New CSI tool pinpoints when fingerprints were left behind
The CSI franchise and the true crime programming on television shows that we're interested in if not fascinated by modern criminology. I find myself watching the documentaries where old fashioned tenacity combined with the latest technology uses the tiniest speck of physical evidence to bring home a case against someone.  And it is fascinating.

The CSI series, being fiction, takes a few liberties, combines these with interesting ongoing characters and relationships to put together very popular  entertainment.  Do they take liberties with the technology?  Yes and no.  It's hard to know what is technically possible and what isn't.  If I were considering a crime, I'd certainly have second thoughts because of the decreasing odds of getting away with it.

At the rate real science and technology is advancing, who knows what will be possible in a few years.  Watching the progression of the technology is as fascinating as the shows.

For example, this report on the ability to age date finger prints.  Really? You're dealing with such teeny, tiny amounts of substances, yet you can show how long they've been there?  By how much of this body oil or component of body oil has evaporated?   It's stunning when you think of it.

Here's the report with a link to the original in the attribution line:

A new CSI tool could pinpoint when 
fingerprints were left behind

The crime scene investigators on TV's popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series seem able to solve any mystery thanks to a little science and a lot of artistic license. But now there is a real-life technique that could outperform even fictional sleuths' crime-busting tools. Scientists report in ACS' journal Analytical Chemistry a way to tell how old fingerprints are. This could help investigators determine which sets are relevant and which ones were left long ago.
Suspect Identities:
A History of
Criminal Identification

by Simon A. Cole

Order new or used from
Powell's Books

Law enforcement officials have long relied on fingerprints left behind by criminals to help solve cases. In addition to patterns of whorls, loops and arches specific to individuals, prints can also yield clues as to the owners' age and gender, as well as materials -- such as explosives or make-up -- that they may have touched.

But determining just how long these residues have been at a crime scene is one aspect that has remained a challenge. The ability to date fingerprints would allow police to more easily rule certain suspects in or out of their investigations. Shin Muramoto of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD and colleagues wanted to find a way to meet that need.

The researchers studied various molecules in fingerprints and found that a substance called palmitic acid migrates away from print ridges at a predictable rate. Based on this diffusion, the scientists could estimate how old a fingerprint was. Their findings apply to prints up to four days old, but they plan to expand that window to 10 days.

Watch the ACA video on Youtube:  Real-life CSI: Age Dating Fingerprints

Related stories:
Story Source:  Materials provided by American Chemical Society.  Shin Muramoto, Edward Sisco. Strategies for Potential Age Dating of Fingerprints through the Diffusion of Sebum Molecules on a Nonporous Surface Analyzed Using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 2015


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