Comments I would have placed on Dan Porter’s “Shroud of Turin” WordPress site – but for his block on free speech …

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

Yup, the title says it all. I shall not waste any more time in submitting any comments to Dan Porter’s  “Shroud of Turin” site.  It’s not just the misrepresentation of my postings that grates, or the general knocking copy, laced with snide asides in many of  his observations, like appearing to suggest recently I had one Templar confused with another ( despite going to some trouble to make the crucial distinction between Geoffroi de Charney and reputed nephew Geoffroi de Charny). It’s now the pariah treatment,  like being greeted by that “comment awaiting moderation” message.   I’m no longer willing to endure a long wait while the conversation  continues, with anything I had wanted to say getting progressively closer to its sell-by date.  Even simple links back to my own site are now being blocked.  That is not moderation. It is downright censorship, something I cannot abide in any shape or form.

However, that site does attract some good comment and/or generate worthwhile debate-  like that in response to the  Italian/LSE  paper  (aka barely-concealed  sniping and statistical overkill  on the C-14 dating)  on which I am minded to write a  less-than-flattering critique. The comments on spatial v temporal trends showed there were subtleties that I had not fully taken on board, so that critique goes on the back burner for now.

A more straightforward  comment has appeared in the last hour – hopefully less of a potential minefield.  It’s on a chemical matter – one where I am more in my element, no pun intended, which the itchy keyboard finger was minded to respond to, until remembering that ludicrous block.  I then had a sudden idea (apologies btw for the personal pronoun –  a temporary  aberration).  Why not set up a page on this site, the one I regard as the more polemical one of the two for “mixing it” so to speak  (the other  one, “Casting a Critical Eye at that Shroud of Turin”  etc.being more detached and scientific). I could develop this post by giving my take on half a dozen or so comments that appear elsewhere, and maybe use my own  Comments threads here later. (It is only first-time comments that are moderated here – a WordPress default – but I will block comments that are needlessly and persistently insulting – which is not the same as censorship).

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1. The particular  comment  that caught my eye a few minutes ago was :

“About another carbon dating, would the 2002 chemical treatment pointed out by Rogers affect the dating? Does anyone know in what way that would affect a carbon dating?”

Answer: I too was surprised to read recently that thymol (2-isopropyl-5-methyl-phenol) is now being used by the Turin custodians to preserve the Shroud, and not just because of this reference to it in wiki:

“A minor use of thymol is in book and paper conservation: Paper with mold damage can be sealed in bags with thymol crystals to kill fungal spores. However, this practice is not currently recommended due to apparent accelerated degradation suffered by these objects”

It’s the effect on any future carbon-dating that needs to be considered. What one has to avoid at all costs is any chemical that can react chemically with constituents of linen that would prevent its removal in the preliminary clean-up procedures with organic solvents, alkali etc. But thymol is such a reagent, given it is a phenolic compound with  well-known chemical reactivity and feebly acidic properties(pKa =10.6). If  thymol were to attach permanently onto linen constituents via chemical bonding – as distinct from mere surface adsorption and/or absorption,  it would introduce modern levels of C14, giving  rise to a younger-then-expected date, and basically giving a tedious never-ending replay of the alleged re-weaving.contamination controversy. So why risk using  a carbon compound at all?  Does that not signal a total  lack of interest in repeat C-14 dating, indeed a compromising thereof? There are plenty of alternative non-carbon compounds that could have been considered for keeping bacteria, fungi etc in check. Did they not consult the Vatican archivists whose job it is to preserve old manuscripts etc?

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2.      From Dan Porter’s current post re the Shroudie  scientists (all convinced re its authenticity as far as I can see) gathering in Valencia: (clunky Google translation from Spanish)

“The director of the documentary The Silent Witness “(1978), David Rolfe has proposed to those who claim to have been able to reproduce by artificial means the image to present to the scientific community to verify their models if they exhibit the same characteristics that observed on the Shroud of Turin, such as the effects of three-dimensional photographic or negativity.”

See my earlier post:

http://colinb-sciencebuzz.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/forget-those-miraculous-flashes-of.html

In  John Jackson’s own words, written some time ago:

 “While the bas-relief method seemingly yields a respectable three-dimensional image, problems are evident in the accompanying VP-8 relief of this image.

  “Hollow spots below the eyes, next to the bridge of the nose, below the lips, in the beard, and on the forehead are all noticeable … . Further, a slight plateau is visible on the high spots of the VP-8 relief, similar to those produced in VP-8 analysis of results from experiments with direct-contact methods.”

In other words, imprinting off bas relief does produce images with encoded 3D information. Whether they meet the exacting and some might (over) demanding criteria of the Shroudologists  – as much aesthetic as scientific one might say – is  quite another matter. But let’s not kid ourselves that 3D properties have never  been achieved, because they have,  David Rolfe, and it is frankly unbelievable  that someone like you who  is better informed than most about past and presumably (hopefully?) current developments should be taking this line, one that I frankly consider to be disingenuous and  arguably self-serving  (“Let’s see if we can’t wring another Rolfe documentary out of this”?)

Note too the banner I use on my other blog , showing how a scorch off a simple metal trinket has those “mysterious!” encoded 3D characteristics. There is nothing mysterious about it – scorch/image density is being scanned and converted to height on a vertical z scale. Even Irene Corgiat’s free hand replica of the Shroud face,  scorched onto linen with her ‘pyro-tool’,  essentially a hot poker, shows some 3D character.

If anyone would like a quick tutorial on how to use  ImageJ software (downloadable for free)  I shall be only too happy to oblige.

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3. From the same Valencia post on The Other Site:

“The doctor of physical sciences Manuel Carreira said that “on the Shroud of Turin is kept a single image in the history of archeology” and that “today, as a physicist I can say that there is no suitable explanation to explain how was generated. ” The scientist has referred to the imprint can be seen on the surface of the shroud and it is for a man tortured, as the Gospels indicate that Jesus did.”

Why should a physicist have any special insight into the image on the Shroud?  The image is a chemical modification – a subtle one inasmuch as it is highly superficial ( not counting the fainter image that is said to be present on the obverse side of the linen – not to be confused with the dorsal image on the distal end of the linen). What do physicists know about chemical modification, other than what they pick up in textbooks etc? Have any Shroudology physicists done any chemical experiments to determine the nature of the chemically- modified linen? Isn’t that the  job of chemists? But most of the Shroudologists seem to be a motley collection of physicists, engineers, statisticians etc, with not a single chemist to be seen since Ray Rogers and Alan Adler departed their mortal coils. Yet here we have these non-chemists banging on year after year about how the image defies scientific understanding, whilst having done absolutely zilch to research the image in chemical terms.  Maybe they think that the image is the result of “accelerated ageing”, like  Stephen Jones BSc (Biology) Dip Ed (as he solemnly informs us) on another site, which is as big an untestable cop-out that one can imagine, yet is the kind of comfort blanket  substitute for thinking that afflicts the world of Shroudology.  Yup, you couldn’t make it up as they say, except that is precisely what these self-styled, mutually back-scratching experts do in the wacky world of Shroudology – they dabble a bit, discover more “mysterious” effects which they invariably fail to follow up.   Having established their credentials,  or so they imagine, they think that gives them the right to “make it up”, correction, frame imaginative hypotheses that they never get round to testing, much preferring to recycle the same old pap at one Shroudie shindig after another – like the current one in Valencia… As I say, you couldn’t make it up…

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4. “Finally, Paolo di Lazzaro, head of the Laboratory Eccimeri of the National Agency for New Technologies of Italy, made a summary of five years of experiments with different types of lasers to try to explain the image sindónica.”

Five years is a long time to spend exploring a scientifically irrelevant range of the electromagnetic spectrum, assuming Paolo  is referring to ENSA’s uv excimer lasers.  Wouldn’t small-talk  over coffee or at the water-cooler represent a better use of time?

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5. Still more claptrap from the Other Site, with this from one  Adrie van der Hoeven:

“Fanti reported experiments showing that a Corona Discharge (an electrical discharge naturally accompanied by particle- and VUV-irradiation) can create Shroudlike images, which fit the characteristics of the Shroud’s superficial body images better than (results of) all other proposed  image formation processes do.”

Why do people continue to broadcast this unsubstantiated kind of  nonsense?  There has been no systematic study of image intensity and depth produced by the simplest means of chemically-modifying linen to produce a sepia image, namely contact scorching. What’s more the initial claim that the image was a mere 2o0nm thick rested on  no more than a peeled portion on adhesive tape being below the resolution limit of a light microscope in Ray Roger’s kitchen, and thus estimated at less than 200nm based on the mid range sodium D line. Even that has to be questioned with the discovery of a faint obverse side image on the opposite face of the linen.

Shroudology has been stuck in a rut for the best part of 20 years or more because of this tendency to elevate incidental and fragmentary observations to the level of Holy Writ.

Nobody should be categorical about the “superficiality” of the Shroud image unless or until they have done precise measurements on scorch images of differing intensities, and explored that “double image” phenomenon.

PS:  I see from googling that Adrie, our Dutch contributor,  has been drawn into Stephen Jone’s fatuous ramblings on the supposed presence of three Hebrew letters under the beard. My advice to both of them would be to get David Rolfe to release more of that HD image that he currently uses on his Enigma blog, currently eyes only, and then see if  those Hebrew letters are still there.

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About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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