Chapter 16 introduces the concept of density gradients for the analysis and comparison of soils to determine whether two soil samples could have a common origin, a technique still used by forensic laboratories. The next chapter describes the use of chemical extractions within the process of forensic examinations of unknowns, as it is often the case that police investigators will request investigative leads from fragments of materials found at crime scenes.
The chapters in part three provide a good background description of how spectroscopy can be used for compound identification, in particular how infrared analysis can be used to identify the polymer type of fibers, even when only a single microscopic fiber is available for analysis.
This section also covers the use of optics and the microscope and includes a basic description of the scanning electron microscope, another common tool in the forensic laboratory. Arguably, the most significant advance in forensic science over the past 25 years has been the unambiguous identification of people through DNA when a comparison sample is available.
Biological evidence such as the smallest amount of blood, for example, can place a suspect at a crime scene. Chapter 24 covers the topic of DNA analysis with some detail including a description of the difference between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA. Finally, the authors provide their view of the future of crime scene investigation.
For example, they predict the use of chemical sniffers sensitive enough to provide clues as to what has happened at the scene of a crime and how to focus an investigation on the basis of those results.
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This scenario hinges on chemical evidence that we know is readily available but today is not yet accessible for analysis and interpretation. Additionally, it offers the possibility for the adventurous reader to partake in kitchen chemistry exercises, including various relevant demonstrations on the approach to forensic tools.
For the scientist and nonscientist alike who are interested in how the fascinating world of chemistry has a socially relevant application, but with a healthy dose of reality, reading the book and taking part in the demonstrations will benefit them. The book also leads to a deeper understanding of the forensic toolbox, including the capabilities and limitations of some of the tools. Contact us to opt out anytime. Almirall is an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry and director of the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University, Miami.
Volume 86 Issue 30 pp.
The chemistry tools and methods used by crime scene investigators are explained. Department: Books. John Smith March 8, AM.
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