Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking #3

Copyright ©, Stephen E. Jones[1]

Introduction. This part #3 of my concluding summary of the evidence that the 1988 radiocarbon dating of the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390"[2] was the result of a computer hacking, allegedly by Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89)[3], aided by German hacker Karl Koch (1965–89)[4], on behalf of the former Soviet Union, through its agency the KGB. Previous posts in this series were parts: #1 and #2. I will link the headings back to my previous, "My theory ..." posts on those topics. The next post in this series is part #4.

[Above (enlarge): Schematic of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating system at the University of Arizona in 2005[5]. Note the words "Control Console" at bottom left next to the photograph of a computer terminal [right (enlarge)]. This presumably is not the actual system used to radiocarbon date the Shroud in 1988, but both then and now it is the AMS computer which actually reports a sample's radiocarbon date.]

■ Arizona laboratory's dating of the Shroud to "1350 AD" [#10(4) & #4] Here again is the eyewitness account of Rochester University physicist and co-inventor of AMS radiocarbon dating[6], the late Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009), of Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory's very first (of all the laboratories) radiocarbon dating of the Shroud on 6 May 1988:

"'The first sample run was OX1 [oxalic acid control]. 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. ... everyone was waiting for the next sample-the Shroud of Turin! At 9:50 am 6 May 1988, Arizona time, the first of the ten measurements appeared on the screen. We all waited breathlessly. The ratio was compared with the OX sample and the radiocarbon time scale calibration was applied ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. It had taken me eleven years to arrange for a measurement that took only ten minutes to accomplish! Based on these 10 one minute runs, with the calibration correction applied, the year the flax had been harvested that formed its linen threads was 1350 AD-the shroud was only 640 years old! It was certainly not Christ's burial cloth but dated from the time its historic record began" (my emphasis) [7].

• "The first sample run was OX1. Then followed one of the controls ... the next sample-the Shroud of Turin"As with the "OX1" (oxalic acid 1 - see below) sample, each sample, including each of the two Shroud samples (see below) evidently had a unique identifier, since those reading the computer terminal screen knew which sample each result was from. Earlier Gove had explained what the order of the samples dated were: "Eight of the ten samples in this first historic load were OX1, OX2, blank, two shroud and three controls. ... the remaining two ... may have been some duplicate controls and/or another OX ... standard samples made from oxalic acid ..."[10].

Table 1 in the 1989 Nature paper[11] lists the unique identifiers of each of the three laboratories' Shroud sample ("Sample 1") and the other control samples:

[Above (enlarge): Table 1 in the 1989 Nature paper showing the Shroud's unique identifying code as the first letter of each laboratories' name, a dot, and then the numeral "1". A note below the table explained: "* The identification code for each measurement shows, in order, the laboratory, sample, measurement run, pre-treatment and any replication involved" [12].]

This code was allocated to each laboratory (e.g. A1, O1, Z1 for Arizona, Oxford and Zurich's Shroud samples respectively) by the

[Left: Oxford radiocarbon laboratories' Shroud sample identification code "O1," one of their control samples "O3," and their stainless steel cylinders and wax seal[13].]

British Museum's Dr Michael Tite who gave them their Shroud and control samples with those identification codes: "The representatives from the three laboratories left with their nine steel cylinders and a letter. The one to Zurich, for instance, read: `The containers labelled Z1, Z2, and Z3 ...' The Oxford samples were labelled O1, O2 and O3 and the Arizona samples T1, T2 and T3. ..."[14].

This unique identifier code for each sample was required so that there could be no confusion between the laboratories of which sample was from the Shroud and which were controls, and so that Dr Tite could collate their results[15]. But it also made it feasible for a hacker (whom I allege was Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick) to write a program which included a test of which sample was from the Shroud, so that once installed on the AMS computers at all three laboratories, it could run automatically without further human intervention. Linick's unauthorised program, according to my theory, when installed on all three laboratories' AMS computers, substituted the Shroud's radiocarbon dates with computer-generated dates, which when calibrated and averaged across all three laboratories, would produce a combined bogus radiocarbon date of the Shroud of around 1325, which was shortly before the Shroud appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in about 1355[16].

• "the year the flax had been harvested ... was 1350 AD ... the time its historic record began" Note how uncritical Gove, and indeed all present were, including Douglas Donahue, the co-founder of Arizona laboratory[17], who is a Roman Catholic and believed that the Shroud was authentic[18]. Gove even wrote approvingly of Donahue, changing his mind and believing on the basis of one dating run, at one laboratory, that "this was the shroud's age:":

"I remember Donahue saying that he did not care what results the other two laboratories got, this was the shroud's age. Although he was clearly disappointed in the result, he was justifiably confident that his AMS laboratory had produced the answer to the shroud's age"[19].

They all chose to ignore, what they must have known, that, according to Prof. Jacques Evin, then Director of the Radiocarbon Laboratory at the University of Lyon, it is not possible for radiocarbon dating to be "closer than a span of 200 years":

"Many people expect the carbon 14 dating of the Shroud to be very precise. One must immediately undeceive them and make it clear that in the best of conditions and after averaging the three results given by the laboratories, there can be nothing closer than a span of 200 years. It will not be possible to pinpoint where the exact age of the Shroud can be situated within the span ... in the case of radiocarbon, one cannot really hope for an accuracy closer than two centuries."[20]

And because they were all nuclear physicists[21] they did not realise how unlikely that date of 1350 was. That is because since the Shroud is known to have existed from at least 1355[22], its flax would have had to have been harvested in 1350, retted under

[Right (enlarge): Pilgrim's badge from the Shroud's historical debut at Lirey, France in c.1355[23].]

water for an extended period of time[24], spun into linen fibre, woven into a linen cloth, and then the image imprinted on the cloth, all within ~5 years! Not to mention weaving it on an extra wide loom, which are unknown from the Middle Ages (see Selvedge #6) stitching and edging the cloth to match that which was found only at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada (see "Sidestrip #5").

Moreover it would mean that the Arizona laboratory's pretreatment of their Shroud sample would have had to have been perfect, removing all non-original carbon. But that is highly unlikely because:

"In 1532 the Shroud was being kept inside a silver casket stored in the Sainte Chapelle, Chambéry, when a fire nearly destroyed the building. The intense heat melted a corner of the casket, scorching the folded linen within, and producing the now familiar scorch marks on the Shroud. Since silver melts only at 960 degrees centigrade, the heat inside the casket must have been intense. In these circumstances moisture in the Shroud would turn to steam, probably at superheat, trapped in the folds and layers of the Shroud. Any contaminants on the cloth would be dissolved by the steam and forced not only into the weave and yarn, but also into the flax fibres' very lumen and molecular structure. ... contaminants would have become part of the chemistry of the flax fibres themselves and would be impossible to remove satisfactorily by surface actants and ultrasonic cleaning. More drastic treatments to destroy the contaminants would inevitably damage the flax fibres themselves" (my emphasis)[25].

And being all nuclear physicists, they would probably have been unaware that in 1350 the Shroud was owned by the most honourable knight in France, Geoffrey I de Charny (c. 1300-1356), "who "wore on his epaulettes the motto `honour conquers all' ... wrote deeply religious poetry ... was chosen by France's king to carry into battle his country's most sacred banner, the Oriflamme of St Denis, an honour accorded only to the very worthiest of individuals ... died a hero, defending his king with his own body in the ... battle of Poitiers" and "fourteen years after his death he was duly accorded a hero's tomb, at royal expense ..."[26]. So "It is extremely difficult [to put it mildly] to understand how such a man would have lent his name ... to ... fraud"[27].

Therefore Arizona's first run "1350 AD" date had to be wrong. But if a hacker wanted by prior leaks to the media, as Linick did (see #10(6) and future "Evidence that Linick was the leaker" in this series) to break down pro-authenticity resistance, reinforce anti-authenticity prejudice, and create a climate of expectation that subsequent datings would confirm that the Shroud was medieval, then 1350 was the date he would have used for that very first dating!

• The hacker would have known that the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. It was widely known that the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in the 1350s. Indeed the 1989 Nature paper stated just that: "The Shroud of Turin ... was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s"[28]. Leading Shroud sceptic Denis Dutton (1944-2010) had in a 1986 review of Ian Wilson's "Evidence of the Shroud" (1986), which stated that "the Shroud [was] exhibited at Lirey, ca. 1357"[29]), "predicted that if the cloth ever were to be carbon-dated it would come in at A.D. 1335, plus or minus 30 years." And after the 1988 dating Dutton noted that "the collated result was A.D. 1325, plus or minus 65 years," which meant that he was only "ten years off"[30]. Another leading Shroud sceptic, microscopist Walter McCrone (1916-2002), having read Ian Wilson's first book, "The Turin Shroud" (1978), and accepting from it that, "We can be reasonably sure of its [the Shroud's] existence ... since about 1356"[31], predicted in 1981 that "the image [on the Shroud] ... was painted on the cloth .. about 1355"[32]. McCrone had then added:

"Only a carbon-dating test can now resolve the question of authenticity of the 'Shroud' of Turin. A date significantly later than the first century would be conclusive evidence the `Shroud' is not genuine. A date placing the linen cloth in the first century, though not conclusive in proving the cloth to be the Shroud of Christ, would, no doubt, be so accepted by nearly everyone."[33].

But unlike McCrone, who was "unschooled in carbon dating"[34], a hacker who was aware (as Linick would have been), that the radiocarbon date of the Shroud could only be from the time of the harvest of the flax used in making its linen[35], would know what date to give the Shroud for maximum plausibility: a few decades before 1355 or about 1325! And, as we shall see, there is evidence from McCrone's above quoted words that the Timothy Linick was familiar with McCrone's 1981, "about 1355" prediction of the eventual "carbon-dating" of the Shroud.

Continued in part #4 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. Permission is granted to quote from any part of this post (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this post. [return]
2. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
3. Jull, A.J.T. & Suess, H.E., 1989, "Timothy W. Linick," Radiocarbon, Vol 31, No 2. [return]
4. "Karl Koch (hacker)," Wikipedia, 5 May 2015. [return]
5. "Basic Principles of AMS," NSF-Arizona AMS Facility, University of Arizona, 2005. [return]
6. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.314. [return]
7. Gove, 1996, p.264. [return]
8. Meacham, W., 2005, "The Rape of the Turin Shroud: How Christianity's Most Precious Relic was Wrongly Condemned and Violated," Lulu Press: Morrisville NC, p.87. [return]
9. Stoll, C., 1989, "The Cuckoo's Egg Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage," Pan: London, reprinted, 1991, p.9. [return]
10. Gove, 1996, p.263. [return]
11. Damon, 1989, p.612. [return]
12. Damon, 1989, p.612. [return]
13. de Castella, T., 2010, "Unshrouding the science of the Shroud," BBC News, 12 April. [return]
14. Hoare, R., 1995, "The Turin Shroud Is Genuine: The Irrefutable Evidence," [1984], Souvenir Press: London, p.11. [return]
15. Wilson, I., 1986, "Trondheim Radiocarbon Dating Conference," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 13, April, pp.5-6. [return]
16. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.222. [return]
17. "Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Group: Our Team: Douglas J. Donahue," NSF-Arizona AMS Laboratory, 17 August 2004. [return]
18. 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.188. [return]
19. Gove, 1996, p.264. [return]
20. Evin, J., 1988, "In anticipation of carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 27, June. [return]
21. Wilson, I., 1990, "Recent Publications," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 26, September/October, p.18; Wilson, I., 1991, "From Professor Harry Gove," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 27, December 1990/January 1991, p.14. [return]
22. Wilson, 2010, p.222. [return]
23. Latendresse, M., 2012, "A Souvenir from Lirey," Sindonology.org. [return]
24. Heller, J.H. & Adler, A.D., 1981, "A Chemical Investigation of the Shroud of Turin," Shroud Spectrum International," Special Issue 2002, pp.35-57, p.45. [return]
25. Tyrer, J., in Wilson, I., 1988, "So How Could the Carbon Dating Be Wrong?," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 20, October, pp.10-12. [return]
26. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.21. [return]
27. Ibid. [return]
28. Damon, 1989, p.611. [return]
29. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.5. [return]
30. Dutton, D., 1984, "Requiem for the Shroud of Turin," Michigan Quarterly Review 23, pp.243-255. [return]
31. McCrone, W.C., 1999, "Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, p.140. [return]
32. McCrone, 1999, p.138. [return]
33. Ibid. [return]
34. Gove, 1996, p.49. [return]
35. Meacham, W., 1986, "On carbon dating the Shroud," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 14, September, pp.4-16, p.14. [return]

Posted: 22 September 2015. Updated: 4 February 2021.

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