Wednesday, April 19, 2017

`Radiocarbon Dating ... error potential when an item is contaminated with newer material'

Copyright © Stephen E. Jones[1]

W. Pinson

This is my reply in this separate post to your comment under my post, "Summary and embryonic statement of my hacker theory ...#6." Your words are in bold and prefaced by `greater than' brackets ">" to distinguish them from mine. It is my emphasis unless otherwise indicated.

[Above (enlarge): Photomicrograph taken by pro-authenticist STURP photographer Barrie Schwortz in 2012, of Arizona laboratory's remaining undated part of its Shroud sample[2]. As can be seen it is obviously not 60% or more contaminated with younger carbon (see below), which it would have had to have been to shift the 1st century Shroud 12-13 centuries into the future to have a 1260-1390 radiocarbon date.]

>A review of Radiocarbon Dating (Wikipedia article), there are considerations and error potential when an item is contaminated with newer material. Contamination with younger carbon which cannot be removed by pre-treatment:

"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"[3].
would have explained why the 1st-century Shroud did not have a 1st-century, but an early century (e.g. 4th-5th century[4]) radiocarbon date, if the Shroud samples had been radiocarbon-dated in 1988. But they were not and instead the 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Shroud was the result of a computer hacking.

Contamination with younger carbon cannot plausibly explain why the 1st century Shroud has a 13th-14th century radiocarbon date. Because that would require a level of contamination sufficient to shift the Shroud's radiocarbon date 12-13 centuries into the future.

And to do that would require the Shroud sample to have been 60% or more contamination! That also applies to the invisible repair/patch theories. See my "Conventional explanations of the discrepancy all fail."

But that is obviously not the case with the Shroud, as such a huge level of contamination would be clearly visible, but isn't.

See the above photomicrograph, taken by pro-authenticist photographer Barrie Schwortz, of a piece of Arizona laboratory's original Shroud sample that was never dated (radiocarbon dating requires a sample to be destroyed by burning it down to its basic carbon). As can be seen, the Arizona sub-sample is not mostly contamination. Oxford estimated that their sample (which was cut from the same larger sample as Arizona's), was less than 0.1% contamination:

"... these and similar contamination arguments has been fiercely contested by Professor Edward Hall, the recently-retired director of the Oxford laboratory. He has argued:
`Calculations show that a modern contamination amounting to 65 per cent of the mass of the shroud would be necessary to give a date of 1350 to a fabric originally dating from the time of Christ ... We believe that any such contamination would have been less than 0.1 per cent'"[5].
>Since the Shroud of Turin had been in immediate contact with its backing and patches for 450 years prior to the dating in 1988, that should have been considered in the dating, but it doesn't seem to have been. The radiocarbon dating laboratories would have considered that (see the 1989 Nature paper for details of the laboratories' extensive pre-treatment of the Shroud samples to remove carbon contamination), but because the midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ±65 years, which was close to "the time its historic record began" i.e. c. 1355:
"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"[6]
they assumed that their pre-treatment cleaning must have removed all non-original carbon. They took the Shroud's 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 years radiocarbon date as confirmation that the dating must have been carried out "flawlessly":
"My main concern was that this highly public application of the AMS technique, which I had played a major role in inventing and developing, be successful. The new procedures seemed to me to be fraught with peril. If one of the three laboratories obtained an outlier result as one did in the British Museum interlaboratory comparisons it would be impossible statistically to identify it and the three measurements would all have to be included in the average thereby producing an incorrect result. The inclusion of the other laboratories would have obviated this potential risk. As it turned out my fears were not realized. The three laboratories performed their measurements flawlessly and the final result is a public triumph for AMS if not for the `true believers'. That the shroud's age is the historic one is the dullest result one could have wished for"[7].
>It is very possible, and very likely, that the Shroud is much, much older than the carbon dating, because of the affects of the much higher C14 content of the backing and patches. The evidence (apart from the radiocarbon dating) is overwhelming that the Shroud is authentic and therefore first-century or earlier. However pro-authenticist arguments that rely on contamination, invisible repair patching, neutron flux, etc, all fail (see above) because they accept the 1260-1390 = 1325 ± 65 years radiocarbon date of the Shroud as correct and then try reconcile that with the Shroud’s 1st century date. But as the pro-authenticist physicist Frank Tipler pointed out, it would be a "miracle" (he believes it was!) for the 1st century Shroud to have precisely the right level of contamination to shift the Shroud’s radiocarbon date to 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 years, a mere ~30 years before the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history at Lirey, France in c.1355:
"This could be an explanation for the error made in 1988 on the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud. What originally convinced me that the Shroud was a fake was the fact that the date obtained was precisely that expected if the Shroud were a medieval forgery. The Shroud first appeared in France in 1355, and the Arizona laboratory obtained a radiocarbon date of 1350. It seems incredible that later contamination came in exactly the right amount to give an exactly incorrect date. Unless the contamination was adjusted (by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, acting through the laws of physics) .... Unless, that is, the contamination were a miracle"[8].
But that would make God a deceiver! Few, if any, pro-authenticists would accept Tipler's deceiver-God reconciliation of the 1st century Shroud with its 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 years radiocarbon date. But that is implicit in all pro-authenticist explanations which accept the 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 years radiocarbon date of the Shroud and then try to reconcile that to the Shroud's actual 1st century date, by contamination, invisible repairs, neutron flux, etc.

The laboratories have stated that the improbability of the Shroud being 1st century yet having a 1260-1390 a radiocarbon date is "astronomical" (Tite)[9], "one in a thousand trillion" (Gove)[10], "totally impossible" (Hall-his emphasis)[11]. But since the Shroud is authentic, and therefore 1st century or earlier, the improbability that it has a 1260-1390 a radiocarbon date must be "astronomical," "one in a thousand trillion" and indeed "totally impossible"!

The only viable explanation that fits all the facts is that the fully computerised AMS[12] radiocarbon dating of the 1st century Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390"[13] was the result of a computer hacking!


"... when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"[14]!

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to extract or quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided the extract or quote includes a reference citing my name, its title, its date, and a hyperlink back to this my post it came from. [return]
2. Schwortz, B.M., 2012, "New Photographs of Arizona Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory Samples,", November 21. [return]
3. 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]
4. 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]
5. Hall, E.T., 1990, "Letter to Textile Horizons, January 1990, in Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.177. [return]
6. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.264. [return]
7. Gove, H.E., 1989, "Letter To The Editor: The Turin Shroud," Archaeometry, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp.235-237, 237. [return]
8. Tipler, F.J., 2007, "The Physics of Christianity," Doubleday: New York NY, pp.216-217. [return]
9. Wilson, I., 1998, "The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic is Real," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, pp.6-7. [return]
10. Gove, 1996, p.303. [return]
11. Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, pp.114-115. [return]
12. Gove, 1996, p.264. [return]
13. Damon, P.E., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16th February, pp.611-615, 611. [return]
14. Doyle, A.C., 2001, "The Sign of Four," Penguin: London, pp.42-43. [return]

Posted: 19 April 2017. Updated: 11 May 2017.

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