be so red after centuries, with trauma-induced bilirubin playing a key role, is scarcely credible to anyone who knows anything about bilirubin.  However there is a blood-red substance that is well known to anyone who has done a course on inorganic analytical chemistry – iron thiocyanate.   Did Adler think of testing for thiocyanate?  Who’s to say that an overzealous curator has not “cosmetically-enhanced” those supposed bloodstains in one of the lengthy periods when the Shroud is not open for viewing by applying some iron thiocyanate and allowing it to dry and bind onto the fibres.

See YouTube video clip: Make Fake Blood

Afterthought – prompted by David Rolfe’s rationale for pursuing his “consensus mission” at Valencia, despite being persuaded to drop the targeting of  any particular individual whom he felt should be challenged with the Shroud as a kind of intellectual battering ram.  He’s now using his allegedly ‘scientific ‘criteria as if they were cobbled-together pieces of improvised armour plate  – hastily designed to protect against assault from the sceptics.  Yup, he’s switched from being  the Billy the Kid  of Shroudolgy to Ned Kelly,  bashing out any old bit of metal that looks like it might deflect bullets…

Further reading (for David Rolfe and others who think that science has to reproduce the Shroud in every detail to prove it is medieval – and in so doing  to attempt to shift the burden of proof in spite of the C-dating). Read up on the Piltdown Hoax, which was quickly recognized as such because of details and flaws that ‘simply did not add up’. Nobody felt the need to reproduce it…

Addendum: I am presently on the Other Site, debating that so-called Pray Codex. I’ll do a post at some stage, but there for now is a close up of part of the tomb scene with two alleged patterns of l-shaped “poker holes”, one with 4 circles on the white, and the other with 5 circles on the section with red crosses:

I can see the pattern of 4 holes on the white portion of the Pray Codex in this close-up that is supposed to represent the “poker holes” on the Shroud. But I’ve just been told there is a 5-point pattern of L-shaped holes on the portion below with the red crosses. Leaving aside the fact that the latter can hardly represent Shroud, can you see an L-shaped pattern with those 5 holes? i can’t. the only pattern I see is reminiscent of the Plough Constellation – a rectangle with a tail. Sorry Ron, but you are simply losing your grip on reality in your desire to see evidence of the Shroud in the Pray Codex…

Posted in shroud of turin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments