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Forensic science is the process that includes many microscopic genetic tests, all of which may be used to determine the cause of death and to link a suspect to a crime. For years it has been debated whether or not the necessity of forensic science is genuine. However, the centuries of recorded research in this field has rendered it a solid foundation in which a court case is later out. The arrange of tests used in this line of study include key factors such as DNA analysis, fingerprinting, autopsies, pathology, and toxicology to insure that justice is brought to the victims of the crimes committed against them. These tests have validated themselves as a reliable source to these cases due to its accuracy and science based evidence that has been in development for hundreds of years. To understand the importance of forensic science, we must first begin to understand its history.
Autopsies: Forensic science has been in development since the dawn of time. Human interest in the development of its own lead to major discoveries. The first legal autopsy in which the corpse was studied for medical illness ever recorded in history was in the year 1302 in the city of Bologna, Italy. The Italian man performing the operation was Doctor Bartolomeo da Varignana, a physician and a pathologist. He performed dozens of autopsies over the following 19 years until his death in 1321.
The Microscope: The 14th century brought not only the first autopsy, but it provided the glass lenses that would later be used to create the microscope. Salvino D’Armate, an Italian man that created the lenses for the purpose of better eyesight. His invention was later on used in the year 1590. Two Dutch spectacle makers, Zacharias Jansen and his father Hans started experimenting with these lenses. They put several lenses in a tube and made a very important discovery. The objects placed at the far end of the tube were seemingly significantly larger, approximately nine times larger than the original size. However, the magnification was blurry. It wasn’t until a century and a half later that a Dutch scientist named Anton van Leeuwenhoek became the first man to make and use a real microscope. This microscope was capable of enlarging up to fifty times its original state and over next few centuries, the development of the microscope only continued. The most developed modern microscope can now show up to 1500 times its original state relying on electromagnetic frequencies rather than relying on light rays. Microscopic evidence was essentially non-existent and evidence came to be purely from the naked eye. This left room for human error. The invention of the microscope unlocked many new areas of forensic science. It enabled the discovery of red blood cells and spermatozoa.
Forensic investigators could now study tiny wounds, crystals or glass, and the characteristics of hair and fibres. Human remains were identified using teeth for the first time. Military surgeons produced vast bodies of work detailing wounds and causes of death during some of the most devastating world wars. However, no matter how powerful the microscope, some causes of death remained undetectable until recent years.
Toxicology: For the longest time, poisons such as Arsenic seemed like the perfect poison. It was undetectable and lethal in such small doses. In 1832, James Marsch, a chemist, sampled the lining of a victim’s stomach in attempt to find evidence for arsenic poisoning. When results produced themselves, he was capable of creating a test that could detect arsenic post mortem. Fingerprinting and Blood Types: In 1892, the world’s first murder case where a fingerprint was the key form of evidence came from Argentina after a case where a bloody fingerprint was left behind at a scene, in which eventually identified the killer. Fingerprints had always been said to be all different, but in 1892 Francis Galton calculated the chances of identical prints were about one in 64 billion. The natural oils that the skin produces leave an undeniable print when touching surfaces. With this new information, the British government used fingerprinting in India to identify retired soldiers or dead soldiers. They did so to aid the relatives who couldn’t identify their fallen loved one, and also so there was no fraudulent relatives who continued to claim their loved ones pension after their death. Fingerprinting soon became standard practice and is still being developed today, as scientists find ways to take prints from new surfaces. Not long after human blood types were discovered. It was in the early 1900s that Forensic scientists discovered that blood was nearly as special as a fingerprint, meaning that they had the capability to identify a victim and or a murderer from a single drop of blood. However, in often cases where there wasn’t enough blood procured for examinations, they couldn’t analyse the samples taken from the scene of the crime.
In recent years, new technology has allowed some scientists to not only analyse even microscopic samples, but to also reconstruct microscopic samples and create a large enough sample to analyse.
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