News From the Forensic Science World


The mainstream media doesn’t often report breakthroughs, theories, and new procedures in the crime scene investigation arena and forensic areas.  There are many interesting discoveries happening around the world in this scientific area.

Just this year and in the past few months, I’ve found some extremely interesting forensic topics and developments for identifying lipstick traces, psychopaths failing to use their empathy emotion automatically, and DNA fingerprinting to track down the cause of spreading cancer.

New Technique to Analyze Lipstick Traces without Contamination

Imagine identifying trace evidence from the lipstick worn by someone at the actual crime scene. It could discover a witness or even the perpetrator of the crime.  A recent study by forensic scientists from the University of Kent has done just that!

Forensic scientists use a technique called Raman spectroscopy.  It detects a laser light, similar to an infrared type of lighting.  The amazing part of this technique is that it can be used on the trace evidence without removing the evidence from the evidence bag; therefore, it will less likely have contamination.

“Continuity of evidence is of paramount importance in forensic science and can be maintained if there is no need to remove it from the bag.  Raman spectroscopy is ideal as it can be performed through transparent layers, such as evidence bags.  For forensic purposes, Raman spectroscopy also has the advantages that microscopic samples can be analyzed quickly and non-destructively.”

The process using Raman spectroscopy involves light and vibrational energy of the chemical bonds.  The light is collected in a way to give a Raman spectrum, giving individual characteristics, like a fingerprint to be compared to lipsticks of various types and brands.

Do Psychopaths Really Lack Empathy?

Countless psychological studies, criminal profiler reports from serial killers, mainstream news stories, and crime fiction novels have entertained the varied and often disturbing backgrounds of psychopaths.  It has been stated many times that these types of individuals lack empathy and cannot emphasize with the pain of others.  This deficit allows psychopaths to inflict pain, physical and mental, on others without any remorse.

A recent brain study from the Netherlands shows that psychopaths have empathy, but they don’t activate it automatically.  This might explain that due to their lack of empathy it is easier for them to hurt others.

“Psychopathy may not be so much the incapacity to empathize, but a reduced propensity to empathize, paired with a preserved capacity to empathize when required to do so.”

According to a newly published study by the Oxford University Press last July, the study was conducted on 18 individuals with psychopathy and a control group.  This forensic investigation consisted of three parts:

First, they watched movies of two individuals touching each other in a loving way, a painful way, and then a neutral way.  The participants were asked which one was their favorite.

Second, they watched the same movie clips again, with the emphasis on one of the actors in the movies.  The idea was to make the participants to try to feel what the actor was feeling.

Third, the participants performed hand interactions with one another.  The scientists used the “mirror system” to stimulate the brain.  They have found that emotions activate the specific regions of the brain, basically trying to turn on the empathy emotion.

The study went on the say that it’s much more complex.  Still, it is an interesting case study for psychopathy.  Only time will tell if we get any closer to decoding a psychopath.

DNA Fingerprinting Collaborating with Cancer Researchers

Cancer research has been a hot topic for many decades now.  It has been stated that metastasis (second malignant cancer growth) is responsible for the overwhelming majority of cancer deaths, and it seems that there are many theories as to how it occurs.  A collaboration between medical doctoral professionals and a director of a forensic and evidence division are working together to try to answer this question.

“This is one of the first instances I know of in which forensic technology has been used to support basic science.”

The theory is by distinguishing between a cancer cell and a blood cell that it could explain how cancer acquires the ability to move throughout the body.  The question addresses whether fusion is the mechanism that allows all cancer cells to travel.  This is where the ability to implement the science of DNA fingerprinting could play a key role in this mystery.

“The finding could have major implications for the treatment of metastatic cancers of many kinds.  It really focuses your thinking – if traveling tumor cells essentially think they are blood cells, that means we might be able to focus approaches to attack them.”


Wow, there are some amazing forensic theories and applications in the works that could change how crime scene evidence is processed, how psychopaths think, and how cancer spreads.

More articles of interest:

Gunshot Residue Creates an Impression

5 Steps For Processing Evidence at a Fire Crime Scene

Investigating Cold Cases with New Forensic Methods


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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