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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 4 Issue 3 (1999) pp 102-104

Simulating the Shroud of Turin: A Laboratory Experiment

John B. Vincent

Department of Chemistry, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0336

Published online: 1 June1999

Abstract. The Shroud of Turin, a piece of linen cloth bearing an anatomically correct image of a crucified human being, which resembles Jesus of Nazareth, has been an enigma to scientists. While recent studies including radiocarbon dating suggest the cloth is a medieval relic, few if any proposals have been put forward that satisfactorily explain how the image was generated. In combination with a lecture on the scientific method and the problem of bias, a laboratory experiment has been developed that allows science students to attempt to simulate the image on the Shroud. The experiment involves an active-learning experience in which students discover which techniques do not work to generate the image and which begin to suggest how such an image could have been generated.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; Shroud of Turin; scientific ethics; scientific method; laboratory instruction; active-learning; general chemistry

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Issue date: June 1, 1999

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