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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Somerton Man: Verse 70 revisited Jestyn's note to Alf Boxall

In response to a number of requests, here's the original Verse 70, Jestyn's notation in Alf Boxall's copy of the Rubaiyat. I have added all of the images taken, some of which you will see have been highlighted to show just where the micro writing is to be found. You should be able to note the 'whispy' appearance of the micro written characters, this is typical of lightly written letters of this size.
Original short image

Image showing figure of woman, this is the most recent image and shows sign of wear with less detail than the original image now visible.

Careful examination shows the outlines of micro writing within the ordinary letters, no enhancement here just oblique angles and lighting.

No Enhancement

Highlighting no enhancement

Highlighting only

Highlighting only, no enhancement

No enhancement




No enhancement


Unusual example of alignment of strokes







Comparison of the letter R from Verse 70 and the code page.  This was carefully executed and scaled such that they are both in the same ratio of size. You may note the outlines of micro letters within the code page 'R'

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Somerton Man: Dinner with the Professor

Breaking into my break so to speak. I thought I would provide an update following a dinner I had recently with Professor Abbott in Brisbane.

As it happens it was Derek's birthday and it marked an auspicious occasion, apparently it was the day that marked his being in Australia for 50% of his life, almost a local :)

We had a very pleasant evening and the food, Italian, was a delight.

We covered a number of topics, some of which I would like to share here as they relate to the SM case.

1. The Keane tie. This tie was found in the suitcase along with 2 other items that bore the name Kean/e being a singlet and a laundry bag. Of note is that the laundry bag had the name printed or stenciled on it but no service number or any further text. The question was what sort of circumstances would there be for a man to have his name marked on a laundry bag but nothing else, just the name?

I posed a question on the tie, when examined it appears to have a woolen texture to it and it does not have a brand name on it and the question was why would you write your name on a tie? The tie appears close in colour to that of a US army tie, a light fawn colour. Did other countries have similar coloured military ties. I do have some pics of US military ties and will post them. Would it be normal for US military ties not to have a brand name? Were they produced in such large quantities that no one manufacturer could cope with the demand and therefore a decision was made to leave the brand off? When you think about it the production of military ties during wartime could be sensitive information especially if the regiment and location was specified so it would have to go through central stores who would not want to be bothered sorting out ties by manufacturer. Any thoughts?

2. Lead. The hair recovered from the bust has apparently yielded better results than expected in terms of DNA and it does seem that SM is of European origin and likely to be from the UK or Ireland. Having said that, the Professor went on to say that, of course, many inhabitants of the US are also of UK origin. On the
issue of lead I raised the possibility of hairdressing lotion, brylcreem was mentioned, and whether it had lead as one of its ingredients. I recall a discussion a few years ago in the Inner Sanctum group when it was thought to be the case.As a matter of interest, Brylcream was the theme for the 1947 Brylcream Summer of Cricket so it was a highly popular product. It seems that SM's hair did not have any dressing as such, this could possibly support the lowering of lead levels shown in his hair in the last weeks of his life. If you recall the lead presence was at a high about 1 month prior to death but then reduced significantly.

3. The third point of interest and discussion was about what wasn't found. This has been the topic of discussion recently with Pete Bowes. It seems to me to be unusual that smoker with a taste for reasonable quality cigarettes and who had what appeared to be a fairly new lighter, had no lighter fuel, no spare flints and no spare wick. Many years ago when I used to smoke it was very common to have a smokers kit promoted by Ronson and others which would include these items. But SM had none of those, lighter fuel could simply be because he had run out but the flints and wick? If we could establish whether the Green & Co lighter was sold with spare flints and wick that may confirm the situation.

Thinking further along these lines, SM wasn't carrying any keys either, I am assuming that he would have locked his suitcase and a key should have been found.

4. We did discuss the matter of micro writing and it is still something on which we have differing views, but that does not affect the association we have had for more than 20 years. In fact the reason for the dinner was to catch up and an opportunity for Derek to repay a meal I once bought for him at Alphutte Restaurant in Adelaide many years ago when we worked together at Technology Park. A great meal on that occasion too.

We talked about a range of other related matters including what might have been the fate of the copy of the Rubaiyat. We also discussed a matter which I was delighted to hear about and which will be revealed in the next few weeks by Derek. Very newsworthy and I offered my congratulations.

For the information of interested parties, I've included the images below being of SM's shoes and  the tie being an example of a US service tie, note no manufacturers label:

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Somerton Man: The Letter Q Continued

This post is really a response to a comment and some valid questions from Nick Pelling, you'll see his comments later in the post below. Effectively if I read it correctly Nick sees the micro letters and numbers but needs to know just how I actually got to them So here I will do my best to provide first of all a quick overview and will follow up when back in a good coverage area to do a second more detailed job

Before I start let me explain that I am out bush at the moment with some very 'iffy' internet and even worse mobile phone coverage so apologies in advance.

Here is a short but not complete list of items that I made use of:

1. Code page from the University Tamam Shud wiki, same dimensions as Nick's copy and at 400 DPI. I should mention that earlier attempts at delving deeper into the code page were frustrated by there only being a 72 DPI and then 96 DPI version available. I then took 3 copies of the 400 DPI page, one at 10% size reduction, a 15% reduced version and finally a 20% reduced version. I did this to provide some kind of comparison as I understand that by using a slightly reduced size you effectively will boost the DPI proportionately.

2. I made use of a 20 megapixel Olympus camera

3. I used a 28 Watt X 200 mm diameter LED natural white downlight inverted as a back light

4. I used a 20 Watt CFL ES fitting UV globe fitted into a standard desktop light.

5. I used a couple of different tripods, one small and one large. Important to keep the camera as steady as possible.

6. Also made use of natural daylight for some images not included at this stage.

7. I also made use of the 12 megapixel camera in my mobile which showed up some surprisingly good images.

In all over 4 years I took more than 4500 pics of the code page and individual letters from many different angles and using many different techniques including oblique lighting, various angled shots, back lit images and combination back lit and UV images. Relatively recently I read of how a US Library team had recovered an altered word from the Declaration of Independence which was at first thought to be a smudge. This team used a 32 Megapixel camera and an array of LED lights in different colours in their efforts. Not being the US Library of Congress and short on budget I used what was closest to hand and available.

I am not surprised at Nick's comment about not getting the same result, I made many attempts to get the required detail to show up without success so don't feel too bad about it Nick :)

Very quickly, and I will follow up with more detail, my first step was to make slight adjustments to the brightness and contrast of the whole 400 DPI page and the other 3.

Then using various lighting techniques including the LED backlight combined with UV light I took a series of images of many of the letters on the page. For our purposes I will focus on the Q which was part of a group as can be seen in the previous post.

The resultant images showed clear signs of letters and numbers that were still partially obscured by the overwritten markings of the Police.

I decided to remove the lighter shades of grey that covered the darker markings. The aim was to get those darker markings to show up more sharply and by removing the lighter shades of grey (10th March. Note, this is actually a colour replacement so th grey was replaced by lighter colouring) I was able to get the appearance that we see in the image. Nick makes a comment of a process that produces an artificial element which I don't agree with or could well have misunderstood. Nothing artificial was created, some colouring was removed and replaced with a lighter shade which served to sharpen the images of letters and numbers already observed. In fact in the past, Prof Abbott made comments that the images I had shown were too blurry and smudged and needed to be sharper to show details. That's what I have been working on.

As you can see I included parts of adjacent letters in the image, this was done to show that they too have underlying markings that have signs of letters and numbers and, in fact, that is correct because when they were similarly examined, letters and numbers show up quite well. In fact, I would say each letter on the code page contains micro written letters and/or numbers. I should explain that during the 4 years, I examined 100 or more samples of handwritten letters, I will discuss them in a later post.

I will have to sign off now, the connection is going from bad to worse. I hope this helps Nick and I will post the rest in a day or so.

Nick's Comment:
Gordon: working from the most reliable (1802 x 1440) images of the scan I know of,

If that's either the one I forwarded to you or the one from the Wiki and it's 400 DPI then we have the same base document

I can't get anything like the images you are showing here, no matter how I sharpen or contrast enhance the 'Q', particularly around the area you're focused upon.

Don't be embarrassed about it, it took me many attempts to find a way to properly reveal the darker markings beneath the Police write over marks. There are other things that you should do as per the earlier comments in this post above.

It seems as though you originally contrast-enhanced the image, visually annotated it (with boxes), printed it out onto paper, examined it under a magnifying glass, and them photographed the Q at a slight angle.

Not quite, a few extra steps involved as per the comments in the above post. Interesting that you mention the 'photograph at a slight angle' I took the picture in the earlier post from the same angle that I believe the micro writing was written in to the larger letters. Look carefully at it and you'll see they are left to right and in caps. Using caps was standard procedure for writing code certainly in WW2 and if you look at any of the Russian coded messages or the code names of those mentioned in Venona, they too are all in caps. the image appears the same whether you include the red box annotation or not, that was done to simply highlight each letter.  Be interested to hear your feedback on the slight angle issue.

 Is that an accurate description of what you did? Can you say (even roughly) what processing steps you took to get to that final image? It looks to me as though you have selectively removed bands of grey-scale levels to produce a set of artificially quantized edges, but it's hard to be completely sure.

The removal of lighter coloured shades was to bring what was already visible into greater relief. I wouldn't say it was to produce artificial edges, it was done to remove any blurring as per the Prof Abbott discussions.