News 04.28.11

Science Thursdays: Chemists from Nuclear Lab Unravel Mysterious “Nerve Gas” Death

Scientists continue to believe the FBI anthrax investigation was insufficient, chemists from a nuclear lab solve a mysterious death, a forensic psychologist in Texas is rebuked for unscientific practices that cleared the mentally disabled for executions and budget cuts push states to consolidate forensic agencies. Here’s a roundup of forensics news:

 

The FBI investigation of the anthrax letter attack

raises questions

about whether the real perpetrator is still at large.

A team of chemists from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory perform a series of experiments to

unravel

the chemical reaction that created nerve gas in the body of an emergency room patient.

A new laser-powered chemical analysis technique can take multiple samples for forensic chemical analysis from a

single strand of hair

.

Mobile forensics researchers say that enforcement agencies are currently

using data location tracking databases

stored on iPhones in actual criminal investigations.

Android phones and iPhones allow digital forensics investigators to

access

a treasure trove of information.

A device that can download all the information from your cell phone can be used by police

without a warrant

. Harris County used a forensic psychologist to clear mentally disabled inmates for executions even after a judge

harshly rebuked

his work.

The Long Island mystery serial killer has drawn the attention of criminal profilers who use the

inexact science of criminal profiling

to try and establish characteristics of the perpetrator.

A forensic voiceprint expert describes how

voice evidence

is not as clear as DNA and that many software programs are not good enough for forensic purposes.

The New York forensic nurse whose

flawed findings

triggered a review of dozens of sexual assault cases is advertising her expertise online.

At the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the nation’s top forensic veterinarian is one of the few specialists trained in processing

crime scenes involving animals

.

Due to budget cuts, North Carolina is considering

consolidating

a number of programs under a new Department of Public Safety, including the North Carolina State Crime Lab, which would be moved out of the purview of Attorney General Roy Cooper and the State Bureau of Investigation.

After the Marin County Sheriff won the Coroner’s election, the County Board of Supervisors

consolidated

the two departments under the Sheriff.

Although

fingerprints

are stored in a chip embedded in passports, the Parliament in the Netherlands continues to debate whether that information should be stored in a central national database.

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