Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Re: Are you still trying to talk the Pope into "pollen dating"?


Thank you for your message. However, as stated under "Policies" on my TheShroudofTurin blog's front page regarding private

[Above: Pope Benedict XVI is shown a copy of the Shroud of Turin, June 2, 2008: 30 Days in the Church and in the world]

messages I receive on Shroud of Turin related topics, I am responding publicly to this blog, minus your personal identifying information. Your words are bold to distinguish them from mine.

----- Original Message -----
From: AN

To: Stephen E. Jones
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2008 11:42 PM
Subject: Re: Carbon Dating the Pollen

>Hi Stephen

>Are you still trying to talk the Pope into "pollen dating"?

I am not trying to talk the Pope, or anyone, into dating the pollen of the Shroud of Turin. Since I am in my 60s and live in Australia, realistically I have only ever saw my role as publishing my paper, "A proposal to radiocarbon-date the pollen of the Shroud of Turin" in the British Society for the Turin Shroud's newsletter and then advocating it on this blog.

>I like your arguments, but I still think we should push for real Shroud cloth carbon dating---3 samples rather than 1 and from areas that we are confident are not re-weaves, etc.

Thanks. However, the "but" suggests that you think it is either dating the Shroud's "cloth" or dating its pollen. But as I wrote in my paper, "they are not mutually exclusive."

While I support another dating of the Shroud's linen, taken from different parts of the cloth, it still might not be conclusive. That is because even if the Shroud is first century burial sheet of Jesus, it could still have an apparently younger radiocarbon age due to:

1) neutron irradiation either: a) natural, if it has been kept for hundreds of years in monasteries and castles (Stevenson & Habermas, 1981, pp.20-21; Wilson, 1979 pp.177-178) made of granite (Wikipedia, 2008); and/or b) supernatural, due to neutron irradiation due to Jesus' resurrection (Danin, et al., 1999, p.6; Wilson, 1998, p.233; Wilson & Schwortz, 2000, p.128).

or 2) contamination and isotope fractionation, having been enriched with carbon-14 in the 1532 fire (Draper, 2008; Ramsey, 2008; Walsh, 2000, p.338).

Carbon-dating the Shroud's pollen would avoid most of those problems because: 1) pollen is impervious to contamination by external carbon-14 and 2) if the Shroud is genuine then some of the pollen would not have been on the linen until after Jesus' resurrection.

>If Pope says no to that but maybe he looks at our proposal and sees our Plan B is pollen, who knows---maybe he says yes to that. What do you think?

See above. If it is a choice between radiocarbon-dating the Shroud's pollen and its linen, then I think the former, carbon-dating its pollen, should be Plan A. But there is no reason why both could not be done as part of a comprehensive retesting of the Shroud's 1988 radiocarbon dating.

However, I should here point out there is a problem with radiocarbon-dating of single pollen grains, that I was not aware of when I wrote my paper, but which I will acknowledge in the too long delayed continuation of my "Response #1 to Bill Meacham's criticisms of my proposal to radiocarbon-date the Shroud's pollen" series.

Sincerely, AN

See quotes below (my emphasis bold) hyperlinked from inline references above.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & Jesus is Jehovah!

"The exact mechanisms by which the images on the Shroud were formed are not known, but they are speculated to be some type or types of radiation. The process may even have possibly included a neutron flux, which could have produced additional carbon 14 in the molecular structure of the flax fibers themselves, thus yielding an erroneously young age (Trenn, 1996)." (Danin, A., Whanger, A.D., Baruch, U. & Whanger, M., 1999, "Flora of the Shroud of Turin," Missouri Botanical Garden Press: St. Louis MO, p.6).

"COLORADO SPRINGS A physics professor here has resurrected the mystery of the Shroud of Turin, the fabled burial cloth of Christ that 20 years ago scientists declared a fake. Millions of faithful believe the shroud's blood-stained image of a battered, crucified man is the miraculous image of Jesus, formed as he rose from the dead. Scientists at three laboratories using radiocarbon dating in 1988-89 determined the shroud was a medieval forgery, though they could not explain how the image was created. Now, John Jackson, a University of Colorado at Colorado Springs physics lecturer has done something his colleagues consider nearly miraculous. Jackson, who is a leading researcher on the 14-foot-long linen sheet, has persuaded the Oxford laboratory that dated the shroud to the 13th or 14th Century to revisit the question of its age. Professor Christopher Ramsey, head of the Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, has agreed to test Jackson's hypothesis that contamination by carbon monoxide could throw off radiocarbon dating by more than a millennium. It is possible, Jackson said, that even minimal contamination of the shroud by environmental carbon monoxide could have skewed the dating by 1,300 years - making it not medieval but contemporaneous with Jesus's life. Jackson, who must prove a viable pathway for that contamination, is working with Oxford to test samples of linen under the various conditions the shroud has endured, such as outdoor exhibitions and exposure to extreme heat during a 1532 fire. ... Ramsey also acknowledged the need to reconcile radiocarbon-dating results with other forensic and historical evidence, which indicate the shroud is much older than 600 to 700 years old. Scientists must arrive at a coherent story about the enigmatic shroud, Ramsey said." (Draper, E., "Lab agrees to test Shroud of Turin for new theory," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2008).

"The Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit has been working with a team from Performance Films Ltd making a documentary about the Shroud of Turin for the BBC. .... Another contributor to the film, John Jackson (Turin Shroud Center of Colorado) ... has developed a new hypothesis, which he believes may explain why the mediaeval date for the Shroud is incorrect. The hypothesis put forward in the film is that the linen of the Shroud might have been contaminated by carbon monoxide. Unlike most contaminants, carbon monoxide is naturally enriched in radiocarbon when found in the environment and would therefore in principle be able to alter the radiocarbon age significantly. A relatively small amount of carbon monoxide (roughly 2% of the carbon in the linen) could alter the age of the sample by a thousand years. This is the only contamination hypothesis which could affect the radiocarbon age of the Shroud enough to allow it to be 2000 years old ... The research continues because the effect of the specific storage conditions of the Turin Shroud have yet to be reproduced by John Jackson's team. It remains possible, though not at all likely, that in these specific conditions there are reactions which provide significant contamination. There are also other possible types of contaminant, and it could be that one, or some combination of these, might mean that the Shroud is somewhat older than the radiocarbon date suggests. It is important to realise, however, that only if some enriched contaminant can be identified does it become credible that the date is wrong by 2000 years." (Ramsey, C.B., 2008, "Shroud of Turin," Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, 23 March).

"Ian Wilson proposes an intriguing theory to link the Mandylion with the Shroud. He suggests that from 1204 to the early 1300s, the Shroud-Mandylion was in the possession of one of the most exotic and mysterious groups in the medieval church-the Knights Templars. [Wilson, I., "The Shroud of Turin," Doubleday: New York, 1979, pp. 172-191] The Knights Templars were a religious order of knights founded about eighty years before the sack of Constantinople for the purpose of defending the crusader territories in the Holy Land. The Templars attracted powerful friends and noble members because they combined the two great passions of the Middle Ages-religious fervor and martial prowess. The members of the order took vows of poverty, chastity, and absolute obedience, and their courage in battle was legendary. They vowed never to retreat under attack, and they defended crusader territories in the Holy Land with resourcefulness and great bravery. By the time of the sack of Constantinople, the Templars had grown very powerful. They built impregnable fortresses in the Holy Land and in Europe, and princes and nobles in those unsettled times often entrusted their valuables to the Templars for safekeeping. Among these valuables were many relics. The Templars surely had the strength and the motive to safeguard a relic as fabulous as the Mandylion-Shroud. As one of the principal traders of relics from the Fourth Crusade, the Templars would have been in a position to acquire it, and their wealth would have protected them from the common temptation to sell relics for much needed cash. They would have been able to keep its location secret in their network of fortresses and castles." (Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1981, "Verdict on the Shroud: Evidence for the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Servant Books: Ann Arbor MI, pp.20-21).

"In the case of the Shroud of Turin, the linen fibrils exposed to higher temperatures would be expected to have a lower level of reaction-related isotopic fractionation than the areas of the cloth more insulated from the elevated temperatures of the 1532 fire. This would appear to imply the existence of a carbon isotopic gradient on the Shroud cloth in areas exposed to large differential temperatures. In addition, isotopic fractionation theory states that bonds involving heavier isotopes will be stronger and thus be more difficult to break for a given level of temperature than lighter isotopic bonds. Moreover, at equilibrium, the heavier isotopes will tend to occupy the site with the stronger bonds. As a result, because bonds involving lighter isotopes are weaker and more easily broken, lighter isotopes participate more readily in a given chemical reaction. The combined result of these effects is to diffuse light-isotope reaction products further from the source of a reaction. If these light isotope elements vacate a stronger bond location, then the heavier isotopes are more likely to be able to attach themselves to that site. This would leave a relatively enriched heavier isotope concentration wherever the lighter products had taken part in an exogenous chemical reaction. The fire to which the Shroud was exposed in 1532 appears to be a reasonable candidate for inducing both kinetic isotopic reactions and, also, potentially incomplete equilibrium reactions that may have resulted from the rapid temperature drop and water vapor environment associated with the quenching of the heated Shroud reliquary with water. This isotopic fractionation process could lead to areas of relative enrichment and depletion of various carbon isotopes if the reactions occurred in a confined environment. If the lighter isotopic reaction products were free to move away from the fibers, then the isotopic effects noted above could cause the Shroud to be left relatively enriched in heavier isotopic products as the result of the isotopic exchanges noted above. It would then radiocarbon date younger than its actual age at sites affected by this process." (Walsh, B.J., 2000, "The 1988 Shroud of Turin Radiocarbon Tests Reconsidered," in Walsh, B.J., ed., "Proceedings of the 1999 Shroud of Turin International Research Conference, Richmond, Virginia," Magisterium Press: Glen Allen VA, p.338).

"Granite is a normal, geological source of radiation in the natural environment. Granite contains around 10 to 20 parts per million of uranium. By contrast, more mafic rocks such as tonalite, gabbro or diorite have 1 to 5 ppm uranium, and limestones and sedimentary rocks usually have equally low amounts. Many large granite plutons are the sources for palaeochannel-hosted or roll front uranium ore deposits, where the uranium washes into the sediments from the granite uplands and associated, often highly radioactive, pegmatites. Granite could be considered a potential natural radiological hazard as, for instance, villages located over granite may be susceptible to higher doses of radiation than other communities. Cellars and basements sunk into soils formed over or from particularly uraniferous granites can become a trap for radon gas, which is heavier than air. However, in the majority of cases, although granite is a significant source of natural radiation as compared to other rocks it is not thought an acute health threat or significant risk factor. Various resources from national geological survey organisations are accessible online to assist in assessing the risk factors in granite country and design rules relating, in particular, to preventing accumulation of radon gas in enclosed basements and dwellings." ("Granite: Natural Radiation," Wikipedia, 2 July, 2008).

"Finally, and not least, they must, if the Shroud/Mandylion identification is valid, have had some historical link with Geoffrey de Charny, the French knight who was the Shroud's first authenticated owner. None of this might appear to provide any real substance with which to identify the Shroud's possible guardians between 1204 and the 1350s, but as it happens there is one historical group of suspects who fit these requirements with uncanny precision. Some eighty years before the capture of Constantinople two French knights, Hugh of Payens and Geoffrey of Saint-Omer, with seven companions had founded the Crusader Order of Knights Templars or `Poor Knights of Christ of the Temple of Solomon,' so called because they were given land close to the site of the ruined Temple in Jerusalem. By 1204 they had become both wealthy and powerful, attracting to their ranks men of the noblest blood, distinguishing themselves as fearless crusaders, and building across Europe and the Near East a series of virtually impregnable fortresses. In a precarious age these fortresses were of no small importance, and became recognized as useful storehouses for national treasures and valuables of all kinds. Kings and popes alike came to bank with the Templars, giving the `poor knights' the reputation, if not the reality, of possessing enormous wealth. Because of this role the Templars were one of the principal sources of finance for the Fourth Crusade, although they themselves took little part in it. They were also in a position to act as guardians, traders, and pawnbrokers for the flourishing trade in relics, genuine and false alike, that ensued from the Fourth Crusade. Thus the means of acquiring the Mandylion/Shroud were there. Also, the Templars' heavily guarded monastery-fortresses provided the means of keeping the cloth's whereabouts secret for a considerable period." (Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, pp.177-178).

"A similar view has been expressed by the pioneering British nuclear physicist Dr Kitty Little, now retired from her career at the UK's Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, Oxfordshire. She has recalled an experiment that she conducted back in the 1950s in which she irradiated a range of fibres, including several different cellulose ones, in a research reactor called BEPO: `At the time BEPO was being run at only three MW, so that the temperatures were in the range 70° to 90° centigrade. This meant that I was obtaining radiation effects without the complication of heat effects.' Little observed the fibres to change with only relatively low-grade heat to the very same colour reported of the Shroud image, something of which at that time she had no knowledge. In her own words: `[The] cellulose fibres turned to the straw-yellow colour that has been described for the image of the Shroud...' Even more interesting, however, was that the very same radiation particles which produced this effect were necessarily also accompanied by neutron emission. And as she has explained, this would inevitably have resulted `in the formation of extra carbon 14 on the sheet, the whole of it', this extra carbon tending quite categorically and specifically `... to make the apparent age of the fabric appear more recent than it really is ...'" [ Little, K., "The Holy Shroud of Turin and the Mystery of the Resurrection," Christian Order, April 1994, p. 226]" (Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, p.233)

"So, given that one interpretation of Jesus' resurrection is a dematerialization of the atoms of his physical body, what about the Shroud's imprint having been caused by some kind of atomic radiation from this event? In the Second World War bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the intense light from the atomic bombs' fireballs imprinted eerie images of people and objects on walls. Yet, however compelling this might sound, it cannot be a valid parallel to the Shroud image, since in the bombing instances it was the people's bodies blocking the light which created permanent shadows on the walls behind them, whereas in the case of the Shroud the light would appear to have come from the body itself, which was responsible for its unique, non-directional, self-lighting characteristics. Based on this kind of thinking, the Harvard physicist Dr Thomas J. Phillips [Phillips, T.J., "Shroud irradiated with neutrons?," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February 1989, p.594], in the wake of the 1988 radiocarbon dating, made the intriguing suggestion that, had Jesus' claimed resurrection involved a radiation of neutrons, it could explain at a stroke both the Shroud's `scorch' image and the skewing of its carbon 14 content." (Wilson, I. & Schwortz, B., 2000, "The Turin Shroud: The Illustrated Evidence," Michael O'Mara Books: London, p.128).

Updated: 11 July 2015.

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