The Ohio Shroud Conference held at the Blackwell Hotel on the grounds of Ohio State University from August 14 to 17, 2008 was a landmark conference in shroud studies for a number of reasons. Perhaps most significant is that it was a conference sponsored by a loosely organized group of scientists, historians, medical doctors, and scriptural exegets and people who are just very interested in the Shroud of Turin. This group meets at an invitation only Yahoo group named the Shroud Science Group. The result was a conference with unprecedented openness compared with many earlier shroud conferences which were often by invitation only. This made the Ohio Shroud Conference the first that I have heard of that was like a real science conference. The fact showed in the papers which on occasion contradicted one another. It is the nature of real science to have real conflicts not predigested homogenized "ready to eat" preordained results. That is not to say that other shroud conferences have not had controversies, for they certainly have, but the tone and character were different. So the first characteristic was that the conference was a bottom up grass roots shroud investigator conference. For the first time there were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generate shroud investigators present (here marking STURP as first generation).
The conference was significant in at least three other ways: 2) It is the first conference to encourage and feature student poster papers. These papers were of uniformly high quality, although I was disappointed with the showing of United States students. We obviously need more shroud student research in the U.S., 3) it featured a surprise talk by a team from Los Alamos National Laboratory which reported on characterization of threads taken from the Raes sample of 1973 which is near the Carbon 14 1988 sample area and showed that all the sample threads were cotton demonstrating that the region is anomalous and therefore supporting the findings of LANL Fellow, now deceased, Ray Rogers. 4) another significant paper was 3D imaging work done by a team guided by Dr. Petrus Soons. This work, reported as computational holography, showed the best 3D rendering of the shroud ever presented both dorsal and ventral as well as full face images. These were shown in both 3D with blue-red glasses, and in 3D animation so that the motion of the image reflected the 3D information.
A very open discussion of the C14 result and suggestions to move beyond that result by doing further C14 testing was a pleasure to participate in because it was open to all, wide ranging and reflected the whole tone of the conference. The only disappointment I had besides the fact that we didn't have more student papers, is that the attendance was not as high as it might have been. I tend to chalk that up to the fact that this was what I'd call colloquially "a pick up" conference. The conference organizers were somewhat inexperienced, especially relative to publicity and a few cracks and seams showed. But whatever weaknesses the conference had it was more than made up for by the significance of the papers, the excellence of the site, and the energy at the sessions. It's going to be a hard conference to beat.
Ray Schneider,PE, Ph.D
Math and Computer Science