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 STURP - the Shroud of Turin Research Project    

In 1978 the Shroud was on public display for the first time since 1933. Over 3 million people passed through the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to view it behind bullet proof glass during the three weeks it was on display. Among the pilgrims who view the Shroud is Karol, Cardinal Woytywa of Poland, shortly to become Pope John Paul II.

At the end of the exhibition, 40 scientists comprising the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), were allowed by the Cardinal of Turin to analyze the Shroud for five continuous days (122 hours) working in shifts around the clock.

The STURP team is composed of scientists from universities, scientific laboratories, and scientific industries. When the teamís results were published in 1981, over 150,000 scientific hours had been employed in the research and analysis.
The team's research continues today.


In 1981 the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) team issued its Final Report and the following official conclusions:

"No pigments, paints, dyes or stains have been found on the fibrils. X-ray, fluorescence and microchemistry on the fibrils preclude the possibility of paint being used as a method for creating the image. Ultra Violet and infrared evaluation confirm these studies. Computer image enhancement and analysis by a device known as a VP-8 image analyzer show that the image has unique, three-dimensional information encoded in it.

Microchemical evaluation has indicated no evidence of any spices, oils, or any biochemicals known to be produced by the body in life or in death. It is clear that there has been a direct contact of the Shroud with a body, which explains certain features such as scourge marks, as well as the blood. However, while this type of contact might explain some of the features of the torso, it is totally incapable of explaining the image of the face with the high resolution that has been amply demonstrated by photography.

The basic problem from a scientific point of view is that some explanations which might be tenable from a chemical point of view, are precluded by physics. Contrariwise, certain physical explanations, which may be attractive are completely precluded by the chemistry.

For an adequate explanation for the image of the Shroud, one must have an explanation which is scientifically sound, from a physical, chemical, biological and medical viewpoint. At the present, this type of solution does not appear to be obtainable by the best efforts of the members of the Shroud Team. Furthermore, experiments in physics and chemistry with old linen have failed to reproduce adequately the phenomenon presented by the Shroud of Turin.

The scientific concensus is that the image was produced by something which resulted in oxidation, dehydration and conjugation of the polysaccharide structure of the microfibrils of the linen itself. Such changes can be duplicated in the laboratory by certain chemical and physical processes. A similar type of change in linen can be obtained by sulfuric acid or heat. However, there are no chemical or physical methods known which can account for the totality of the image, nor can any combination of physical, chemical, biological or medical circumstances explain the image adequately.

Thus, the answer to the question of how the image was produced or what produced the image remains, now, as it has in the past, a mystery.

We can conclude for now that the Shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man. It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains are composed of hemoglobin and also give a positive test for serum albumin.

The image is an ongoing mystery and until further chemical studies are made, perhaps by this group of scientists, or perhaps by some scientists in the future, the problem remains unsolved."


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 Scientific Investigation of the Shroud

Scientific investigation of the Shroud of Turin began in 1898 when an amateur photographer named Secondo Pia took the first photograph of the Shroud and found to his amazement that his negative was a high resolution positive image, which meant that the image on the Shroud was a high resolution negative image.  This implied that it could not be a painting since artists cannot accurately produce a negative image because they never see one.  Subsequent investigation of the wounds observed on the Shroud by experts in anatomy and medicine led them to conclude that the images and blood marks on the Shroud were in some way the result of a real human body that had been wrapped in the Shroud.  In 1976, using a VP-8 image analyzer, it was discovered that there is 3D or topographical information in the image on the Shroud related to the body-to-cloth vertical distance.  Since such information does not exist in any painting or photograph, this indicated that the image on the Shroud could not be a painting or photograph.  This motivated scientists at leading national laboratories and research facilities in the United States to form the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) to apply the best scientific methods and equipment to determine how the image on the Shroud was formed.  About 24 of their team went to Turin in 1978 where they were allowed five days, 24 hours a day, to perform non-destructive testing on the Shroud.  The STURP investigation found that:
∑         The image has no pigment, no carrier, no brush strokes, no clumping of material between the fibers or threads, no cracking due to centuries of folding or rolling the Shroud, and no stiffening of the cloth.  This means that the image could not be due to paint, dye, or stain.
∑         There is no capillarity (soaking up of a liquid) of the discoloration in the fibers or threads, so the image could not be due to application of a liquid such as an acid or a chemical in a liquid state.
∑         The image is not luminescent under ultra-violet light.  This means that the image could not be due to a scorch from contact of a hot object with the cloth.
∑         The image is only visible in front lighting.  It is not visible in back lighting.  From this, the STURP team concluded that the image does not result from any substance placed on the cloth, which means that the image could not be a rubbing, a dusting, or a print.
∑         A typical thread contains about 100 to 200 fibers.  The image is caused discoloration of only the top one or two layers of fibers in a thread.
∑         On a discolored fiber, the discoloration is located on the outside circumference of the fiber, usually 360 degrees around the fiber.  The thickness of this discolored layer is about 0.2 microns, which is less than a wavelength of light, and only a small fraction of the 15 to 20-micron diameter of a fiber.  The inside of the fiber is not discolored.
∑         The discoloration of any fibers in the image results from a change in the electron bonding of the carbon atoms that were already in the cellulose molecule.  This change in the electron bonding of the carbon atoms is equivalent to a dehydration and oxidation of the cellulose molecule.  But how can this change in the electron bonding of the carbon atoms be accomplished to create an image of a crucified man?


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