Thursday, May 1, 2008


Anyone considering leading a life of crime and desperation needs to take a moment to read this. It’s not that I’m saying you shouldn’t lead a life of crime and desperation, I just want you to be fully informed before doing so. I realize breaking and entering a mansion and making $1300 in one haul is enticing. Hell, when I was laid off a while back, I couldn’t think of an easier way to make some extra cash that didn't involve my pickup, an ATM machine and double mesh towing cables.

I also couldn’t think of how to fence the goods, what I would do if I ran across an attack dog or how to pick a lock. The movies make it look so easy, but these new fangled locks are more difficult to figure out.

Um… I’ve heard.

Locks, dogs, and how to cash in your ‘discovered’ goods is the least of our….I mean….your trouble if this is the new career path. Not getting caught is going to be the biggest hurdle. New technology is making what used to be a simple, spontaneous hate crime nearly impossible to get away with.

Bastards! If I had a hit list, these scientists would be on it. I’m not saying I do, but if I did, they would be so sorry they messed with justice. Or lack thereof. You know what I mean. They’re messing with a prime ingredient of a capitalist society: The ingenuity and ability to take shit from other people.

Take the folks working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (no relation to the Oak Ridge Boys that I’m aware) who have developed a new way to detect previously invisible fingerprints found on human skin. Using ‘surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)-based agents’ – whatever the hell those are – latent prints can now be seen using a silver coated ‘dieletric nanowire’. Serial killers around the world will soon be cursing this new toy because it’s portable, cheap and those silver coated nanowires are being mass produced by the Navy of all things.

It’s not just silver we….I mean you need to worry about either. Gold particles combined with nanotechnology has made it much easier to reveal fingerprints standard testing can’t. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry (Do you have Prince HydroChloric in a can?) they combine the gold particles with ‘hydrocarbon chains and are suspended in petrol ether’ which then make fingerprints visible in less then three minutes.

This same team has also developed a way to find fingerprints on non porous surfaces ‘using a petrol ether suspension of cadmium selenide/zinc sulphide nanoparticles stabilised by long chain amines’. Since my nose just started bleeding reading that last sentence, I have no hope of explaining what it means. Just know that these dudes know what they’re doing and they will catch you.

And if the RSC doesn’t than the ACS (American Chemical Society) will. These chemical engineers all have hard ons for CSI apparently. The ACS has reported (yet another) new technique that can detect fingerprints using gel and ultraviolet light. While this sounds disturbingly like my Friday nights, it has resulted in fewer ‘smeared’ samples and – after chemical analysis - more detailed information like whether it belongs to a smoker or vegetarian. No shit!

In fact, this chemical analysis can be stored for future reference and potentially tell investigators the person’s race, whether it’s a male or female (high traces of the chemical urea means it’s usually a man), what drugs the person is using and even if they recently shot a gun. You can see how that might be important.

While I’m not sure how all this stuff works, I do know that my imagined criminal – yet totally cool to the hot chicks – life is officially on hold.

On the bright side, now would be a perfect time to buy stock in latex gloves.

Today’s distraction: Browse the Fingerprints Collection. How's that for a tie in, eh? Not only do I link it to today's subject, but it doubles as a Mother's Day gift idea. Who rocks? That's right, that's right. I DO!!!!


son pere said...

Yeah! You rock, dude!

You're lucky, reading some of this only gave you a nose-bleed; it gave me a migraine!! Where do you find this stuff? Here I was, checking in for the latest synopsis of "LOST", and this is what I find. Maybe "BEN" had something to do with the science involved in what you reported??

Anonymous said...

Damn it, I was gonna heist a newspaper stand this weekend and steal every Twix bar in sight. Good thing your article deterred me.

BeachBum said...

son pere, just put up the Lost entry, so enjoy!

10, Just make sure you eat the evidence. No fingerprints once you do that. The perfectly delicious crime.