Here are my comments (bold) on an article in The Telegraph, on Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development (ENEA)'s finding that the Shroud's image can only be replicated by a high-energy excimer laser ("a form of ultraviolet laser": Wikipedia).
"Italian study claims Turin Shroud is Christ's authentic burial robe," Nick Squires, The Telegraph, Rome, 19 Dec 2011. Just days before Christmas, a new study has emerged that suggests that one of Christianity's most prized but mysterious relics - the Turin Shroud - is not a medieval forgery but could be the authentic burial robe of Christ. The evidence already is overwhelming (see for example my "Bogus: Shroud of Turin?" series) that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus, bearing the image of His crucified and resurrected body! Italian scientists have conducted a series of advanced experiments which, they claim, show that the marks on the shroud - purportedly left by the imprint of Christ's body - could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period. This is an important new approach. Unlike those who claim that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud to 1260-1390AD proved the Shroud was "medieval" but then (like the late Prof. Edward Hall, head of Oxford University's radiocarbon dating laboratory), refuse to explain how a forger could have created the Shroud's image in the fourteenth century:
"And of the Shroud itself, and the utterly valid question of how, if the carbon-dating method really is right, someone of the fourteenth century produced a fake that `good', one looks in vain for the slightest light on this in Gove's book [Relic, Icon or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud]. Professor Hall said likewise that this question was of absolutely no interest to him and he would be giving no thought to it. But the Shroud simply cannot be left in such limbo. The carbon-dating verdict was either right or it was wrong. And if it was right, just how could someone have produced something like it back in the fourteenth century?" (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.194. Emphasis original).
this group of scientists actually considered seriously what it would take to recreate the Shroud's image. And they found that "it could not possibly have been faked with technology that was available in the medieval period." The research will be an early Christmas present for shroud believers, but is likely to be greeted with scepticism by those who doubt that the sepia-coloured, 14ft-long cloth dates from Christ's crucifixion 2,000 years ago. There are those for whom no amount of evidence for the Shroud's authenticity would be sufficient. They are the self-styled "Shroud sceptics" who are really true believers in the Shroud's inauthenticity. For them the old saying applies: "There are none so blind as those who will not see." Sceptics have long claimed that the shroud is a medieval forgery, and radiocarbon testing conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona in 1988 appeared to back up the theory, suggesting that it dated from between 1260 and 1390. The Hungarian Pray Codex (1192-1195) with its faithful reproduction of the Shroud's L-shaped poker holes alone proves the radiocarbon date of 1260-1390 has to be wrong. The only question is how did the radiocarbon dating laboratories get it so wrong? But those tests were in turn disputed on the basis that they were skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages. This is the most likely explanation: the radiocarbon laboratories dated a patch on the Shroud that was medieval! The new study is the latest intriguing piece of a puzzle which has baffled scientists for centuries and spawned an entire industry of research, books and documentaries. "The double image (front and back) of a scourged and crucified man, barely visible on the linen cloth of the Shroud of Turin, has many physical and chemical characteristics that are so particular that the staining ... is impossible to obtain in a laboratory," concluded experts from Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development. The ENEA report is at http://opac.bologna.enea.it:8991/RT/2011/2011_14_ENEA.pdf. It is in Italian but after saving it to one's hard disk, it can then be translated into English using Google's translate facility. Thanks to Dan Porter for the following instructions:
Translating the whole ENEA report into English with Google by episcopalian A reader writes: This will do a good job of translating 2011_14_ENEA.pdf. The format gets a tad messed up and the pictures disappear so print out an Italian copy to refer to. Save this file to your computer: http://opac.bologna.enea.it:8991/RT/2011/2011_14_ENEA.pdf Load this URL in your browser: http://translate.google.com Click on "translate a document". Click Chose File and select the saved file on your computer. Click Translate and wait a minute.
However those instructions did not work `out of the box' for me. Only when I selected "Italian to English" and then copy-and-pasted the resulting web page document, "2011_14_ENEA.htm," into Microsoft Word did I obtain a readable copy. The scientists set out to "identify the physical and chemical processes capable of generating a colour similar to that of the image on the Shroud." They concluded that the exact shade, texture and depth of the imprints on the cloth could only be produced with the aid of ultraviolet lasers - technology that was clearly not available in medieval times. The report found that the depth of the image on the cloth is only "one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter" (0.0002 mm) which is "the thickness of the primary cell wall ... [of] ... a linen fiber":
Furthermore, the color of the image resides on the outer surface of the fibrils that make up the threads of the cloth, and recent measurements of fragments of the Shroud show that the thickness of staining is extremely thin, around 200 nm = 200 billionths of a meter, or one fifth of a thousandth of a millimeter, which corresponds to the thickness of the primary cell wall of the so-called single linen fiber. ("The Shroud is not a fake," Marco Tosatti, The Vatican Insider, 12/12/2011).
This is the final nail in the coffin of all medieval forgery theories, whether painting, hot statue, camera obscura, etc.
As one of Dan Porter's readers pointed out, even Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince will have to concede that their theory that Leonardo da Vinci improved on an earlier version of the Shroud by inventing photography:
I asked Lynn and Clive to tell me more. For the benefit of readers unfamiliar with your books, could you briefly outline your theory regarding the connection between Leonardo da Vinci and the Turin Shroud? In our 1994 book Turin Shroud: In Whose Image?, revised in 2006 as Turin Shroud: How Leonardo da Vinci Fooled History, we argued that he faked the alleged holy relic - believed to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus, miraculously imprinted with his image and bearing his redemptive blood. We also argued, based on intensive research, that he created the image using a basic form of photography - a camera obscura - which is why it has puzzled so many people for so long. And to cap it all, we believe that he used his own face as the model for that of Christ. All of this was not only within his capabilities - he was known to experiment with camera obscuras, for example - but it also perfectly fits his mind-set. We believe that Leonardo's Shroud was first displayed in 1494 in a town very close to Milan (where he was working at the time) and replaced an earlier, cruder, and more obviously faked "Holy Shroud" which had been exhibited in France. ("Da Vinci and The Turin Shroud Did Leonardo fake the face of Christ?," James Clark, The Morton Report, November 17, 2011).
is now refuted, unless they want to claim that Leonardo invented the laser!:
Email of the Day: Picknett and Prince Changed Their Mind December 19, 2011 episcopalian ... A reader writes: Just heard from Picknett and Prince. After reading the ENEA Report the conspiracy theory duo have changed their mind. Leonardo used an excimer laser instead of a camera obscura, they now tell us. Look for a new book and National Geographic special.
The scientists used extremely brief pulses of ultraviolet light to replicate the kind of marks found on the burial cloth. Not only did not anyone even know about "ultraviolet light" until the 19th century, the actual "total power of VUV [vacuum ultraviolet] radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen" of the Shroud is about "34 thousand billion watts":
However, ENEA scientists warn, "it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )" (Tosatti, The Vatican Insider, 12/12/2011).
They concluded that the iconic image of the bearded man must therefore have been created by "some form of electromagnetic energy (such as a flash of light at short wavelength)."That the image on the Shroud was formed by some sort of radiation, as Jesus' body was resurrected, has long been the explanation that best fits the facts. In 1978, Ian Wilson concluded his first book on the Shroud by hypothesising that the Shroud's image is "a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection" "indelibly fused onto the cloth" by "a burst of mysterious power from it":
"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal `snapshot' of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., 1978, "The Turin Shroud," Book Club Associates: London, p.211).
Although they stopped short of offering a non-scientific explanation for the phenomenon, their findings will be embraced by those who believe that the marks on the shroud were miraculously created at the moment of Christ's Resurrection. This "a non-scientific explanation for the phenomenon" is an example of the modern confusion of "scientific" with the philosophy of Naturalism, i.e. the unproven and unprovable assumption that `nature is all there is - there is no supernatural.' But if the Shroud's image is in fact a byproduct of Jesus' resurrection, then that is the truth and if science is a search for the truth, it is therefore a "scientific explanation for the phenomenon." Unless the proposition is that it is better for science to embrace a false naturalistic explanation than a true super-naturalistic one! "We are not at the conclusion, we are composing pieces of a fascinating and complex scientific puzzle," the team wrote in their report. It is sufficient that the ENEA team conducted the tests (over a 5-year period 2005-2010) but stopped short of actually drawing a supernatural conclusion. Such is the dominant irrational prejudice within science that it would probably lead to them being persecuted and their paper being forcibly retracted (as happened to the Smithsonian Institution's Richard M. Sternberg). Prof Paolo Di Lazzaro, On Googling "Paolo Di Lazzaro" I discovered this 2008 paper on this very topic, which either I was not aware of, or had forgotten:
"Abstract. The body image of the Turin Shroud has not yet been explained by traditional science; so a great interest in a possible mechanism of image formation still exists. We present preliminary results of excimer laser irradiation (wavelength of 308 nm) of a raw linen fabric and of a linen cloth. The permanent coloration of both linens is a threshold effect of the laser beam intensity, and it can be achieved only in a narrow range of irradiation parameters, which are strongly dependent on the pulse width and time sequence of laser shots. We also obtained the first direct evidence of latent images impressed on linen that appear in a relatively long period (one year) after laser irradiation that at first did not generate a clear image. The results are compared with the characteristics of the Turin Shroud, reflecting the possibility that a burst of directional ultraviolet radiation may have played a role in the formation of the Shroud image." (Giuseppe Baldacchini, Paolo Di Lazzaro, Daniele Murra, and Giulio Fanti, "Coloring linens with excimer lasers to simulate the body image of the Turin Shroud," Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 9, pp. 1278-1285 (2008).
the head of the team, said: "When one talks about a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen in the same way as the shroud, discussion inevitably touches on things like miracles and resurrection." Indeed! Dead bodies do not naturally emit "a flash of light being able to colour a piece of linen," let alone one with the energy of "34 thousand billion watts"! That it occurred on the Shroud purported to have covered Jesus' body, which according to Christianity was resurrected and changed instantaneously (1Cor 15:50-52) from a "natural body" into a "glorious" (Php 3:20-21 ) "spiritual body" (1Cor 15:35,41-44), should be sufficient proof of Christianity being true to those whose minds are not closed to that possibility. "But as scientists, we were concerned only with verifiable scientific processes. This is perhaps understandable but reflects a physical science view of "scientific processes." But that does not stop many branches of modern science drawing conclusions from "verifiable scientific processes." For example, Forensic Science presents its conclusions in such a way that juries and judges convict those accused of crimes to prison and even execution, on far less evidence than there is for the Shroud being the burial sheet of Jesus. We hope our results can open up a philosophical and theological debate but we will leave the conclusions to the experts, and ultimately to the conscience of individuals." I agree with this. In the end, God allows those who deny the evidence that He has graciously provided in the Shroud, the freedom to do so. But they will have to explain to Jesus their Judge (Jn 5:26-27; Act 10:41-42; 17:31; Rom 2:16; 2Cor 5:10; 2Tim 4:1) why they refused to accept that evidence. The research, conducted in laboratories in Frascati, a town outside Rome famous for its white wine, backs up the outcome of tests by a group of 31 American scientists between 1978 and 1981. The Americans - who called themselves the Shroud of Turin Research Project or STURP - conducted 120 hours of X-rays and ultraviolet light tests on the linen cloth. They concluded that the marks were not made by paints, pigments or dyes and that the image was not "the product of an artist", but that at the same time it could not be explained by modern science. In a sense the image now has been explained by modern science, but it is not the explanation that naturalistic science expected! The mythology of modern naturalistic science is that "science" (being objectively true) will continually advance and "religion" (being objectively false) will correspondingly continually retreat before it. Or as Darwin's "bulldog" Thomas Henry Huxley famously put it, "extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules [; and history records that whenever science and orthodoxy have been fairly opposed, the latter has been forced to retire from the lists, bleeding and crushed if not annihilated; scotched, if not slain]":
"But myths also were used to promote science, as in Huxley's statement that `extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules.' [Huxley (1894) Vol II p 52].Like the infant Hercules, science grew in power. Huxley's symbolic inversion in casting theologians as serpents could not have been lost on his audience." (Caudill, E., 1997, "Darwinian Myths: The Legends and Misuses of a Theory," The University of Tennessee Press: Knoxville TN, p.136).
That modern science could actually help prove that Christian theologians were right after all, is almost unthinkable to those brought up to accept uncritically that foundational scientific myth. "There are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately." The US team - which included nuclear physicists, thermal chemists, biophysicists and forensic pathologists - concluded: "The image is an ongoing mystery." That was in 1978. But now with these findings, the mystery has effectively been solved. The image on the Shroud was created by Jesus' resurrection, as His body underwent a change of physical state. One of Christianity's greatest objects of veneration, the shroud appears to show the imprint of a man with long hair and a beard whose body bears wounds consistent with having been crucified. And with having been resurrected! Each year it lures millions of pilgrims to Turin Cathedral, where it is kept in a specially designed, climate-controlled case.There it has remained, except for short periods, since 1578 - over 400 years! God's ongoing gracious miracle to the world He so loves (Jn 3:16). Further proof that God "is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph 3:20 KJV)! Scientists have never been able to explain how the image of a man's body, complete with nail wounds to his wrists and feet, pinpricks from thorns around his forehead and a spear wound to his chest, could have formed on the cloth. Now they can. But will they accept the explanation? The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Benedict XVI has said that the enigmatic image imprinted on the cloth "reminds us always" of Christ's suffering. It will be interesting to see if, after this, the Vatican drops this official pretense and comes right out and states that, on the basis of the overwhelming weight of the evidence, the Shroud of Turin is the very burial sheet of Jesus' and bears the imprint of His crucified and resurrected body. Because it does! Other news articles on this include (in date order-earliest first):
"The Shroud is not a fake," Marco Tosatti, The Vatican Insider, 12/12/2011.
"Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural," Michael Day, The Independent, 20 December 2011.
"The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it," Tom Chivers, The Telegraph, December 20th, 2011.
"The Shroud of Turin Wasn't Faked, Italian Experts Say," Suzan Clarke, ABC News (blog), Dec 21, 2011.
"Turin Shroud 'was created by flash of supernatural light': It couldn't be a medieval forgery, say scientists," David Wilkes, Mail Online, 21st December 2011.
"Shroud Of Turin, Jesus' Proposed Burial Cloth, Is Authentic, Italian Study Suggests," Ileana Llorens, The Huffington Post, 12/21/11.
"Shroud of Turin can’t be a fake, researchers say: Scientists unable to replicate cloth’s Christ-like image," Rheana Murray, NY Daily News, December 22 2011.
"Mystery of Turin Shroud revealed," Milena Faustova, Voice of Russia, Dec 22, 2011.
"Was Holy Shroud created in a flash? Italian researchers resurrect claim," Alan Boyle, MSNBC, Dec. 23, 2011.
"Scientists say Shroud of Turin authentic, of supernatural origin," Nancy Houser, Digital Journal, Dec 23, 2011.
"Vatican's official newspaper says science cannot explain Turin Shroud," Nick Squires, The Telegraph, 29 Dec 2011.
"Italian state experts create similar colorations seen on Turin shroud," Carol Glatz, The Pilot, 12/29/2011.
"The Shroud of Turin: forgery or divine? A scientist writes," Tom Chivers, The Telegraph December 30, 2011.