Scientists Say: Forensics

This is the science and technology of criminal investigation

Crime scenes often need scientists to find out whodunnit.

Crime scenes often need scientists to find out whodunnit. 

Brandon Anderson/ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) (Image has been cropped from original)

Forensics  (noun, “For-REN-siks”)

Also known as “forensic science,” forensics is the use of science and technology to investigate crimes. Scientists in this field might collect bones, blood, fingerprints, insects, fibers, bits of paint or other samples from a crime scene to understand a crime and to identify a victim or perpetrator. The information that researchers glean is often presented in court to help determine if someone was involved in a crime.

In a sentence

Even when someone cleans the scene, forensics can be used to find out whether blood or a body had been there. 

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Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

DNA  (short for deoxyribonucleic acid) A long, double-stranded and spiral-shaped molecule inside most living cells that carries genetic instructions. In all living things, from plants and animals to microbes, these instructions tell cells which molecules to make.

forensics  The use of science and technology to investigate and solve crimes.

genetic  Having to do with chromosomes, DNA and the genes contained within DNA. The field of science dealing with these biological instructions is known as genetics. People who work in this field are geneticists.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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