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Weak dematerialization (Shroud of Turin): Wikis



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Full-length image of the Shroud of Turin before the 2002 restoration.

The theory of weak dematerialization was proposed by Canadian physicist Thaddeus J. Trenn from the University of Toronto to explain one of the possible ways of image formation on the Shroud of Turin. Trenn, who admits that his theory is "terribly hypothetical",[1] clarifies the relevant assumptions of sindonologist John P. Jackson[2] and, like several other concerns, invalidates the 1988 radiocarbon 14 dating of the Shroud, attributing the excessive presence of carbon-14 to the so-called weak dematerialization. Although the latter suggests the Resurrection of Jesus, it was found testable.[3]

Trenn developed his hypothesis upon notions of Giles Carter, an American chemist from Eastern Michigan University, who theorized about the formation of the Shroud image by X-rays. In 1982 Carter wrote a paper "Formation of the Image on the Shroud of Turin", which was published in the American Chemical Society Volume on Archaeological Chemistry in the following year. Jackson in 1977, 1984 and 1990 suggested that the Shroud image characteristics can be referred to the hypothesized effect of a man becoming mechanically transparent and radiating a burst of energy.[4]

None of the many theories that have been advanced to explain the image on the Shroud have found wide acceptance, and, according to chemist Alan Adler, Trenn's theory, like other attempts to explain the image, is "Great physically, great chemically, but absolute bizarre biologically."[5] However concurring hypotheses by other scientists have been proposed.



Image formation

Trenn's hypothesis excludes the possibilities of decomposition and external removal of body from the Shroud for the following reasons. If the body decomposed, then each molecule of it would gradually undergo chemical change, leading the body to fall away in a manner that would not tear the thread fibrils.[3] The decomposition instead would have left some evidence of rot on the cloth under the body. But since no rot on the cloth bearing the back image exists, this possibility was rendered implausible.[3] In case of external removal of the body some parts of it would be stuck to the cloth by the dried blood, prompting a surfire tearing of the blood-impregnated fibrils.[3] However the absence of torn fibrils suggests that the body was not taken out of the Shroud.[3] The possibility that the body might have been taken out of the Shroud before the blood in contact with the cloth had a chance to dry was rendered "admittedly speculative".[3] It is difficult to assert that the image was forming so quickly that the blood did not have time to dry.[3] Supportive notion was expressed by Professor of Mechanical and Thermic Measurements at Padua University Giulio Fanti together with other authors.[6][7]

Trenn elaborated what Giles Carter called the Resurrection Event.[1] The weak dematerialization generally assumes that the Shroud image was formed by decay of the atoms into subatomic particles constituting the corpse.[3] Trenn argues that the "pion bonding holding the nucleons together" was overcome by energy input into the body, leading to "dematerialization associated with spontaneous pion decay", which in turn, would cause the X-rays emission from body and "coronal discharge by free electrons".[5] According to Trenn, the X-radiation and coronal discharge could account for "both a superficial and highly resolved image".[5] The event of dematerialization is described by Trenn as follows: "first of all, you would see no more body. It would instantly be gone. All you would have is protons and neutrons in various states of energy and other particles that would come such as pions - they would be about ten to the minus twenty-second seconds – you would have the release of pions and muons, heavy electrons. These could in short range bombard the cloth and produce the effect you do see on the image".[1] Trenn emphasizes that what Jackson called the collapsing of the Shroud, observing its distortions, would in fact be measuring, reflecting the speed with which the body by gravity would be collapsing on top of the cloth.[1] In 1992 Jackson conjectured that "as the Shroud collapsed through the underlying body, radiation emitted from all points within that body discolored the cloth so as to produce the observed image".[8] Trenn notes that "such distortion would apparently require an extremely rapid process, as if the image were recording the vertical collapse of the body even in the act of disappearance” as “it is difficult to avoid associating such an "act of disappearance" with some type of dematerialization process, presumably of the weak variety".[8]

At the same time weak dematerialization implies that the body of Jesus did not return to life in the way of Lazarus of Bethany and the young man from Nain. Instead, it conjectures that the perishable corporal entity of Jesus would have gone out of existence to be replaced with the resurrected form.[3]


Trenn expressed his dating implications in "The Shroud of Turin: Resetting the Carbon-14 Clock" [9] and in an interview, published in British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, June 1999, pp. 16–22. Along with the fire of 1532 and radiocarbon-producing bioplastic coating on the fabric, discovered by Leoncio Garza-Valdes, Trenn holds that “there are other possible sources of induced radiocarbon”, specifically “a thermal neutron flux”, which would convert nitrogen atoms in Shroud fibrils to C-14 as normally occurs in the upper atmosphere.[10] The process is clarified by Trenn as follows: “Neutrons of moderate energy, released by cosmic radiation, are captured by nitrogen, the most abundant gas. Nitrogen-14 loses a proton in the exchange, effectively converting it to carbon-14”.[8] Trenn argues further that “if during the resurrection, “weak dematerialization” of the body occurred, accompanied by a release of thermal neutrons, these would easily produce excess radiocarbon distributed non-uniformly, denser along the central axis of the entire cloth”.[10]

According to Trenn, the relevant notions could be tested by covering the entire Shroud with film sensitive to radioactive decay and subsequent encasing of the Shroud in lead for twenty-four hours.[3] In this test enough carbon-14 would decay during that time to show whether carbon-14 distributions across the Shroud are uniform or not.[3] Trenn supposes further that there should be "changes in the isotopic distribution on the surface of the walls" of the Sepulchre, arguing that "in elements that were able to capture… [the] neutrons, you may see a ratio of the isotope of that particular element skewed slightly from the normal".[1]

Another concern, considered by Trenn, is a radiocarbon rejuvenation of a sample by neutron flux. Trenn outlines here that an ancient linen from an Egyptian mummy dated as 4,670 BP yielded the new result of “319 times the normal level” after irradiation with “a specified neutron flux for 20 minutes”, “as if its age was 46,000 years into the future”.[10] Trenn concludes that the results obtained “show that a piece of linen can be enriched with radiocarbon by neutron flux, in a manner to falsify carbon dating calculations”.[10] Thomas J. Phillips (then a Harvard University High Energy Physics Laboratory researcher) suggested the same phenomenon in his article "Shroud Irradiated With Neutrons?".[11] However, assuming “a non-uniform neutron flux that could be associated with weak dematerialization”, Trenn with some reservations accepts Robert Hedges’ (Oxford University Laboratory for Archeology and the History of Art) notion that the neutron irradiation of the Shroud samples is “difficult to take seriously”.[10]

Referring to Ian Wilson, Trenn also emphasizes that the Shroud was named Acheiropoietos “no later than 1000 AD”.[8]

Concurring hypotheses

Several concurring hypotheses have been put forward by other scientists.

Fanti et al.

In their paper "Body Image Formation Hypotheses Based on Corona Discharge" Giulio Fanti, Prof. Francesco Lattarulo (University of Bari) and German physics teacher Oswald Scheuermann propose the "hypothesis B", which argues that corona discharge "over the body could have been a by-product of a particular phenomenon, such as the Resurrection (a phenomenon that cannot be discussed on a scientific level)".[12]

In another paper Fanti and Kevin Moran assume: "The maximum luminance level of the head image (front) is 10% and more higher than that of the whole body image. This fact can lead to a hypothesis of an extra energy coming out of the head".[6]


The former British nuclear physicist Dr. Kitty Little argues: "The appearance of the image and the properties of the linen of the Shroud can... be explained if the cause was the nuclear disintegration of the atoms in the body. With such a disintegration - a minor nuclear explosion - light and energy would also be produced. In the body the main elements involved would be carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, together with smaller quantities of calcium, phosphorus and sulphur. These all have lower molecular weights, and a lower proportion of internal energy, so that the energy liberated would be far less than that from the disintegration of the heavy atoms in nuclear weapons. It would still be sufficient to move the stone at the entrance to the tomb, and to make the guards think that there had been an earthquake."[13]


In 1994 the French biophysicist Jean-Baptiste Rinaudo expressed similar notions. According to Rinaudo, the acid oxidation of the superficial fibrils on the Shroud image, the three-dimensional information of the figure and the vertical projection of the points can be explained by irradiation of protons emitted by the body under an unknown energy.[14] Rinaudo believes that atoms of deuterium, present in the organic matter, were involved in this phenomenon. The produced protons would have caused the imprint, while the neutrons would have irradiated the material, increasing the radiocarbon level and ultimately distorting the dating.[14]


According to Frank J. Tipler, "Jesus' dead body, lying in the tomb, would have been enveloped in a sphaleron field. This field would have dematerialized Jesus' body into neutrinos and antineutrinos in a fraction of a second, after which the energy transferred to this world would have been transferred back to the other worlds from whence it came. Reversing this process (by having neutrinos and antineutrinos — almost certainly not the original neutrinos and antineutrinos de-materialized from Jesus' body — materialize into another body) would generate Jesus' Resurrection body".[15]


In his essay "Design of the Shroud of Turin" Phillip H. Wiebe writes: "The Shroud would not itself be complete evidence for the Resurrection on the Jackson—Trenn theory about its formation... An adequate argument for a resurrection requires showing (a) that the person in question was truly dead, not merely comatose, (b) that the person’s corpse no longer exists, and (c) that a living being identical to the person who died has come into existence. On the Jackson—Trenn theory the Shroud does not contribute anything to the third of these requirements. It is directly relevant to the first two of these evidential issues, however".[16] Nonetheless, Wiebe marks the theory as "an important achievement for two centuries of biblical criticism, much of it directed against the Resurrection".[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e "X-File on the Shroud". Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  2. ^ Wiebe, Phillip H. (2004). God and other spirits: intimations of transcendence in Christian experience. Oxford University Press US. p. 93. ISBN 0195140125. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Phillip H. Wiebe. "Evidence for a Resurrection". Journal for Christian Theological Research. Retrieved 2010-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Evidences For Testing Hypotheses About The Body Image Formation Of The Turin Shroud". Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  5. ^ a b c Ruffin, Bernard (1999). The Shroud of Turin. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing. p. 151. ISBN 0879736178. 
  6. ^ a b Kevin Moran, Giulio Fanti. "Does the Shroud Body Image Show Any Physical Evidence of Resurrection?". Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  7. ^ Giulio Fanti, Emanuela Marinelli. "Results of a Probabilistic Model Applied to the Research Carried Out on the Turin Shroud". Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  8. ^ a b c d Thaddeus J. Trenn. "The Shroud Of Turin: A Parable For Modern Times?". Journal Of Interdisciplinary Studies - Vol. IX - No. 1/2 1997. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  9. ^ Facets of Faith (1996), pp. 119-133
  10. ^ a b c d e Thaddeus J. Trenn. "Tracing Possible Post-Resurrection Radiocarbon Anomalies". British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter No. 53 - July 2001. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  11. ^ Thomas J. Phillips. "Shroud Irradiated With Neutrons?", Nature, vol. 337, no. 6208 (February, 1989), p. 594
  12. ^ "Body Image Formation Hypotheses Based on Corona Discharge". Università degli Studi di Padova, Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  13. ^ Kitty Little. "The Formation of the Shroud's Body Image". British Society for the Turin Shroud Newsletter, #46 Nov/Dec 1997. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  14. ^ a b "Main researches". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  15. ^ Lawrence Krauss. "Blinded by Science?". eSkeptic. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  16. ^ a b Phillip H. Wiebe. "Design of the Shroud of Turin". Retrieved 2010-03-09.  See however 1 Cor. 15:5-8

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