Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Turin Shroud: the evidence mounts (updated 20 Sept 2014)



The level of scientific interest in this relic is growing and an international conference is due to take place at St Louis, USA over 9-12 October 2014.

An entire scientific discipline has grown up around this object: sindonology

Until about a year ago I had always assumed that the Shroud of Turin was some kind of medieval forgery and not the burial shroud of Jesus Christ. Circa 1988 it had been announced that the radioactive carbon 14 dating put the origin of the Shroud to around the 14th century.



 At the time I was skeptical about the reality of the Resurrection and was certainly not a Christian. Even after looking at the evidence for the Resurrection, which I found wiped out the objections of the skeptics , and coming to believe in the historical reality of a supernatural Resurrection, I still dismissed the Shroud as a hoax or a confidence trick, as many Christians do today. In fact I was concerned that if it was a fraud it would only help to discredit the overall case for a Resurrection in the public mind, given the natural skepticism of some scientists who tend to be treated as guardians of truth, which they should indeed be but which, unfortunately, is not always the case (mainly because of philosophical naivety about the foundation of truth).




Recently I came across research which points clearly to the reality of the Turin Shroud image and cloth testifying to an inexplicable event in 33 AD. This could be world-view shattering for many.

http://www.newgeology.us/presentation24.html

http://www.historian.net/shroud.htm




RADIOMETRIC DATING CORRECTED


The initial carbon dating exercise in the 1980s gave dates around 1400 years after the Crucifixion (33 AD), which led most people to dismiss the Shroud as a medieval fake. The dating had been carried out by a reputable international team. Since then the date has been shown to be highly suspect because it used a contaminated sample and in recent months it has been proposed that an earthquake which is fairly reliably known to have taken place in 33 AD, could have generated a neutron flux which would have affected the dating results by increasing the amount of C14 due to neutron bombardment of the C12 nucleus (the more C14 in the sample the younger it would appear to be). The latest date estimate puts the time of the cloth centrally within an error bar of several hundred years spanning the 33 AD date. By itself this would not prove that the Shroud was the one that en-wrapped Jesus but the date is certainly much earlier than medieval and the Crucifixion date lies in the centre of the error spread.




BLOOD



The trauma caused by the Crucifixion as described in the Gospels would have affected the physical nature of the blood emanating from the wounds caused. This is confirmed by analysis of the blood stains on the cloth. Moreover, the positions of the stains clearly correspond to the Crucifixion accounts. The evidence for this is startling in its detail. E.g. the spear wound indicated on the cloth is in forensic agreement with the John 19:34 account; the bloodstains on the head are clearly from a cap or crown of thorns as described in John 19:2.; 120 scourge marks on the body, front and back indicate about 40 lashes from a three-thronged whip, which was the standard whipping procedure adopted by the Romans at the time.

The colour of the blood stains is red. Normally one would expect it to be black after such a long period but in fact a body having undergone the trauma to which Jesus was subject would have chemically altered blood that would stay red , and containing bilirubin, and this is precisely what  the Shroud stains exhibit. The elevated levels of the bilirubin actually indicate the traumatic process of the Crucifixion as described in the Bible.





WRISTS NOT PALMS NAILED

Biomechanical science indicates that a body pinned to a cross by nails through the palms could not bear the weight of the body – it must have been through the wrists, which is just what the image shows. The traditional belief was that the nails had been hammered through the palms, so any attempt at forgery would have tried to simulate this. All the iconography of the time indicated nails through the palms.


CHEEK BRUISES

The image shows marks indicating a blow to the cheek as described in John 18:22: "And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand." As with most of the image features discussed these were invisible before the technology of the 20th century and there is no way anyone would have any motive for forging them, even if someone in medieval Europe had technology more advanced than any known or even envisaged today.






IMAGE FORMATION



The image was formed by a process which no team of scientists has been able to reproduce over the last several decades, possibly one involving high energy radiation. It was not produced by any kind of pigmentation. One singular characteristic of the image is that it was in the form of  a negative which comes out as a positive on a photographic negative, much to the astonishment of Secundo Pia when he developed his two glass plates in 1898 when the Shroud was first photographed. In fact as photography advanced the image became increasingly clear. Had such technology not come along no one would ever have seen the image at all.




[In addition to the evidence above there is a close correspondence to the results emerging from an investigation of what is probably the tomb of Christ and the head cloth used after the Crucifixion. I hope to go into this in a future post, probably after the St Louise conference in October 2014.]



Very advanced technology has been applied to the Shroud, including the VP-8 Image Analyzer which NASA used to construct three dimensional images from ordinary photographs of, for instance, the moon’s surface taken from two different angles. When applied to the Turin Shroud image this has somehow yielded a 3D image of Jesus Christ that does not distort as it rotates. At this time I do not know the physics and mathematics behind this and believe there are aspects to this process which nobody understands.



The information extraction power of the VP-8 enabled experts to interpolate the presence of a lepton, a coin used at the time of Pontius Pilate, placed in each eye socket. It had been customary to do this. Even part of the inscription round the edge of the coin was determined and found to correspond to that used on the lepton at the time of Pilate. 


QUANTUM COSMIC POSSIBILITIES

There is one aspect of the Shroud image which is so enormous in its implication for the human race and the entire universe that I am almost hesitant to mention it for fear that it will immediately label me as a crank in many people's eyes.

Perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the image is that the markings penetrate barely a fibre's thickness down into the cloth, on both sides. Nobody has been able to produce such an image using any technology known to man. For reasons that at this time I do not understand it has been seriously proposed that the only possible explanation of this and other aspects of the image lies in the same theoretical domain as black holes and event horizons. 

The proposal is that information from Christ at the moment of death passed into the entire universe instantaneously and that a new universe and a new humanity is in the process of being created. (NB: modern physics posits that all particles in the universe can instantaneously interact by quantum entanglement with all other particles anywhere in the universe.)

A whole team of scientists is involved at both a theoretical and an experimental level. See this video by a particle physicist Dr Isabel Piczec 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbl4EmoH_jg

PRE-MEDIEVAL HISTORY



How did the Shroud get from Jerusalem to Turin, in Italy? Christian relics were frequently transported for safety because of Islamic and other attacks prior to the Crusades. The Moslem conquerors had reached Spain, having violently subjugated 2/3 of the Christian world (hence the Crusades), by the time of the Shroud’s final resting place in Turin, Italy. Before the Moslems there were still many enemies of Christianity, such as the Romans before Constantine, the non-Messianic Jews and the Vandals. So it is not surprising that the cloth did not begin to be openly talked or written about until it was safe.






I am in no way an expert on all this so let me refer you to some of the sites I came across in putting together the above:







There is also an iPhone app called Shroud 2.0 which pulls together a lot of evidence, as well as innumerable books.

Apart from online sources such as the above I used this book



So what if the shroud is indeed genuine, as looks increasingly likely?

It will add to the already substantial evidence for the reality of the Resurrection event which changed history and the meaning of which is still being hotly discussed and argued about 2000 years later after huge moral, social, artistic, scientific and technological advances made in its wake.

There is no doubt in the mind of any genuine believer that the Resurrection is as real as the other supernatural event which came to light only a few decades ago: the creation of space and time from existential nothingness 13.8 billion years ago, from behind an event horizon, i.e. the Big Bang, an occurrence for which the evidence has been steadily mounting since the 1920s..

If the Shroud adds to the evidence it will force the most jaundiced skeptic to reconsider his or her position.  The argument will shift from whether there was a Resurrection to its deep significance for humanity. Forget religion. The implications could totally shatter our view of reality if the quantum aspects become widely accepted since it casts light on every aspect of life of every person on the planet as well as all of life and every particle in the universe.

So watch this space.

J.LSears

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Natural technology. 3. The flexible zinc-tipped drill of a wasp



This natural technology series has already looked at the high tech engineering of the bacterium and the virus.

Here is another  miracle of the natural world, this time being more remarkable for its mechanical engineering design than its organizational complexity.

http://www.scienceupdate.com/files/2014/06/Parasitic-Fig-Wasps-Equipped-With-Zinc-Tipped-Drilspng.png
From http://www.scienceupdate.com/2014/06/was

Certain types of female insects are required to be able to deposit their eggs in plants and they do this via an ovipositor, a tube at the end of their abdomen. Sometimes it is necessary to drill through very hard structures. 

 See the Journal of Experimental Biology of 28 May  2014:




In the case of the parasitic fig wasp the ovipositor has to penetrate the wall of an unripe fig in order that eggs can be placed in a conducive environment. This wall is very tough and yet the wasp has devised a solution in the form of a hollow tube which is

  • Thinner than a human hair

  • Highly flexible and very long in relation to the body of the wasp

  • Indented with teeth-like structures

  • Strong enough to resist repeated bending

  • Very hard at the tip

  • Spoon-shaped at the tip for pollination

The hardness is about the same as  acrylic dental cement and this is achieved by the incorporation of zinc atoms into the tip, similar in form and function to a drill bit. The tissue behind the bit is constructed to absorb  energy while allowing the ovipositor to be steered as it bores.  It can bend and flex without breaking, a combination of properties achieved by a three part anatomy. The three parts slide along each other’s lengths and are connected by rail guides using dovetail joints, an arrangement which allows the needle to pierce tissue and cut it.

One of the mechanical engineers studying this organ points out that its design could lead to  microscopic boring tools, needles, and probes, including ones that could be useful for minimally invasive surgeries. Man copying nature, a recurrent theme in modern engineering.

It is also apparent that when mechanical engineers look at nature they achieve insights that would not be revealed to the average biologist. They see nature in ways that may not be noticed by those indoctrinated with the dogma that design in nature is only an illusion, since all is purported to be driven purely by random mutations and selection pressure, a view that becomes increasingly untenable each day as new insights are made into how nature works.

John Sears


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Deep mystery of existence. 8. Critical mass of the early universe



Many people wonder why the universe is so massive. They say ‘what a wasteful God’.  The exact opposite applies. The importance of life in God’s scheme is highlighted by the need to create precisely the universe we have, in terms of mass and in many other ways which will not be dealt with in this post.

Cosmologists and astrobiologists will confirm that it could not be any other mass and still sustain even bacterial life. Very slightly smaller in mass and life could not survive anywhere. Being marginally larger would also preclude life.  It has been calculated that if during the early expansion of the universe its mass had been out by the mass of a single coin the present universe could not harbour even bacteria. The precision is one part in a  trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. ..



Image credit http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/files/2011/03/cosmic_history_2.jpg
The critical mass density of the universe was during  the inflation period which is thought to have taken place according to most cosmologists.

Why does the universe have to have this mass? Because otherwise  two life precluding phenomena would occur as the early universe expanded following the Big Bang (the creation event when space, time, matter and energy came into existence as a point source of everything).

A marginally smaller  mass would have resulted in less gravity and the matter of the universe flying apart too rapidly to form stars and planets – in particular our planet Earth, which has a uniqueness which led not just to bacteria but to human civilization.

A marginally larger mass would have resulted in the early cosmic material coalescing rather than forming stars and planets. Not a trace or promise of life could exist in this scenario – even the stuff out of which bacteria are built would not have existed.

This precision is, according to the latest cosmological theory, a consequence of our three dimensional space being almost totally flat, i.e. only curved to an extremely small but precise degree,  to one part in a trillion trillion trillion  trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. It is impossible to visualize what is meant by curved or flat three dimensional space. It is a mathematical concept, but an analogy which is often used is that of an inflated balloon, where the surface of the balloon represents the 3 dimensional space in which we live.  If the balloon is large enough the space is as near to flat as you can make it without the balloon becoming infinitely large. Space is curved to just the precise amount needed to enable bacterial life to survive. To repeat: one part in a trillion trillion trillion  trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.  With space that close to flat the mass density of the universe will have the necessary value to the degree of precision required.

How did space get that flat? As usual in cosmology we have to turn to the mathematicians. The theory that has been proposed is known as cosmic inflation (in fact there is more than one version of this theory). The early universe, when it was only  a fraction of a second old, is postulated to have expanded at such an unimaginably high rate that space was forcefully smoothed out till it became virtually, but not quite, totally flat. This would explain why the universe as observed to today looks so isotropic (similar in structure in all directions) and is flat.

What could have made the universe expand so much so quickly before it was even a second old no one knows. It was probably not even dark energy since that did not come into play until the universe was about 7 billion years old. At this stage it began to expand more rapidly, i.e. to accelerate, after being slowed down by gravitational forces. (If it had not accelerated in precisely the way it has that too would have precluded any kind of biological life. But that’s another story...).

One final point to bear in mind. The idea of increasing or decreasing the mass of the universe by the mass of a single coin having such huge existential significance for living systems applies only if this thought experiment is made at the very early stages of cosmic creation. If such a miniscule mass had been added or subtracted only, say, a million years ago, instead of 13.7 billion - i.e. after the elements, stars and planets had already  been formed - it would, as far as we know, have made no difference. Nevertheless, given that the total mass of the universe at its inception was the same as now, it is no less staggering to think that the mass of a single coin could mean the difference between life and no life some 13.7 billion years later.

As one who has only relatively recently become a follower of the comic Christ, the universal source of love,  I had not really understood what was meant when people talked about fearing God. Now I  am beginning to get the point.

 John Sears
Author 2077 AD