A Conversation for The Chemical Origins of the Shroud of Turin


Post 1


There do seem to be many questions rasied by the singlet oxygen approach. (Forgive my chemistry if I'm in error - it's been a while since I did any)

a) Could there actually be a smooth laminar convection current as described. If there were a convection current, would it tend to transport most of the flow to the highest point under the fabric above, or would the flow be perfectly vertical, as if the fabric were absent.
If the fabric were indeed a barrier to airflow, then what would occur would be something akin to a series of Rayleigh-Benard convection cells in the layer of air between skin and fabric. Smooth flow would not occur.
If the fabric were not any kind of barrier to airflow, so that there was a continual flow upwards from the body surface, the air would have to come from somewhere. Assuming this air could not flow through the corpse itself, for the most part it would have to take the form of a flow of air *across* the body surface, between skin and shroud, not perpendicular to the body. Such a flow would seem likely to cause some mixing in all but the highest parts of the body.

b) In the time taken to diffuse through the boundary layer of air on the skin, rise by convection, and then diffuse through the boundary layer near the fabric, how far off-course would an individual atom be as a result of Brownian motion.

c) What fraction of atoms would react with organic matter on the body surface before even leaving the skin boundary layer.

d) If the oxygen were generated by lactic acid on the skin surface, would some of that acid not have been transfered to the shroud itself, possibly causing localised burning unrelated to distance from the body?

e) Assuming that residual body heat were the energy source for the convection taking place, presumably that would mean the scorching would take place within a day or two at best, which would tend to imply such scorching would be commonplace, given the number of dead bodies covered with sheets every day.

f) Presumably, the airflow would be less turbulent as the temperature differential driving the convection lessened with time. Balancing this lessening of disruption, however, would be the increased time required for transport in the slower airflow, leading to greater diffusion and absorption in the air layer.

g) (I'm pretty unsure on this one, but still curious) How would singlet oxygen actually cause scorch marks - surely the reaction would be too slow to actually heat the fabric significantly.? I thought that oxidising fabric tended to bleach, rather than burn it. Burning in the normal sense (breakdown of molecules by heat) would seem highly unlikely.

h) The chain reaction described seems to imply that scorching energy is released in a reaction, and yet also passed on to daughter atoms to react again. Surely at best there may be a very short chain, with atoms of decreasing capacity for damage generated each time. There can only be so much chemical potential energy in the original oxygen atom. Presumably, unless some very strange chemistry were taking place, an oxygen atom would be very unlikely to react with a molecule to generate both a release of energy *and* another oxygen atom?


Post 2


Never had much sympathy for the sentiment in the song "There are more questions than answers". It is merely that we don't (yet) know the answers.
Logic suggests that you have 1 question, 1 answer; but after those, I'm beginning to wonder.

In any event the Shroud is a remarkable thing. If memory serves, it had previously been subjected to "tests" many decades ago e.g. being boiled to see what happened. Perhaps in the future our efforts at providing a definitive examination will be regarded as equally primitive.


Post 3


I'm mainly curious about the detailed chemical and physical processes described. I certainly wouldn't (and didn't) say that a single one of them can't happen, or happens only under rare circumstances, but if they are indeed recognised and commonly accepted processes, I hope my questions will be interpreted as genuine puzzlement and valid knowledge-seeking.

I accept that sometimes my questioning can be taken as more antagonistic than it is generally intended to appear to be, but I think that's frequently because I concentrate on areas of difference or doubt, as exploring those areas leads to the greatest learning.
In this case, whether the explanation given is in fact plausible or not, I don't see any real religious implications one way or another, so it should be a matter of unbiased science.

If these processes have indeed led to a shroud-like result on other occasions, I would have thought that their bearing on the issue of the shroud itself would have been sufficient to bring such occasions to the public attention.


Post 4


I just wanted to say that my entry was originally much larger, and that I had to split it in half, as people were dying of old age before they even got half way through.

The 'missing' half refers to a theory I discovered in a book by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas. As far as I know it hasn't received a great deal of publicity, which is a shame as it seems highly plausible (note that I use the word 'plausible' rather than truthful'!)


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