There are many things in science that seem more like science fiction and the study of forensics is no different. As soon as new methods of detection are developed, someone figures out a way to circumvent them, and new studies are constantly exposing new ways that criminals can be tracked, identified and caught. Here are some recent news stories on Forensics that expose just how interesting and dynamic it really can be and perhaps could provide some great fodder for those writing crime stories.
1–Detergents that wash away traces of blood. For the longest time, blood has been one of those substances that criminals could never quite get off their hands, or anything else, for that matter. With a little luminol or phenophthalene even the smallest traces could be brought to light. New detergents containing active oxygen are thought to work more effectively however, and actually remove all traces of blood making it much harder for forensic investigators to do their jobs.
2–Eating processed foods makes fingerprints more distinct. Crime fighters better hope their suspects have a penchant for fast food and fatty snacks. A forensic scientist at the University of Leicester has found that fingerprints with a higher salt content will leave more of a corrosive impression when put on metal. The higher the content of salt in a persons diet (a factor usually associated with heavily preserved foods) the easier his or her fingerprints are to see.
3–Bacteria have genomes too. While this might seem obvious, scientists are becoming better and better able to map and track these microbes many of which people carry naturally on their bodies and some of which can make people quite sick. Because these bacteria differ in their genetic makeup, some forensic scientists believe that they could potentially be the latest microscopic evidence to link criminals to their crimes.
4–Pollen could be the smoking gun. Pollen has long been studied by forensics experts, archaeologists and scientists as it is a microscopic but quite durable substance. A new use has been found for it, however, and scientists are tracking gun casings from the crime scene to suspects using a chemical cocktail. This mixture of chemicals varies uniquely depending on the weapon and coats any nearby pollen, creating a new link between the weapon and the shooter.
5–DNA testing just got a little faster. DNA testing has helped to solve numerous crimes and exonerate many innocent people, but it has long been an arduous waiting game because results can take some time to come by. Scientists in Japan are reporting that they’ve found a better way to do it that’s not only faster but more cost-effective as well, amplifying trace amounts of DNA into quantities that can easily be identified and linked to a suspect a process that has thus far been time consuming and costly.
This post was contributed by Rose Jensen, who writes about the associates degree. She welcomes your feedback at Rose.Jensen28@ yahoo.com