Sunday, March 25, 2018

25 March 1988: On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud

© Stephen E. Jones[1]

STOP PRESS [2]! I was emailed today (26 March 2018) by a leading Shroud pro-authenticist who told me that he has been "repeatedly mulling over" my "Linick/computer hacking hypothesis". He said that as October this year will be the thirtieth anniversary of the announcement [on 13 October 1988 - see 23Jul15 - that the Shroud's radiocarbon date was "1260-1390"] and he is likely to be talking on this topic in both the UK and USA, he is thinking of suggesting my Linick/computer hacking as one of two scenarios he most favours for having skewed the Shroud's radiocarbon date! I thanked him for taking my hacking theory seriously. That led me to start today preparing a media release outlining my hacking theory which I will post here when it is completed. I may then email a copy of it to news outlets in anticipation of an upsurge in media interest in the Shroud's radiocarbon dating as 13 October draws near.

This is part #9, "25 March 1988," of my series, "On this day 30 years ago in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud." For more information about this series, see part #1. Today being 25 March 2018, I have finally caught up! Hereafter I will post each day in the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud as near to its 30th anniversary as possible. Emphases are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Index #1] [Previous: 22Jan88 #8] [Next: 21Apr88 #10]

25 March 1988 Prof. Harry Gove (1922-2009) [Below[3].], posted his personal[4] letter to Pope John Paul II (r. 1978- 2005)[5]. It was Dr Vittorio Canuto, a NASA astro- physicist and a scientific aide to Prof. Carlos Chagas Filho (1910-2000), the President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences[6], who on 26 January 1988, had suggested that Gove (Rochester) should send a joint letter with Otlet (Harwell) and Harbottle (Brookhaven) to the Pope as a "last resort before the death sentence was carried out"[7]. This followed Gove being told the day before that the three chosen AMS laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, had accepted the Archbishop of Turin, Cardinal Ballestrero's decision that only they would date the Shroud[8] [see 22Jan88]. The purpose of the letter was to outline to the Pope "all that had happened" and "appeal... to him to persuade Cardinal Ballestrero to revert to the original [1986 Turin Workshop] protocol"[9]. But Otlet and Harbottle subsequently declined to sign Gove's letter[10]. Gove himself expected that the Pope "will probably not even read" the letter[11]. But to increase the chance that Gove's letter would reach the Pope, Gove childishly stuck "Colourful

[Left (enlarge): 1988 United States 22¢ cats series stamps[12]. Presumably these were the "4 cat stamps" that Gove had (amongst others) stuck on the envelope of his letter of 25 March 1988 to Pope John Paul II.]

postage stamps" on the envelope:

"On 25 March 1988 the letter to the pope with the three enclosures was mailed from the main Rochester post office on Jefferson Road. Colourful postage stamps that included 4 cat stamps, 2 T S Elliott [sic] stamps, 2 William Faulkner stamps, and 1 stamp commemorating lace-making in the US were affixed. The clerk at the post office was really intrigued by this and she helped me select the stamps and helped me apply them to the envelope in an artistic manner. They were hand postmarked and sent first-class airmail. I did it this way in the hopes that, with such a strikingly stamped cover, it might actually get to the pope rather than being thrown in a Vatican wastebasket"[13]!

Before that, on 24 January, Gove had phoned Victor Weisskopf (1908-2002), an "elder statesmen in nuclear and particle physics"[14]. Weisskopf was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences[15] whom Gove had known since the late 1940s when he did graduate work at MIT[16]. Gove had hoped that Weisskopf would "intervene in some way or other"[17] but Weisskopf "gently rebuffed" Gove[18] and advised him "to stop fooling around with the shroud"[19]!

On 27 January 1988 Gove wrote a "last-gasp" letter to Sir David Wilson (1931-), the Director of the British Museum, pointing out that Oxford's Prof. Hall was on the board of the British Museum, which made the proposed dating by only three AMS laboratories including Oxford, certified by the British Museum's Dr Tite (which is what eventually happened), "a somewhat shoddy enterprise"!:

"One of the next things I did-another last-gasp effort-was to write a letter to Sir David Wilson, the Director of the British Museum ... I enclosed a copy of the press release issued by the British Museum following the 22 January meeting. I said that I had no reservations whatsoever concerning Dr Tite's honesty, integrity and credibility as a representative of the British Museum in this enterprise. However, there were many people who were overly suspicious of the entire operation. The situation was particularly exacerbated by the fact that the head of one of the three laboratories to be involved, Professor E T Hall of Oxford, was also on the board of directors of the British Museum. I pointed out that the original protocol called for a third person to be involved in both the certification and data analysis, namely the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences or his representative. I said that Dr Chagas was such a distinguished scientist that if both he and Dr Tite had been involved and if the original seven labs had participated, the enterprise would have been as credible as possible. I was astonished that Wilson would permit the British Museum to risk having its reputation called into question in what had become a somewhat shoddy enterprise ... I ended by saying that I feared, sadly, that Mike Tite had taken on a responsibility which he and the British Museum might live to regret"[20].
Wilson replied to Gove's insulting letter on 2 February with a terse, "Thank you for your letter of 27 January 1988, I have noted the contents"[21]! In mid-October 1988, Gove received a letter from the pro-authenticist archaeologist William Meacham, who was a member of the 1986 Turin Workshop [see 18Nov87], enclosing a copy of Gove's letter to Wilson[22]! Gove was mystified how Meacham obtained Wilson's letter, but given that Wilson and Meacham are both archaeologists, presumably Wilson had sent it to Meacham for his comments. If so, Meacham's comments can be inferred from Wilson's brush-off reply to Gove!

On 28 March Gove, at the suggestion of Harbottle[23], wrote to Senator Daniel Moynihan (1927– 2003)[24], who along with Senator Al D'Amato (1937-) were the two senators representing Gove's New York State[25]. As previously mentioned [see 22Jan88], Gove lied to the senators, falsely pretending and concealing from them that Gove and Harbottle had received no explanation ("inexplicably") why their laboratories were excluded from the radiocarbon dating of the Shroud:

"We could note that we are the two New York laboratories who had made the first proposal to date the shroud. We were the developers of both the AMS and the small-counter technique and inexplicably we have been excluded from the dating endeavour. Could the senators by inquiry through our Ambassador to the Holy See find out why two such distinguished laboratories were summarily excluded?"[26].
When they both knew Cardinal Ballestrero's explanation why Gove's AMS Rochester and Harbottle's non-AMS Brookhaven laboratories were excluded from dating the Shroud, because in Gove's book, he had already quoted Cardinal Ballestrero's explanation to the participants in the 1986 Turin Workshop, which included representatives of the seven laboratories, why he chose only the three AMS laboratories, Arizona, Oxford and Zurich to date the Shroud. It was because non-AMS laboratories like Brookhaven needed a larger sample, and Gove's AMS Rochester, despite having invented AMS radiocarbon dating, was far less experienced in it than the three laboratories chosen:
"The choice of the three laboratories among the seven which offered their services was made, after long deliberation and careful consultation, on a criterion of internationality and consideration for the specific experience in the field of archaeological radiocarbon dating, taking also into account the required sample size. On this criterion [sic] the following laboratories are selected: Radiocarbon Laboratory, University of Arizona Research Laboratory for Archaeology, Oxford University Radiocarbon Laboratory, ETH, Zurich"[27].
The Italian-American Senator Al D'Amato[28] repeatedly ignored Gove and Harbottle's false claim[29], presumably because he had checked with his Port Chester, New York constituent Fr Peter Rinaldi (1910-93) and discovered that it was false, and D'Amato could hardly reply to Gove telling him that he was lying! On 28 March 1988, three days after Gove sent his letter to the Pope (see above), and after trying unsuccessfully to phone Senator Moynihan[30], Gove wrote a letter to him as follows:
"Dear Senator Moynihan: The attached letter and enclosures were airmailed to His Holiness Pope John Paul II on 25 March 1988. ... I fear it still may not come to His Holiness' attention. Hence this appeal to you ... that you might ask the US Ambassador to the Vatican to, in turn, inquire of the Cardinal Secretary of State for the Vatican why the two laboratories in New York State at the University of Rochester and at Brookhaven National Laboratory, were not chosen to participate in the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud. The technique for accommodating small enough samples to permit an essentially non-destructive carbon dating of the shroud was invented at Rochester using a fundamentally new technique involving nuclear accelerators and, somewhat later, at Brookhaven where the standard decay counting technique was pared down in terms of sample size. `It occurred to me that the best procedure at this late date (samples may be removed around Easter) would be for you, if you were kind enough, to forward this copy of my letter and the enclosures to the U S Ambassador to the Vatican with a request that he bring to the attention of the Vatican Secretary of State the fact that this material had been sent directly to the pope. `I am sorry to trouble you with such an apparently inconsequential request but I feel that the Archbishop of Turin Cardinal Ballestrero is receiving incredibly bad advice from his science advisor Professor Gonella on the most credible way to date the Turin Shroud. Furthermore, it is unbelievable that the laboratories which invented this new technique not be permitted to be amongst those applying it to such an important artifact. The fact that they are both located in New York State emboldens me to bring the matter to your attention. Yours sincerely, H E Gove, Professor of Physics and Director"[31]
But again Gove was lying by concealing from Senator Moynihan the reasons (above) why Cardinal Ballestrero accepted the recommendation of his science advisor Prof. Luigi Gonella (1930–2007) that only the three AMS laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, would date the Shroud. It is not "unbelievable" but a non-sequitur that just because AMS was invented at Rochester and decay counting was improved at Brookhaven, that they should date the Shroud. In this Gove also concealed from Moynihan that the three chosen laboratories were more experienced in radiocarbon dating than Rochester and Brookhaven[33]. Finally Gove concealed from Moynihan that "the Vatican Secretary of State," Cardinal Agostino Casaroli (1914–98), was fully aware of and had explicitly approved by letter of 21 May 1987, Turin's decision to reduce the number of laboratories from seven to three (see 29Jun87), as Gove well-knew, it being in his book[34]!

Gove wrote to Arizona's Doug Donahue on 30 March asking for an invitation to be an observer at the first dating of the Shroud, so that, "After having played a significant role in getting the shroud to the point of being dated ... at least actually seeing the AMS technique applied to its most famous sample"[35].

In a letter to Nature of 7 April 1988, the coordinator of the Shroud's radiocarbon dating, the British Museum's Dr. Michael Tite [Right (original)[36].], gave the procedures that would be followed in dating the Shroud as agreed to at the 22 January meeting in London[37]. Tite's letter included:

"Of the seven original offers to undertake the dating of the Shroud, three have been accepted by Cardinal Ballestrero, Archbishop of Turin ... The radiocarbon laboratories concerned are at the University of Arizona, the University of Oxford and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich ... Each laboratory will be provided with a sample from the shroud, together with two known-age control samples, one of which will have been independently dated by conventional radiocarbon dating. The shroud samples will be taken from a single site on the main body of the shroud away from any patches or charred areas. In order to ensure that ample carbon for dating survives after pretreatment, the weight of each cloth sample (that is, shroud and controls) will be 40 mg. All the samples will be given to the laboratories as whole pieces of cloth without being unravelled or shredded. A blind test procedure will be adopted in that the three samples given to each laboratory will be labelled 1, 2 and 3 and the laboratories would not be told which sample comes from the shroud. Even if the samples were shredded, it would still be possible for a laboratory to distinguish the shroud sample from the others. It is therefore accepted that the blind test depends ultimately on the good faith of the laboratories"[38].
So even though "the laboratories would not be told which sample comes from the shroud" they would be able "to distinguish the shroud sample from the others" by the Shroud's distinctive weave (as had been

[Above (enlarge): Extract and rearrangement of photos of the Shroud's distinctive weave in the June 1980 issue of National Geographic[39].]

published in National Geographic - see above)! But there was no "good faith of the laboratories" in respect of the test being blind. They closely inspected the samples to discover which was from the Shroud, as Zurich did:

"The samples were photographed by normal and microphotography. By this time Wolfli and several others had a good look at the three. Anyone who knew the texture of the Shroud was aware which was from the relic. Wolfli joked: `All you would need is to look at the pictures in the National Geographic. It didn't take me long to know - Z1. Z1 and Z3 were both twill weave. Z2 was a tabby weave like mummy cloth. Unlike Z1, Z3 had irregular edges. Z1 was carefully trimmed piece as if to make absolutely certain it was an exact third. I could imagine the `code' for the three Shroud samples of the three labs as: A3 (Arizona); O2 (Oxford) and Z1 (Zurich)"[40].
As previously mentioned in 10Oct87, according my hacker theory, when the seven laboratories using two different methods had been reduced to three laboratories using the one AMS method, the alleged hacker, Arizona laboratory physicist Timothy W. Linick (1946-89),

[Above (enlarge): "Those present at the Arizona AMS carbon dating facility at 9:50 am on 6 May 1988 when the age of the shroud [sic] was determined"[43]. The alleged hacker, Timothy W. Linick, is the one in a black shirt standing significantly most prominently in the foreground[44]. The 1989 Nature article in footnote 9 acknowledged that Linick wrote the paper which described in detail the AMS radiocarbon system at Arizona[45]. So it is significant that Linick is standing in front of his Arizona laboratory leaders and colleagues in this historic group photograph of the very first "1350 AD" dating of the Shroud[46], because this is evidence that Linick was in charge of the actual AMS computerised dating process at Arizona laboratory and those present were acknowledging that. See also my 22Nov16 where Gove must have realised by September 1988 that Linick was the leaker of Arizona's first "1350 AD" date to David Sox (1936-2016), the further evidence of which is that Gove had `airbrushed' Linick out of his book but he couldn't take him out of this photograph!]

would have realised that it was feasible for him to write a program to be installed on the AMS computers at the three laboratories (which were effectively clones[47]), that would substitute the Shroud's actual carbon-14 dates with computer-generated dates, which would make the Shroud seem to date from just before it's first appearance in undisputed history at Lirey, France, in c.1355[48]. Linick's hacker programing task would have been made easier by Tite's confirmation (above) that: 1) there would indeed be only "three ... radiocarbon laboratories ... Arizona, ... Oxford and ... Zurich"; 2) each laboratory would test "a sample from the shroud, together with two known-age control samples"; and 3) the test would not be "blind" because "Even if the samples were shredded, it would still be possible for a laboratory to distinguish the shroud sample from the others."

Continued in the next part #10 of this series.

1. This post is copyright. I grant permission to quote from any part of it (but not the whole post), provided it includes a reference citing my name, its subject heading, its date, and a hyperlink back to this page. [return]
2. "STOP PRESS – AG Opinion in Huawei v ZTE published today," The CLIP Board, 20 November 2014. [return]
3. Wilson, I., 2009, "Obituary - Professor Harry Gove," BSTS Newsletter No. 69, June. [return]
4. Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," Institute of Physics Publishing: Bristol UK, p.246. [return]
5. Gove, 1996, p.249. [return]
6. Gove, 1996, p.84. [return]
7. Gove, 1996, p.241. [return]
8. Gove, 1996, pp.239-240. [return]
9. Gove, 1996, p.324. [return]
10. Gove, 1996, pp.244-246. [return]
11. Gove, 1996, p.246. [return]
12. "1988 22c Cats for sale at Mystic Stamp Company," Mystic Stamp Company, n.d.. [return]
13. Gove, 1996, p.248. [return]
14. Gove, 1996, p.236. [return]
15. Gove, 1996, pp.236, 241. [return]
16. Gove, 1996, p.85. [return]
17. Gove, 1996, p.236. [return]
18. 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.86. [return]
19. Gove, 1996, p.241. [return]
20. Gove, 1996, p.242; Stevenson, K.E. & Habermas, G.R., 1990, "The Shroud and the Controversy," Thomas Nelson: Nashville TN, p.56; Borkan, M., 1995, "Ecce Homo?: Science and the Authenticity of the Turin Shroud," Vertices, Duke University, Vol. X, No. 2, Winter, pp.18-51, 39; Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.51; Meacham, 2005, p.95. [return]
21. Gove, 1996, p.242. [return]
22. Gove, 1996, pp.283-284. [return]
23. Gove, 1996, pp.228-229. [return]
24. Gove, 1996, p.249. [return]
25. Gove, 1996, pp.228-229, 244-246. [return]
26. Gove, 1996, p.229. [return]
27. Gove, 1996, p.214. [return]
28. "Al D'Amato quote," 7 wallpapers, 2018. [return]
29. Gove, 1996, pp.229-230, 236, 242. [return]
30. Gove, 1996, p.246. [return]
31. Gove, 1996, p.249. [return]
33. Gove, 1996, pp.155-157. [return]
34. Gove, 1996, pp.193-194. [return]
35. Gove, 1996, p.250. [return]
36. "Michael S. Tite-2008 Pomerance Award for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology," Archaeological Institute of America, 2008. [return]
37. Gove, 1996, p.250. [return]
38. Tite, M.S., 1988, "Turin Shroud," Nature, Vol. 332, 7 April, p.482; Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.53. [return]
39. Weaver, K.F., 1980, "Science Seeks to Solve ... The Mystery of the Shroud," National Geographic, Vol. 157, June, p.742. [return]
40. Sox, H.D., 1988, "The Shroud Unmasked: Uncovering the Greatest Forgery of All Time," The Lamp Press: Basingstoke UK, pp.137-138. [return]
43. Gove, 1996, p.176H. [return]
44. Jull, A.J.T. & Suess, H.E., 1989, "Timothy W. Linick," Radiocarbon, Vol 31, No 2. [return]
45. Linick, T.W., et al., 1986, "Operation of the NSF-Arizona accelerator facility for radioisotope analysis and results from selected collaborative research projects," Radiocarbon, Vol. 28, No. 2a, pp.522-533. [return]
46. Gove, 1996, p.264. [return]
47. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.178; Wilson, 2010, p.281. [return]
48. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.91; Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, pp.14, 30; Wilson, 1991, p.19; Wilson, 1998, pp.126-127, 278; Ruffin, C.B., 1999, "The Shroud of Turin: The Most Up-To-Date Analysis of All the Facts Regarding the Church's Controversial Relic," Our Sunday Visitor: Huntington IN, p.64; Fanti, G. & Malfi, P., 2015, "The Shroud of Turin: First Century after Christ!," Pan Stanford: Singapore, p.59; Oxley, 2010, pp.4, 49, 52, 73; Wilson, 2010, pp.221-222, 302; de Wesselow, 2012, pp.14, 51. [return]

Posted 25 March 2018. Updated 8 January 2023.

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