Skip to comments.Science by Press Release? An Editorial Response to the latest Shroud of Turin announcement
Posted on 10/08/2009 6:05:58 PM PDT by Swordmaker
I was away from my office and in Los Angeles yesterday when the story broke in the media that an Italian professor had "reproduced" the Shroud using techniques that were available in the 14th century. Although I didn't have my computer with me, my mobile phone rang again and again with friends calling to read me the story, so I heard the news almost immediately.
Upon my return late last night, my mailbox was flooded with e-mail, my answering machine was nearly full of messages and more than 20,000 people had visited the website since Tuesday morning. I finally was able to read the story myself at around 1:00 am.
Normally, I don't respond to this type of story, since the media rarely publishes the rebuttals anyway and the stories usually disappear by themselves after only a few days. In the end, giving it any attention at all usually only helps the author of the article and garners even more publicity for him because someone is publicly disagreeing with him. However, since so many viewers have written me, I decided to write this brief response in which I am expressing my own personal opinions on this topic. That is why I titled it an "Editorial" Response.
Frankly, knowing that the Shroud will go on public display again in around 6 months, I am not very surprised to see this type of story coming out, along with its resulting media coverage. This seems to happen every time the Shroud is about to go on public display. Yet whenever a serious scientific article about the Shroud is published in a peer reviewed journal, there is barely a ripple in the popular media. And now, once again, someone claims to have "reproduced" the Shroud, "proving" it is a medieval forgery. They made their claims via nothing more than a press release and got instant global media coverage. However, that is NOT the way science actually operates.
The author who made these claims states that he will make the details available "next week." In the real world of science, a researcher must perform his experiments, compile his data, draw his conclusions, write a formal paper and submit it to a scientific journal for peer review. The work is then examined by other experts, usually of the same discipline, before it is accepted for publication (or rejected). The data must provide a sound basis for the claims and be there from the beginning. Not "next week." And certainly not made public via a press release!
Sadly, in reviewing the article, it is apparent immediately that the author knows very little about the actual Shroud of Turin. He is not the first to suggest that the Shroud image was produced by red ochre pigment (iron oxide). In fact, he is at least the fourth to have proposed this theory in the last 30 years. Of course, this issue was anticipated by the STURP team in 1978 and a number of highly sensitive tests were performed that determined there was not enough iron oxide on the Shroud to be visible without a microscope. Iron oxide does not constitute the image on the Shroud. They also determined the image areas of the Shroud contain no more iron oxide than the non-image areas. It is more or less evenly distributed across the entire cloth.
Obviously, if the image were made in the manner detailed in the article, we would still find thousands of particles of iron oxide embedded into the image fibers of the linen and these would be clearly visible with just a good magnifying glass. Yet the microscopy done directly on the Shroud in 1978 revealed no such thing. These particles just don't go away on their own. STURP's instruments could detect parts per billion (a very small amount) of any substance on the Shroud and ALL known paints and pigments (including iron oxide) were excluded by the data. Interestingly, iron oxide is also a by-product of retting linen and the minute quantities found on the Shroud were pure and most likely the result of the retting process. The iron oxide used in red ochre pigment has many impurities and is rarely if ever found in its pure form.
I have stated on more than one occasion that making images on linen is relatively easy. However, making images on linen with the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud is another story. Considering the massive amount of scientific data that now exists about the Shroud of Turin, anyone making claims such as these must submit their work for careful scrutiny and comparative analysis before drawing such dramatic conclusions. That has not been done in this case. Anyone making such claims must create an image with ALL the same chemical and physical properties as the Shroud, not just a few, if they wish to be taken seriously.
It has been demonstrated scientifically that the bloodstains on the Shroud came from direct contact with a body and are all forensically accurate. It has also been shown that the bloodstains were on the Shroud BEFORE the image was formed since the blood and serum acted to inhibit the image formation mechanism. There is NO image under the blood and serum stains on the Shroud.
However, to make this new "reproduction," the "blood" was added (using a different pigment) AFTER the image was created. Obviously, it is much easier to add the blood to the image than to first create the blood stains and then create the forensically accurate image around them, which is exactly what a medieval forger would have had to do to duplicate the actual physical properties of the Shroud!
Many of the bloodstains on the Shroud show a surrounding halo of serum stains that are ONLY visible with UV fluorescence photography. Also, the blood has been chemically analyzed and determined to include components of actual blood, NOT pigment.
A proper, detailed scientific response to this press release is now being drafted by the online Shroud Science Group and I hope to publish an in-depth article by true Shroud experts addressing these claims in the near future.
However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the press release also stated the researcher "received funding for his work by an Italian association of atheists and agnostics but said it had no effect on his results." This is an interesting statement from someone representing a segment of the skeptical community that has frequently charged the STURP scientists with religious bias, implying that their data was somehow flawed because some of them happened to be Christians! Until such time that the data is made available so it can be properly examined and compared to the known data about the Shroud, I will not take these claims very seriously. And neither should you.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I have been invited to appear on the Coast to Coast talk radio program with George Noory on Wednesday night, October 14, 2009, (early Thursday morning, October 15, 2009), where we will discuss this story in more detail. Check your local listings for the air time in your area. Also, watch for the next regular update to the website around the end of October.
I am also including a brief but excellent response written yesterday by Petrus Soons, noted Shroud researcher who produced the first three-dimensional holographic images of the Shroud. Petrus presented his dramatic results at the Ohio Shroud Conference in August 2008.
In the last few days, a story appeared in the mass media that an Italian professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia (Italy), reproduced the image on the Shroud of Turin using materials and methods that were available in the 14th century, concluding that the experiment proves the relic was man-made. Basically, he used a linen cloth in scale 1:1, that was baked at 215 degrees C for 3 hours and then put it in a washing machine with water only. Then they put a person dirtied with RED OCHRE (IRON OXIDE) on the linen and corrected by hand the colored image. A chalk bas relief was used for the face printing, liquid tempera simulated the blood and sulfuric acid at 1.2% in water added with Aluminium and Cobalt modified the linen surface. An artificial aging was the final treatment before the pigment was washed. The final goal was to show that it was possible to create a fake in the 14th century.
Now, there is nothing new to this. In 1979, Walter C. McCrone (1916-2002), an internationally recognized microscopist and the director of the famous McCrone Associates Research Laboratory in Chicago, reported that the Shroud image was due to the application of RED OCHRE, also known as Venetian red (an earth color) a red artist's pigment, which is a red IRON OXIDE, so probably Prof Garlaschelli took over this idea from Walter C. McCrone.
This theory was already disproved by the scientific STURP team (and others in the years after that) that conducted the investigations in 1978 on the Shroud of Turin.
Their conclusions were:
- 1) Adler reported that the " straw yellow color" of the body image fibers does not match the color of any of the known forms of ferric iron oxides.
- 2) Moreover, Adler reports that there is no correspondence of the body-only images to the concentration of iron oxide since the spectral characteristics of the body-only image are different from those of iron oxide.
- 3) The colors of the fibers, due to iron oxide, is also precluded by the fact that oxidation or reduction converts the yellow fibers of the body-only image to a white color.
- 4) Only rare particles of iron oxide are noted on the body-only image fibrils.
- 5) Large amounts of iron bound to the cellulose of the Shroud (not iron oxide) and Calcium were both present throughout the Shroud. This is believed to be due to the ability of linen to bind iron and water by ion association during the retting process (manufacturing process by which linen is immersed in water during fermentation). AN ESTIMATED 90 PERCENT of the iron and calcium exist in this form bound to the cellulose of the linen, AND ONLY A SMALL AMOUNT IS PRESENT AS IRON OXIDE.
- 6) X-ray studies of the body-only image do not contain enough iron oxide to show up on the X-radiographs.
- 7) All of the iron of the Shroud, whether from iron oxide particles or from blood, proved to be 99 percent chemically pure, with no discernable MANGANESE, NICKEL, or COBALT.
The earth pigment, RED OCHRE (Venetian red), from either medieval or older sources that were being used, was contaminated with manganese, nickel or cobalt GREATER THAN 1 PERCENT!!!
The STURP team employed microprobe Raman spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, optical and infrared spectroscopy, micro FTIR spectroscopy, pyrolysis mass spectroscopy, X-ray and a variety of microchemical tests on the fibrils, and came to the conclusion that there was NO ochre or other pigments, dyes or stains on the fibrils of the Shroud.
Prof Garlaschelli told Republica he didn't think his research would convince those who have faith in the Shroud's authenticity. " They won't give up," he said. Those who believe in it will continue to believe."
Well, the reason why serious scientists do not believe Prof Garlaschelli's work has been explained.
Prof Garlaschelli explains the absence of any traces of iron oxide on the original Shroud by stating that the pigment on the original Shroud faded away naturally over the centuries. This is not a statement that you would expect from a serious scientist. The spectroscopic investigations being done in 1978 would even show the slightest traces of iron oxide present on the Shroud and it is a little bit "unscientific" to state that they disappeared "naturally."
Another little detail is the fact that on the original Shroud there is no image under the bloodstains, proving the fact that there were two image formation processes. Direct contact for the blood proper and another image formation process for the image itself. Prof Garlaschelli added the "blood" (liquid tempera) later on top of the image that he had created. Under Ultra Violet fluorescence photography (not known of course in the 14th century), the blood on the Shroud shows a serum separation, visible as a lighter ring around a darker center, which is typical of post mortem wound exudate. This is not visible with the naked eye. The proposed artist from the 14th century could of course not have known this fact, so he could not create it either.
Petrus Soons M.D.
Also included is commentary on the "duplication" by Shroud research Petrus Soons, M.D., who dismantles the Italian Professor's claims.
Thank you for this post.
Excellent facts and some I did not remember.
So much for the Italian “scientist” and his atheist sponsors.
it’s the real deal and the world cant stand it...imagine if there were some sort of shroud of a lying prophet pedophile.....there would be riots in the streets if someone claimed it was a fake.
Italian scientist reproduces Shroud of Turin with over 500 comments.
What is neat about Barrie Schwortz is that he is Jewish and that he will absolutely defend the Shroud as not a fake.
The MSM consistently beclowns itself when coming anywhere near science. Example? Just tune in on any day to watch them parrot the latest UN tripe on “climate change” or the flu.
Thanks so much for posting.
I don’t expect this excellent article to get any commentary from those who attempted to debunk the Shroud’s authenticity by using that so-called scientist’s so-called duplication.
Thanks for this SM. I’ve been waiting for the rebuttal. It’s a good one. I wish people would really know what they are talking about when they offer opinions about the Shroud. It’s like me offering an opinion on Calculus even though I have no idea what it is except it deals with math and I hate math.
Thanks for the ping, Swordmaker
Thanks for the ping!
As soon as I heard about this new reproduction, and that it was based on red ochre, I knew it was nonsense for the very reasons that Schwortz outlines in this article. Anyone who follows this issue seriously knows that the image is not based on this substance.
Still here, I see.