forensic science

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How Rapists Who Wear Condoms Could Be Caught

Bacterial profiles of pubic hair so unique they could identify perpetrators

(Newser) - Investigators routinely analyze pubic hairs found at crime scenes where rape is suspected, but it's rare that the hair has its root, and thus sufficient DNA to identify its former owner. Now researchers say that bacterial colonies on pubic hairs appear to be so unique to an individual that... More »

Descartes' Skull Reveals Secret About His Life

17th-century French mathematician famously said, 'I think, therefore I am'

(Newser) - French mathematician and father of modern philosophy Rene Descartes is perhaps most famous for his phrase, "I think, therefore I am." But now French medical anthropologist and forensic expert Philippe Charlier is adding a layer of intrigue to the thinker's history. Descartes died in Stockholm in 1650... More »

Disappearing da Vinci Portrait's Savior: Scientists?

New technique allows them to quantify the damage

(Newser) - A Leonardo da Vinci portrait—thought to be a self portrait of the artist in his 50s—has been fading ever since it was first drawn with red chalk on paper in the early 1500s. Now, thanks to a new technique, scientists say they've been able to quantify the... More »

Bite Mark Evidence May Soon Be Kicked Out of Court

New court case may end controversial method for good

(Newser) - At least 24 men convicted or charged with murder or rape based on bite marks on the flesh of victims have been exonerated since 2000, many after spending more than a decade in prison. Now a judge's ruling later this month in New York could help end the practice... More »

How to ID an Old Corpse? With This 'Secret' Fluid

In crime-infested Mexico, it comes in handy

(Newser) - A forensic expert in one Mexico's most violent cities has found a way to cull secrets from corpses that have gone dry, AFP reports. Alejandro Hernandez, who handles waves of dead bodies in Ciudad Juarez, lowers them into a homemade solution that makes their murder wounds and facial features... More »

Forensic Science Could ID Mystery Portraits

California professor aims to unveil 'The Girl With the Pearl Earring'

(Newser) - A California professor is bringing CSI techniques to the art world: Conrad Rudolph of UC Riverside has obtained funding to apply advanced facial recognition technology to famous paintings like Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, the Guardian reports. Such mystery portraits could finally be identified—if, that is, measurements... More »

Those Aren't Zimmerman's Cries on 911 Tape: Experts

Zimmerman claimed he was one crying for help, but evidence says no

(Newser) - It is one of the biggest questions remaining about what happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin—who was it heard screaming for help on that 911 call? Zimmerman claims he was the one screaming . But now two forensic experts, using different techniques, both say the voice... More »

Experts Rebuild Faces of Civil War Sailors

Forensic scientists hope to identify men on USS Monitor

(Newser) - Talk about a cold case: Forensic scientists have reconstructed the faces of two sailors who drowned in the USS Monitor 150 years ago in the hope someone will identify them, the AP reports. Experts at Louisiana State University built the faces around skulls of two skeletal remains recovered from the... More »

Murdered French King Getting Head Back

Henri IV's head was stolen by revolutionaries in 1793

(Newser) - Beloved French monarch Henri IV is going to be reunited with his head after more than 200 years. The king, assassinated by a Catholic fundamentalist in 1610, had his head removed from his body by revolutionaries ransacking a royal chapel in 1793. A head presumed to be Henri's was passed... More »

180K Rape Kits Sit, Untested

Delay means rapists are free to attack other women

(Newser) - The forensic magic of CSI aside, the US is buried under an embarrassing avalanche of unprocessed rape kits, Marie Claire reports in a lengthy look at the consequences. The issue got attention in 2003, when untested kits from more than 500,000 criminal cases were found in labs around the... More »

Md. Cops: We Nabbed Crafty Serial Killer

He used research, master's degrees to throw them off track

(Newser) - When two mother-daughter pairs were murdered in early 2009 in Largo, Maryland, local detectives and an FBI profiler declared the killings unrelated—because, police have now realized, they were duped by a well-read serial killer with two master's degrees whose extensive research had taught him how to throw detectives off... More »

Ex-Romanian Dictator, Wife Exhumed

Romanians suspect Ceausescus not really buried where thought

(Newser) - Taking the country by surprise, forensic scientists today exhumed what are believed to be the bodies of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife to solve the mystery of where they are truly buried. Ceausescu ruled Romania for 25 years before being ousted and executed during the bloody 1989 anti-communist... More »

Shoddy Bomb Left Scads of Clues

'This guy left everything here but his wallet'

(Newser) - The botched Times Square attack left police with an unexploded bomb and an unusual amount of evidence. “He left more clues than a guy walking into a bank to rob it without a mask," one bomb expert says. "This guy left everything here but his wallet.”... More »

Study Casts Doubt On DNA-Matching Technique

Mitochondrial DNA found to vary widely within individuals

(Newser) - A DNA-matching technique used in forensics since the mid-1990s is now in question, according to new research. DNA found in cell structures called mitochondria varies greatly between samples from different tissues from the same individual, researchers found, meaning that forensic units may be mistaken when they exclude suspects because a... More »

Video Games to Help CSI Teams Solve Crimes

Gaming platform will recreate crime scenes

(Newser) - The real-life counterparts of forensics experts on all those CSI shows will soon be getting a helping hand from the world of video games. A team at North Carolina State University is adapting the platform behind games like FusionFall and VooDude to recreate crime scenes, allowing investigators to play out... More »

Notes Scoured for Watergate Key

Hope to fill in gaps with cutting-edge forensics

(Newser) - Forensic scientists think their latest tools could solve one of the enduring mysteries of American politics: what was said in the 18 1/2 minutes missing from the Watergate tapes? The answer may lie in the yellow notepad on which Nixon's chief of staff, HR Haldeman, took notes on his meeting... More »

McNair's Girlfriend Fired Gun: Medical Examiner

Gunshot residue tests show Kazemi fired the weapon found at the scene

(Newser) - Sahel Kazemi fired the gun that killed her and Steve McNair, TMZ reports, citing Tennessee's assistant medical examiner. Dr. Feng Li says preliminary lab tests show that gunshot residue from the gun that killed both individuals was found on Kazemi's hand—evidence supported by the crime scene and police interviews.... More »

Suave Knox Blanches at Video of Roommate's Body

(Newser) - Murder suspect Amanda Knox averted her eyes and covered her face with her hands in Italian court today as police video of her slain roommate Meredith Kercher was shown, the Times of London reports. The video detailed the bloody crime scene and Kercher’s naked, lifeless body. While the American... More »

Crime Labs Employ Shoddy Science: Report

Experts will call for independent agency to oversee forensics

(Newser) - The country's crime labs are seriously deficient, according to a new report that's expected to shake up the field of forensics, the New York Times reports. Evidence portrayed as incontrovertible is often far from it, says the report, which Congress commissioned from the National Academy of Sciences. Forensic analysis often... More »

Mutant Anthrax Cells Led, Slowly, to Ivins

FBI probe required inventing new type of forensic science

(Newser) - The anthrax poisoning case against Bruce Ivins won't be made in court, but it is compelling, the FBI says. Although the late Army scientist's lawyer dismisses the case as “heaps of innuendo,” federal records reveal a far-reaching, exhaustive investigation that required newly invented technology and depended on mutant... More »

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