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.

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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.
This entry was posted in shroud of turin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 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. reason says:

    colinsberry, here we have an angry article written by someone who seems very frustrated. Show me the scientific evidence to back your claims & then I’ll believe you. In the meantime, I will stick with the actual research I’ve read from people like Barrie Schwortz. These actual researchers (official & non-official) on the Shroud are Jews, Atheists & non-Catholic Christians (Protestants).

    • colinsberry says:

      It’s not me who needs to show the scientific evidence. Where bilirubin is concerned, it’s Barrie Schwortz who needs to do that, instead of peddling Adler’s wishful thinking.

      The religious affiliation, or lack thereof, of these key players is of absolutely no relevance. What concerns me is the objective evidence. There is not a scrap of definitive and objective evidence for there being bilirubin on the TS. It’s pure conjecture.

      • colinsberry says:

        PS I would urge you (whoever you are) and photographer Barrie Schwortz to cast a glance at this in memoriam to the late great Tony McDonagh.

        http://gi.ucsf.edu/about/memoriam.html

        You might both learn something about the real light- and oxygen-sensitive bilirubin, as distinct from the fictional variety dreamed up by Alan D.Adler.

  2. Colin Berry says:

    Test insertion of image (I’m out of practice with html):

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