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Nuclear Analysis of the Shroud of Turin part 1

We publish a new article by Dr. Robert Rucker. He presents a hypothesis on image formation from nuclear physics.


Robert A. Rucker, MS (nuclear), July 24, 2023, revised October 28, 2023

Reviewed by Michael Kowalski, editor, British Society for the Turin Shroud (BSTS) Newsletter

Abstract

The Shroud of Turin contains full-size front and dorsal images of a man who was crucified exactly as Jesus was crucified according to the New Testament. The main mysteries of the Shroud are how the images were formed, why the Shroud carbon dated to 1260-1390 AD, and why the blood which would have dried on the body is now on the cloth, since dry blood is not absorbed into fabric. By following the scientific evidence where it leads, the Vertically Collimated Radiation Burst (VCRB) hypothesis was developed to explain these mysteries. According to this hypothesis, an extremely brief radiation burst from the body included charged particles, probably protons, which deposited their charge onto the cloth producing electrical currents in the fibers. This caused localized heating of the fibers which discolored them, producing the images of a crucified man. Deuterium nuclei requires the least energy to fission, which would release protons to form the images and neutrons that could explain the 1988 carbon dating of the Shroud including: 1) an average date of 1260-1390, 2) a change in the carbon date as a function of the distance from the short edge of the cloth of about 36 years per cm, 3) the range and distribution of the 12 subsample dates, and 4) the carbon dating of the Sudarium of Oviedo, believed to be Jesus’ face cloth, to about 700 AD. Nuclear analysis computer calculations indicate these four results can be explained by neutrons emitted from the body. A small fraction of the neutrons would have been absorbed in the trace amount of N-14 in the fibers which produced new C-14 atoms in the fibers by the [N14+neutronC14+proton] reaction. This shifted the measured carbon date forward from the true date. If the radiation burst were sufficiently brief and intense, it could possibly have forced the blood off the body onto the cloth. This opens the possibility that the Shroud of Turin could be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ. Every effort should be made to conduct further testing of this unique cloth.

1. Introduction

The Shroud of Turin is one of the most mysterious and potentially significant items in human possession. There are many papers, books, and websites that discuss it [1]. The Shroud is a long piece of linen cloth which inspired paintings, drawings, and images on coins starting in the sixth and seventh centuries in the Byzantine Empire. It was exhibited as Jesus’ burial cloth in Lirey, France in about 1355, and has been in Turin, Italy since 1578. The unique aspect about the cloth is it contains full-size front and dorsal (back) images of a man who was crucified exactly as Jesus was crucified according to the New Testament. Based on these images, ancient tradition has long claimed the Shroud of Turin is Jesus’ burial cloth. It appears the scientific evidence substantiates this view. The three main mysteries [2] regarding the Shroud are: 1) how the images were formed, 2) why the corner of the Shroud was carbon dated to the range of 1260 to 1390 AD, and 3) why the blood that would have dried on the body is now on the cloth, since dry blood does not soak into fabric. By following the scientific evidence where it leads, the Vertically Collimated Radiation Burst (VCRB) hypothesis was developed to explain these mysteries.

Jesus’ dead body would have been brought into the tomb and laid on half of the long cloth used to wrap his body. The face or head cloth that was placed around his head after he died on the cross would then have been removed and laid aside. The other half of the body cloth would then have been wrapped over his head and brought down over his feet. There may have also been cloth tie strips in the tomb. Jesus’ face or head cloth is believed to now be in Oviedo, Spain, based on documentation that arrived with it. It is a low-quality linen cloth about 84 by 54 cm, which is about 33 by 21 inches. It contains no image but contains blood with a similar pattern to the blood on the Shroud. The long linen cloth that covered Jesus’ body is believed to now be in the cathedral in Turin or Torino, Italy. It measures about 441 cm long by 112 cm wide (about 14 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 8 inches). The images on the cloth are caused by fibers in some of the threads being discolored with a straw-yellow or light sepia discoloration.

The Shroud of Turin can be researched based on history and science. The most recent book in English on the history of the Shroud is titled “The Hidden History of the Shroud of Turin” by

Jack Markwardt. His research concludes that Jesus’ burial cloth was probably taken from Jerusalem to Antioch prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, then up to Constantinople where it remained for hundreds of years. Sometime after the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, the cloth was taken to Lirey, France, where it was shown as the burial cloth of Jesus in about 1355. It was finally brought into Turin in 1578 where it is to this day.

In 1988, the Shroud was carbon dated to the range of 1290-1390, but there are many indicators discussed below that contradict this date range. This is confirmed by Professor Christopher Ramsey, a member (as C. R. Bronk) of the original team that did the carbon dating, when he said (https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/shroud.html) “There is a lot of other evidence that suggests to many that the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow and so further research is certainly needed. It is important that we continue to test the accuracy of the original radiocarbon tests as we are already doing. It is equally important that experts assess and reinterpret some of the other evidence. Only by doing this will people be able to arrive at a coherent history of the Shroud which takes into account and explains all of the available scientific and historical information.”

2. Scientific Testing of the Shroud

It is often said that the Shroud of Turin is the most researched ancient artifact in existence. There certainly has been an immense amount of study on the Shroud as indicated by the number of papers that have been written on the Shroud that are available on www.shroud.com. Research on the Shroud of Turin began in 1898 when Secondo Pia took the first photographs of the Shroud. Research on the Shroud can be divided into four periods. These four periods and their conclusions are summarized below.

1. 1898 to 1974: The images were formed by the body of a crucified man that was wrapped in the Shroud. This is indicated primarily by the nature of the blood on the Shroud.

2. 1975 to 1987: 3D information is discovered to be encoded into the 2D images on the Shroud. This led to formation of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) which was invited in 1978 to send about 26 researchers to Turin to perform non-destructive experimentation on the Shroud over a five-day period, 24 hours a day.

3. 1988 to 2016: In 1988, the Shroud was carbon dated to a range of 1260-1390 AD, with a claimed 95% probability that the true date is within this range. They concluded that “The results provide conclusive evidence that the linen of the Shroud of Turin is mediaeval.” This supposedly proved the Shroud could not be the authentic burial cloth of Jesus.

4. 2017 to 2022: Details of the 1988 carbon dating measurements and data analysis were finally released by the British Museum in 2017. Statistical analysis of the data proved the samples were heterogeneous and thus not necessarily representative of the rest of the Shroud. This indicates the 1260-1390 AD date should be rejected, i.e., given no credibility.

3. Mystery 1: Formation of the Images

For an image formation hypothesis to be true, it must be consistent with all the evidence related to the front and dorsal images on the Shroud. For researchers to accept the hypothesis as true beyond a reasonable doubt, the hypothesis should make predictions that are testable and falsifiable, which means that if the prediction is tested and proven to be false, it will prove the hypothesis to be false, at least as stated. If the prediction is tested and proven to be true, it will increase the credibility of the hypothesis. Depending on the nature of the predictions and the testing, it may require testing of multiple predictions that are proven to be true before a hypothesis is generally accepted as true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Based on the STURP experiments in 1978 and subsequent analysis, an image formation hypothesis, to be true, must be consistent with the following 27 evidences related to the images.

1. According to experiments performed in 1978 over a five day period (120 hours) by about 26 researchers associated with the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), these images have no pigment, no binder to carry the pigment, no clumping of fibers or threads, no stiffening of the cloth, no cracking along fold lines, no brush strokes, and no outline.

2. STURP concluded the images were also not caused by a scorch from a hot object, any liquid, or by a photographic process.

3. There is a smooth gradation of discoloration on the Shroud from points vertically closer to the body relative to points vertically further from the body.

4. STURP also detected no body decay products on the cloth.

5. The images are formed by some of the flax fibers in the linen threads being discolored.

6. The Shroud contains full size front and dorsal (back) images of a man who was scourged and crucified exactly like Jesus was scourged and crucified according to the New Testament.

7. The image of the face is a normal width for a human face.

8. The front image is a vertical projection upward from the body. The back image is a vertical projection downward from the body.

9. The Shroud does not include images of the sides of the body or the top of the head.

10. The front and dorsal images have a good resolution, perhaps in the few mm range.

11. Based on the location of the blood on the Shroud, the front and dorsal images are on the side of the cloth that faced the body. There appears to be very dim indications of the face and the hands on the other side of the cloth, i.e., on the outside of the wrapped configuration, though this is disputed.

12. A typical linen thread contains a hundred or more flax fibers twisted together. The images on the Shroud are caused by fiber discoloration in only the top two or three layers of fibers in a thread, with those discolored fibers facing toward the body, on both the front as well as the dorsal image.

13. The threads in the images are discolored in a mottled pattern, yet this mottled pattern forms the front and dorsal images of a crucified man.

14. The density of ion tracks in the image fibers is about the same as the density of ion tracks in the non-image fibers.

15. The discoloration on all the discolored fibers has approximately the same color, usually called a straw-yellow or light sepia color.

16. A flax fiber has a diameter of about 15 microns or micrometers (µm = one millionth of a meter), which is about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair. The discoloration on an image fiber has a thickness of less than 0.2 µm, with the discoloration around the outer circumference of the fiber, with the inside of the flax fiber not discolored. Thus, in this example of a flax fiber with a 15 µm diameter, the inside 14.6 µm of the fiber diameter would not be discolored.

17. There appears to be images of bones on the Shroud. This includes bones near the surface of the body such as teeth, bones in the hands, and perhaps in the backbone.

18. The images are two-dimensional yet contain 3D or topographical information related to the vertical distance from the body to the cloth at each point.

19. The images are negative images, i.e. with dark and light areas reversed.

20. The front and dorsal images have about the same quality, as though they were both made by the same process.

21. The discoloration on the image fibers is due to some of the single electron bonds of the carbon atoms being changed to double electron bonds.

22. The Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) concluded that the discoloration on the fibers is not caused by any material being added to the fibers.

23. The top threads facing the body create a non-discolored region on otherwise discolored threads that are beneath them, like a “shadow” of the top thread on the under thread.

24. There are multiple “hot spots” on the mustache that are more discolored than the rest of the mustache.

25. The images were not affected by heat in the 1532 fire or by subsequent water thrown onto the Shroud after the fire.

26. Images of various parts of flowers were encoded on the side of the Shroud facing the body, as though flowers were placed between the section of the cloth that was below the body and the section of the cloth above the body.

27. During the STURP experiments in 1978, many oxidizing and reducing agents were applied to image fibers to determine which agents would eliminate the fiber discoloration. None of them eliminated the discoloration except for diimite which eliminated the discoloration immediately when it was applied.

Analysis of these 27 evidences to develop a hypothesis for image formation [3] resulted in the Vertically Collimated Radiation Burst (VCRB) hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that an extremely brief intense burst of radiation emitted in the body formed the images. When lowenergy charged particles, probably protons, deposited their charge on the cloth it caused corona discharges between the body and the cloth which produced alternating currents in the fibers. This produced extremely localized heating which produced the fiber discoloration which made the front and dorsal images of a crucified man on the cloth. The VCRB hypothesis will be discussed further in section 9.

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