security on this thing is really tight.'

So, just that quickly, Decker was in. 'The right place at the right time,' he whispered to himself. It would take 38 years for him to realize it had been far more than that.

After breakfast the team moved to a conference room. Decker stayed close to Goodman so that as they passed through the security check, Goodman could make sure Decker's name was added to the list of those allowed in.

Inside, team leader John Jackson called the meeting to order. 'In order to get approval to work on the Shroud,' Jackson began, 'we've had to promise the authorities in Turin that we would maintain the strictest security. Obviously, our biggest problem is going to be the press.' Decker struggled not to smile. 'The best approach is simply not to even talk about the Shroud to anyone who's not on the team. As far as anyone outside of this room is concerned, we're still waiting for permission to do the testing.'3

Eric Jumper took the floor when Jackson finished. 'Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming. It's really a thrill to have a chance to be associated with such a distinguished group of scientists. Now, we've gotten most of the protocols for the proposed experiments, but those we haven't received need to be in by the end of this coming weekend.' Jumper turned on a slide projector in the middle of the room. The first slide was of a full-scale mock-up of the Shroud that had been manufactured by Tom D'Muhala, one of the scientists. Superimposed over this 'pseudo' Shroud was a grid. 'Each of you will be given a copy of this,' Jumper said. 'The purpose of the grid is to help organize the experiments we'll be doing. Because of the time limitations, we'll want to do as much work simultaneously as possible. What we have attempted to do is to lay out the work to take the best advantage of the Shroud within the environmental, time, and space parameters required for each experiment.'4

The slides that followed detailed the experiments that would be conducted. Most were designed to determine whether the Shroud was a forgery or possibly the result of some natural phenomenon. Every type of nondestructive test that Decker could imagine was included. One experiment that had been rejected was carbon 14 dating, because the then-current method would have required that a large piece of the Shroud be destroyed to yield an accurate measurement.

When Jumper was finished, he introduced Father Peter Rinaldi who had just returned from Turin. Rinaldi, Jumper said, had come to explain the 'polities' involved in Shroud research. Decker wasn't sure hat this meant, but it soon became clear that many fingers were wrapped very tightly around the ancient cloth.

3 John Jackson's comments paraphrased. For actual words as recorded by Dr. John H. Heller, see Report on the Shroud of Turin, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983), p. 76.

4 Eric Jumper's comments paraphrased. For actual words as recorded by Dr. John H. Heller, see ibid., p. 77.

Rinaldi was part of something called the Holy Shroud Guild, which had been formed in 1959 for the purpose of propagating knowledge about the Shroud and supporting learned investigation. He began with a brief history. The first verifiable ownership of the Shroud, Rinaldi said, was to a French knight named Geoffrey de Charney some time prior to 1356. For reasons which have never been explained, the de Charney family gave the Shroud to the House of Savoy, in whose possession it remained for the next four hundred years. In the late sixteenth century the House of Savoy became the ruling family of Italy and in 1578 the Shroud was moved to Turin, where it has remained ever since in the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista.

Additionally, Rinaldi explained, there is a group called the Centro di Sindonologia, or the Center for Shroud Studies, which is itself part of another organization, the four-hundred-year-old Confraternity of the Holy Shroud. Neither of these groups has ever had any official standing in regard to the ownership of the Shroud, and neither of the groups really does anything. But after so many years, and with the names of so many bishops and priests attached to their rosters, no one dares question their right to exist. The point of Father Rinaldi's talk was that many personalities, most of whom were quite impressed with their own importance, would have to be taken into account and many egos would have to be stroked in order to gain access to the Shroud. When Rinaldi finished, Tom D'Muhala, the creator of the pseudo Shroud, went over the logistical details. Immediately following the gathering, a trial run of the planned experiments was to begin in a warehouse at D'Muhala's plant in the nearby town of Amston. The next two days would be spent choreographing the entire sequence of experiments. All of the team's equipment would be taken out, tested, and replaced in crates, ready for shipment to Italy. It would be a full-scale attempt to de-bug the scientific procedures prior to going to Turin.

As the team left the conference room they were swarmed by a dozen reporters. Ignoring shouted questions, the team members moved quickly to a bus waiting to take them to D'Muhala's plant. One reporter, a bearded man about 25 years old with a misshapen, protruding forehead moved along the side of the bus, trying to get a closer look at one of the passengers. Decker looked out at his fellow members of the press. As far as he knew, it was just dumb luck that he had gotten on the Shroud team. Still, he found it hard not to be a little smug. His eyes were drawn to the stare of the bearded man outside the bus, and as their eyes met, Decker recognized his friend, Tom Donafin from the Waltham Courier. Tom's lower jaw dropped in a brief gaping stare which changed quickly to a friendly and congratulatory smile. He shook his head in what was only slightly exaggerated disbelief. Decker smiled back like the proverbial cat that had just swallowed the canary.

Entering the warehouse at D'Muhala's plant where the team would work, Decker was impressed and a bit surprised at just how much time, planning, labor, and expense had gone into this effort. Around the room sat scores of wooden crates carefully packed with several million dollars' worth of cutting-edge scientific equipment on loan from research institutes from around the country. In the center of the room, the pseudo Shroud was spread out on a steel examination table which had been specially designed and constructed by D'Muhala's engineers to hold the Shroud firmly in place without damaging it. The surface of the table was constructed of more than a dozen removable panels to allow inspection of both sides of the Shroud at the same time. Each of the panels was covered with one-millimeter thick gold Mylar to prevent even the tiniest of particles from being transferred from the table to the Shroud.

For a moment no one spoke. All eyes scanned the equipment and the pseudo Shroud. Finally, Don Devan, a computer and image-enhancement scientist from Oceanographic Services, Inc., broke the silence, 'Not bad!' he said. 'This looks like real science!'5

The individual members of the team spread out to the crates and sought out equipment that each would be using in their experiments. Decker found ample opportunities to make himself useful. A few hours into their work, as he was helping to place a large microscope back into its crate, two scientists, Ray Rogers and John Heller, were standing by an adjacent crate, discussing their experiment. Their work would involve the only true sampling from the Shroud, which would be done by placing strips of tape onto the ancient cloth. When the tape was pulled up, small fibers would be removed with it. Decker listened as Ray Rogers explained the plan to Heller.

5 Don Devan's comments paraphrased. For actual words as recorded by Dr. John H. Heller, see ibid., p. 82.

'To obtain samples for the chemical investigation, including your blood work, we'll be using a special Mylar tape with a chemically inert adhesive developed by the 3M Corporation. We'll apply the tape to the Shroud using a known amount of force… '6

'How will you do that?' Heller asked.

'Well,' Rogers said, as he reached into one of the packing crates, 'our friends at Los Alamos have designed an ingenious little device that measures applied pressure.' Rogers unpacked the device and demonstrated it to Heller.

'Nice, but how will you know how much pressure to apply?' Heller asked.

'Well,' said Rogers, 'that's why we're here.'

Decker followed the two men as they squeezed in around the crowded table. After making the necessary preparations Rogers made some 'guesstimates.' 'We know the Shroud is at least six hundred years old,' he said, 'so it's probably quite a bit more fragile than this. I'd guess to be safe we should probably use, oh, about ten percent of the pressure we're using here.' The decision, Decker realized, was a SWAG (a scientific wild ass guess) but he wasn't about to utter a discouraging word at this point. 'Next, I'll remove the tape from the Shroud,' Rogers continued, 'and mount each piece on a slide. Each slide will be numbered and photographed, and then it will be

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