Friday, January 30, 2015

My theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker #10: Summary (4)

Copyright ©, Stephen E. Jones[1]

Introduction. This is part #10, Summary (4), of my theory that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker. See the previous parts #10(1), #10(2) and #10(3). Other previous posts in this series were part #1, part #2, part #3, part #4, part #5, part #6, part #7, part #8 and part #9, which posts this part #10 will summarise. It is my emphases below unless otherwise indicated. See the update of this post in my "The 1260-1390 radiocarbon date of the Turin Shroud was the result of a computer hacking #3".

[Above (enlarge): Schematic of the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating system at the University of Arizona in 2005[2]. Note the "Control Console" at bottom left next to the photograph of a computer [see enlargement right]. This presumably is not the actual system used to radiocarbon date the Shroud of Turin in 1988[3], but both then and now it is the control console computer which actually reports a sample's radiocarbon date.]

4. ARIZONA LABORATORY'S FIRST DATING OF THE SHROUD TO "1350 AD" [part #4] Here is the eyewitness account of Rochester University physicist, the late Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009), of Arizona Laboratory's very first (of all the laboratories) radiocarbon dating of the Shroud on 6 May 1988:

"'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. The age of the control sample could have been calculated on a small pocket calculator but was not-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 by Doug Donahue. His face became instantly drawn and pale. 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"[4].

Note the following from Gove's account above:

• "All this was under computer control and the calculations produced by the computer were displayed on a cathode ray screen". There was a computer (the AMS control console computer) between the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer which actually carbon- dated the Shroud sample and the humans in the laboratory reading the computer's screen. A computer is controlled by a program and a program is hackable. A hacker with access to the AMS control console computer (as Timothy W. Linick did), could run a program which would intercept the output of the AMS radiocarbon dating program, en route to the computer's screen and replace the Shroud's first (or early due to contamination) century date with a date which, when calibrated, would be "1350 AD," for this very first run of carbon dating of the Shroud. Thereafter for Arizona and the other two laboratories the hacker's program could replace the Shroud's date with random dates within limits which, after calibration, displayed dates clustered around 1325 ±65. Finally the hacker's program could automatically order its own deletion when the dating of the Shroud would have been completed (e.g. after 3 months), leaving no trace of its former existence[5].

• "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 results on the computer screen knew which sample each 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 ..."[6].

Table 1 in the 1989 Nature paper[7] lists the unique identifiers of each of the three laboratories' Shroud sample ("Sample 1") and the other control samples:

[Above (click to 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, pretreatment and any replication involved" [8].]

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[9].]

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. ..."[10].

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[11]. But it also made it feasible for a hacker (whom I allege was Arizona physicist Timothy W. Linick) to be able 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 at those laboratories 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[12].

• "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, even by those who believed the Shroud was authentic, like Doug Donahue, a Roman Catholic[13]. Gove even wrote approvingly of Donahue, the co-founder of Arizona laboratory[14], 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"[15].

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"[16] (see part #1).

And because they were all nuclear physicists[17] they did not realise how absurdly unlikely that date of 1350 was. Because since the Shroud is known to have existed from at least 1355[18], the flax would have had to have been harvested in 1350, retted under

[Right (click to enlarge): Pilgrim's badge from the Shroud's historical debut at Lirey, France in c.1355[19].]

water for several months[20], spun into linen fibre, woven into a linen cloth, and then the image imprinted on the cloth, all within 5 years! Not to mention stitching and edging the cloth to match that which was found only at the first-century Jewish fortress of Masada (see "Linen sheet"].

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"[21].

And being all nuclear physicists, they would probably have been unaware that in 1350 the Shroud was 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 ..."[22]. So "It is extremely difficult to understand how such a man would have lent his name ... to ... fraud"[23].

So the 1350 date must be wrong. But if a hacker wanted to break down the minority pro-authenticity resistance, and reinforce the majority 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 !

• It was widely known that the Shroud first appeared in undisputed history in the 1350s. Indeed the 1989 Nature paper stated that the Shroud "was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s"[24]. Leading Shroud sceptic Denis Dutton (1944-2010) had in 1986, in a review of Ian Wilson's "Evidence of the Shroud" (1986), which stated that "the Shroud [was] exhibited at Lirey, ca. 1357"[25]), "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"[26]. 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"[27], predicted in 1981 that "the image [on the Shroud] ... was painted on the cloth .. about 1355"[28]. 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.'"[29].

So a hacker who (unlike McCrone who was "unschooled in carbon dating"[30]) was aware (as Linick would be) that radiocarbon dating could date only when the living flax plants died, that is, when they were harvested[31], would know what date to give the Shroud's linen for maximum plausibility - shortly before 1335 to 1355. And, as we shall see, there is evidence from McCrone's above quoted words that the alleged hacker, Timothy Linick, was familiar with McCrone's 1981, "about 1355" prediction of the eventual "carbon-dating" of the Shroud.

Continued in part #10 Summary (5).

1. This post is copyright. No one may copy from this post or any of my posts on this my The Shroud of Turin blog without them first asking and receiving my written permission. Except that I grant permission, without having to ask me, for anyone to copy the title and one paragraph only (including one associated graphic) of any of my posts, provided that if they repost it on the Internet a link to my post from which it came is included. See my post of May 8, 2014. [return]
2. "Basic Principles of AMS," NSF-Arizona AMS Facility, University of Arizona, 2005. [return]
3. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
4. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.264. [return]
5. Stoll, C., 1989, "The Cuckoo's Egg Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage," Pan: London, reprinted, 1991, p.9. [return]
6. Gove, 1996, p.263. [return]
7. Damon, 1989, p.612. [return]
8. Damon, 1989, p.611. [return]
9. de Castella, T., 2010, "Unshrouding the science of the Shroud," BBC News, 12 April. [return]
10, Hoare, R., 1995, "The Turin Shroud Is Genuine: The Irrefutable Evidence," [1984], Souvenir Press: London, p.11. [return]
11. Wilson, I., 1986, "Trondheim Radiocarbon Dating Conference," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 13, April, pp.5-6. [return]
12. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, p.222. [return]
13. 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]
14. "Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Group: Our Team: Douglas J. Donahue," NSF-Arizona AMS Laboratory, 17 August 2004. [return]
15. Gove, 1996, p.264. [return]
16. Evin, J., 1988, "In anticipation of carbon 14 dating of the Shroud of Turin," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 27, June. [return]
17. 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]
18. Wilson, 2010, p.222. [return]
19. Latendresse, M., 2012, "A Souvenir from Lirey," [return]
20. Crispino, D.C., 1989, "Recently Published," Shroud Spectrum International, No. 30, March, p.17. [return]
21. 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]
22. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.21. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. Damon, 1989, p.611. [return]
25. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.5. [return]
26. Dutton, D., 1984, "Requiem for the Shroud of Turin," Michigan Quarterly Review 23, pp.243-255. [return]
27. McCrone, W.C., 1999, "Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, p.140. [return]
28. McCrone, 1999, p.138. [return]
29. Ibid. [return]
30. Gove, 1996, p.49. [return]
31. 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 30 January 2015. Updated 15 July 2023.


Anonymous said...

But to suggest that a hacker could have hacked this would be crazy. You think a hacker could have hacked for secured computers back then from oxford and Arizona university's and laboratory's. It would take a genius of undeniable proportions to do so back then seeing as people weren't into the whole hacking thing until my generation which is mostly computers and back ups on other computers.

Stephen E. Jones said...


>But to suggest that a hacker could have hacked this would be crazy.

No. It's the best (if not the ONLY) explanation of all the facts.

>You think a hacker could have hacked for secured computers back then from oxford and Arizona university's and laboratory's.

They WERE NOT secure back then in the 1980. Read all my posts in the series. Read the quotes from the books I cite: Clifford Stoll's "The Cuckoo's Egg" (1989), Hafner & Markoff's "Cyberpunk" (1995) and Mungo's "Approaching Zero" (1993). Or better still, READ THE BOOKS themselves-I did.

>It would take a genius of undeniable proportions

No. It was EASIER back then in the 1980s than now because computers and universities weren't as secure in the 1980s as they are today.

>to do so back then seeing as people weren't into the whole hacking thing until my generation

You just show your IGNORANCE. Hacking was RIFE in the 1980s. Read my posts.

>which is mostly computers and back ups on other computers.

I nearly deleted your comment because it was "substandard" (see my poliicies below).

Do your HOMEWORK! Don't commit the ARGUMENT FROM IGNORANCE fallacy: "I DON'T KNOW there was computer hacking in the 1980s, therefore there WAS NO computer hacking in the 1980S."

Stephen E. Jones
MY POLICIES Comments are moderated. Those I consider off-topic, offensive or sub-standard will not appear. Except that comments under my latest post can be on any Shroud-related topic without being off-topic. I normally allow only one comment per individual under each one of my posts.

AnthonyF said...

I just asked my brother, who has been a computer programmer and a hacker for 35 years if this was a possibility, and he said "Yes, sure." Your theory makes a lot of sense, and is at least one plausible explanation. Thanks for all your research and knowledge about the shroud carbon dating.

Stephen E. Jones said...


>I just asked my brother, who has been a computer programmer and a hacker for 35 years if this was a possibility, and he said "Yes, sure."


>Your theory makes a lot of sense, and is at least one plausible explanation.

Thanks again. Your comment in support of my hacking theory is the first, among many which I am sure will come.

>Thanks for all your research and knowledge about the shroud carbon dating.

Thanks again.

Stephen E. Jones