Science News – April 18, 2013


A Washington State crime lab manager resigns due to an investigation, a Texas lab looks to reduce its case backlog, and how forensics can help the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. Here is the roundup of news for the week:


A former manager of a Washington State Patrol Crime Lab resigned amidst an investigation into an allegation that

he lied about performing tests

. Internal investigations show that evidence had gone untested, mostly in arson cases.


To clear the backlog of cases in the Austin Police Department crime lab in Texas,

Travis County officials and the Police Department agreed to split the costs of sending drug and blood alcohol tests to private labs for testing

. Travis County has also hired three new chemists to help keep the backlog from rising again.


Forensic disciplines will play a central role in investigating the recent Boston Marathon bombings, as videos and photographs

will be analyzed and the chemical composition of the explosives will be determined

. Furthermore, investigators may be able to obtain DNA profiles from the bomb fragments or the packaging material around the bomb.


A California-based company has created an iPhone application that would

transform mobile phones into biometric readers

. This developing technology, which would only be useful for field investigations, could track the eyes, voice and fingerprints of suspected criminals.


Researchers in Scotland have developed a new technique that makes

recovering fingerprints from food a potential reality

. Foods are often ignored at crime scenes because their variability makes it extremely difficult to remove fingerprints without damaging the print.

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