Unless you’ve been held hostage inside a Toyota Corolla car trunk for the past 10-15 years (or similar dire living conditions), its been impossible to not be aware of the impact of modern forensics on crime scene analysis. The TV show franchise CSI on TV and the novels of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs come to mind as representative of our collective cultural obsession with forensics, especially trace evidence forensics.
However, I bet few people know that trace evidence information, collection, and analysis techniques have been around for at least 100 years. Dr. Locard is credited as having said, “Every contact leaves a trace.” He set up the first known forensics lab in Lyon, France in 1910. First extensively articulated and systematically explored, catalogued, and used by Dr Locard, trace evidence is now often a deciding factor for whether law enforcement successfully arrest and convict a person or people for a crime — or the suspect is exonerated and set free.
LOSING FACE deals with the effects of a nano-biotechnology “tool” that is disruptive to the effectiveness of trace evidence forensics.
The thought occurred to me a couple years ago that a scientist could probably create a nano-machine that could be “tuned” to cut or dissemble strands of DNA or even larger items such as human hair of a specific person. So I imagined and wrote the story.
After writing this short story, I looked online to see if there might be a nano product that would attack or dissolve a person’s DNA. This search led me to Dr. Ravi Kane and his pioneering nano research. http://homepages.rpi.edu/~kaner/ .
Added to this, here is an article published just last week by Rice University regarding the ability to use a pulsed laser light to selectively heat gold nanoparticles: http://news.rice.edu/2013/01/03/nanoparticles-reach-new-peaks-2/ .
In the story, the killer uses a laser to activate or energize the nano-wipe, the nano-biotech “machine” that is tuned to his own DNA. The purpose is to eliminate his trace evidence that would be present at the crime scene.
If this nano-biotech machine gets developed, it will be truly disruptive to law enforcement unless they can figure out some sort of counter technology.
To learn more about forensics, check out these two sites: Dr. D.P. Lyle has a great forensics site: http://www.dplylemd.com/DPLyleMD/Art-FS_TIMELINE.html .You can also learn about forensics here: The History of Forensics: http://historyofforensics.com .
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