Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday's Penguin Post

More Fun with Forensics

This summer I had the opportunity to be the visiting author when COSI, our local museum of science, hosted the CSI Exhibit. Talk about being in research heaven! The exhibit featured three different crime scenes and walked participants through the process of using scientific inquiry to solve the crimes. I’ve been able to incorporate what I learned into a presentation I do for schools about the use of Forensics in Fiction. Today, for your entertainment, I present my top three favorite forensic fun facts:

1. One of the earliest ‘modern-day’ authors to make use of forensic science in his writing was Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe looks an awful lot like Bill Murray.

2. You probably know that forensic scientists can determine the approximate time of death by analyzing the larval stage of maggots hatched in a dead body, but did you know they can also use those maggots to determine if the deceased had taken (or been given) drugs before expiring? Entomologists (scientists who study bugs) whir the maggots in a blender and test the resulting liquid for the presence of toxins. Gross, but true.

3. The popularity of such television shows as CSI, Bones and Dexter has caused what some analysts call the CSI Effect, wherein viewers come to expect real-world investigators to solve crimes with the same high-tech efficiency we see on TV. Hint: it rarely happens.

What about you? What do you find fascinating about forensic science? Or, do you find it interesting at all?