That high personal respect for the science upon which the dating result had been based was very much my difficulty also.Invented in the 1940s by Chicago physicist Willard F Libby, radiocarbon dating is founded on the principle that all living things, while they are alive, take in the very mildly radioactive isotope carbon 14 which `decays' at a steady rate on death, relative to the stable carbon 12.
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All the last three would ultimately take part in the Shroud carbon dating.
During the run-up to the sample-taking for this in April 1988, also during the nail-biting months while the result was awaited, I was in cordial touch with these men, all highly respected, world-class experts in their field.
A fragment of the TS was radiocarbon dated in 1988 by three different laboratories and their results are in agreement.
The results claim a 95 per cent probability that the TS dates from between 12, with the odds against the TS dating from the first century described as "astronomical".
The researchers interpreted the TS as a medieval fake - forging religious relics during the 14th century was big-business.
But there are reasons to question the results of this radiocarbon dating.This would involve hanging a linen cloth in a light-proof room in one wall of which is a quartz crystal lens. Then the forger must enter the room without letting light in and fix the image using urine or ammonia.Experiments using this technique have reproduced many but not all of the TS's image properties.At around this same time I also struck up an amicable acquaintance with some of the leading scientists in the field, among them Dr Bob Otlet of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) Harwell, who had done a great deal to refine the Libby `proportional counter' method, Prof.Harry Gove of Rochester, New York, who pioneered the small sample AMS method, Prof. Teddy Hall of the Oxford AMS laboratory and Dr Michael Tite of the British Museum's laboratory.Samples taken from the body and surrounding peat were radiocarbon dated by three well-respected laboratories.