The Shroud of Turin: Perspectives on a Multifaceted Enigma


August 14 through August 17, 2008           Abstracts of Papers


Focus Projects for Student Involvement in Researching the Scientific Properties of the Shroud of Turin by Raymond J. Schneider (schneirj@comcast.net). Sunday, August 17, 9:30 a.m.–10:00 a.m.

Interesting succeeding generations of students in specialized topics such as the Shroud of Turin requires active initiatives. An important pedagogical objective is served by introducing students to research at the undergraduate level. Not only does such research teach students about basic research methods, but it often stimulates lifelong interest in the topics thus researched. The purpose of the present work is to develop a set of research projects and materials suitable for undergraduate research. The projects presented here all involve computer science, specifically the application of image processing methods to digital images of the Shroud of Turin. Many image processing tools are available in languages such as Java, MatLab, Python, Processing, and specialized environments such as Photoshop, MatLab’s Image Processing Toolbox, ImageJ (a Java based toolkit), and CVIPtools (a C-based image processing toolkit). 

The Focus Project concept is one which the author is exploring as a way of involving students in something bigger than the typical student project. Focus Projects are long term research projects with individual components that are within the range of undergraduate researchers. Each component of a Focus Project is a project which students could complete in a single semester that would contribute as a building block in a larger research program. 

A Focus Project Component fits into the overall structure of a larger research program. It consists of a body of knowledge and techniques that have been demonstrated by previous researchers, and a set of objectives that remain to be accomplished. The basic structure of a component will be described in terms of the research materials available to the students and the tools which they can apply to the work. The results of work on a Focus Project component would be not only a paper, but results, techniques, and computer codes which contribute to further work later by other students. 

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The present paper will describe Focus Projects, describe the current status of the Shroud of Turin Image Processing Focus Project as well as two student contributions which were done as Honor’s Projects and Senior Seminar projects. Future Focus Project components under development will be described briefly and some of the available toolsets will be demonstrated on images of the shroud.



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