Crime scene investigators are about to get a helping hand from our ancient ancestors. The earliest known synthetic pigment, Egyptian blue, is found in some of the paint on ancient statues, coffins, tomb walls, and amulets. Most other pigments long ago faded. Modern scientists, intrigued by its longevity, worked out Egyptian blue’s chemical composition decades ago. Recently it was discovered that it emits near-infrared radiation when exposed to certain kinds of light. Basically: it has rare, invisible luminescence.
And why does that help crime-stoppers? Egyptian blue can be dusted onto complicated surfaces where fingerprints are normally hard to retrieve. The surface is then photographed with a modified camera and a filter sensitive to Egyptian blue’s near-infrared rays. If fingerprints are there, they glow clearly in the resulting image. Science is amazing.
WATSON REALIZED SOMETHING IMPORTANT!!
And by that she means she was hit with the sudden realization that both Sherls and Watson never covered what Forensic Science is. And given the massive influx of new followers (thank you everyone, you guys are amazing!) Watson thought she should define forensic science and cover the sub-disciplines in the field. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of forensics, Sherls and Watson have a pretty general science background, so don’t be afraid to ask us about anything.
Forensic science, in the most broad definition, is the application of any science to the court of law (both criminal and civil). Essentially, it is using the scientific method to help with court trials. It’s important to keep the law part in mind, because everything we do in the field, scene processing, evidence collection, evidence analysis, all the tasks are done with a goal in mind: to preserve the integrity of evidence so that it is viable in court.
Their third job is to search, find, and collect possible evidence in an efficient manner to ensure fragile evidence isn’t lost, but also in a careful way so that the evidence is preserved properly and not contaminated.
With that said, we have a very general knowledge of law, and it mainly pertains to the Criminal Code of Canada, while @scriptlawyer is the better person to go to for detailed law knowledge.
The most publicly know facet of forensic science is crime scene investigation. These are the people that come in a scene in full Protective Personal Equipment/PPEs (bunny suit, gloves, goggles, mask, boot covers, etc.). Their first job is to protect the scene, make sure nothing is tampered with. The second job is to record and document the scene in a thorough manner (photography, video tape, hand written notes), to ensure that the scene can be revisited later in the future.
Below, in no particular order, are brief synopsis of forensics in a given sub-discipline:
Pathology – they are the coroners and the medical examiners, performs autopsy and is responsible for determining manner of death, cause of death, and estimating Post Mortem Interval/time of death (PMI)
Biology/DNA – looks at the biology of the scene, including DNA and any other bodily fluids (blood, semen, saliva, urine, etc), when looking at DNA, will be intimately familiar with a process called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), will also look at hair and fibre samples, botanical material, and soil
Toxicology – the chemistry side of the science, examines compositions of drugs, glass, paint, explosives, soil, determines presence/absence of drugs and poison, alcohol, uses lots of fun equipment, refer to @scriptchemist
Firearms – looks at firearms (we are hoping that is obvious), discharged bullets, spent cartridge cases, shotgun shells, ammunition, gun shot residue (GSR), approximating how far from the target a weapon was fire
Fingerprinting – studying minutiae of fingerprint, comparing prints left behind in a crime scene to prints from known origin, there’s actually not a lot of work being done on how accurate fingerprint is, and fingerprinting is under a lot of scrutiny right now for lack of organizational structure (some one should change that)
Computer/Digital – one of the new emerging fields, basically finding, collection, preserving, and examining data from digital devices (computers, cell phones, etc.) Sherls and Watson do not have enough technological background so we will refer everyone to @scripthacker
Anthropology – deals with skeletal remains, differentiating between human and animal remains, determining approximate gender, age, height, race, and any physical injuries or osteo-diseases
Entomology – uses insect (mainly flies and necrophilious insects), flies life cycle, and the cycle of arthropod successions to determine long term PMI
Psychology/Behavioural – this is a subfield of psychology/psychiatry. In criminal cases, work tasks might include determining if a person is fit to stand trial, evaluate for behavioural disorders, looking at behavioural patterns to set up a profile. In civil cases, they might determine if an individual is competent to decide when preparing a will, settling property, or refusing medical treatment. Both of us do not have much experience in this field, and would like to refer you to @scriptshrink
Documents – document analysis studies handwriting, type-writing, type of paper and ink, tries to authenticate sources, basically anything to do with documents, neither Sherls or Watson has much experience with this
Odontology – this field looks at dental evidence when the body is unrecognizable. Enamel in the teeth are hardy substances and can last for a long time, identification of the person can be made based of characteristics of the teeth, their alignment of the mouth, the great thing about living is the first world country is that almost every one has a dental record. Bite marks compared to dental cast has also been used as evidence in court (see Ted Bundy), but Sherls and Watson are both leery about this particular field, since there are not
a lot of research proving that there is a scientific basis behind the field
Engineering – looks at failure analysis, accident reconstruction,
and causes and origins of fires/explosions, mainly looks at the structure sides
of things (is there an engineering scripty around? Because Watson would love to
Others Watson found while researching: theres units for
polygraph and voiceprint analysis too apparently. We do not know much about
these two fields either.
*Phew* We know there is a lot of information on this post,
we are planning to break down a few things we mentioned here and go into more
detail in future posts. Send us asks if you lovelies have any questions.
The costume Louise Linton wears in that CSI NY episode that is making the rounds - is this Glenn Close's Pompadour gown from Dangerous Liaisons? Because it looks way too amazing for a tv budget.
Unfortunately, they do not appear to be the same costume. The dress Louise Linton wears is green, while the one seen on Glenn Close is a dark blue.
The gown worn by Linton was most likely rented from an American costume house rather than made specifically for the episode, so the possibility of the costume having been used previously in other productions is fairly high. The gown worn by Close is most likely available through the London based costume house Cosprop. In 2007 Cosprop put on a Fashion in Film Exhibit that comprised of some of their costumes from various films, and while the blue gown was not one of the pieces on display, two others costumes from Dangerous Liaisons were, making it likely that Cosprop houses the blue dress as well.
All of this being said, both costumes are very clearly modeled after a gown worn by Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour in a 1756 painting by François Boucher, which hangs at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.