Home / Science & Space / 18 Interesting Facts About Forensic Science You Should Know

18 Interesting Facts About Forensic Science You Should Know

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

Forensic Science plays an important role in the modern judiciary setup in almost every nation around the world. By definition, forensic science is the application of science that is practiced during the criminal investigation by appropriate officials and agencies. This field is largely appreciated by the people and the entertainment industry, and that’s why we have popular T.V series like C.S.I, C.S.I Miami and many more. So here are some amazing facts about the forensic science that you should know.

18. Forensic Branches

art forgeryAn example of art forgery

There are about forty different subdivisions/sub fields in forensic science including art forensics, forensic linguistics, forensic psychology and forensic video analysis. In forensic limnology, researchers analyze crime scenes in and around fresh water sources by examining the presence of Diatoms (a group of microalgae) in samples.

17. Forensics for Humanitarian Purposes

Many non-profit humanitarian agencies like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) perform various forensic practices to identify and record the fate of people who went missing after either a disaster or an armed conflict.

Another such non-governmental, NGO is the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which dedicated itself to discover the fate of people who disappeared during the “Dirty War” during the period of 1974–1983 in Argentina.

16. The CSI Effect

I am sure many of you have already watched the popular criminal investigation and forensics series “CSI” and it is also possible that you have an impression on how it works in the actual world. The concept of CSI effect debunks this public impression and warn people that they are not actually true.

Real life forensic experts say that these popular TV shows not only masks the realistic image of the profession, but also exaggerates the effectiveness, influence, comfort levels of the job.

15. International Association for Identification

The IAI or International Association for Identification remains the largest organization involved in forensics in the world. Originally, the international organization was formed bearing the name International Association for Criminal Identification in the year 1915. Since then, this association has extended its operations in 77 different nations with about 6,000 members.

14. The Washing Away Of Wrongs

Song Ci was a physician in the 13 century China who is widely considered as one of the founding fathers of forensic science. His book, the washing Away of Wrongs or Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified, contain many historical cases of forensic science combined with his own experiences into the matter. The book has been translated in various international languages and it is still hailed by experts and professionals.

13. Sherlock Holmes of France

mugshotThe first ever mugshot captured

Dr. Edmond Locard and his fellow Frenchmen Alphonse Bertillon revolutionized the field of forensics in the early 20th century. Edmond Locard, a criminologist who started the first ever police laboratory is also known for Locard’s exchange principle, where he state that every criminal will bring something into the crime scene and will always leave something behind. Due to his contributions, he is often called as the Sherlock Holmes of France.

During the same period of time in France, a police officer named Alphonse Bertillon administered anthropological technique to create a recording and identification system based on physical measurements of suspects or criminals. Fingerprinting was also introduced later.

12. The First DNA Profiling

DNA analysis or profiling is surely a game changer and it is helping the forensic experts and the judicial system to give justice to thousands and thousands of victims around the world since its inception. But do you know how and when it started? The first ever DNA analysis was performed by Sir Alec Jefferys in 1985 on a murder mystery in Narborough town Leicestershire

11. The Super Mega Ink Library

You see the United States Secret Services does not only protect U.S presidents for possible life threatening situations around the world, but also safeguard him and his office from any kind of forgery coming out on their way.

While monitoring and stopping the circulation of counterfeit currency is part of their primary objective, but since the 1960s, the Federal agency also maintains a special kind Ink Library that assists agents to identify culprits of forgery and possible threats to any of the President’s office team.

Right now the International Ink Library has more than 11,400 unique writing ink available at short notice with hundreds new adding in every few years.

10. First Finger Prints

first finger printsFirst fingerprints taken by Sir William James Herschel (1859/60)

Sir William Herschel, 2nd Baronet was one of the first to promote fingerprinting as an effective way to identify crime suspects. In 1858 during his time in India as a Civil Servant, Herschel implemented a practice to take thumb imprints of government pensioners on deeds and contracts to prevent a possible forgery.

9. One is Sixty Four Billion

Trying to figure out what that means? As you most probably know fingerprints of each individual is unique and there is very small chance of any correlation. But how much? Francis Galton, a British anthropologist and a half-cousin of Charles Darwin, after being influenced by Dr. Henry Faulds published his statistical model of fingerprint analysis. In his book, he calculated the chance of two different individuals having the identical fingerprints is about one in sixty-four Billion.

8. Jack the Ripper

One of the most extensive use of various scientific investigations or you can say forensics to solve crime in the 19th century was perhaps to catch the infamous serial killer named Jack the Ripper. Many of you might already know that to catch this mysterious criminal the Metropolitan Police used various new methods of investigation, some of which are still used today. But unfortunately they were all in vain as no one is able to figure out who he was till this date.

7. Eco Forensics

Forensic science is not just used in small-scale criminal cases but also to solve crimes against the environment. For example, if fish in a localized area are dying off or developing mutations, a forensic investigation could determine why. While it may turn out to be a natural cause, it might well be the result of illegal polluting or dumping of industrial waste.

Possibly the most famous eco-forensics case was fictionalized in the movie Erin Brockovich, in which forensic toxicologists discover that a cluster of cancer diagnoses in Hinkley, California is being caused by the Pacific Gas & Electric Company allowing wastewater containing hexavalent chromium to run off into unlined pools and contaminate the city’s groundwater.

6. Facial Reconstruction

Forensic facial reconstructionDetailed steps of forensic facial reconstruction

It is a process where experts recreate an individual’s face from just their skull with the help of forensic science, osteology, anatomy and of course artistry. There are total three types of facial reconstructions employed by experts; two dimensional, three dimensional and superimposition. The first recorded three-dimensional facial reconstruction was done by Hermann Welcker in 1883.

5. But Nothing is Full Proof

Over the years, many speculations and doubts have arisen regarding the credibility of various forensic techniques. According to an article in the New York Post in 2009, there is no proof about the basic assumptions that every individual has a unique fingerprint. In the same year, researchers indicated that even DNA evidences can be twisted and fabricated.

4. Bugs are Forensic Friendly

The study of insects or forensic entomology is critical for processing dead bodies in order to solve serious crimes. Right from the start, various insects are attracted towards the decomposing body and lay eggs in it while feasting on the dead flesh. By studying the state of bug infestation and their population, experts can always almost accurately estimate the time and cause of death.

Read: 15 Best Science And Technology Research Labs In The World

3. Forensic Science Is Still The Second

Even though, forensics plays a vital part in the criminal investigation process, it is still considered as the second best practice for identifying the culprits. Yes, that’s right, and the first is none other than eyewitness testimony; perhaps one of the most flawed tools available, at least according to years and years of recorded cases.

In any criminal investigation, eyewitness accounts are given far more weighted than forensic analysis. There are various factors that can affect the trustworthiness of an eyewitness testimony, such as high mental pressure and memory of eyewitness is also in question. However, investigators often use various forensic methods in corroboration of witness stories.

2. Undetectable Arsenic

arsenic

Two of the most common yet dangerous poisons in the human history are cyanide and arsenic. While the former can easily be detected from the victim’s body, the latter pose a much tougher challenge for a forensic expert to detect, at least it did in the past.

The earliest known method for detecting arsenic was conceived by the Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1773. But it was not effective enough to detect the presence of the poison in victim’s body. Then in 1806, the German chemist named Valentin Ross was successfully able to do so after building on Scheele’s work.

Read: 16 Latest Forensic Science Technologies

1. It Wasn’t Devised by Scientists

Like any other major science, the forensics was not born in one day, neither it was produced by one man. However, it was not the scientists who were responsible for its origins, instead they were police officers and officers in the judiciary system such as Song Ci and Alphonse Bertillon. More advanced techniques were later introduced into the scene. So we can say that the practicability of police investigators in the past made the advancements in scientific forensic methods possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*