"The shroud image is that of a real human form of a scourged, crucified man," read their report, which stirred worldwide interest. "It is not the product of an artist. The blood stains ... give a positive test for serum albumin," an abundant protein in human blood plasma.

In 1988, three other laboratories appeared to undermine those findings when carbon dating suggested that the cloth had been created between 1260 and 1390. It was later learned that the Catholic Church had compelled them to work with a lateral swatch that people had handled.

Breault, who has served as a commentator on the History Channel, the Learning Channel and CBS, says his lecture will use the history of materials science to prove that the cloth could not have been made any later than the sixth century and was probably made much earlier.

No scientist has been able to identify the substance that makes up the image of a man's body. Some have said it could only have been imprinted by a brief and blinding flash of light — one similar to what the Gospels say Jesus experienced during the Transfiguration, a moment when he is said to have become physically radiant.

Guernsey says it was natural for his organization to reach out to Breault, a Georgia native who has been studying and lecturing on the shroud since 1980.

"Popular culture has established the idea that there's a dichotomy between faith and reason, but we see them as two avenues to the same truth," he says. "The Shroud of Turin has a way of bringing together a dialogue between faith and reason, one that can help us re-examine our assumptions whether we're religious or not."

Breault, who describes himself as a nondenominational Christian, says that when he lectures around the country, someone invariably asks which side he's on in the authenticity debate.

He declines to say, and his presentation — scheduled for 7 p.m. in Remsen 101 and open to the public — will offer no clues.

He'll simply roll out the history of this strangely powerful artifact, explaining the principal findings and theories around it through the lenses of archaeology, faith, history, forensics and more.

He hopes guests will leave with the same sense of wonder he has enjoyed for 33 years.

"It's the ultimate multidisciplinary topic," he says.

jonathan.pitts@baltsun.com