Skip to comments.Do it Yourself Miracle - 3-Dimensional experiments with the Shroud of Turin
Posted on 04/18/2003 1:56:15 AM PDT by Swordmaker
|One Christmas, when I was about eight years old, my father gave me a chemistry set. I remember the metal box filled with little bottles of chemicals, test tubes, stirring rods and a clamp for holding test tubes over a small alcohol burner.
That Christmas morning my father and I set up the chemistry set on the kitchen counter and tried some of the experiments described in a book that came with the set. I remember one of the experiments in particular because I think it had a profound impact on my life. It was probably the beginning of skeptical tendency that has affected my thinking throughout my life.
My father and I filled a small wine glass with water and added several drop of a clear liquid chemical called phenolphthalein. It looked like an ordinary glass of water. In another glass we added a few drops of ammonia. Unless you looked closely, or took a whiff, it seemed like an empty glass. We called my mother into the kitchen to observe and my father explained that I was going to perform a miracle and change water into wine. I then poured the glass of water into the empty glass and the liquid abruptly turned dark red. It looked like wine.
It wasn't a miracle, of course. It wasn't wine that I made. And there was a perfectly good chemical explanation for the deep red colored liquid. One of the first thoughts I had was that perhaps Jesus also performed some trickery at the wedding at Canaan. All the miracles, I thought, must have some logical explanation. And over time, as my understanding of science and history evolved, I became something of a modern iconoclast and a skeptic.
Now, some fifty years later, I discovered another "try this at home miracle." The difference is that no one has ever been able to provide an explanation for the results of this experiment. I have been seeking a scientific explanation for the last five years and have yet to find anyone who can provide an explanation for the results. Most scholars who have studied the Shroud extensively agree that there is no explanation.
I invite you to try it. All you need is a home computer running Windows, a connection to the Internet, some software that you can download for free and ten minutes of your time. Detailed instructions follow the explanation below.
It turns out that only one known image of a human face can be rendered as 3D picture by plotting the darker and lighter shades of color in the image. The image is the face on the Shroud of Turin. No other image of a human face, whether from a painting, drawing or photograph will do this. Why is this so? Try the experiment or just read what follows.
The images, closely examined with the aid of microscopes and microphotography, are similar to halftone images. Simply, this means that all the different shades of color are derived from the number and size of pixels of a single color in any given area of the image. A pixel (picture element) can be a dot, a short line or, as with the Shroud, a discrete length of fiber colored by the chemical alteration of the cellulose. Halftone is the method used to print black and white photographs in magazines and newspapers. Look closely at a picture in a newspaper and you will see that all the shades of gray are achieved with dots of only black ink. Halftone is also the way black and white pictures are printed on inkjet printers connected to home computers. With such printers, every shade of gray is produced by minuscule droplets of black ink. Where there are more droplets of ink the printed image is darker; where there are fewer droplets the image is lighter.
The images on the Shroud are not black and white, but they are monochromatic; that is, they are of a single color. The color is often described as sepia or straw yellow. The color produced by the chemical change to the fibers is constant and the various darker and lighter tones of color we perceive are the result of the density of the altered fibers (length and quantity in a given area). It is interesting to note that on a high quality inkjet printer (1200 dots per inch), the ink droplets are about 60 microns across, whereas on the Shroud, the image- bearing fibrils are only about 15 microns thick or about one fifth the thickness of typical human hair.
Another interesting attribute of the images is that they are negative images; that is with dark and lighter tones of color reversed. In this sense, the images on the Shroud are like photographic negatives. In the example shown here, the image of a face on the left is as the image appears on the Shroud. The positive image on the right is as the image appears when the tones are reversed. This attribute was discovered more than a century ago, when in 1898, a photographer named Secondo Pia took the first-ever photographs of the Shroud with a large box camera. While developing his photographs he discovered that images that appeared on the glass plate negatives were positive images that were startling in clarity and realistic appearance. For the first time people could see the amazing detail in the Shroud's images. It is not that the detail is not there on the Shroud. It is. But our minds are not well adapted to interpreting negative images. What for centuries had appeared only as ghostlike images now appear to be graphically remarkable front and back pictures of the man on the Shroud - and the face.
But they may not be pictures at all but something else. At least they are not pictures of a human face or body in a traditional sense. When we look at a picture of a person we are looking at a representation of what we see with our eyes. What we see with our eyes is the light reflected from the face or the body. We may see shape but that is only a consequence of seeing reflected light. Light, in all its colors and varying intensities, is all that our eyes can detect. While simple drawings and cartoons may only show outlines and features, leaving it to us to imagine depth, any picture that tries to convey a sense of dimensionality always shows how light is reflected from objects, faces, and bodies. This is true whether the picture is a sketch, painting, mosaic, photograph or any other form of two- dimensional art. On the Shroud, the face - in fact both body images - look like pictures of reflected light. We think they are pictures, but image analysts tell us they are not that at all.
Artists use many techniques to convey the sense of three-dimensionality in a painting or other flat-surface work of art: faces turned at angles, parts of an object or body protruding outward, placement of objects in front of other objects, perspective in which objects appear to become smaller as they recede into the distance, and the play of light on shapes and surfaces. We can see all of this in Carvaggio's famous Supper at Emmaus shown here. Notice in particular the treatment of light on the subject' faces.
Of all of the methods used by artists to convey three-dimensionality, the play of light - highlights, lowlights and cast-shadows - is the most important method for showing depth in a human face. We seem to see this in the face of the man of the Shroud. But on close examination we see that what appears to be the play of light is not light at all.
Light, in order to produce highlights, lowlights and cast-shadows, must have direction. While light may come from many directions, bouncing off of walls and objects and diffusing in the air as it does, it must nonetheless have a primary direction. If it does not, there is no way to convey a sense of depth. Look at a picture of a ball or a globe. Without the play of light on its surface, without highlights and lowlights it will look like a flat round surface. By having directionality, light enables us to see that the ball is spherical. We can say that light is what the artist encodes on his canvas. Light, incidentally, is also what the photographer's camera encodes on film.
When we look at the face of the man of the Shroud, we certainly seem to see depth from the play of light. Look at the tip of the nose, at the sides of the cheeks and the recesses of the eyes. But where is the light coming from? What is its direction? Image analysts, using computerized tools, tell us there is no light directionality at all. It doesn't come from the left or the right, from above or below, or from the front. That is because the images we see on the Shroud are not representations of reflected light. The areas of darker and lighter tones are not encoded light. The body images and face we see so clearly are not pictures by the hand and eyes of an artist. Nor are they some form of medieval proto-photography as some have suggested in a vague attempt to explain the images' photographic-like negativity.
It turns out that the Shroud images are terrain maps - and we can prove this. What is encoded onto the Shroud is a terrain map of a man's head and body. Both the front side and the backside images are this. With space-age image analysis equipment or off-the-shelf graphics software running on a home computer we can plot this encoded information and produce a realistic isometric plot (an angular view of a three- dimensional shape).
The hazy donut shape shown here is an example of a terrain map for the crater rendered as a three-dimensional shape. Computer software, by plotting the different shades of gray as altitude, is able to produce the picture of the crater which is a simulated picture of reflected light.
It is important to stress that no identified works of art, no known artifacts or relics of any kind will produce a 3D plot like the one produced by the Shroud. Researchers have tried every imaginable artistic method including bas-relief rubbings, scorching with hot statues, daubing the surface with pigment dust, and image transfer rubbings. Nothing does or can be expected to produce a 3D plot. No one knows how an artist or crafter of false relics could have produced such an image. And certainly, no one knows why.
In the case of the Shroud we do not get a perfect three-dimensional rendering for many reasons: If, as scientists suspect, what is encoded on the Shroud, as data, is the distance between any point on the man's body and the cloth loosely draped about him, then the distance will be distorted by the drape of the cloth. We can assume the cloth was not perfectly flat. Physicists have estimated that the maximum distance represented is about 3 or 4 centimeters, but we don?t know how linear the scale might be in the image formation process. We might know that if we knew how the images were created, but we don't. The image is very old, medieval as some believe or possibly even older then that. We don't know how fading or maturing of the images and the aging of the cloth might have altered the accuracy of the distance that is encoded. Finally there are bloodstains and dirt that cause distortions.
Some researchers have suggested that the images might have been formed by some perfectly natural process such as a chemical reaction between funerary spices and bodily fluids. Even chemicals used on the linen cloth for softening, whitening, or preserving might have induced images. The working premise for a naturalistic explanation has generally been that the Shroud may be the authentic burial cloth of the historical Jesus or someone else crucified in a like manner but that the images are not necessarily supernatural in nature; that is they are not divinely wrought or the accidental byproduct of a miracle.
Nothing has been found that works. So far, no method has been found that will produce the chemical change to the cloth's fibrils, produce the negative image, and produce a spatially encoded 3D terrain map.
Are we to imagine that a medieval or pre-medieval craftsman knew of some method for producing the images, unknown or unrecognized by modern science? Whatever it was it seems to be without precedent in the arts, among other known relics, and among other artifacts of history. Whatever process a craftsman might have used, it seems never to have been exploited since.
Using Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7.0
by Dr. C. Truman Davis Dr.
C. Truman Davis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible.
Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop's book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years - that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ's death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point. Since crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: "Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified ... and they crucified Him."
Despite the gospel accounts' silence on the details of Christ's crucifixion, many have looked into this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.
An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate1 God in atonement2 for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord's passion we can examine in some detail. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?
The physical passion of Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of His initial suffering, the one which is of particular physiological interest is the bloody sweat. Interestingly enough, the physician, St. Luke, is the only evangelist to mention this occurrence. He says, "And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground" (Luke 22:44 KJV).
Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away the phenomenon of bloody sweat, apparently under the mistaken impression that it simply does not occur. A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.
Although Jesus' betrayal and arrest are important portions of the passion story, the next event in the account which is significant from a medical perspective is His trial before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. Here the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him, mockingly taunted Him to identify them as each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.
In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and worn out from a sleepless night, Jesus was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. We are familiar with Pilate's action in attempting to shift responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was then, in response to the outcry of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
Preparations for Jesus' scourging were carried out at Caesar's orders. The prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire stepped forward with the flagrum, or flagellum, in his hand. This was a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back, and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.
The small balls of lead first produced large deep bruises that were broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it was determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner was near death, the beating was finally stopped.
The half-fainting Jesus was then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood. The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns, commonly used for kindling fires in the charcoal braziers in the courtyard, were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from His back. The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, caused excruciating pain. The wounds again began to bleed.
In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans apparently returned His garments. The heavy patibulum3 of the cross was tied across His shoulders. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.
In spite of Jesus' efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed. The prisoner was again stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which was allowed the Jews.
The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes4, and the titulus5 reading "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" was nailed into place.
The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.
On the Cross
As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet.
At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.
The Last Words
Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded.
The first - looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice6 for His seamless garment: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do."
The second - to the penitent thief7: "Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
The third - looking down at Mary His mother, He said: "Woman, behold your son." Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John , the beloved apostle, He said: "Behold your mother."8
The fourth cry is from the beginning of Psalm 22: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart.
The prophecy in Psalm 22:14 was being fulfilled: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels."
The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped His fifth cry: "I thirst." Again we read in the prophetic psalm: "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22:15 KJV).
A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus' lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth His sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: "It is finished." His mission of atonement9 had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit."
The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.
Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, "And immediately there came out blood and water." Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
In these events, we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil that man can exhibit toward his fellowman and toward God. This is an ugly sight and is likely to leave us despondent and depressed.
But the crucifixion was not the end of the story. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: a glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man--the gift of atonement, the miracle of the resurrection, and the expectation of Easter morning.
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