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Forensics

It may someday be possible to ascertain someone's appearance by analyzing their DNA

As any fan of just about any TV cop show will tell you, it's possible to determine someone's sex and race based on a sample of their DNA. In the future, however, such samples may provide police with even more valuable information ... they might allow investigators to construct an image of the person's face.  Read More

The scanner scans a cloud comprising millions of points

3D imaging company Faro has a new client that will be using its 3D scanning technology to help solve crimes. The Roswell Police Department has purchased a Faro Focus3D Scanner which allows them to create 3D maps of crime scenes that they can then navigate and study using a computer or mobile device.  Read More

A new test is able to genetically discriminate between 'identical' twins (Photo: Shutterst...

Although they only account for around three in every thousand deliveries, monozygotic, or "identical" twins are fertile fodder for crime writers and cop shows. This isn't surprising considering that DNA fingerprint testing is not able to genetically differentiate between the good and evil twin. But now German-based company Eurofins MWG Operon says it has found a way to do just that.  Read More

A Lumicyano-treated fingerprint on a plastic bag

If you regularly watch any police forensics TV shows, then the word "Luminol" is probably already part of your vocabulary. Now, however, you might also want to add the word "Lumicyano." That's the name of a new product that is said to reveal latent fingerprints faster, cheaper and better than other methods.  Read More

A fingerprint obtained from a stainless steel surface, using the new technique

Here’s something that they don’t tell you in the TV cop shows: although fingerprints may be present at a crime scene, only about 10 percent of the prints found are of good enough quality for use in court. A group of scientists are working on boosting that percentage, however, through the use of a color-changing film.  Read More

EPFL's system in use at the Lausanne Cathedral in Switzerland

Creating a 3D map of a room could someday be as simple as randomly placing four microphones within the space, then snapping your fingers. Researchers from Switzerland’s EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) have recently done so on a limited scale, and are now excited about the technology’s possible applications.  Read More

A fingerprint image obtained using the new method

Nick Stokes, Sarah Sidle and the gang on CSI should be glad to hear this – Israeli scientists have developed a new method for getting fingerprints from paper surfaces, that is claimed to get better results than existing technology.  Read More

A student measures a skull with a digitizer, in Ann Ross' lab

For some time now – whether by using computers or clay – forensic scientists have been able to make three-dimensional reconstructions of the faces of the deceased, based on the contours of their skulls. More recently, however, software has been developed that can determine the sex and precise ancestral background of a person no longer with us, via a set of skull measurements.  Read More

Forensic researchers have had early success refining a method normally used to recover fin...

Promising early results from research undertaken by the University of Abertay Dundee and the Scottish Police Services Authority could lead to fingerprint evidence being obtained from clothing, for use in criminal prosecution. Refining an existing technique that's been used to successfully recover print detail from smooth objects such as glass and plastic, forensic scientists have managed to create a kind of photo negative of fingerprint impressions on fabric. It's a bit hit and miss at the moment, but even when clear ridge detail isn't retrieved, the technique could still prove useful to investigators looking for other evidence.  Read More

A regular fingerprint (left) and one containing condom lubricant (right)  (Image: BMRC)

Sexual offenders are increasingly using condoms when committing their assaults, both to reduce the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases, and to avoid leaving their DNA at the crime scene. While an offender might still leave their fingerprints behind, that often only proves that they were at a given location, and not that they were involved in any wrongdoing. Researchers from the Biomedical Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, however, have recently developed technology that detects condom lubricant in fingerprints. If a suspect could be tied to a crime scene by their fingerprints, and be shown to have handled a condom at that location – well, they’d have a lot more explaining to do.  Read More

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