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Forensic Science I-Search Pape Essay, Research Paper

What I Wanted to Learn

What I would like to learn about forensic science is how it began, and who influenced it. Also I like to know what the other types of forensic sciences there are and, better understand what forensic geology, entomology, ballistics and fingerprinting are.

What I Already Knew

Before beginning this search there are some things I already knew. I think that majoring in forensic science is going to require a lot of physical and biological science. There are also several different types of forensic sciences such as, Entomology-, which is the study of insects and their relation to the decomposition of a corpse, and ballistics-, which is the study of the type of weapon used. Also if I change my major to forensic science it would require me moving to another college, like University of Central Oklahoma.

What I Learned

As we all very well know science is growing at a very rapid rate, so is forensic science, which is what I m thinking of changing my major to. Through my research for this paper I have learned many things, from what the different types of forensic sciences are, and what they do, to where and how forensic science started. First I m going to define forensic science, which is the application of scientific techniques to provide objective, circumstantial evidence (Walls, Preface V). As forensic science is practiced today through forensic medicine from police work, the policeman could learn, and the doctor was assumed to know enough science to apply his technique to the problems encountered as they arose. Most Forensic professors agree that forensic science began with the writings of Sherlock Holmes in 1887 by Conan Doyle, which helped, publicize the idea that science could be applied to the everyday life of police work (Murray 3).

In 1893 another author, criminal investigator and professor of criminology published a book outlining the ideas of scientific geology investigation of a crime. Hans Gross, one of the forbearers of forensic geology who believed that it is most interesting that the impetus came from the ideas in men s minds, not accidentally from actual cases (Murray 6). He was born in 1847-1915 in Austria. Endowed with a keen interest in science, he grouped together the current methods of geological science investigation. With a high sense of imagination and foresight (Murray 5) , Gross suggested many links of science to criminal investigation in his classic book Handbuch fur Untersuchungrichter (Handbook for Examining Magistrates). Gross developed the ideas of that time in the sciences of medicine, serology, toxicology and ballistics. Also having heavily implemented the use of forensic geology in hiring mineralogists and micoscopist to study dust, dirt on shoes and spots on clothes (Murray 4). This book, originally compiled in German, was later translated into English under the title Criminal Investigation. It was reprinted several times and has impacted the use of science in criminal investigation. According to Gross, Dirt on shoes can often tell us more about where the wearer of those shoes had last been than toilsome inquires (Murray 5).

Another forbearer of the forensic geology world, Dr. Georg Popp, was trained as a chemist. Popp maintained a chemical and microscopic service in Frankfurt, Germany. Like many of the other consulting labs of Frankfurt his lab offered services in examining the areas of food, mineral water analyses, bacteriology and many other related fields. Foremost of Popp, he had the imagination and foresight to seek out new ways of using his science that was rapidly expanding (Murray 5). His interest in forensics began when an investigator, who had read Gross s book, asked Popp to examine some spots on a suspect s trousers to identify whether the spots of mud were from the scene of a crime. From this induction he devoted himself to finding new ways of using chemical and microscopic techniques. Popp was again asked to examine the evidence of a murder case in October of 1904 where a seamstress had been strangled with her own scarf in a bean field. All that was left at the scene of the crime was a dirty handkerchief containing nasal mucus. The nasal mucus contained bits of coal, particles of snuff and grains of minerals, particularly the mineral hornblende. This evidence led them to a man who had been known to work in a coal-burning gas works, dip snuff, and most interestingly worked part-time in a gravel pit that contained the mineral Hornblende. The suspect was then brought in for questioning and was found to have the mineral hornblende under his fingernails. Upon later investigation a soil sample from the suspects trousers was found to contain minerals that matched that of a soil sample from the crime scene where the body had been found. When confronted with the evidence the suspect immediately turned himself in. The Frankfurt news headlines contained the heading The Microscope as Detective (Murray 7).

A Question I have is what is forensic Hypnosis. I have been able to find only one resource for hypnosis. Forensic hypnosis is the management, application, and combination of the art of hypnosis and forensic science in criminal and civil investigations. The primary objective of forensic hypnosis is to enhance the recall of volunteer victims and witnesses to crimes and investigations. A hypno-investigator is a legal professional that has trained in hypnosis as an investigative tool to gather facts pertaining to a special event. Also noted as a hypnotechnician, popularized in the 1950 s by the Advance Ethical Hypnosis.

The part of forensic science that interests me the most is ballistics and finger printing. With sciences ever expanding field, we are finding more ways of bettering our forensics. An article I read in the Daily Oklahoman stated that,

Police trailing a murder suspect saw him spit in a parking lot, giving them the DNA evidence they needed to arrest him in connection with the slaying of a waitress two years earlier (Daily Oklahoman 13-A).

It s hard to believe that something insignificant as spitting in a parking lot gave the police the evidence needed to charge this Jacksonville, Florida man with a murder he committed just two years earlier.

Since the 1980 s the science of finger printing has grown also. With the introduction of the AFIS most major police department s can reference a set of fingerprints against a statewide or even a nationwide database of nearly every Americans prints. At over 1,200 prints per second AFIS can kick out possible matches in just a few hours, which then have to be verified as an exact match by a fingerprint examiner.

With this new technology for fingerprinting, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been working with a Canadian company developing a system called Bulletproof. This system matches the ballistics of a bullet from a crime scene to a small universe of potential matches (Witkin and Hetter p30). A pilot program using the system has linked about a dozen shootings in Washington, D.C. in a 7 month period (Witkin and Hetter p30).

Another well developing forensic science is that of Forensic Entomology, which is the study of how insects can help discern the time, cause of death and whether the body has been moved. These forensic entomologist use baseline data of how old the insects are to determine the time of death and whether it has been moved from its natural habitat. Recently, the FBI matched a suspect to his dead rape victim by the blood contained in a single louse that had migrated from him to her (Fernandez p58).

Also chemists and other scientist are developing a device that they could wave over a body to sniff the chemical gases given off by a decomposing body to detect how long the body has been dead.

Forensic Psychiatry has been defined as an interface specialty concerned with the instrumental use of psychiatry, the application of psychiatric theory, principles, and practice to legal issues for legal ends.

The Search

I began this I-Search paper on the twenty-first of February by trying to think of a topic that I needed to find an answer to. On the twenty-third I wrote down what I already knew about my subject, which wasn t very much. On the twenty-eighth Dr. Craig showed us how to use the different sources in the library. She showed us the Expanded Academic ASAP database that contains lots of newspaper and magazine articles from 1980 to present for us to use as references and how to send the articles to our e-mail addressee. Also she showed us how to find books using the online book catalog. I spent that evening in the library looking up books and articles through the Expanded Academic ASAP to use in my paper. The following class she showed us how to compose our Works Cited page with all the different types of sources like electronic sources, newspaper and magazine articles, e-mail, interviews, and book sources. We looked at a couple of I-search papers from some of Dr. Craig s previous students to give us an idea of how to compose our paper. Some of the sources I got while in the class were not exactly what I wanted so I searched on Infotrac from my house in Watonga to get some better sources. The next day I went to the library to find the previous Saturday Oklahoman for an article my mother had read that had to do with my paper. After I had all my sources that I was satisfied with I started composing my paper.


Through my research of this paper I have learned many things. I learned how to actually do a research paper. I also learned what the different types of forensic sciences are and what they involve. I am still not sure whether I want to change my major or not, but I have learned how to do a full research paper.

Works Cited

Beard, Jonathan. The Sniffing Detective. New Scientist. 17 June. 2000. v166 i2243 p21. InfoTrac. 31 Mar.2001

Fernandez, Sandy M. Dead Men Tell No Tales. But Bugs Do. Time. 19 Mar. 2001. v157 ill p58. InfoTrac. 31 Mar. 2001

Hibbard, Whitney S; Warring, Raymond W. Forensic Hypnosis: The Practical Application of Hypnosis in Criminal Investigation. Springfield, Ill. C.C. Thomas, 1981

Murray Raymond C.; Tedrow, J.C.F. Forensic Geology. Rutgers University, NJ. Quinn and Boden Company. 1975

Police Spot Suspect in Spitting Distance. Daily Oklahoman 24 Mar. 2001: 13-A

Thomas, Charles C. Forensic Science. Springfield, Ill: Bannerstone House. 1981

Witkin, George; Hetter, Katia. High Tech Crime Solving. U.S. News and World Report. 11 July. 1994. v1117 n2 p30. InfoTrac. 31 Mar. 2001.

Walls, H.J. Books That Matter. New York, NY. Praeger. 1968


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