Friday, April 18, 2014

"Okay, we will need to wait several weeks": My response to Dan Porter

Following numerous instances of Dan Porter on his blog allowing defamatory comments to be

[Right: Dan Porter:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis).
As can be seen above, Porter's stated position on the Shroud's authenticity is neither pro- nor anti- but `sitting on the fence.']

made about me by some of his members, without him lifting a finger to protect me or moderate the defamers, I left Porter's blog with the final comment that I would no longer post comments under his posts, or even read those comments. But that I would, where I felt it warranted, respond to any of Porter's further posts about me, as a post on my blog.

This is my response to Porter's post of April 16, 2014, "Okay, we will need to wait several weeks". Porter's and my quoted words are in bold.

Stephen Jones is now mapping out his revised strategy: Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2:

I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud’s existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong. . . .

I don’t have any issue with this. The historical list will be useful. In my mind, it challenges the carbon dating better than anything.

I have figured Porter out. He is not against the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" per se. He is against any closure of any issue, pro- or anti-authenticity. That way he can have endless debate, maximising the views and comments to his blog, which he regularly boasts about.

It will be interesting to crawl through each item and get everyone’s opinions. How solid is this event, how good is that occurrence?

See what I mean? Porter relishes the opportunity to debate each point endlessly, rarely, if ever, coming to a definite conclusion about any one of them. Because otherwise Porter could not maintain his:

"Is the Shroud real? Probably. The Shroud of Turin may be the real burial cloth of Jesus" (my emphasis)
`Mr Facing-Both-Ways' position.

He is an example of those whom the Apostle Paul criticised as:

"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2Tim 3:7 (KJV)

Stephen continues.

. . . And then the questions are, "how could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon- date to the 13th-14th century?"

Why absent fraud? Why not other possibilities?

Proving my point. Porter is not interested in converging on the truth, only in debating endless "possibilities".

I pointed out to Porter when I was on his blog that, according to Prof. Harry Gove, the leader of the 1988 radiocarbon dating project, the probability that the Shroud is 1st century, yet its radiocarbon date is 1260-1390, is "about one in a thousand trillion":

"The other question that has been asked is: if the statistical probability that the shroud dates between 1260 and 1390 is 95%, what is the probability that it could date to the first century? The answer is about one in a thousand trillion, i.e. vanishingly small." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.303).
But Porter doesn't get it, or doesn't want to get it, because that would be closing off endless "possibilities" for debate.

Even the agnostic art historian Thomas de Wesselow, understands that if the Shroud is authentic, then fraud is a real possibility in the carbon dating of it to "1325 ± 65 years," because it would then be "a remarkable coincidence" (to put it mildly) that the "carbon-dating error was accidental," yet it `just happened' to be ~25 years before "the Shroud's historical debut" in ~1350, at Lirey, France:

"The third possibility is that a fraud was perpetrated, that genuine Shroud samples were deliberately swapped with cloth of a later date... Most sindonologists regard these fraud theories as plainly incredible. Some, like Ian Wilson, refuse to contemplate such `unworthy' accusations. However, scientific fraud is by no means unknown, as the editors of science journals are well aware ... One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with the date [of] ... the Shroud's historical debut. But if fraud was involved, then it wouldn't be a coincidence at all. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, '1325 ± 65 years' is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," p.170. My emphasis).

For those others who don't like or understand Gove's "about one in a thousand trillion" number, the Oxford physicists who carbon-dated the Shroud stated that "the odds were ... astronomical" that the Shroud could be 1st century, yet its carbon-14 date be 1260-1390:

"As the world now knows, the Turin Shroud has been 'proved' a fake. On Thursday 13 October [1988] ... it was officially announced that the radiocarbon laboratories of Oxford, Arizona and Zurich had dated samples of the Shroud's linen `with 95% certainty' to somewhere between the years 1260 and 1390. At a British Museum press conference Dr. Michael Tite, together with fellow-physicists Professor Edward Hall and Dr. Robert Hedges of the Oxford laboratory, declared that the odds were now `ASTRONOMICAL' against the Shroud genuinely dating from around the time of Christ." (Ian Wilson, 1988, "The carbon dating results: Is this now the end?" BSTS Newsletter, No. 20, October, p.2. My emphasis).

. . . I will document how courts decide, on the basis of improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

That will be interesting. Just fraud? Might courts find something else isn’t right?

More divergent "possibilities"! What I mean is in cases of scientific plagiarism where a science journal article by a scientist has a significant amount of text that is identical, or very similar, to text in an earlier dated journal article by a different scientist. Then if the accused plagiarist claims it is just a coincidence, there is an established legal precedent that, if the courts find that the coincidence is too improbable, they will find the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of plagiarism on improbability grounds alone.

By courts is he thinking of a proxy for informed public opinion?

No I mean law courts, where cases of claimed plagiarism are ultimately decided.

And then:

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.

Will this be the same person he has already not-so-tentatively named?

Porter is here telling a FALSEHOOD, as part of his continued attempts to "poison the well" against me:
"Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a rhetorical device where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say." ("Poisoning the well," Wikipedia, 10 December 2013).
I ALWAYS made it clear on Porter's blog that I did not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS the hacker. For example, in my post, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," in a part of which is what I posted as a comment on Porter's blog, I stated:
"While I do not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS a hacker, nor that his untimely death WAS suicide, let alone an execution by the KGB designed to look like suicide, it nevertheless is worth keeping in mind as a possible piece of the jigsaw." (emphasis original)

So, as Porter KNOWS, my claim has ALWAYS been TENTATIVE that Timothy W. Linick was the computer hacker, or one of the computer hackers, who according to my proposal duped the three radiocarbon dating laboratories at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford by modifying the program in each of the three AMS control console computers, so as to substitute the Shroud's first or early century radiocarbon date, with bogus dates which, when calibrated, clustered around 1325, only ~25 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. And absent a "smoking gun," such as an admission or confession by someone in a position to know, my claims that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) that Linick was that hacker (or one of the hackers), might always have to remain tentative.

Evidence, this time?

Porter is here telling another FALSEHOOD in a further attempt to discredit me. In my comment(s) that I posted to his blog (see above post), I provided some EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

And I have since found more EVIDENCE (albeit not proof) that: 1) there was a hacker (or hackers); and 2) Timothy W. Linick was the hacker (or one of the hackers).

But I am waiting to the end of this series to post that additional evidence. Firstly, because it is a more logical development of my argument to produce the evidence that there was a hacker (or hackers) before producing the evidence which identifies the hacker (or hackers); and secondly, I am hoping that more evidence comes to light which either further points to, or eliminates, Timothy W. Linick being the hacker (or one of the hackers); or indeed falsifies my entire "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" proposal.

However, even if I do prove, beyond reasonable doubt: 1) that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong; 2) that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65; 3) that the fraud was perpetrated by a computer hacker (or hackers); and 4) the hacker (or one of the hackers) was Timothy W. Linick; I do not expect Porter to accept it. He is, I believe, philosophically, and/or psychologically, unable to accept any evidence that would close off debate on the endless "possibilities" bearing on the authenticity or otherwise of the Turin Shroud!

My personal observation is that Porter has, over the years, drifted from a pro-authenticity to an anti-authenticity position, perhaps without realising it. On his blog Porter bent over backwards to be favourable towards anti-authenticists but was unfavourable towards unequivocal pro-authenticists like me.

That included allowing members of his blog to defame me continually, without him lifting a finger to protect me or admonish the defamers. One of my professors at university ~40 years ago gave me some wise advice which I have never forgotten:

"Don't believe what people SAY, but only what they DO."
And what Dan Porter DOES is effectively anti-authenticist. That's OK, as long as his readers are aware of it. And since there are many anti-authenticists on Porter's blog, who rarely argue with him, it seems those anti-authenticists at least, are aware of it!

In my last comment on Porter's blog, I said that if anyone (including Porter) wants to post a comment on my blog responding on behalf of Porter, or critical of Porter, they can do so. However, unlike Porter, it is part of my long-standing, stated policies that I do not to allow offensive or sub-standard comments. This includes offensive comments against Porter.

Also, unlike Porter, it is part of those policies not to allow extensive debate on my blog, but to normally only allow one comment per person under a particular post. I see my blog as more like a newspaper allowing letters to the editor, one letter per reader per issue, than a discussion board, allowing multiple `letters' on any one issue from individual readers. See "What are the Differences Between Message Boards and Weblogs?"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #2

Continuing with my series "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" from "Revised #1," with this Revised #2. Other previous posts in this series were, part 1, part 2, part 3, "Summary," "My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," and "Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey."

Note: This is only the beginning of what this Revised #2 post will eventually be. After my previous Revised #1 post, which presented historical evidence for the Shroud's existence in the 13th and 12th centuries, I have since discovered more examples of the Shroud's existence in those two centuries. So, to save me having to go back and insert further examples later, which I did for the "Holy Face of Laon," I have decided to create a list of every item of historical evidence of the Shroud's existence from the 13th to the 1st century on my system, before I complete this Revised #2 post. That however, could take several weeks.

The purpose of documenting all this historical evidence of the Shroud's existence from the 13th to the 1st century is to prove, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, that the 1988 radiocarbon date of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390" must be wrong.

And then the key questions would be (and are):

  1. "How could a 1st century cloth (absent fraud) carbon-date to the 13th-14th century?"; and

  2. "How could the midpoint of that date range, 1325 ±65, `just happen' (absent fraud) to be a mere ~25 years before the Shroud's first appearance in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in the 1350s"?

Given that the leader of the Shroud carbon-dating project, Prof. Harry Grove, pointed out that the improbability of the Shroud being first century, yet its radiocarbon date being "between 1260 and 1390," is "about one in a thousand trillion" (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.303), I will document how courts decide, on the basis of high improbability, that a scientific fraud must have occurred.

And then, having proved beyond any reasonable doubt that there must have been fraud in carbon-dating the 1st century (or earlier) linen of the Shroud to 1325 ±65, I will re-present the evidence for the fraud having been perpetrated by a computer hacker, whom I will tentatively identify.


The Vignon markings From the fifth century Jesus began to be consistently depicted in Byzantine Christian art as dark, Jewish, with long hair, a full forked beard, a long nose, large staring eyes, with a rigid front-facing posture[1]. In the 1930s, French Biology professor and artist, Paul Vignon (1865-1943), began to study a number of oddities that Byzantine portraits of Christ from the fifth century[2] shared in common[3]. After a painstaking comparison of hundreds of paintings, frescoes and mosaics with the face on the Shroud[4],

[Above (click to enlarge):

"The Vignon markings: "(1) Transverse streak across forehead, (2) three-sided `square' between brows, (3) V shape at bridge of nose, (4) second V within marking 2, (5) raised right eyebrow, (6) accentuated left cheek, (7) accentuated right cheek, (8) enlarged left nostril, (9) accentuated line between nose and upper lip, (10) heavy line under lower lip, (11) hairless area between lower lip and beard, (12) forked beard, (13) transverse line across throat, (14) heavily accentuated owlish eyes, (15) two strands of hair"[5].
Vignon identified 20 such oddities, most of which artistically made no sense, including imperfections in the Shroud's weave, but were repeated slavishly[6] by Byzantine artists from the 5th to the 12th century[7]. Confirmation that the artists were copying the Shroud is evident in that they were trying to make sense of a negative image[8], for example open staring eyes which were actually closed in death[9], of which they could have had no concept of, the camera with negative film not having been invented until the 19th century[10]. Vignon paid particular attention to a topless square (Vignon marking 2 above) on the 8th-century Christ Pantocrator in the catacomb of St. Pontianus, Rome[11] Artistically it made no sense, yet it appears on other Byzantine Christ portraits, including the 11th century Daphni Pantocrator, the 10th century Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco, the 10th century Hagia Sophia narthex mosaic, and the 11th century "Christ the Merciful" mosaic in Berlin[12]. And at the equivalent point on the Shroud face, there is exactly the same feature where it is merely a flaw in the weave[13]. In 1938 Vignon presented his discoveries as an "Iconographic Theory" in his book, "Le Saint Suaire de Turin: Devant La Science, L'archéologie, L'histoire, L'iconographie, La Logique,"[14] in which he proposed that the Shroud was known and revered as far back as the fifth century[15]. Ian Wilson reduced Vignon's list of 20 peculiarities down to 15 more certain "Vignon markings"[16] (see above). No one work featured every peculiarity[17], but of the 15 Vignon markings, some feature 13 (e.g. the 11th century Pantocrator in the dome of the church of Daphni, Greece) and even 14 (e.g. the 12th century Cefalu apse mosaic and the 10th century Sant'Angelo in Formis fresco[18]. Ian Wilson took samples of depictions of Christ's face from the sixth, eighth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries and found between eight and fourteen of these Vignon markings odd features on them, an average of 80 percent incidence[19].

To be completed with historical evidence of the Shroud's existence in the 11th and 10th centuries.

Notes
1. Maher, R.W., 1986, "Science, History, and the Shroud of Turin," Vantage Press: New York NY, p.76. [return]
2. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, p.60. [return]
3. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised, p.103. [return]
4. Walsh, J.E., 1963, "The Shroud," Random House: New York NY, p.157. [return]
5. Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, p.82e. [return]
6. Wuenschel, 1954, p.60. [return]
7. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
8. Wuenschel, 1954, p.58. [return]
9. Wilson, 1979, p.105. [return]
10. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.82. [return]
11. Wilson, 1979, p.103. [return]
12. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
13. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.142. [return]
14. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, pp.161-162. [return]
15. Walsh, 1963, pp.154-157. [return]
16. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
17. Wilson, 1979, p.104. [return]
18. Wilson, 1979, pp.104-105. [return]
19. Antonacci, M., 2000, "Resurrection of the Shroud: New Scientific, Medical, and Archeological Evidence," M. Evans & Co: New York NY, p.128. [return]


Updated: 18 April, 2014.

Danusha Goska's original essay, "The Shroud of Turin???"

Following comments under my previous post regarding author Danusha Goska's upcoming Shroud of Turin Talk, about her must read essay, "The Shroud of Turin???," here belatedly is my repost of Goska's original 1996(?) essay on Shroud.com, which is not easy to find. In it, Goska's asks of Shroud anti-authenticists the, to them, unanswered, and unanswerable question:

"If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents? Where are the other forged shrouds like it? Where is there evidence of practice shrouds of this type? If the technology to create the shroud was available in medieval Europe, where are other products of this technology?"


The Shroud of Turin???


by Danusha Goska

The shroud has been subjected to imaging analysis by NASA scientists, to carbon dating, and to analysis, performed

[Left: Danusha Goska: Greenbriar Review.]

by criminologists and botanists, of the pollen particles found on its surface. Forensic pathologists have analyzed the death depicted on the shroud. At least since Descartes, the West has come to regard religion and hard science as polar opposite disciplines. It is this very intersection of religion and hard science that intrigues, delights, and perhaps even threatens many, and attracts many to the Shroud story.

In truth, though, and perhaps counterintuitively, the hard sciences are limited in their ability to crack the mystery of the shroud. This sounds contrary-science has come to be understood as the source of definitive truth. In this case, though, hard science has failed to provide an answer that satisfies the demands of Ockham's razor.

William of Ockham (1285-1347/49), posited that, "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate;" that is, "Plurality should not be posited without necessity." In other words, Ockham's razor demands that, of two competing theories, the simplest explanation is preferred.

The shroud compels exactly because there is no simple or easy explanation. None of science's tests, including carbon dating, has changed that. None have produced a simple explanation that meets the demands of Ockham's razor.

One might argue, based on carbon dating, that the shroud is a simple forgery, dating from the middle ages. That theory is not best tested exclusively by hard science. Rather, insights from the social sciences and the humanities are necessary in cracking this mystery.

I am not a hard scientist. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Folklore Institute at Indiana University. Folklore, like its fellow social sciences, has demonstrated that human expressive culture follows rules, just as surely as carbon decay follows rules. One does not need to be a social scientist to understand this.

Suppose an archaeologist were to discover, in an Egyptian tomb, a work of art that followed the aesthetic prescriptions of Andy Warhol's 20th century American portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Certainly, hard science would argue that ancient Egyptians possessed all the technology necessary to produce such items of expressive culture. Ancient Egyptians had pigments; they had surfaces on which to draw. Hard scientists might see no mystery in a pharaonic Warhol Marilyn.

A non-scientist would have every reason to find such a blase' attitude bizarre. Of course the ancient Egyptians could produce Warhol-like art. The fact is, though, that they simply never did. Ancient Egyptians, like all artists everywhere, followed the artistic mandates of their time and place.

True, art does change, but it changes organically, slowly, and after leaving vast bodies of evidence of change in intermediary forms. For example, as different as it is, art from Greece's Golden Age can be seen to have grown from Egyptian art, in intermediary forms like Kouroi figures.

The shroud is as much an object of wonder and worthy investigation, in spite of carbon dating, as would be an isolated pharaonic Warhol, or a rock song that had been composed during the period of Gregorian Chant, or a Hopi vase that someone somehow came to made during the high point of peasant embroidery in Czechoslovakia. Yes, in each case, technology was available to create these anomalous forms; however, as any layman might well point out, humans did not choose to use available technology in order to create anomalous forms.

There are two consistently unaddressed flaws in the arguments of those who contend that the shroud must be of medieval origin, created by contemporaneously available technology. The first flaw is that even if technology had been available to create an image with all the remarkable features of the shroud, there is no way to explain why an artist would have done so.

This question must be explored not via carbon dating, NASA imaging, or pollen tests, but, rather, by comparison with other relics from the medieval era. I have not seen research by experts in medieval relics that attempts to compare and contrast the shroud with comparable artifacts from the medieval era. Does the shroud look like other relics, or does it not? If, as I suspect is true, it does not look like other relics from that era, then it behooves anyone who argues for a medieval date to explain exactly why. Those who argue this position must tell us why the equivalent of a Warhol portrait has been found among Egyptian artwork where the laws of human expressive culture dictate that it plainly does not belong.

In the writings of church reformers like Erasmus and Martin Luther, one can read descriptions of medieval relics. In fact, many relics once popular in the medieval era can be visited even today. Reformers like Erasmus and Luther expressed open contempt at the gullibility of the Christian masses. Bones that were obviously animal in origin were treated as if the bones of some dead saint. Random chips of wood were marketed as pieces of the true cross; random swatches of fabric were saints' attire.

Why, in such a lucrative and undemanding marketplace, would any forger resort to anything as detailed and complex as the shroud? Why would a forger resort to an image that would so weirdly mimic photography, a technology that did not exist in the Middle Ages?

Well, one might argue, the forger created the highly detailed, anomalous shroud in order to thoroughly trick his audience. This argument does not withstand analysis. The relic market is profoundly undemanding. It was profoundly undemanding in the Middle Ages; it is barely more demanding today.

The Ka'bah of Islam, the millions of Shiva lingams found throughout the Hindu world, the venerated sites of Buddha's footfall or Buddha's tooth, the packages of "Mary's Milk" on sale to Christian pilgrims in Bethlehem, are all contemporary relics that attest to the willingness of believers to believe in items that might look, to others, like simple rocks or standard, store bought powdered milk.

The faith in relics is not limited to the large, world religions; New Age is similarly flush with relics of a provenance, that, to non-believers, may seem comical at best. For example, a speech well beloved by New Agers, titled "Chief Seattle's speech," has long been known to have been written by a white Christian man living in Texas. This knowledge has not stopped many New Agers from believing that the speech issued, miraculously, from Chief Seattle.

The shroud does more than not follow the simple rules of relic hawkers. The shroud not only does not follow the laws of the expressive culture of medieval relics, it defies them. For example, blood is shown flowing from the man's wrist, not his hands. It is standard in Christian iconography to depict Jesus' hands as having been pierced by nails. This was true not only of the medieval era, but also today. What reason would a forging artist have for defying the hegemonic iconography of the crucified Jesus? Anyone who wishes to prove a medieval origin for the shroud must answer that question, and others, for example:

Items of expressive culture are not found in isolation. They are not found without evidence of practice. If one excavates an ancient site and finds one pot, one finds other pots like it, and the remains of failed or broken pots in middens.

If the shroud is a forgery, where are its precedents? Where are the other forged shrouds like it? Where is there evidence of practice shrouds of this type? If the technology to create the shroud was available in medieval Europe, where are other products of this technology? Humankind is an exhaustively exploitative species. We make full use of any technology we discover, and leave ample evidence of that use. Given the lucrative nature of the forgery market, why didn't the forger create a similar Shroud of Mary, Shroud of St. Peter, Shroud of St. Paul, etc.? And why didn't followers do the same?

I'm not attempting here to prove the shroud to be genuine. I am insisting that hard science alone cannot tell us the full truth about the shroud, and that ignoring the obvious questions posed by the humanities and the social sciences leaves us as much in the dark about the shroud as ever.

Danusha Goska
Bloomington, Indiana


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Danusha Goska's Shroud of Turin Talk, at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center, WPUNJ, Wayne / Haledon New Jersey, Wednesday, April 30th, Six PM.

Here is a flyer to Danusha Goska's (author of "The Shroud of Turin???" essay) Shroud of Turin Talk, at the Catholic Campus Ministry Center, WPUNJ, Wayne / Haledon New Jersey, Wednesday, April 30th, Six PM. Click on the flyer's image to enlarge it. See Danusha's "Save Send Delete" blog for more details.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Shroud of Turin: A gift to our proof-demanding era?

Today I came across a reference to this 1973 article by Ian Wilson in the Catholic Herald. I could not find it webbed as text anywhere, even by the Catholic Herald. So I decided to laboriously convert it from images to text for my own use. But then I thought I might as well post it on my blog!


CATHOLIC HERALD, 16th November 1973, page 4

A gift to our proof-demanding era?

Ian Wilson

On Friday of next week the Holy Shroud of Turin will be exposed to television cameras for the first time. Millions will have their closest glimpse of the dim stains on the 14 ft. cloth believed to have wrapped Jesus Christ in the tomb.

For the faithful it may be an experience of the deepest emotion. For the cynics it may be regarded as a reversion to the grossest medieval relicry. We can, however, be certain of one thing. That from the moment the lid of the elaborate silver casket is opened there will be controversy.

There will be the resurrection of old claims that the cloth is 14th century forgery. There will he accusations that it is incompatible with the gospel record of Christ's burial. More than a thousand years of silence over the cloth's early history will be quoted as clear evidence of its falsity.

The kindest of critics will suggest that it is most likely the genuine shroud of some unknown victim of crucifixion; that the odds for this being really Jesus Christ seem infinitesimal.

It has, of course, all been said before. What has not been said is that during the 40 years since the Shroud was last shown there has been significant British research throwing new light on just some of these mysteries.

Ironically it was in English lance which, on September 19th 1356, thrusting deep into the side of the French knight Geoffrey dc Charny, severed for ever one vital link with the Shroud's past.

We know that shortly beforehand Geoffrey had founded a religious charity and had gone through the suitable motions for housing a precious relic without ever revealing publicly that he possessed such a thing.

It was only after his death — and no doubt because of their straitened financial circumstances — that his family brought the stained linen out of his coffers, attracting queues of pilgrims, but with them the local bishop's utter disbelief that the relic could be genuine.

There would have been little grounds for such disbelief had there existed, either then or now, clear independent evidence for the Shroud's whereabouts during the previous 13 long centuries.

When the cloth's remarkable photographic imprint came to light in 1898 historical experts such as Canon Ulysse Chevalier and the Rev. Herbert Thurston combed the records and found nothing — largely because they looked for specific references to shrouds. Only recently has a possible history for the cloth been postulated from an entirely new angle.

[The story of the Holy Mandylion from a 17th century icon in the collection of H.M. the Queen. This icon was made some five centuries after the Mandylion was "lost" from Constantinople, and is derived from earlier copies. The border "scenes" depict incidents from the cloth's earlier history, including (bottom loft) the discovery of the cloth in Edessa's walls during the 6th century and (bottom right) the transfer of the cloth to Constantinople in A.D. 944. A similar copy of the Mandylion, with the scenes engraved in metal, is preserved at Genoa.]

In the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace is an unusual icon, itself not more than three centuries old, but expressing in pictorial form a legendary story of considerable antiquity. The centre-piece, a likeness of Christ's face seen imprinted on a cloth, at first sight bears a remarkable resemblance to our familiar Veronica.

As the inscription tells us, however, this is the Holy Mandylion, a reputedly miraculous piece of linen first brought to the Syro-Turkish city of Edessa (now Urfa) during the very first century of the Christian era. It was instrumental in the conversion of many of Edessa's chief citizens, including the petty king or toparch, Abgar V, an authentic contemporary of Christ, reigning from AD 13-50. But persecution broke out and shortly after the cloth disappeared. its whereabouts remaining unknown until the sixth century AD when it was discovered sealed inside a niche in the city's walls.

Without hesitation it was hailed as the miraculously created true likeness of Christ and so coveted by the emperors of Byzantium that in 944 a bargain was sealed with Edessa's Arab masters for the relic's transfer.

The price was an enormous sum of money, the release of 1,200 Moslem prisoners, plus a guarantee of Edessa's perpetual immunity from attack. Once in Constantinople the Mandylion languished in great esteem until 1204 when, during the Crusader capture of the city it disappeared without any further trace up to the present time.

Perhaps because of the superfluity of stories of wonder-working icons during the Byzantine era, the story of the Mandylion has never been studied by scholars with the attention it deserves. The legend apparently refers to a head only portrait. The suggestion of the legend is that the image was created while Christ was alive. Artists' copies made shortly before the 1204 disappearance show only a head on the cloth, not the full-length figure of the Shroud.

But recent research and the translation of early texts reveal significant new information. When the cloth was received in Constantinople in 944 its image was described by the official "De Imagine Edessena" — as "a moist secretion, without colouring or artificial stain." This is an exact parallel to the Shroud.

Another text refers to the Mandylion as having been "doubled in four," which when reconstructed by folding a photograph of the Shroud in this manner reveals a "head only" area of the cloth exactly corresponding to artists' copies of the Mandylion — having particularly their characteristic "disembodied" appearance. And if this is how the Shroud was originally folded the ancient stories of the Mandylion's origin begin to make sense.

To anyone viewing the head only, and without knowledge of the rest, the "eyes" of the Shroud's image would indeed appear open and staring, precisely as if the image had been created in life. For this reason during the earlier centuries the cloth may never have been thought of as a burial shroud.

Such a theory has much in its favour. A Greek liturgical text of the 10th century tells how the cloth was so highly venerated, and so closely guarded, that few were ever allowed to view it directly. These were just the circumstances for the full-length figure to remain a secret.

During the 1930s the Frenchman Paul Vignon postulated that many Byzantine portraits of Christ reveal small "iconographic" peculiarities directly traceable to the Shroud. This pre-supposed widespread knowledge of the Shroud's existence during the first millennium AD, a condition impossible for Vignon to substantiate from documentary evidence. But if Shroud and Mandylion are the same object there is no difficulty.

Furthermore, the significant Christ portraits date from the 6th century on — precisely the period when the Mandylion was re-discovered.

And from the point of view of documentary evidence, two twelfth century monks, Ordericus Vitalis and Gervase of Tilbury, both claimed that the Mandylion bore the image of the whole body of Christ. Previously maligned as gossipmongers, it seems likely that, in this instance at least, they were right.

What of the rest of the Shroud's history? It is probable that after Constantinople the cloth fell into the hands of the Crusader Knights Templars, who as rumour had it, worshipped an unidentified bearded male head at their secret chapter meetings.

Accused of idolatry and heresy, the Order was suppressed in 1307 without anything being found. But recently, on the site of an old Templar preceptory at Templecombe in Somerset, there came to light a medieval wooden panel painted with just such a head. Its likeness to the Shroud is unmistakeable, and there can be little doubt it was the provincial preceptory's revered copy.

What precisely happened to the original we can only guess. But in 1314 the two last Templars were brought out to die at the stake before Notre Dame. One was the Grand Master, the other the Order's Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffrey de Charny . . . Although the Templars celibacy makes a father son relationship unlikely, there can be little doubt of his link with the Shroud-owning Geoffrey a generation later. Small wonder that the latter was so cautious and reluctant to display his luckless but priceless heirloom.

So much for the hitherto "inexplicable" silence of the Shroud's early history, a history which when studied in detail is as rich and colourful as that of any object in history. One prevailing and spine-tingling impression remains. That if my reading of it is correct, the Holy Shroud has survived pagan persecution, two Edessan floods (it was kept high in the city walls), Byzantine image-smashing, Crusader looting, persecution of the Templars, not to mention the fire of 1532, a fire in which it sustained the burn-marks visible to this day, burn marks which somehow missed the all-important image. One cannot escape wondering whether the Shroud was intended to survive into the 20th century, its negative image only discoverable by our technology, a gift to our proof-demanding time.

If this is so it is a pity that the authorities in Turin, while allowing the forthcoming exposition, are still reluctant to allow any definitive scientific examination by the Doubting Thomases of today.


(Ian Wilson, "A gift to our proof-demanding era?" Catholic Herald, 16th November 1973, page 4).

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shroud of Turin depicts a Y-shaped cross?

This is my response to the latest Easter sensationalist report about the Shroud of Turin, this time by Shroud sceptics (i.e. true believers in the Shroud's non-authenticity), Matteo Borrini and Luigi Garlaschelli, that the Shroud reveals that Jesus was crucified on a Y-shaped cross, reported in an article: "Shroud of Turin depicts Y-shaped crucifixion," New Scientist, Linda Geddes, 2 April 2014.

First, it would not affect the authenticity of the Shroud, or indeed the truth of Biblical Christianity, if Jesus was crucified on a Y-shaped cross. The Gospels do not describe the shape of Jesus' cross. But having said that, the evidence is against Jesus' cross having been Y-shaped.

Artists have depicted Jesus crucified on a Y-shaped cross, such as this one in the Iglesia de Santiago church in Puente la Reina, Spain.

[Right: This Y-shaped crucifix in the church of Santiago in Puente la Reina, Spain, is said to have been a gift from a German pilgrim in the 14th century: "Annie's Simple Life" blog.]

But as can be seen, a Y-shaped cross would be structurally weak if it was made from three pieces of timber. It would be stronger if made from a two-branched tree (as above), but the Gospels record that Jesus' cross was carried, first by Jesus:

Jn 19:17. Carrying his own cross, he [Jesus] went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
and then by Simon of Cyrene:
Mt 27:32. cf. Mk 15:21; Lk 23:26. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.
While a crucifixion victim, weakened by scourging, as Jesus had been (Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15) could have with difficulty carried his horizontal crossbeam (patibulum), there is no way he could have carried a Y-shaped section of tree, or a three-piece Y-shaped cross.

Moreover, while the Romans probably would occasionally have used an in situ tree, living or dead, to crucify victims (which didn't apply to Jesus who carried His cross), there is, as far as I am aware, no evidence that the Romans used a Y-shaped cross made out of three pieces of wood. The 16th-17th century Belgian-Dutch scholar, Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) depicted the different types of crosses that the Romans used, and the nearest to a Y-shaped Roman cross was an

[Left: X-shaped cross in Volume III of Lipsius' Opera Omnia, page 649: Photo taken by me in 2008 at the Victorian State Library in Melbourne.]

X-shaped cross (crux decussata or St. Andrew's cross). This would have been structurally strong, but it clearly would have been impossible for a scourged crucifixion victim to carry to the site of his execution.

The Shroud man has bloodflows on his arms, which are consistent with

[Above: Bloodflows on the arms of the man on the Shroud: Shroud Scope]

him having been alternately in a slumped and then briefly raised positions on either a traditional †-shaped Roman cross (crux immissa) or a T-shaped cross (crux commissa), but not an X-shaped cross (crux decussata), nor a Y-shaped cross (crux furca?).

[Above: Bloodflows on the left arm of the man on the Shroud, flipped horizontally and then rotated 90 degrees, showing how the blood dripped off the arm vertically under gravity. Because of the limitations of my software, the main bloodflows are not exactly vertical, as they would have been in reality.]

As reported by Ian Wilson, according to Pierre Barbet and other expert medical opinion, the bloodflows on the man on the Shroud's arms are consistent with a raised position of 55 degrees and a slumped position of 65 degrees, both from the vertical (see illustration below):

"We are now drawn to the wounds of the crucifixion itself. First we must establish that we can be quite confident we are dealing with a crucifixion victim. The principal evidence for this lies in the flows of blood from the wound in the left wrist. One of the most important aspects is the angle of the two streams of blood closest to the hand, flowing toward the inner border of the forearm. Other, interrupted streams run along the length of the arm as far as the elbow, dripping toward the edge of the arm at angles similar to the original flows. The first two flows are about ten degrees apart, the somewhat thinner one at an angle of about fifty-five degrees from the axis of the arm and the broader one closer to the hand at about sixty-five degrees. This enables us to do two things: (1) to compute that at the time the blood flowed, the arms must have been raised at positions varying between fifty-five and sixty-five degrees from the vertical, i.e., clearly a crucifixion position; (2) to compute that because of the ten-degree difference the crucified man must have assumed two slightly different positions on the cross, that at sixty-five degrees representing full suspension of the body, that at fifty-five degrees a slightly more acute angle of the forearm produced by flexing the elbow to raise the body. We are enabled to deduce then that the crucifixion forced on the victim an up-and-down or seesaw motion on the cross-perhaps, according to one school of thought, in order to breathe, the arms in that position taking a tension equal to nearly twice the weight of the body, inducing near-suffocation if there was no crutch support; perhaps, according to another school of thought, by the victim attempting to relieve himself of one unbearable agony, the pain in his wrists, by raising himself, at the price of yet more pain, on the living wounds in his feet." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," pp.25-26).

[Above (click to enlarge): The caption reads:
"The angle of the arms at crucifixion, deducible from the Shroud by determining the path of the blood flows in following the course of gravity. The main angle appears to have been 65 degrees, but there is evidence that at some stages the forearms were at 55 degrees, indicating that the man of the Shroud sought to raise himself; probably continually, during crucifixion." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," p.50L).

Other reasons why Borrini and Garlaschelli's Y-shaped cross claim is wrong, include:

• Christian tradition has from the earliest times depicted Jesus' cross as a Roman cross (†). For example, one of the earliest (if not the earliest) examples of a Christian cross yet found, is that which is part of a rock sculpture of a fountain in ancient Edessa (modern Sanliurfa), and is

[Above: A stone lion, the symbol of the Abgar dynasty, over which is a tradition †-shaped Christian cross, in Sanliurfa (ancient Edessa), which must have been erected before the end of Edessa's Abgar kings' Lion dynasty in AD 215: Wilson, 2010, plate 15b.]

clearly a Roman crux immissa (†), which must be dated no later than AD 215:

"A third nugget is an archaic-looking sculpted stone lion (p1. 15b) that stands forlornly in the open-air, outdoor section of Sanliurfa's present-day museum, typically with no accompanying explanatory information. Judging by the hole drilled in the animal's mouth it clearly once served as a city fountain; but our interest is in what stands on top of its head: an unmistakable sculpted Christian cross, an all-too-rare sight in present-day Sanliurfa. In Syriac, the word for `lion' is aryu - the name of Edessa's ruling dynasty. This fountain has to have stood in Edessa when the city was ruled by a Christian king of the Abgars' Aryu dynasty, a line that ended for ever when the Romans took over in AD 215. We can therefore say with some confidence that Christianity arrived in Edessa while the city was ruled by members of the Abgar line, that one of these kings definitely adopted Christianity, and that this most likely happened before AD 192, because of the Abgar VIII/Commodus coin. But was Abgar VIII the first or the second of his dynasty to adopt the new religion? That is, was the Abgar of the story of the Image of Edessa's arrival in the city Abgar VIII, for whose acceptance of Christianity we have some definite supportive evidence, or was it Abgar V, Jesus's direct contemporary, as attested by Eusebius and the Doctrine of Addai manuscript, but otherwise unsubstantiated? Strongly favouring the latter is the fact that the known circumstances of Abgar VIII's reign and its immediate aftermath simply do not `fit' the Doctrine of Addai's account of events after the `wonderful vision' episode and King Abgar's conversion." (Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," pp.119-120).

• The charge was placed "over his [Jesus'] head" (Mt 27:37) which best fits a Roman †-shaped cross, but not a Y-shaped cross.

• Garlaschelli, at least, claims that the Shroud is a medieval forgery:

"An Italian scientist says he has reproduced one of the world's most famous Catholic relics, the Shroud of Turin, to support his belief it is a medieval fake, not the cloth Jesus was buried in." ("Scientist re-creates Turin Shroud to show it's fake," CNN, Richard Allen Greene, October 7, 2009).
But a medieval forger would have depicted the traditional Roman cross (†) not a non-traditional Y-shaped cross, amongst other things:
"The forger working in France or thereabouts around or before 1350 would have to have been either an overzealous monk whose piety got the better of him or an arrogant swindler who wanted to make a bundle in the underground relic market. Both of these possibilities strike me as unlikely, since the portrayal of Jesus on the shroud is nontraditional, non-European; details like the cap or miter of thorns, the nails through the wrists instead of through the palms, and the nakedness of the loins would not inspire the devotional or artistic sensibilities of fourteenth-century Europe; rather they would have gotten the forger burned at the stake. Moreover, the accuracy of details like these would not be common knowledge to a potential forger for centuries to come." (Wilcox, R.K., 1977, "Shroud," pp.170-171).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey

Further to my post, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," Prof. Ramsey gave the misleading impression in his email:

"Yes – I agree with all that Tim says. This would seem to be a suggestion from someone who does not know what computers were like in the 1980s. In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections). The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS."
that the AMS control console computer in the Arizona University's radiocarbon dating laboratory was little more than a calculator. Which led Dan Porter to

[Right: Arizona radiocarbon laboratory's AMS control console computer just after it had displayed on its screen the uncalibrated `radiocarbon date of the Shroud', which was then calibrated to "1350 AD" (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," pp.176H, 264). I have identified this as probably a DEC VT-100 terminal conected to a DEC VAX-11 32-bit minicomputer-see below.]

question in a recent post on his blog, whether the AMS control console computers were even "programmable." My reply to Porter on his blog, included:


>Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers

There is no such thing as a NON-programmable computer. Prof. Ramsey confirmed that the AMS control console computers were under the control of "software," which is just another name for a program. When I get to that part of my series I will give further evidence about this.


I then added a further comment on Porter's blog (lightly edited):


>Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers

I meant to add, but I could not remember the name, that one of those listed by Harry Grove as present at Arizona’s C-14 dating of the Shroud was "Art Hatheway" who was "connected with the Arizona AMS facility" and was a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper:

"The next morning at about 8 am (6 May 1988) I arrived at the Arizona AMS facility ... I would be the only one present outside the Arizona AMS group. Doug immediately asked me to sign the following statement:
"We the undersigned, understand that radiocarbon age results for the Shroud of Turin obtained from the University of Arizona AMS facility are confidential. We agree not to communicate the results to anyone-spouse, children, friends, press, etc., until that time when results are generally available to the public." It had been signed by D J Donahue, Brad Gore, L J Toolin, P E Damon, Timothy Jull and ART HATHEWAY, all connected with the Arizona AMS facility, before I signed. My signature was followed by T W Linick and P J Sercel, also from the Arizona facility." (Gove, 1996, p.262. My emphasis).

A Google search on "Art Hatheway Arizona" (without quotes) had turned up an obituary of an "Arthur Loyal Hatheway" who was "Senior Staff Engineer at the AMS Lab in the Physics Department at U of A." and a "computer programmer":

"Arthur Loyal Hatheway Obituary HATHEWAY, Arthur Loyal, born in Los Angeles on March 26, 1940 to Philip and Pauline Hatheway, went suddenly to Jesus on October 11, 2008. ... In 2006, Art retired from his position as Senior Staff Engineer at the AMS Lab in the Physics Department at U of A. There his skills as COMPUTER PROGRAMMER and small instrument engineer, his thorough nature and precise workmanship, his understanding of chemistry and physics, as well as his abilities to invent and mentor, WERE PUT TO GOOD USE. Art met Jesus in 1992. This new relationship changed his perspective on life ... Arizona Daily Star on Oct. 14, 2008".

I am NOT alleging that Art Hatheway was one of the hackers, just that there was at least one member of the Arizona C-14 lab staff who was a "computer programmer" and indeed a "Senior Staff Engineer," which is indicative of a high level of sophistication of the Arizona C-14 lab’s computers, and presumably of the other C-14 labs’ computers.

And that presumably a major role of Senior Staff Engineer Hatheway was ensuring the AMS control console computer program controlled the AMS C-14 dating process:

"The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls. Each run consisted of a 10 second measurement of the carbon-13 current and a 50 second measurement of the carbon-14 counts. This is repeated nine more times and an average carbon-14/carbon-13 ratio calculated. ALL THIS WAS UNDER COMPUTER CONTROL and the calculations produced by THE COMPUTER were displayed on a cathode ray screen." (Gove, 1996, p.264).

I had originally thought that the computer which controlled the AMS dating was different from the AMS control console computer, but according to Gove’s words above, they were ONE AND THE SAME. Now a lab does not need to employ a "Senior Staff Engineer" who is also a "computer programmer" and who "put[s] to good use" those "skills," on a computer which Prof. Ramsey gave the misleading impression was little more than a calculator:

"The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS." ("Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis," March 9, 2014).

and which led Dan to question whether it was even "programmable".

Now Prof. Ramsey is highly computer literate, being himself a computer programmer, as the author of "OxCal" a computer "program ... intended to provide radiocarbon calibration":

"OxCal The OxCal program is intended to provide radiocarbon calibration ... For further information contact the author: Prof. C. Bronk Ramsey ..."

So Prof. Ramsey presumably KNOWS VERY WELL that the AMS control system computers at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford were not little more than "a calculator" but were PROGRAMMABLE computers, controlling the entire complex AMS radiocarbon dating process as well as outputting the uncalibrated C-14 dates of each sample onto their screens.

I personally find Prof. Ramsey’s (and Dr Jull’s) defensiveness significant.

But again, I repeat, that I am NOT alleging that the late Art Hatheway (or Prof. Ramsey) was one of the hackers. All I am seeking to establish is that the C-14 labs’ AMS control console computers were PROGRAMMABLE. And therefore HACKABLE!


I regard this evidence that the AMS control console computer at Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory (and therefore presumably at the Zurich and Oxford laboratories which had the same Accelerator Mass Spectrometry system), was programmable and therefore hackable, as a further step forward in my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories at universities in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390," against the preponderance of the evidence, may have been unknowingly duped by a computer hacker.

PS: I have posted the following as a comment on Dan Porter's blog (slightly edited):


I decided to Google the name which was after Art Hatheway's on Prof. Harry Grove's list of those present at the Arizona lab's 6 May 1988 dating of the Shroud. It was "T. W. Linick". I found out his name was "Timothy W. Linick". I then discovered that he died on June 4, 1989, aged 42, a few months after the Nature paper to which he was a signatory appeared, on February 16 of that year. Moreover, it was rumoured that Linick committed suicide.

It may be significant that Karl Koch, a self-confessed (after was caught) hacker who had worked for the KGB, died on May 23, 1989, less than 2 weeks earlier than Linick, in what appeared to be an execution designed to look like suicide.

I then Googled the names of other signatories to the 1988 Nature paper but found no other untimely deaths. However, as the Wikipedia article on Karl Koch notes, Koch's fellow hackers Pengo (Hans Heinrich Hübner), and Urmel (Markus Hess) also confessed that they had worked for the KGB but were not eliminated.

While I do not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS a hacker, nor that his untimely death WAS suicide, let alone an execution by the KGB designed to look like suicide, it nevertheless is worth keeping in mind as a possible piece of the jigsaw.

This will no doubt be dismissed as a "conspiracy theory" by those who prefer mindless slogans to thinking. But it is a FACT that the KGB did CONSPIRE with hackers, notably Karl Koch, of whose death Wikipedia notes that, "there is little evidence supporting suicide and many believe that Koch was killed in order to keep him from confessing more to the authorities". And it is a FACT that the KGB did CONSPIRE with hacker Markus Hess whom Clifford Stoll caught.


PPS: Here is a further comment I posted to Dan Porter's blog (with light editing):


I have discovered what make and probably the model of the AMS control console computer was. On Googling "Linick Arizona computer" (without the quotes) I found the paper, Linick, T.W., et al. 1986, "Operation of the NSF-Arizona accelerator facility for radioisotope analysis and results from selected collaborative research projects," Radiocarbon, Vol. 28, No. 2a, pp.522-533.

In it the late Dr Linick, described the computerised process that Prof. Gove wrote of Arizona lab's AMS control console computer, and wrote that it is a "DEC computer system":

"The DEC computer system largely controls the cycling of isotopes, accumulation of data, and calculation of results for each 15-minute run."

"DEC" stands for Digital Equipment Corporation, the maker of the powerful PDP and VAX range of minicomputer which were very popular in laboratories in the 1980s. However I have been unable to discover what model it was, e,g. PDP-11, VAX-11, etc.

Googling "DEC" and then selecting "images," the Arizona Lab's AMS control console computer in the photo on page 176H of Prof. Gove's book (see above), looks like a DEC VT-100 terminal.

[Left: DEC VT100 terminal: Wikipedia, 29 March 2014]

If that is so, and given that Arizona's AMS system was installed in 1981, its AMS control console computer was probably a 32-bit VAX-11:

"In 1976, DEC decided to extend the PDP-11 architecture to 32-bits while adding a complete virtual memory system to the simple paging and memory protection of the PDP-11. The result was the VAX architecture, where VAX stands for Virtual Address eXtension (from 16 to 32 bits). The first computer to use a VAX CPU was the VAX-11/780, which DEC referred to as a superminicomputer. Although it was not the first 32-bit minicomputer, the VAX-11/780's combination of features, price, and marketing almost immediately propelled it to a leadership position in the market after it was released in 1978. VAX systems were so successful that in 1983, DEC canceled its Jupiter project, which had been intended to build a successor to the PDP-10 mainframe, and instead focused on promoting the VAX as the single computer architecture for the company. Supporting the VAX's success was the VT52, one of the most successful smart terminals. Building on earlier less successful models (the VT05 and VT50), the VT52 was the first terminal that did everything one might want in a single chassis. The VT52 was followed by the even more successful VT100 and its follow-ons, making DEC one of the largest terminal vendors in the industry. With the VT series, DEC could now offer a complete top-to-bottom system from computer to all peripherals, which formerly required collecting the required devices from different suppliers." " ("Digital Equipment Corporation: VAX," Wikipedia, 10 March 2014).

Whatever DEC computer system it was, whether a PDP or VAX, it CERTAINLY was programmable and therefore HACKABLE!