NIST chemists Thomas J. Bruno and Tara M. Lovestead
You probably don't go hunting for decaying bodies too often, but then you probably don’t work in the field of forensics. If you did, then you’d be glad to hear that technology recently developed by America’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should make finding buried bodies much easier. Traditionally, cadaver-sniffing dogs have been used to find bodies, but they can be limited in situations such as where a body is buried under concrete. The new device, however, uses a probe slightly thicker than a human hair to probe the soil, detecting ninhydrin-reactive nitrogen (NRN) that collects in air pockets around gravesoil. Previous technology could only achieve that same end through what NIST describes as “the tedious and expensive process” of solvent extraction of soil samples.
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