Monday, March 31, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Further to my replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey

Further to my post, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey," Prof. Ramsey gave the misleading impression in his email:

"Yes – I agree with all that Tim says. This would seem to be a suggestion from someone who does not know what computers were like in the 1980s. In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections). The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS."
that the AMS control console computer in the Arizona University's radiocarbon dating laboratory was little more than a calculator. Which led Dan Porter to

[Right: Arizona radiocarbon laboratory's AMS control console computer just after it had displayed on its screen the uncalibrated `radiocarbon date of the Shroud', which was then calibrated to "1350 AD" (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," pp.176H, 264). I have identified this as probably a DEC VT-100 terminal connected to a DEC VAX-11 32-bit minicomputer-see below.]

question in a recent post on his blog, whether the AMS control console computers were even "programmable." My reply to Porter on his blog, included:


>Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers

There is no such thing as a NON-programmable computer. Prof. Ramsey confirmed that the AMS control console computers were under the control of "software," which is just another name for a program. When I get to that part of my series I will give further evidence about this.


I then added a further comment on Porter's blog (lightly edited):


>Has he determined if the AMS Control Consoles at all three labs had programmable computers

I meant to add, but I could not remember the name, that one of those listed by Harry Grove as present at Arizona’s C-14 dating of the Shroud was "Art Hatheway" who was "connected with the Arizona AMS facility" and was a signatory to the 1989 Nature paper:

"The next morning at about 8 am (6 May 1988) I arrived at the Arizona AMS facility ... I would be the only one present outside the Arizona AMS group. Doug immediately asked me to sign the following statement:
"We the undersigned, understand that radiocarbon age results for the Shroud of Turin obtained from the University of Arizona AMS facility are confidential. We agree not to communicate the results to anyone-spouse, children, friends, press, etc., until that time when results are generally available to the public." It had been signed by D J Donahue, Brad Gore, L J Toolin, P E Damon, Timothy Jull and ART HATHEWAY, all connected with the Arizona AMS facility, before I signed. My signature was followed by T W Linick and P J Sercel, also from the Arizona facility." (Gove, 1996, p.262. My emphasis).

A Google search on "Art Hatheway Arizona" (without quotes) had turned up an obituary of an "Arthur Loyal Hatheway" who was "Senior Staff Engineer at the AMS Lab in the Physics Department at U of A." and a "computer programmer":

"Arthur Loyal Hatheway Obituary HATHEWAY, Arthur Loyal, born in Los Angeles on March 26, 1940 to Philip and Pauline Hatheway, went suddenly to Jesus on October 11, 2008. ... In 2006, Art retired from his position as Senior Staff Engineer at the AMS Lab in the Physics Department at U of A. There his skills as COMPUTER PROGRAMMER and small instrument engineer, his thorough nature and precise workmanship, his understanding of chemistry and physics, as well as his abilities to invent and mentor, WERE PUT TO GOOD USE. Art met Jesus in 1992. This new relationship changed his perspective on life ... Arizona Daily Star on Oct. 14, 2008".

I am NOT alleging that Art Hatheway was one of the hackers, just that there was at least one member of the Arizona C-14 lab staff who was a "computer programmer" and indeed a "Senior Staff Engineer," which is indicative of a high level of sophistication of the Arizona C-14 lab’s computers, and presumably of the other C-14 labs’ computers.

And that presumably a major role of Senior Staff Engineer Hatheway was ensuring the AMS control console computer program controlled the AMS C-14 dating process:

"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." (Gove, 1996, p.264).
I had originally thought that the computer which controlled the AMS dating was different from the AMS control console computer, but according to Gove’s words above, they were ONE AND THE SAME. Now a lab does not need to employ a "Senior Staff Engineer" who is also a "computer programmer" and who "put[s] to good use" those "skills," on a computer which Prof. Ramsey gave the misleading impression was little more than a calculator:
"The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS." ("Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis," March 9, 2014).
and which led Dan to question whether it was even "programmable".

Now Prof. Ramsey is highly computer literate, being himself a computer programmer, as the author of "OxCal" a computer "program ... intended to provide radiocarbon calibration":

"OxCal The OxCal program is intended to provide radiocarbon calibration ... For further information contact the author: Prof. C. Bronk Ramsey ..."
So Prof. Ramsey presumably KNOWS VERY WELL that the AMS control system computers at Arizona, Zurich and Oxford were not little more than "a calculator" but were PROGRAMMABLE computers, controlling the entire complex AMS radiocarbon dating process as well as outputting the uncalibrated C-14 dates of each sample onto their screens.

I personally find Prof. Ramsey’s (and Dr Jull’s) defensiveness significant.

But again, I repeat, that I am NOT alleging that the late Art Hatheway (or Prof. Ramsey) was one of the hackers. All I am seeking to establish is that the C-14 labs’ AMS control console computers were PROGRAMMABLE. And therefore HACKABLE!


I regard this evidence that the AMS control console computer at Arizona radiocarbon dating laboratory (and therefore presumably at the Zurich and Oxford laboratories which had the same Accelerator Mass Spectrometry system), was programmable and therefore hackable, as a further step forward in my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories at universities in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390," against the preponderance of the evidence, may have been unknowingly duped by a computer hacker.

PS: I have posted the following as a comment on Dan Porter's blog (slightly edited):


I decided to Google the name which was after Art Hatheway's on Prof. Harry Grove's list of those present at the Arizona lab's 6 May 1988 dating of the Shroud. It was "T. W. Linick". I found out his name was "Timothy W. Linick". I then discovered that he died on June 4, 1989, aged 42, a few months after the Nature paper to which he was a signatory appeared, on February 16 of that year. Moreover, it was rumoured that Linick committed suicide.

It may be significant that Karl Koch, a self-confessed (after was caught) hacker who had worked for the KGB, died on May 23, 1989, less than 2 weeks earlier than Linick, in what appeared to be an execution designed to look like suicide.

I then Googled the names of other signatories to the 1988 Nature paper but found no other untimely deaths. However, as the Wikipedia article on Karl Koch notes, Koch's fellow hackers Pengo (Hans Heinrich Hübner), and Urmel (Markus Hess) also confessed that they had worked for the KGB but were not eliminated.

While I do not claim that Timothy W. Linick WAS a hacker, nor that his untimely death WAS suicide, let alone an execution by the KGB designed to look like suicide, it nevertheless is worth keeping in mind as a possible piece of the jigsaw.

This will no doubt be dismissed as a "conspiracy theory" by those who prefer mindless slogans to thinking. But it is a FACT that the KGB did CONSPIRE with hackers, notably Karl Koch, of whose death Wikipedia notes that, "there is little evidence supporting suicide and many believe that Koch was killed in order to keep him from confessing more to the authorities". And it is a FACT that the KGB did CONSPIRE with hacker Markus Hess whom Clifford Stoll caught.


PPS: Here is a further comment I posted to Dan Porter's blog (with light editing):


I have discovered what make and probably the model of the AMS control console computer was. On Googling "Linick Arizona computer" (without the quotes) I found the paper, 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.

In it the late Dr Linick, described the computerised process that Prof. Gove wrote of Arizona lab's AMS control console computer, and wrote that it is a "DEC computer system":

"The DEC computer system largely controls the cycling of isotopes, accumulation of data, and calculation of results for each 15-minute run."

"DEC" stands for Digital Equipment Corporation, the maker of the powerful PDP and VAX range of minicomputer which were very popular in laboratories in the 1980s. However I have been unable to discover what model it was, e,g. PDP-11, VAX-11, etc.

Googling "DEC" and then selecting "images," the Arizona Lab's AMS control console computer in the photo on page 176H of Prof. Gove's book (see above), looks like a DEC VT-100 terminal.

[Left: DEC VT-100 terminal: Wikipedia, 29 March 2014]

If that is so, and given that Arizona's AMS system was installed in 1981, its AMS control console computer was probably a 32-bit VAX-11:

"In 1976, DEC decided to extend the PDP-11 architecture to 32-bits while adding a complete virtual memory system to the simple paging and memory protection of the PDP-11. The result was the VAX architecture, where VAX stands for Virtual Address eXtension (from 16 to 32 bits). The first computer to use a VAX CPU was the VAX-11/780, which DEC referred to as a superminicomputer. Although it was not the first 32-bit minicomputer, the VAX-11/780's combination of features, price, and marketing almost immediately propelled it to a leadership position in the market after it was released in 1978. VAX systems were so successful that in 1983, DEC canceled its Jupiter project, which had been intended to build a successor to the PDP-10 mainframe, and instead focused on promoting the VAX as the single computer architecture for the company. Supporting the VAX's success was the VT52, one of the most successful smart terminals. Building on earlier less successful models (the VT05 and VT50), the VT52 was the first terminal that did everything one might want in a single chassis. The VT52 was followed by the even more successful VT100 and its follow-ons, making DEC one of the largest terminal vendors in the industry. With the VT series, DEC could now offer a complete top-to-bottom system from computer to all peripherals, which formerly required collecting the required devices from different suppliers." " ("Digital Equipment Corporation: VAX," Wikipedia, 10 March 2014).

Whatever DEC computer system it was, whether a PDP or VAX, it CERTAINLY was programmable and therefore HACKABLE!


Posted: 31 March 2014. Updated: 21 September 2017.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #1

Based on the information contained in Dr. Jull's and Prof. Christopher Ramsey's emails, this is part #1 of my revised proposal that the three radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, which in 1988 dated the Shroud of Turin as "mediaeval ... AD 1206-1390," may have been duped by a computer hacker. See my previous posts in this series: part 1, part 2, part 3, "Summary" and "My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey."


The Shroud was radiocarbon dated to 1260-1390 = 1325 ±65 In 1988 three university radiocarbon dating laboratories, Arizona, Zurich and Oxford, radiocarbon dated "[v]ery small samples from the Shroud of Turin"[1]. In 1989 the laboratories published their

[Right (enlarge): Prof. E. Hall, Dr. M. Tite and Dr. R. Hedges announcing in 1988 that the Shroud had been radiocarbon dated to "1260-1390![2].]

results in the science journal Nature, claiming that they had carbon dated the linen of the Shroud as "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390"[3]. The midpoint of 1206-1390 is 1325 ±65 years[4], which is only ~25 years before the Shroud was

[Left (click to enlarge): Pilgrim's badge from the Shroud's historical debut at Lirey, France in c.1355[5].]

displayed at Lirey, France in c. 1355[6].


Against the preponderance of the evidence This was against the preponderance of the evidence[7], including historical evidence that the Shroud existed in the thirteenth century all the way back to the first century:

1225 Around 1225 the frescoes in the 12th century[8] chapel of the Holy Sepulchre in Winchester Cathedral, England, were repainted[9]. In the Deposition scene of Jesus being taken down

[Right (enlarge): Deposition fresco in Holy Sepulchre Chapel, Winchester Cathedral[10]. Note the double body length shroud about to be placed over Jesus, 35 years before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud!]

from the cross by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, the unknown artist painted behind St John and Nicodemus a third man carrying a double-length shroud, intended to go over Jesus's head, body[11] and down to his feet, exactly as the Turin Shroud does[12].

1212 Gervase of Tilbury (c.1150–c.1228), a widely travelled thirteenth century canon lawyer, statesman and writer[13], referring in his Otia Imperialia to the story of the cloth upon which Jesus had impressed an image of His face and sent it to King Abgar V of Edessa, added that:

"... it is handed down from archives of ancient authority that the Lord prostrated himself full length on most white linen, and so by divine power the most beautiful likeness not only of the face, but also of the whole body of the Lord was impressed upon the cloth" (my emphasis)[14].
This can only be the Shroud, nearly a half-century before the earliest radiocarbon date of 1260, and mentioned in archives which were "ancient" even then.

1203: Crusader Robert de Clari, in 1204, described what he saw in Constantinople in late 1203:

"... there was another church which was called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sheet [sydoines] in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which every Friday rose up straight, so that one could clearly see the figure [figure] of Our Lord on it; and no one, neither Greek nor French, knew what became of this sheet after the city was taken" (emphasis original)[15].
The word sydoines is Old French for the Greek word sindon, a linen sheet, used in the Gospels for Jesus' burial shroud (Mt 27:59; Mk 15:46; Lk 23:53), and the word figure is Old French for "bodily form"[16]. So in 1203 there existed in Constantinople a linen shroud with an imprint of Christ's body on it, over a half-century before the earliest radiocarbon date, 1260[17].

1201-1204: The Holy Face of Laon is a glazed panel painted at Constantinople between 1201 and 1204[18]. In 1249, Jacques Pantaleon, later to become Pope Urban IV (c.1195–1264), gave the

[Left (click to enlarge): Icon of the Holy Face (Mandylion) of Laon. Purchased in 1249 in Bari (Italy) by Jacques Pantaleon, later to become Pope Urban: Wikipedia, translated from French by Google.]

icon, also known as the Sainte Face de Laon, to his sister, the abbess of a nunnery at Montreuil-en-Thierache, near Laon, France[19]. The icon is actually a copy of the Edessa cloth, or Mandylion, being covered with a trellis pattern[20]. It shows a brown monochrome, rigidly front facing, disembodied head of Jesus on cloth, strongly reminiscent of the Shroud[21]. This icon corresponds more closely to the face on the Shroud than any other icon[22], having 13 of the 15 Vignon markings (see part #2)[23]. It bears an inscription in ancient slavonic: OBRAZ GOSPODIN NA UBRUSJE "the portrait of the Lord on the cloth"[24], which must mean that the artist was working directly from the Shroud[25]. But since the Sainte Face dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century, and it is a copy of the Shroud image, then the Shroud must be dated well before 1200[26]. This cannot be reconciled with the radiocarbon 1260-1390 dating[27].

1201: Nicholas Mesarites, custodian of Constantinople's Pharos Chapel relic collection, in 1201 wrote:

"In this chapel Christ rises again, and the sindon with the burial linens is the clear proof ... The burial sindon of Christ: this is of linen, of cheap and easily obtainable material, still smelling fragrant of myrrh, defying decay, because it wrapped the mysterious [aperilepton], naked dead body after the Passion"[28].
The Greek word aperilepton means "un-outlined," which is a unique descriptor of the image on the Shroud, which has no outline[29]. Moreover, Mesarites stated that Christ's body was naked, but not until the fourteenth century, and then only rarely, was Christ's body depicted as naked[30]. Again, these two unique descriptors of the image on the Shroud, are further evidence that the Shroud existed in Constantinople in the beginning of the thirteenth century[31].

1192-95 The Hungarian Pray Manuscript, or Codex, is dated 1192-95[32]. Hungary was then ruled by King Bela III (c.1148–1196), and during his reigncultural links between Constantinople and Hungary were strong[33]. The codex

[Right (click to enlarge): The Pray Codex, 1192-95: Wikipedia]

contains an ink drawing with two scenes, one above the other, of the deposition of Jesus' body from the cross and His entombment[34]. Together they share the following eight features in common with Shroud: 1. Jesus' wrists are crossed, right over left, at the groin; 2. He is naked; 3. there is a red mark over Christ's right eyebrow where the reversed `3' bloodstain is on the Shroud; 4. Christ's hands lack thumbs; 5. His burial sheet is long and bi-fold; 6. He has a sarcophagus with crosses and zigzags imitating the herringbone weave of the Shroud; 7. the sarcophagus has angular blood flows matching those on the arms of the man on the Shroud; and 8. there are two sets of tiny circles which match the sets of L-shaped `poker holes' on the Shroud[35, 36]. These eight correspondences between those drawings in the Pray Codex and the Shroud are together conclusive proof that the 12th century artist of the Pray Codex knew the Shroud[37]. The `poker holes' are the final nail in the coffin of the carbon-dating result[38]. The Pray Codex alone proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Shroud of Turin is the Shroud of Constantinople and therefore existed from at least 944 (see part #3), more than three centuries before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date[39].

1181 An enamel panel which forms part of the altar in the Klosterneuberg monastery, near Vienna, completed in 1181 by Nicholas of Verdun (1130–1205)[40].

[Left (enlarge): Entombment of Jesus, 1181, by Nicholas of Verdun, Klosterneuburg Abbey, Vienna[41].]

As can be seen, Christ's hands are crossed over His loins, right over the left, crossing awkwardly at the wrists, exactly as on the Shroud[42]. Yet this was 79 years before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud.

1171: Chronicler William of Tyre (c.1130–1186), accompanying a state visit to the Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (1118–1180) in Constantinople, records his party being shown "the most precious evidences of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ" including "the shroud" [sindon][43].

c. 1150 The Christ Pantocrator (Ruler of all) mosaic in the apse of Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily is among the most recent of many such works in the Byzantine tradition,

[Right (click to enlarge): Christ Pantocrator, Cefalu Cathedral, Sicily: Wikipedia]

which depict a Shroud- like, long-haired, fork- bearded, front-facing likeness of Christ[44]. But at c.1150 it is still over a century before the earliest 1260 radiocarbon date of the Shroud[45]. It has 14 out of 15 Vignon markings (see part #2)[46], including a triangle between the nose and the eyebrows, concave cheeks, asymmetrical and pronounced cheekbones, each found on the Shroud, and a double tuft of hair where the reversed `3' bloodstain is on the Shroud[47]. This means the artist was working from the face on the Shroud, copying each feature carefully, even though he did not understand what some of them were, for example the open, staring eyes are actually closed in photographic negative on the Shroud[48].

c. 1150 A Christ Pantocrator fresco, dating back to the twelfth century, in the rupestrian (cave) church of St Nicholas (Nicola), in Casalrotto, Italy[49]. The face is Shroud-like, rigidly

[Left (enlarge): Christ Pantocrator in the twelfth century cave church in Casalrotto, Italy[50].]

forward-facing with Vignon markings including a forked beard, open staring eyes, a wisp of hair where the reversed `3' bloodstain is in the Shroud, and a triangle between the nose and the eyebrows[51].

1140 "The Song of the Voyage of Charlemagne to Jerusalem" (known by various names in French, including "Chanson du Voyage de Charlemagne à Jerusalem"[52], or "Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne"[53]), is an Old

[Right: The front cover of a 1965 reprint of the poem[54].]

French epic poem about a fictional expedition by Emperor Charlemagne the Great (c.742-814) and his knights, composed around 1140[55]. But although imaginary it bears historical testimony to the existence of the Shroud, in that it reflects accurately the account that was given by pilgrims at the time[56]. In it the Emperor asks the Patriarch of Jerusalem if he has any relics to show him, and the Patriarch replies:

"I shall show you such relics that there are not better under the sky: of the Shroud of Jesus which He had on His head, when He was laid and stretched in the tomb ..."[57].
The word "Shroud" is the Old French equivalent of "sindon"[58], the Greek word for a burial shroud[59]. This is evidence that in 1140, well over a century before the earliest, 1260, radiocarbon date of the Shroud, it was common knowledge that the burial shroud of Jesus existed, upon which He had been laid stretched out in the tomb, and which had then covered His head!

1130 An English-born Norman monk Ordericus Vitalis (1075–c.1142), in his History of the Church, written by 1130, recorded that, "Abgar the ruler reigned at Edessa; the Lord Jesus sent him a sacred letter and a beautiful linen cloth he had wiped the sweat from his face with. The image of the Saviour was miraculously imprinted on to it and shines out, displaying the form and size of the Lord's body to all who look on it" (my emphasis)[60].

Pre-1130 Vatican Library codex (Vati. Lib. Codex 5696, fol. 35)[61] has an update of a sermon of Pope Stephen III (c.720-772), originally delivered in 769[62]. The original 8th century sermon mentioned only the Edessa towel with a miraculous image of Jesus' face imprinted on it[63]. But sometime before 1130[64] an unknown copyist had interpolated into Pope Stephen's sermon, additional sayings of Jesus to King Abgar V of Edessa, "I send you a cloth on which know that the image not only of my face, but of my whole body divinely transformed (my emphasis)[65]. The early twelfth century copyist had new information that in Constantinople the image of Edessa was now known to be a sheet which had Jesus' entire body imprinted on it[66]!

Continued in Revised #2.

Notes
1. Damon, P.E., et al., 1989, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," Nature, Vol. 337, 16 February, pp.611-615, p.611. [return]
2. 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.7 & pl.3b. [return]
3. Damon, 1989, p.611. [return]
4. McCrone, W.C., 1999, "Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin," Prometheus Books: Amherst NY, p.1. [return]
5. Wilson, I., 2010, "The Shroud: The 2000-Year-Old Mystery Solved," Bantam Press: London, pp.221-222. [return]
6. Ibid. [return]
7. Iannone, J.C., 1998, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," St Pauls: Staten Island NY, p.67. [return]
8. Wilson, I., 1991, "Holy Faces, Secret Places: The Quest for Jesus' True Likeness," Doubleday: London, p.152. [return]
9. Wilson, 1998, p.139. [return]
10. "Reflecting back on this week of poems of the Passion," The Pocket Scroll blog, 19 April 2014. [return]
11. Wilson, I., 1979, "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus?," [1978], Image Books: New York NY, Revised edition, p.160 [return]
12. Wilson, 1998, p.139. [return]
13. "Gervase of Tilbury, " Wikipedia, 22 January 2014. [return]
14. Wilson, 1998, p.144, 254n20. [return]
15. de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," Viking: London, p.175. [return]
16. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.175-176. [return]
17. Wilson, 1991, pp.156-157. [return]
18. Wuenschel, E.A., 1954, "Self-Portrait of Christ: The Holy Shroud of Turin," Holy Shroud Guild: Esopus NY, Third printing, 1961, pp.58-59. [return]
19. Currer-Briggs, N., 1987, "The Shroud and the Grail: A Modern Quest for the True Grail," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, p.45. [return]
20. Wilson, 1991, p.136. [return]
21. Wilson, 1998, pp.150-151. [return]
22. Currer-Briggs, N., 1995, "Shroud Mafia: The Creation of a Relic?," Book Guild: Sussex UK, p.56. [return]
23. Ibid. [return]
24. Currer-Briggs, 1995, p.205. [return]
25. Currer-Briggs, 1987, p.158. [return]
26. Currer-Briggs, 1995, p.56. [return]
27. Currer-Briggs, 1995, pp.56-57]. [return]
28. Wilson, 2010, p.185. [return]
29. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.176-177. [return]
30. de Wesselow, 2012, p.176, 380n11. [return]
31. de Wesselow, 2012, p.177. [return]
32. Wilson, 1979, p.160. [return]
33. de Wesselow, 2012, p.178. [return]
34. Berkovits, I., 1969, "Illuminated Manuscripts in Hungary, XI-XVI Centuries," Horn, Z., transl., West, A., rev., Irish University Press: Shannon, Ireland, p.19. [return]
35. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.178-181. [return]
36. Maloney, P.C., 1998, "Researching the Shroud of Turin: 1898 to the Present: A Brief Survey of Findings and Views," in Minor, M., Adler, A.D. & Piczek, I., eds., 2002, "The Shroud of Turin: Unraveling the Mystery: Proceedings of the 1998 Dallas Symposium," Alexander Books: Alexander NC, p.33. [return]
37. de Wesselow, 2012, p.181. [return]
38. de Wesselow, 2012, p.183. [return]
39. de Wesselow, 2012, pp.178, 183. [return]
40. Wilson, 2010, p.182. [return]
41. Wilson, I., 2008, "II: Nicholas of Verdun: Scene of the Entombment, from the Verdun altar in the monastery of Klosterneuburg, near Vienna," British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, No. 67, June. [return]
42. Wilson, 2010, pp.182-183. [return]
43. Wilson, 1998, p.271. [return]
44. Wilson, 1998, p.141. [return]
45. Wilson, I., 1986, "The Evidence of the Shroud," Guild Publishing: London, p.104. [return]
46. Wilson, 1979, p.105. [return]
47. Petrosillo, O. & Marinelli, E., 1996, "The Enigma of the Shroud: A Challenge to Science," Scerri, L.J., transl., Publishers Enterprises Group: Malta, p.193. [return]
48. Wilson, 1979, p.105. [return]
49. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.193. [return]
50. Martino Miali, 2014, "Terra delle Gravine nature reserve: Puglia’s Arizona," Bridge Puglia & USA. [return]
51. Petrosillo & Marinelli, 1996, p.193. [return]
52. Beecher, P.A., 1928, "The Holy Shroud: Reply to the Rev. Herbert Thurston, S.J.," M.H. Gill & Son: Dublin, p.147. [return]
53. "Le Pèlerinage de Charlemagne," Wikipedia, 27 February 2013. [return]
54. Aebischer, P., 1965., "Le voyage de Charlemagne à Jérusalem et à Constantinople," Librairie Droz: Amazon.com. [return]
55. Wikipedia, 2013. [return]
56. Beecher, 1928, p.147. [return]
57. Ibid. [return]
58. Adams, F.O., 1982, "Sindon: A Layman's Guide to the Shroud of Turin," Synergy Books: Tempe AZ, p.17. [return]
59. Adams, 1982, p.1. [return]
60. Wilson, 2010, p.176. [return]
61. Wilson, 1979, p.257. [return]
62. Scavone, D.C., 1989, "The Shroud of Turin: Opposing Viewpoints," Greenhaven Press: San Diego CA, p.88. [return]
63. Ibid. [return]
64. Wilson, 1991, p.152. [return]
65. Wilson, 1979, p.158, 257. [return]
66. Scavone, 1989, p.89. [return]

Posted: 29 March 2014. Updated: 10 April 2017.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey

Further to my previous posts in this series: "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" part 1, part 2, part 3 and Summary.

On Dan Porter's blog he recently posted, under "Comment Promoted: On the Hacking Hypothesis" an email that the Shroud anti-authenticist and Editor of the British Society for the Turin Shroud's Newsletter, Hugh Farey received from Dr. Timothy Jull, Director of the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating laboratory and

[Right: Dr. A.J.T. Jull: Source Hungarian Academy of Sciences]

a signatory to the the 1989 Nature paper, "Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin," which claimed that the linen on the Shroud was "mediaeval ... AD 1260-1390. Porter, who himself believes:

"The carbon dating, once seemingly proving it was a medieval fake, is now widely thought of as suspect and meaningless."
nevertheless is against my proposal that the radiocarbon dating laboratories may have been duped by a computer hacker, and promoted Farey's copy of Jull's email with the comment: "Does this put an end to it, once and for all?" evidently hoping that it did.

Here is Dr. Jull's email, as posted on Porter's blog:

"This is impossible. In our case, the software for the calculations is offline. In any case, the calculation does NOT require software, it was done offline and plotted on a graph, as I recall.

Indeed, in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted.

Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t."

My reply to Dr. Jull's email on Porter's blog, lightly edited, was as follows (emphasis original):

No, Jull’s email does NOT refute my hacking hypothesis, First, it is clear from my quote of Gove, the final calibration was done offline by Donahue: "The ratio was compared with the OX sample and THE RADIOCARBON TIME SCALE CALIBRATION WAS APPLIED BY DOUG DONAHUE."

But it was the computer at the end of the AMS C-14 dating system that supplied the "OX sample"'s raw years which Donahue calibrated.

I allowed for that: "… a KGB agent hacked into the AMS system control console computer at each of the three C-14 labs and inserted a program which, when each test was run, replaced the Shroud’s 1st or early century c-14 date, WITH DATES WHICH WHEN CALIBRATED, would yield years clustering around AD 1325, just before the Shroud’s appearance in undisputed history in the 1350s."

Second, Jull’s "… in 1988 the internet (as we know it today) didn’t exist – there was a pre-existing network run by the US government which was quite restricted." I did not say it was the "Internet". What I said was: "… in the 1980s university computers were all interconnected by ARPANET, THE PRECURSOR TO THE INTERNET …".

Jull’s "quite restricted" does not mention that Arpanet was originally restricted but was expanded to universities, and in particular to "research laboratories in the US":

"ARPANET … was one of the world’s first operational packet switching networks, the first network to implement TCP/IP, and the progenitor of what was to become the global Internet. The network was initially funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, later DARPA) within the U.S. Department of Defense for use by its projects at universities and RESEARCH LABORATORIES IN THE US." (ARPANET," Wikipedia, 6 March 2014. Emphasis mine).

A Google search of "Arpanet" and "University of Arizona" shows that Arpanet was at the University of Arizona by 1984.

Jull’s "Anyway, the machine we used at that time couldn’t have been attached to it, and that one still isn’t", is ambiguous. If he means by "machine" the AMS machine itself, I don’t claim that machine was attached to Arpanet. But if Jull means by "machine" the COMPUTER which processed the data coming from the AMS machine, then I doubt that is true, although Jull may believe it to be true. Stoll’s book makes clear that all university computers in the 1980s were connectable to Arpanet, and most were, especially laboratories.

But if it can be proven that Arizona, Zurich and Oxford’s AMS control console computers were not ever connected to Arpanet, then that does not mean that a hacker could not have inserted a program into those computers, as he could have done it manually. Stoll’s book (and he did his PhD at the University of Arizona) makes it clear that physical security at universities in the 1980s was also poor. You and your commenters may scoff at the idea that the KGB would have as one of its goals to discredit the Shroud, but you fail to consider what a perceived threat it would be to the Soviet Union if the Shroud was dated to the first or early centuries.

Dan, your commenters, and you ... are not facing up to the fact that if the Shroud is authentic (as all the evidence apart from the C-14 dating indicates), then it would be "a remarkable coincidence" (to put it mildly) that its C-14 date was 1325 +/- 65 years, just before "the Shroud’s historical debut", as the agnostic Thomas de Wesselow saw clearly:

"One important consideration weighs in favour of the possibility of deception. If the carbon-dating error was accidental, then it is A REMARKABLE COINCIDENCE that the result tallies so well with the date [of] … the Shroud’s historical debut. But IF FRAUD WAS INVOLVED, THEN IT WOULDN’T BE A COINCIDENCE AT ALL. Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, ’1325 ± 65 years’ is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow, T., 2012, "The Sign: The Shroud of Turin and the Secret of the Resurrection," p.170).

My bottom line is that, since the Shroud IS authentic, there HAD to be some form of fraud to convert a 1st century actual date of the Shroud into the `too good to be true' 1325 ± 65 years date. Harry Grove’s worries before the test that at least one of the AMS labs would return an outlier date, and the 1989 Intercomparison Test in which the AMS labs fared badly, makes it difficult to believe (again to put it mildly) that all three AMS labs independently dated the Shroud "flawlessly," as Gove later assumed they would have to have done, to date the Shroud so accurately, to within 25-30 years of the Shroud’s appearance at Lirey in the 1350s.

My proposal that the labs were duped by a computer hacker fits all the facts (Jull’s ambiguous email notwithstanding), and it allows for Ian Wilson’s assurance that the lab leaders were basically honest. I am hopeful that now my proposal is in the public domain, it will eventually be confirmed by someone in a position to know.

I must say I was surprised that Farey had made Dr. Jull aware of my proposal and that Jull had responded to it. That surprise became even greater when further reading of the comments

[Left: Prof. Christopher Ramsey: Merton College, Oxford]

under Porter's post revealed another comment by Hugh Farey which contained a response from Prof. Christopher Ramsey, Director of the Oxford Radiocarbon Laboratory, and also a signatory to that 1989 Nature paper:

"Yes – I agree with all that Tim says. This would seem to be a suggestion from someone who does not know what computers were like in the 1980s.

In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections). The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS."

My reply to Prof. Ramsey's email on Porter's blog, with comments from Hugh Farey omitted, but otherwise lightly edited, was as follows (emphasis original):

No. I was one of the first to have a personal computer in 1980. I pioneered the introduction of computers into Health Department of WA hospitals in the mid-to late 1980s and in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I was the Systems Administrator of a network of 7 hospitals' UNIX systems.

And also I have read Clifford Stoll’s 1989 book, "The Cuckoo’s Egg" which relates how easy it was to hack into university computers in the 1980s.

>In the case of Oxford the AMS had no connection to any network (and indeed even today our AMS control computers have no network connections).

Thanks to Prof. Ramsey for this unambiguous statement.

>The software was very simple just outputting counts of 14C and currents measured. Age calculation was done offline and could just be done with a calculator, or by a simple program into which you typed the numbers from the AMS."

Nevertheless, it WAS "software" on each lab’s AMS control computer, which outputted "counts of 14C" which were, according to Gove’s eyewitness account, displayed on the AMS control computer’s screen:

"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 ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. ... 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." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.264).

It is those "calculations produced by the computer" which when calibrated, yielded a date of "1350 AD". So all that a hacker would have to do is modify the program which displayed those "counts of 14C", to replace those coming from the Shroud samples, with bogus "counts of 14C" which when calibrated, yielded the TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE date of "1350 AD".

I am now going to post a revised version of my proposal, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #1," based on the information contained in Dr. Jull's and Prof. Ramsey's emails.

Posted: 13 March 2014. Updated: 12 May 2017.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Summary

Further to my three-part series, "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?" (part 1, part 2 and part 3), I have decided to post a one-page summary of my argument. I have inserted "dating" between "radiocarbon" and "laboratories" in those posts to make the wording more accurate and also to help my three posts, and this post, to be found by a search for "radiocarbon dating."

The evidence is overwhelming that the Shroud of Turin is the burial sheet of Jesus Christ. Yet in 1988 the Shroud was C-14 dated as

[Right: Prof. E. Hall, Dr M. Tite and Dr. R. Hedges announcing in October 1988 that the Shroud had been C-14 dated to "1260-1390!": Wilson: 1998:pl.3b]

"medieval ... AD 1260- 1390" (Nature:1989: 337:611) by three C-14 dating labs at universities in Arizona, Zurich and Oxford. The midpoint of 1260-1390 is 1325 ± 65 years, which `just happens' to be a mere 25-30 years before the Shroud "was first displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s" (ibid).

• The labs all used the same Accelerated Mass Spectrometry (AMS) method of C-14 dating. The results of the C-14 dating of the Shroud was displayed on each lab's AMS system computer, as described in this

[Left: Arizona C-14 lab staff in front of the AMS computer after it displayed the C-14 date of the Shroud which was then calibrated to "1350 AD": Gove:1996: 176H]

eyewitness account by Prof. Harry Gove, the co-inventor of the AMS C-14 dating method, of the very first C-14 dating of the Shroud:

"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. ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first. ... 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 ... " (Gove:1996:262-263).
• Note that after only one lab's test, Prof. Gove and all those present, even those who previously believed the Shroud was authentic, accepted as fact what the computer told them, that the Shroud's "flax had been harvested ... [in] 1350 AD." Which would mean that: a) the Shroud's linen would have had to be woven and its image imprinted on the newly

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

woven Shroud less than 10 years before the Shroud was first "displayed at Lirey in France in the 1350s"; and b) the Arizona lab's pre-treatment of the Shroud sample would have had to be perfect, removing all traces of non-original carbon.

• Yet in 1987, when Gove learned that the number of labs had been reduced from 7 to 3, he was so worried that at least one of those 3 labs would return an outlier date that he drafted a letter to the Pope, requesting him "not to date the Shroud at all" (Gove:1996:218-219). And in 1989, a year after the dating of the Shroud, an intercomparison test of 38 C-14 dating laboratories (with Oxford abstaining), found that only 7 of the 38 laboratories achieved a satisfactory result with the AMS laboratories being the worst (Wilson:1998:193). Even Prof. Christopher Ramsey, the current Director of the Oxford C-14 lab and a co-signatory of the 1988 Nature paper, has admitted: "There is a lot of other evidence that suggests ... the Shroud is older than the radiocarbon dates allow" (Ramsey:2008).

[Left: "Pray Codex," Wikipedia]

For example, the Pray Codex , dated 1192-95, depicts eight features which are unique to the Shroud, including a set of L-shaped burn holes, showing that the artist saw the Shroud (de Wesselow:2012:181). Yet the oldest date for the Pray Codex is 1195, which is 65 years before the earliest 1260 C-14 date. And the Shroud would have had to have existed long before the Pray Codex artist depicted it.

• But as Prof. Gove pointed out, the chance that the Shroud was 1st century, yet had a 14th century C-14 date, is "about one in a thousand trillion" (Gove:1996:303). Agnostic but pro-authenticist art historian Thomas de Wesselow therefore regards fraud in the C-14 dating of the Shroud as a real possibility because, "it is a remarkable coincidence that the result tallies so well with ... the Shroud's historical debut" and "Had anyone wished to discredit the Shroud, '1325 ± 65 years' is precisely the sort of date they would have looked to achieve." (de Wesselow:2012:170). However, Ian Wilson, who knew the leaders of the 1988 C-14 test, dismisses "as absurd and far-fetched as it is unworthy" that they "may have `rigged' the radiocarbon dating" (Wilson:1998:11). But there is another type of fraud which seems not to have occurred to anyone: that the radiocarbon dating laboratories were duped by a computer hacker.

• As astronomer-turned Berkeley University computer systems administrator Clifford Stoll, revealed in his 1989 book, "The Cuckoo's Egg" [right], in the 1980s university computers were all interconnected by Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet, and were poorly secured (Stoll:1989:8). A hacker could in the 1980s break into any university computer "without leaving any trace" (Stoll:1989:9) and in fact at least one did.

• The hacker who Stoll caught, Markus Hess, was a KGB agent in Germany who hacked into university computers in the USA, and from them he gained unauthorised access to 400 military computers. The KGB then had a section called "Seat 12" which conducted "a disinformation campaign of communist propaganda during the Cold War to discredit the moral authority of the Vatican." Clearly a 1st or early century C-14 date of the Shroud would increase enormously the moral authority of the Vatican and Christianity in general. So it is not an unreasonable proposition that a KGB agent hacked into the AMS system control console computer

[Left: Schematic of Arizona's current AMS system, with its computer at bottom left]

at each of the three C-14 labs and inserted a program which, when each test was run, replaced the Shroud's 1st or early century C-14 date, with dates which when calibrated, would yield years clustering around AD 1325, just before the Shroud's appearance in undisputed history in the 1350s. And it did not have to be the KGB. It could have been anyone with the requisite computer skills, even a university student hacker testing his ability, as Cornell University student Robert Morris, author of the Morris Worm, did in 1988.

• I am hopeful that now it is out in the public domain, my proposal that the C-14 laboratories which dated the Shroud were duped by a computer hacker will elicit confirmation, whether from an ex-KGB defector, a former university student, etc. However, in the final analysis it is not the Shroud pro-authenticists' problem to work out what went wrong with the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud. As de Wesselow points out, we can:

"... legitimately reject the carbon-dating result without determining exactly what went wrong ... Archaeologists routinely dismiss 'rogue' radiocarbon dates out of hand ... The 1988 test may therefore be declared null and void, even though, without further direct study of the Shroud, it is unlikely we will ever be able to say definitively what went wrong." (de Wesselow:2012:170-171).

PS: See further on "My replies to Dr. Timothy Jull and Prof. Christopher Ramsey." Following Dr. Jull and Prof. Ramsey's clarification that the AMS system computer was never online at the their two laboratories (and therefore presumably also not at Zurich), the hacker, or hackers, would have had to insert a program, or modify the existing program, manually and locally in each of the three laboratories.

That makes it more likely that the KGB was involved, either directly or more likely indirectly, through local hacker recruits, like the Chaos Computer Club, of which Markus Hess was a member. However, I do not claim that the hackers were members, of the Chaos Computer Club. I will develop this further in my next post in this series: "Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised."

Posted: 18 February 2014. Updated: 27 July 2017.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Holy Shroud to be exhibited April 19-June 24 2015

ANSA English News Holy Shroud to be exhibited April 19-June 24 2015 To coincide with Don Bosco bicentenary, pope visit 27 February, 2014.

The article's words are bolded to distinguish them from mine.

[Above: Pope Benedict XVI prays before the Shroud at the last public exhibition in 2010: New York Times]

Holy Shroud to be exhibited April 19-June 24 2015 (ANSA) - Turin, February 27. Thanks to Barrie Schwortz for tipping me off about this: "Breaking News!, February 27, 2014, `Dates Announced for 2015 Shroud Exhibition'"

- The mysterious Shroud of Turin will be exhibited for an unprecedented 67 days next year, the office that keeps what Catholics revere as Christ's winding sheet said Thursday. Not only "Catholics", but Protestants (like me), also accept, on the basis of the evidence, that the 4.4 m x 1.1 m linen cloth known as the Shroud of Turin is Christ's winding sheet!

From April 19 to June 24, 2015 the shroud that is believed by many faithful to bear the image of a dead Jesus will be on display. Because dead bodies don't leave an anatomically perfect, three-dimensional, photographic negative, image of themselves on their burial clothes, it is not "a dead Jesus" but Jesus at the very moment of taking up His life again (Jn 10:17-19):

"Even from the limited available information, a hypothetical glimpse of the power operating at the moment of creation of the Shroud's image may be ventured. In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly, there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal "snapshot" of the Resurrection." (Wilson, I., "The Shroud of Turin: The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?," 1979, p.251. My emphasis).

The unusually long showing is because it will coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Catholic educator and slum reformer Saint John Bosco and with a visit by Pope Francis whose exact date has yet to be established, the Shroud office said. Pope Francis may have an ulterior motive (which I approve of) that of emphasising the example of Don Bosco, who instead of sexually and physically abusing children in his care, which too many Roman Catholic clergy and workers have done, Don Bosco gave shelter and a job to homeless and unemployed youth:

"John Bosco ... [1815-1888], popularly known as Don Bosco, [Right] was an Italian Roman Catholic priest of the Latin Church, educator and writer of the 19th century. While working in Turin, where the population suffered many of the effects of industrialization and urbanization, he dedicated his life to the betterment and education of street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth. He developed teaching methods based on love rather than punishment, a method that became known as the Salesian Preventive System ... Together with Maria Domenica Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious congregation of nuns dedicated to the care and education of poor girls... At that time the city of Turin had a population of 117,000 inhabitants. It reflected the effects of industrialization and urbanization: numerous poor families lived in the slums of the city, having come from the countryside in search of a better life. In visiting the prisons Don Bosco was disturbed to see so many boys from 12 to 18 years of age. He was determined to find a means to prevent them ending up here. Because of population growth and migration to the city, Bosco found the traditional methods of parish ministry inefficient. He decided it was necessary to try another form of apostolate, and he began to meet the boys where they worked and gathered in shops, offices, market places. They were pavers, stone-cutters, masons, plasterers who came from far away places ... For Don Bosco it became his permanent occupation. He looked for jobs for the unemployed. Some of the boys did not have sleeping quarters and slept under bridges or in bleak public dormitories. Twice he tried to provide lodgings in his house. The first time they stole the blankets; the second they emptied the hay-loft. He did not give up. In May 1847, he gave shelter to a young boy from Valesia, in one of the three rooms he was renting in the slums of Valdocco, where he was living with his mother. He and "Mamma Margherita" began taking in orphans. The boys sheltered by Don Bosco numbered 36 in 1852, 115 in 1854, 470 in 1860 and 600 in 1861, 800 being the maximum some time later." ("John Bosco,", Wikipedia, 24 February 2014).

The Bible says that all true Christians are saints (e.g. Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:2; Heb 6:10, Jude 1:3), but not all are saintly as Don Bosco evidently was.

June 24 is the feat day of Turin's patron saint St John the Baptist, as well as the name day of Don Bosco, as he is more commonly known. Born on August 16, 1815 as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, the priest worked in 19th-century industrialized Turin to better the lives of street children and disadvantaged youth. See above. I don't know what Don Bosco's view of the Shroud was, but one of his Salesian order, the late Father Peter Rinaldi, was America's leading populariser of the Shroud,

[Above: Two of America's leading sindonologists, co-founders of the United States Holy Shroud Guild, Fr Peter Rinaldi (1911-1993), left and Fr Adam Otterbein (1916-1998), right: Wilcox, R.K., 2010, "The Truth About the Shroud of Turin," p.128L]

from the 1930s:

"The Rev. Peter M. Rinaldi, who fostered interest in the Shroud of Turin and encouraged scientific investigation of its authenticity, died on Sunday at a hospital in Turin, Italy. He was 82 and lived in Turin and Port Chester, N.Y. He died of heart failure, church associates said. As an altar boy at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, he learned about the shroud kept there, which some people believe to be Jesus Christ's burial cloth. It bears the imprint of a human body and bearded face, with marks corresponding to wounds from the crown of thorns described in the Bible. Father Rinaldi publicized the shroud to Roman Catholics in America in a 1934 magazine article and a 1940 book, `I Saw the Holy Shroud.' Father Rinaldi was born in Lu near Turin. At the age of 15 he came to the United States, joining two older brothers. He graduated from Fordham University and the Don Bosco International Theological Institute in Turin." ("Obituary: Rev. Peter Rinaldi, 82, Shroud of Turin Expert," New York Times, March 5, 1993).

The Shroud of Turin is not often shown in public but in March, Pope Francis was involved in a broadcast event that showed rare images of the mysterious holy relic to TV viewers. Francis delivered the opening message in that unusual event on state broadcaster RAI, which marked only the second time the Church has permitted the Shroud to be filmed and broadcast. It will be interesting to read what Pope Francis says about the Shroud this time. As far as I am aware he considers it to be merely an "icon", i.e. on the same level as a man-made painting:

"Pope Francis has drawn an explicit link between Christ and the ghostly image imprinted on the Turin Shroud but stopped short of declaring the holy icon the true burial cloth of Jesus. Francis made his first remarks on the mysterious cloth since being elected Pope in a special video message as the shroud was shown live on television for only the second time in its history ... Francis referred to the 14ft-long strip of sepia fabric, which is imprinted with the face and body of a bearded man, as `the Holy Shroud' and asked: `How is it that the faithful, like you, pause before this icon of a man scourged and crucified? It is because the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth.'" ("Pope Francis links Turin Shroud to Jesus Christ as cloth is shown on television for Easter," Nick Squires, Rome, The Telegraph 30 Mar 2013).

In 2010, former Pope Benedict XVI viewed the Shroud of Turin during a special seven-week display that marked the first time the Shroud had been seen by the public since it was restored in 2002. By contrast, his predecessor Pope Benedict effectively claimed that the Shroud was authentic:

"Dismissing skeptics on Sunday when he visited the Shroud of Turin, Pope Benedict XVI said the burial cloth was none other than the same robe that once 'wrapped the remains' of Jesus Christ., Pope Benedict described the shroud, which allegedly bears blood stains and the facial imprint of a long-haired, bearded man, as an icon that once `wrapped the remains of a crucified man in full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus.' While Pope Benedict joins the ranks of those who believe the sepia-colored shroud is the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, skeptics dismiss it as an ingenious medieval forgery that radiocarbon testing has dated about 800 years old." ("Pope Benedict says Shroud of Turin authentic burial robe of Jesus," Nick Squires, Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2010).

Before then, it had been on view in 2000 and has been on display only five times in the past 100 years. It was only in 1983 that the Shroud was bequeathed by its owner, ex-King Umberto II of Savoy to "the Pope and his successors" but in those 31 years there have been three Exposition of the Shroud: 1998, 2000 and 2010. Again it is clear from this increased frequency of expositions of the Shroud, and the great expense that the Vatican goes to to protect it (see below), that the Vatican's real position is that the Shroud is authentic. But in that case, the Vatican is guilty of duplicity (i.e. "the form of deceitfulness that leads one to give two impressions, either or both of which may be false") by refusing to confirm or deny that the Shroud is authentic, presumably to protect itself from having to admit that most of its other relics are fakes. Again, I am not anti-Catholic in this - I am pro-truth.

Believers say the linen Shroud was used to wrap the body of Christ after his crucifixion and countless scientific tests conducted over the years have revealed the outline of the body of a man embedded in the fabric. It doesn't take a scientific test to "reveal... the outline of the body of a man embedded in the fabric." What the scientific tests have revealed, with the sole exception of the 1988 radiocarbon dating (see below), is that the Shroud is authentic.

The Shroud is normally heavily guarded in a bullet-proof, climate-controlled glass case within Turin's most important cathedral. See above. Why would the Vatican go to such expense to protect the Shroud if it really thought it was a fake?

Only once before had images of the Shroud been broadcast as ordered in November 1973 by then-pope Paul VI. If that is true (and I cannot remember if it is), that was 41 years ago, before the Roman Catholic Church even owned the Shroud. And if it is true, then why has it taken so long?

Some sceptics maintain the Shroud is nothing more than an elaborate fake dating from the Middle Ages, triggering centuries of debate over whether the image is truly that of Christ, or a very good forgery. If the Shroud were "a very good forgery" it would be the greatest work of art of all time. So why do those who claim it is just "a very good forgery" not clamour for it to be exhibited permanently as other great works of art are?

Radiocarbon-dating tests conducted on the cloth in 1988 suggested it dated from between 1260 and 1390; however, other scientists have since claimed those results could have been distorted by centuries of contamination. Or the laboratories were duped by a computer hacker who overrode the Shroud's first (or early) century radiocarbon dates coming from the Accelerated Mass Spectrometer into the computer which displayed the results, and replaced those dates with 14th century ones which `just happened' to agree with the Shroud's first appearance in undisputed history at Lirey, France in the 1350s.

Harry Grove, the co-inventor of AMS radiocarbon dating described what happened at the very first radiocarbon dating of the Shroud at Arizona radiocarbon laboratory 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. ... At the end of that one minute we knew the age of the Turin Shroud! The next nine numbers confirmed the first ... 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." (Gove, H.E., 1996, "Relic, Icon or Hoax?: Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud," p.264. My emphasis).

So the very first run produced on the computer screen the too good to be true, bull's eye date, "1350 AD"! Gove himself, knowing better than anyone the problems of AMS radiocarbon dating, expected a date of the Shroud of "1000 ±100 years":

"I had a bet with Shirley on the shroud's age-she bet 2000 ± 100 years old and I bet 1000 ±100 years. Whoever won bought the other a pair of cowboy boots. Although my guess was wrong, it was closer than Shirley's. She bought me the cowboy boots." (Gove, 1996, p.264).

[Above: The caption of this photo reads:

"Those present at the Arizona AMS carbon dating facility at 9:50 am on 6 May 1988 when the age of the shroud was determined. They include Doug Donahue (third from the left, standing), Tim Jull (fourth from the left, standing), Harry Gove (sixth from the left, standing) and Paul Damon (seventh from the left, standing)" (Gove, 1996, p.176H. My emphasis).

Note the computer at the control console which is the interface between the AMS radiocarbon dating system and the humans in the laboratory. Note also Gove's uncritical assumption that "the age of the shroud was determined" to be "1350 AD" (see below), by the very first run of the Arizona's laboratory's dating alone!]

But as Arizona University trained astronomer-turned Berkeley University computer systems manager Clifford Stoll related in his book, "The Cuckoo's Egg" (1989), university computers in the 1980s were all interconnected and poorly secured:

"The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage is a 1989 book written by Clifford Stoll. It is his first-person account of the hunt for a computer hacker who broke into a computer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL)... Stoll recorded the hacker's actions as he sought, and sometimes gained unauthorized access to military bases around the United States, looking for files that contained words such as `nuclear' or `SDI'. The hacker also copied password files (in order to make dictionary attacks) and set up Trojan horses to find passwords. Stoll was amazed that on many of these high-security sites the hacker could easily guess passwords, since many system administrators never bothered to change the passwords from their factory defaults. Even on army bases, the hacker was sometimes able to log in as `guest' with no password." ("The Cuckoo's Egg," Wikipedia, 8 February 2014).

So it is a reasonable hypothesis that the University of Arizona's radiocarbon dating laboratory (and those of the other two laboratories at Zurich and Oxford) were all interconnected and insecure, and were the unsuspecting victims of a computer hacker, who replaced the Shroud's first (or early) century radiocarbon dates coming from each laboratories' Accelerated Mass Spectrometer with 14th century dates, either as a practical joke by university students, or as a deliberate attempt to discredit the Shroud. That the very first date was the too good to be true date "1350 AD" and they all meekly accepted it, even those who thought the Shroud was authentic, adds weight to my `the laboratories were duped by a computer hacker' hypothesis.

That has led to calls for more testing, which the Vatican has consistently refused. I agree with the Vatican in this. The evidence already is overwhelming that the Shroud is authentic, so the sceptics should accept that it is authentic. And to radiocarbon date the Shroud again, this time properly, would require representative samples from every major area of the cloth, which would rightly be unacceptable to the Vatican. And because of the deeply contaminated state of the Shroud's linen, it is unlikely that new tests would return a radiocarbon date of the first century (although it would be early). But if the new radiocarbon dates of the Shroud were anything but first century, Shroud sceptics would then claim that it showed the Shroud to be a fake!

So the Vatican's answer to Shroud sceptics (and even Shroud pro-authenticists) who want another go at carbon dating the Shroud, should be: `The Turin Shroud is authentic. Get over it!' (with apologies to Tom Chivers).

Posted: 1 March 2014. Updated: 7 May 2016.