Blog Archives

Blood, Fingerprints, and DNA

The forensics workshop at Moonlight and Magnolias conference.

For me, at least, the most fascinating workshop at Moonlight & Magnolias was Junkyard Forensics given by Sheryl McCollum . Fellow CARA members Laurie White, Kelle Z. Riley, and I had a great time learning.

Sheryl showed us how to take everyday materials and use them for forensic tools. Who knew cinnamon would show if there were fingerprints on a plate? Or that you could put food coloring in milk and use rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip, or even your finger, to make it spread out into a rainbow design? I didn’t, but I do now.
Other things I learned: fingerprint powder is really messy. Superglue really can uncover fingerprints. I got to see footprint casting powder. Found that 24 hours in a trunk and anyone can tell there was a dead body there. Flies tell the story of a dead body. That 24 hours is the life cycle of a maggot/fly. You can test ink and know if a pen wrote a certain document. That DNA can be processed in one day, but usually takes about 6 weeks.
We got to see touch and use those special flashlights (can’t remember the name) that show blood and stuff. Actually, they show blood, urine, bleach, and scorpions. Honest. And a few other things we won’t talk about. We  got to play a bit and discovered that the public bathrooms at our hotel were cleaned very well.

Food coloring and milk.

Sheryl is a wonderful speaker, and I learned a lot and had a great time. If I ever get another chance to hear her speak, I’ll be there.

 

Have a great week!
Cheryel

 

Don’t Be Blinded; Use Science

 

What is science? It’s noticing what’s going on in the world and trying to understand what the scientist sees. A scientist notices something and after doing research and putting together the known facts, she makes an educated guess, an hypothesis. If this hypothesis stands up to further research and is replicated by other scientists, her hypothesis can become a theory. Theories then are built upon and altered by further knowledge.

For example, cell theory: the theory that living bodies are made up of tiny cells. Anyone can look in a microscope and see that this theory is indeed a fact. So, why not call it fact? Because even though we’ve known since the 1600’s that bodies (animal and plant) are made of cells, the theory is constantly being built upon. How cells work and replicate is not simple. The DNA at the heart of every cell has only recently been discovered (1953), much less understood. And there will likely be more understanding as time goes on.

Science is like life. For instance, I observe our coworker’s attitude toward us. I form an hypothesis that the coworker doesn’t like me. I speak to a friend whose observations back up my hypothesis. So I form a theory that my coworker doesn’t like me. Later, I find that the coworker recently lost a loved one and her attitude towards me wasn’t because she didn’t like me, but that she was grieving and I reminded her of her loved one. Theory busted.

I admit I love science. Had my life taken a different turn, I would be working as a scientist right now. But life is life, and I am doing something else that I love just as much (maybe more), writing.

What do you love? Are you doing that for a living? Has your life taken a unexpected turn and something good came from it?

Have a wonderful week!
Cheryel