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Jesus or Jacques?

Controversy over the origins of the Turin Shroud, which many religous followers believe contains the "negative" image of Jesus Christ, remains following radio-carbon dating measurements by mass spectrometry more than a decade ago that dated the cloth to the medieval period.

Now Bradford University scientists claim that accelerator mass spectrometry results prove the face on the turin shroud is that of priest Jacques de Molay whose followers helped Scotland win independence from England in the 14th century.

"The scientific facts leave me in no doubt," says Dr Lomas, a physicist who now lectures in Information Systems. "The cloth was used to wrap Jacques de Molay, the leader of a monastic order known as the Knights Templar. "For a start, the radiocarbon dates fit. Also, de Molay was neither dead nor resurrected.

Scientists argue that the person in that shroud had to be alive to produce the image. Lomas maintains the image on the shroud was created through a process known as the Volckringer effect, where heat, sweat, acids and oxygen-free radicals scorch the cloth. A paper recently published by Dr Mills from Leicester University appears to back up this theory. It shows how extreme conditions, such as a body under torture, force oxygen atoms apart to give off pinpricks of atomic energy.

"In stable conditions oxygen atoms are bonded in pairs," says Lomas, "but lactic acid being released from muscle tissue under extreme stress would cause an unstable reaction. The marks on the shroud are pixelated - thousands of dots scorched on the cloth."

It appears that the victim in the shroud had been nailed up with his right arm over his head and his left arm thrown out sideways. According to the blood flow on the lower arms of the image, and a dislocated thumb and right shoulder. Lomas believes the victim in the shroud was crucified by nailing him to a door which was slammed open and shut.

As for de Molay, there is no recorded mention of the shroud until it was publicly shown for the first time in 1357 in the French town of Lirey by the widow of Geoffrey de Charnay. His uncle had been a Templar and had been burnt to death together with Jaques de Molay in1314. "De Molay was accused of denying the divinity of Christ so it's logical that they wouldhave subjected him to a re-enactment of the suffering of Christ - including a copycat crucifixion," says Lomas.


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