Bookmark These: Our Top 50 Articles on Crime, Security and Science in 2014

During our downtime, the team at Forensic Outreach takes a break from researching our own articles and instructional commentary to wind down with a well-written article and a hot cup of coffee. These are often shared among us, and we’re only too happy to draw inspiration from when the time is right.

We follow several of these writers – even though they may only cover our subject occasionally. Their unique perspectives on the matter at hand serves to enhance our understanding of a given technique — or even more profoundly, an entire discipline or event.

So now, we’d like to share these with you. As we say amongst ourselves: “bookmark these.” Read on, and don’t forget to leave your own questions and comments below.




The Grisly History Of Forensics

Extracted from Val McDermid’s Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime, this article details many fascinating historical events that helped police solve crimes by looking at evidence; and explains what all of the critical clues meant as well as how they led to convictions. Val is an award-winning author of psychological thrillers, with 27 crime novels in print as of today. The excerpts are written to create intrigue and interest, and provide stepping stones from 13th Century China to modern day crime-solving techniques.

by Val McDermind


Stranger Than Crime Fiction

Linda Geddes interviews veteran crime writer Val McDermid, and asks questions about the craft of crime-writing, where ideas come from, the art of weaving stories around scientific evidence, and the role of Hollywood in skewing people’s concepts of forensic processes — especially those results provided in short time needed to complete the hour-long story arc. In reality, our readers should know by now that actual results might not be completed for weeks. Fascinating anecdotes are incorporated in a way that both personalise the writer and her subject.

by Linda Geddes


Are Juries Being Blinded By Science?

Written by an attorney (now a legal journalist and presenter for the BBC) Joshua Rozenburg discusses reform being implemented by the courts in the UK regarding expert witnesses. The issue was pursued when the government’s law reform advice body in 2011 recommended that legislation be enacted to investigate the claim that scientific evidence was being admitted in court without much scrutiny. Citing examples of cases where innocent people were convicted in part through poor evidence, he makes the case that new tests for reliability could be promoted by a published and approved set of ‘primers’ on relevant scientific concepts. This would enable court trustees to understand, interpret and choose between opposing viewpoints.

by Joshua Rozenberg


In Texas, A New Law That Lets Defendants Fight Bad Science

In May of 2013, Texas passed a bill called SB 344, the ‘junk science statute’, which enables a defendant to contest a conviction based on new or changed scientific evidence. When new evidence comes to light that contradicts science used to convict a person in the past (or if scientific evidence used to convict can be shown to be false, inaccurate or misleading) then courts must grant relief in the form of a new trial. This would occur even if a confession is part of the evidence. Using a case study of a Texas man convicted for killing a child, the writer takes us through the case and how the evidence presented was discredited.

by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie


To Prevent Crime, Walk The Dog On At-Risk Blocks

This article details how the Los Angeles Police Department is using predictive policing techniques (scheduling shifts based on a computer algorithm which discovers high crime areas, as described in our recent article on this method), however, in this article, Connor Friedersdorf goes into more detail on how the programme is working in Los Angeles and how residents are contributing to the effort. Connor is taking part by invitation from the LAPD, and is hopeful his neighbourhood will become less attractive for would-be criminals.

by Conor Friedersdorf


Smelling Death: On The Job With New York’s Crime-Scene Cleaners

Once the investigation is complete and the crime scene is released, it must be restored to normalcy. Sarah Khan, a New York City-based writer takes us into the world of the crime scene cleaners, who take on the specific and specialised job of removing evidence — tasks that even commercial cleaning crews would never consider doing. Wearing bio-hazard suits and employing specialised techniques, these men don’t want to know the facts of what happened there, they simply want to bring back to they way it used to be. How they accomplish this and the psychological effects of working crime scenes are detailed in this fascinating article.

by Saira Khan




The Indelible Feud Over Who Invented Fingerprinting

While our society has grown to trust fingerprinting as an absolute identifier of persons linked to actions, it was not always so. In the late 1800s, several scientists had been experimenting with the discovery that physical patterns marking the tips of each person’s digits, marked by an exclusive arrangement of lines, were both unique and identifiable. The problem with using that information was determining a system of identification and classification, and then a method of providing access to the volume of records required to make the information available to all the police forces that needed it. The feud between three important scientists, each of whom developed an important part of the process, was legendary. The struggle to gain the top billing and credit for the discovery forms a fascinating story, and is well told by Esther Inglis-Arkell.

by Esther Inglis-Arkell


Why Your Fingerprints May Not be Unique

On the other hand (pun intended), Sarah Knapton explains that the fingerprinting process assumes that everyone has a unique identifier on each finger and that those prints can be linked to their owner. The fact that this is held as indisputable, and these days we depend upon a computer database to identify people, is inherently flawed. Citing Mike Silverman, an expert on the subject, there are many potential problems in these assumptions that are enough to cast doubt. First, there is no definitive proof that matches between different people do not exist. Further, human error, partial prints and low-quality images can and do cause false identification. The evidence is clearly presented here for you to make up your own mind.

by Sarah Knapton




Lessons From Snow White

Finding inspiration in a museum exhibit featuring The Power of Poison, writer Deborah Blum — expert on poisons and a prolific writer on the subject — lets her mind wander when following a grade-school group on their tour. Her musings in this article combine her observations, a child’s natural propensity to wonder and her tendency to ask some compelling questions about “the beautiful, intricately woven, fantastical poisonous nature of the natural world” as she so eloquently puts it. Ensure that this article is not the last one you read — she is indeed one of our favourite bloggers on the subject.

by Deborah Blum




Autopsies Are Nothing Like “CSI”: My Second Career Dissecting The Dead

After shifting careers from journalism to pathology, John Biemer gives us a first-hand account of what really occurs during an autopsy. Not for the squeamish with vivid imaginations, John’s expert use of the language really conveys the practice of discovering what happened, how and when, in gory detail. This is not the pristine, sterile environment of the CSI-style TV shows. These corpses, brought to ‘life’ in vivid description by John are not the well-lit Hollywood actors in makeup. You are escorted to the morgue in the bowels of the hospital and discover the gritty methods that define forensic pathology. This author brings his writing talent and scientific experience together for some truly riveting reading.

by John Biemer


Australian University 3D-Prints Body Parts for Med Schools

Based on the assumption that the market for human body cadavers — as gruesome and creepy as it sounds — is dying off, Barry Levine describes a solution implemented by the Monash University of Australia: a 3D printed full size model of human anatomy. Beginning with scanned body parts, each organ and tissue is recreated by printing layer upon layer until each part is recreated in colour. Then it all fits together to make a torso. Read on to learn about what comes next.

by Barry Levine


Your Death Microbiome Could Catch Your Killer

We’re not alone. Over 100 trillion bacteria live in our gut: these critters ease digestion; keep the immune system functioning; and deter microbial cells from consuming our own internal organs. One day, the microbiome will win. Once the host organism (our body) dies, the microbial feeding frenzy begins, reproducing trillions of new agents who spread through the body. Like insect signs on a cadaver, understanding and measuring the effect of bacterial also can provide exact clues to what happened, when and where. Anna Williams brilliantly details research on this subject.

by Anna Williams


Welcome To The Body Farm

As an important update on activities at the Body Farm in Tennessee, Rene Ebersole discusses the history, the successes, and offshoot experiments that have assisted teams in locations as far away as the Bosnia. The consequences include the location of mass gravesites based on indicators first tested at the Body Farm. From detailing the inspiration of the site, to explaining research methods, Rene introduces us to the personalities who made a great impact on understanding the dynamics and physiology of death on human organisms, how they impact the immediate environment, and what signs the differences in terrain hold in order to discover grave sites.

by Rene Ebersole




DNA Analysis Exposes Flaws In An Inexact Forensic Science

This fascinating article, combined with an eleven-minute video, discusses how certain methods of identification prior to the use of DNA were widely regarded as reliable. One of these tests, for matching a hair found at the scene, was later proven by DNA testing to be widely wanting in accuracy. In fact, many defendants who had been imprisoned by hair identification have been released, although some paid a price with many years wrongfully incarcerated before the truth came out. This Retro Report by the NY Times staff, discusses the shortfalls of several previously well-considered forensic tools.

by Clyde Haberman


The Science Interview: The Remains Of The DNA

The Swedish paleogeneticist, Svante Pääbo has worked on ancient Neanderthal and caucasian bones and skeletons for over 30 years. With DNA analysis added to his toolkit, he is able to delve deeper into the species that were our ancient ancestors. This includes a previously unknown human form, called the Denisovian, from a finger bone found in Siberia from 50,000 years ago. Clive Cookson wrote this interview/report and shows us the man and the methods that are advancing our knowledge of ancient times and our ancestors. This is certainly an important read for those interested in forensic archeology, forensic pathology and DNA.

by Clive Cookson


Genetic Mug Shot Recreates Faces From Nothing But DNA

The blueprint in our DNA is even more complete than we previously thought. Racial ancestry, hair and eye colour — as well as several other physical factors — are easy to decode. To go deeper into the code, a team led by population geneticist Mark Shriver of Penn State and Peter Claus, an imaging specialist from Belgium, scanned 600 different faces in 3D, identified markers, and then discovered 24 variants in 20 genes that seemed to be predictors of face shape. Peter Aldhous writes a compelling article for New Scientist that explains the process, the possibilities and the need for this novel technology.

by Peter Aldhous




Can Birdsong Help To Solve Crime?

Using examples taken from nature and real crimes, Stephen Moss — naturalist, writer and broadcaster — details how naturally occurring sounds, pollens, insects and other clues hold the key to determining or refining a location, establishing critical times or figuring out other circumstances surrounding a crime. It’s a wonderful introduction to forensic entomology.

by Stephen Moss


Crime Rates Could Rise As Climate Change Bites

It should be obvious to most of us that leaving our windows open on increasingly warmer nights would provide burglars with an easy opportunity, and therefore raise the crime rate. The link between temperature and crime has been tracked for years, but geoscientist Jon White explains that the complexities create issues that are not always so cut and dried. If the weather gets too hot, for instance, it could actually have an inverse effect on the crime rate simply because criminals may prefer to stay out of the heat. Read about where Jon thinks we’re headed when we add thermometers to jail cells.

by Jon White


Maggots Bring The Heat

It’s common to determine the time of death by paying close attention to the life cycle of the eggs and maggots that come from blowflies attracted to death by putrescence and cadaverine. These are two chemicals that are emitted within minutes of the demise of a human or animal. This article goes into deeper factors of the effect of larvae and maggots growing within a cadaver, and examines the heat given off by maggots in various climates (including a morgue refrigerated unit). The size of the maggot, the quantity and the temperatures of both the body and the environment are critical factors to making an accurate determination of time of death. Gwen Pearson, who has a PhD in entomology, details the science behind maggot heat and its application to forensic science, in a manner that is both easy to read and understand.

by Gwen Pearson


Forensic Hydrology At The Gowanus Canal

According to Eymund Diegel, an environmental planner, the Gowanus Canal was killed by waste and pollution and therefore the Canal itself is a crime scene. “If you know that you have a crime, you have to ask what caused it,” Diegel states. And so, his ongoing investigation continues, in hopes of controlling the cleanup efforts to restore the hydrology of the Gowanus watershed in Brooklyn, NY. This article by Keith Williams explains the causation, the process and the cleanup efforts that hope to restore the canal to its pristine past, before the effluents by tanneries, factories and municipalities killed the environmental richness of one of America’s important urban watersheds.

by Keith Williams


Criminal Psychology


Is There Such A Thing As A Good Psychopath?

Linton Weeks has presented what seems to be an oxymoron in a debate format, offering a pro view and a con view by different experts. On one side is Andy McNab, an Oxford University psychologist, and Kevin Dutton, a British Special Air Service veteran. The latter proposes that certain traits of a psychopath — including charisma, fearlessness, focus and ruthlessness — could take a person to great success, if the person is able to modulate other, more negative traits. On the other hand, Lilian Glass, a behavioural analyst and author of many books including Toxic People, says that the words psychopath and success should never even appear in the same sentence. These are two interesting viewpoints that will draw readers to open their minds, or shudder instead.

by Linton Weeks


Life as a Nonviolent Psychopath

This is a fascinating story about how a neuroscientist, using brain scans of his own family as a control whilst researching known psychopaths, discovered that he had many of the traits found in his research group of murderous psychopaths. Once he overcame the initial surprise and realised that the scans were not mixed up, he began looking into his past, interviewing family and people who had known him, and discovered that he could have easily taken the path towards violence and suicide or incarceration. Judith takes this neuroscientist, James Fallon, through a series of thought-provoking questions to learn about maintaining balance, criminal behaviour, managing mental illness, and much more.

by Judith Ohikuare


Psychopaths: How Can You Spot One?

When we assume that all the people around us are similar in temperament, morals, and share the same concept of what is right and what is wrong — we are not talking about the small segment of our population of people who lack remorse and empathy, and who are expert at hiding in plain sight. These are the psychopaths, and they are wired completely different than the mainstream population. Here Tom Chivers interviews Professor Robert Hare (a criminal psychologist and creator of a test that determines who is a psychopath). He identifies factors between these two disparate factions of our society, and how to manage an encounter with one. Citing people like Ted Bundy and both Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, he takes us into the heads of these murderers and how to deal with one if we ever come face-to-face with them.

by Tom Chivers


10 Murderers Who Changed How We Investigate Murders

Esther Inglis-Arkell once more offers us a well-researched and personable set of stories about investigations that helped to develop forensic science over the centuries. Each vignette describes the scene of a homicide, introduces us to historical figures who were developing techniques and strategies for solving those crimes, and details how a particular technique came to favour — or, in the case of spectral evidence (reciting testimony from ghosts nobody else could see) was abandoned. For forensic science students in particular, this article provides brilliant background as to why certain procedures were introduced.

by Esther Inglis-Arkell


The Psychology of Corpse Dismemberment – The Motivation Behind the Most Grotesque of Crimes

Murdering a victim is one thing, but sawing the victim up into pieces and then mailing them to others is a new kind of terrorism that constitutes an even more heinous crime. Dr Raj Persaud, a psychiatrist and Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm, a forensic psychiatrist, go into the minds of monsters who are not satisfied with merely inflicting death on their victim. This article starts out with a disclaimer telling the reader that it contains explicit and disturbing content. If you decide to go past that warning, you will discover a new level of heinous acts once reserved for Dante’s Inferno. After determining the major categories of criminal acts of dismemberment and peering inside the minds of those categories of killers, the doctors do end on a high note: by understanding this mental illness, perhaps there is a way to improve prevention of these rare crimes.

by Dr Raj Persaud and Helinä Häkkänen-Nyholm


Inside the Mind of a Mass Killer

Dr Raj Persaud and an Australian senior research fellow look into the psychology of mass killings, which have become more prevalent since 26 people, including 20 small children, were gunned down by a mentally-ill shooter in Newtown, CT in 2012. Looking at the myths, history and important studies surrounding mass killings, the authors look closely at the problem from new perspectives. Most intriguingly, they make sure to include the murders that never occurred because unsung mental health professionals have averted many potential scenarios by identifying and treating potential criminals.

by Dr Raj Persaud and Ramón Spaaij


A Surprising Time-of-Death Tool

The science of determining a cause of death is pretty reliable as long as body temperature can be measured, rigour evaluated and life cycles of insects and blowflies can be calculated. Yet once a body has laid, undiscovered, for a time after the organic material has been consumed and disintegrated, how is it possible to determine time of death? Swiss forensic biologist Ildikò Szelecz looked at microscopic organisms in the soil adjacent to a dead body and discovered biological indicators that provide a longer calendar. Jennifer Frazer details the experiments and science that could give forensic investigators a new and much-needed tool.

by Jennifer Frazer


Postmortem: The Life and Deaths of a Medicolegal Death Investigator

Joseph Scott Morgan is a forensic pathologist, author of his memoirs Blood Beneath My Feet: the Journey of a Southern Death Investigator, and a Distinguished Scholar of Applied Forensics at Jacksonville State University. He has conducted thousands of autopsies and crime scene investigations. This article is a snapshot of a few memorable cases, which are also illustrated by photographs of some of the evidence. He describes the collection and analysis of organic evidence; and contact with living relatives. Joseph has an engaging style, and the events are written to entertain as well as to describe the unusual happenings of a seasoned death investigator.

by Joseph Scott Morgan


Real-Life Mysteries


Hunting for the Vampire of Barcelona

In an interview with Marc Pastor, a crime scene investigator in Barcelona, Spain, Oscar Rickett delves into the history of a woman named Enriqueta, a female murderer, who comes to Barcelona in 1912. This is precisely the time when it became known as the City of Death, as she begins murdering children and drinking their blood. Ultimately, she was caught and sentenced to death, but died of cervical cancer before her sentence could be carried out. This interview provides an overview of the important events surrounding the crime and capture, from the historical book by Marc Pastor entitled Barcelona Shadows.

by Oscar Rickett


The Motive Behind Hélène Pastor’s Murder

On March 6, 2014 in Nice, France, a 77-year-old Hélène Pastor, one of Monaco’s richest women, stepped out of L’Archet public hospital and was gunned down by two shots from a sawed-off shotgun. Mark Seal provides details on the illustrious family, the murder, and the lifestyles of the impossibly wealthy — including the jealousies, intrigues and the investigation that ultimately brought the murder to justice. Mark Seal has written this in Vanity Fair style, and it is both comprehensive and readable. Once you start, you can’t stop until the very end.

by Mark Seal


Decoding the Crime of the Century: The Real Story of the Central Park Five

Trisha Ellen Meili made the unfortunate choice to jog through Central Park, but she never made it out alive. New York City in the 1990s was perhaps a very different place than it is now. Many parts of the city were dangerous, the police were ineffective and once they had the usual suspects, would figure out charges for logical perpetrators and try to make them stick. There was no DNA, no valuable forensic science — just a rush to judgment. This is the story of how five young men of colour were sent to prison for a violent crime they did not commit, and how they were eventually exonerated.

by Edward Conlon


The Strange Case of the ‘Time Travel’ Murder

A woman, found brutally murdered in London in 1997, had biological fragments under her fingernails. The samples matched another person, which provided hope for the investigators that they could quickly identify the murderer. Strangely, the DNA belonged to a woman who had been murdered three weeks before. Were the samples switched in the lab? Were the samples simply mislabeled? Dr. Mike Silverman is a practicing forensic analyst and author of the book Written in Blood. His internal investigation of how samples can resurrect a murderer help us understand more about forensic methodology and the real possibility of contamination.

by Mike Silverman


Murder in Miniature

Frances Glessner Lee, dubbed “the mother of forensic science” created incredibly detailed doll-house dioramas of crime scenes from the 40s, which included every clue, every detail, and dolls with the same injuries, blot and position as they were found by police. These incredible dioramas are described in detail in Rachel Nuwer’s article, and are currently used for training exercises in crime scene analysis. Rachel tells the history of how they came to be, their importance to modern forensic investigation techniques, and is illustrated with photographs of some of the actual dioramas. This is a fascinating read for those interested in historical settings, crime scenes and craftsmanship.

by Rachel Nuwer


The Grisly, All-American Appeal of Serial Killers

The media loves to feed us tales of serial killers. Daily reports of the DC snipers, the Zodiac Killers’ notes to the SF journal, and the scribbling of Ted Kaczynski all sell papers. Why do we have such a fascination with these evil murderers, and why do the media continue to celebrate them and make celebrities out of them? Julie Beck takes an in-depth look at the bizarre fascination with them and asks why Americans are so fascinated by the lifestyles, the events and the outcomes of criminals.

by Julie Beck


You Could Be Imprisoned Today for Something You Didn’t Do and Spend 20 Years There

There are several factors investigators analyse when following up on a suspect implicated in a crime. Some are based on unscientific so-called gut feelings, others on junk science, and finally from putting pressure on a suspect to admit to actions that never happened. Laura Dimon takes a look at several victims of criminal prosecutions who were later exonerated from the Innocence Project files, and shows us how simple reactions can increase suspicion and result in an miscarriage of justice. In some situations, it can result in jailing an innocent person while the real perpetrator walks free. Written about specific personalities and miscarriages of justice, this article causes the reader to rethink how the justice system works when it goes off the rails.

by Laura Dimon


Security and Privacy


Crime on Social Media Covered by Existing UK Law, Lords Conclude

Cyber bullying, virtual incitement of mobs, revenge porn, trolling, character assassination, emotional assault — crimes that are now being committed online are simply extensions of crimes committed prior to the Internet, according to a ruling by England’s House of Lords. Citing testimony on the activities by representatives of Facebook and Twitter, the Lords found that the companies had strategies in place to deal with those who commit cybercrimes, and no legislation was necessary. This article by Katie Collins is an interesting look at how our shift to online activities has impacted how our society interacts anonymously, and how that has caught the attention of our government. Recommendations were made that take into consideration the new media and its reach — but ultimately leaves us to police ourselves, in many ways.

by Katie Collins


Researchers Find it’s Terrifyingly Easy to Hack Traffic Lights

In the movies, bad guys are always taking control of municipal utilities to cause confusion for their pursuers and make their getaways. The technique in real life is quite simple. Lee Hutchinson provides new technical reports on how a skilled computer hacker can — with a laptop and a radio — take over our city streets by opening a green-lit pathway through an unnamed Michigan city. The ramifications, security breaches, and solutions are discussed for this poaching of public utilities, in this eye-opening article. If our traffic lights can be controlled, what is next? Drones? Commercial aircraft? Bank vaults?

by Lee Hutchinson


Mathematics Makes Strong Case that “snoopy2” Can Be Just Fine as a Password

Our online community has become accustomed to accessing resources — bank accounts, our private mail, memberships, credit cards and every resource previously kept off line — by the Internet. Passwords protect us, and recommendations for random strings of characters and numbers are highlighted as the best way to secure our online life. However, this article by Dan Goodin cites a report by Dinei Florencio, Cormac Herley and Paul C. van Oorschot which works through the math to discover that simple passwords like ‘Snoopy2’ are as effective as random strings. In an easy to understand way, the mathematics is explained as to why that is true.

by Dan Goodin


Popular Media: Literature, Film, Television


10 Best Detectives in Books

Agatha Christie’s fictional detective, Hercule Poirot, as well as Philip Marlowe, created by Raymond Chandler are certainly two of the most famous detectives in literature. These two, and eight others make the list by Lucy Worsley of the 10 best fictional detectives in modern crime literature. Sure, the list leaves off dozens of favorites, but if you are fascinated by crime-solving in well-written, classic novels, these ten must be on your list of books to read.

by Lucy Worsley


New Jane Austen Waxwork Uses Forensic Science to Model ‘The Real Jane’

Using modern forensic techniques, artist Melissa Dring combined historical information, family history and eyewitness accounts by relatives to recreate a 3D wax model of Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen for the Jane Austen Centre in the municipality of Bath in the UK. Using a sketch done by Jane’s sister Cassandra in 1810, the likeness has been well received and is on display. This short article by Alison Flood, with illustrations of the wax model, reveals how the likeness came to be, and the challenges facing the forensic artist in her three year quest for accuracy.

by Alison Flood


Peter James: The Real-Life Horrors behind My Books

Award-winning author Peter James reveals how he uses real-life crimes to inspire his mystery novels. In this case, a stalker began a relationship with a British doctor, but when his so-called illustrious background fell apart and his criminal past was discovered, the relationship was called off. Then, the stalking began to an extreme end, and eventually resulted in the death of the woman. Peter talks about his own experience with his stalker, and parlayed the facts into a novel featuring his detective Roy Grace, the 10th in a series which has sold more than 14 million copies throughout the world.

by Peter James


What You Learn About Tech From Watching All 456 Law & Order Episodes

The TV show Law and Order ran for 20 years and produced 456 episodes and it serves as an encapsulation of a two-decade look at police work in New York City. Jeff Thompson began with a fascination for it, and then undertook a study of oddities within the show. Ultimately, he concentrated on a historical look at how computers were used over the two decades of broadcasts, underwritten by a grant from Rhizome, an organisation looking at the intersection between technology and the arts. How he assimilated thousands of screenshots, watched hundreds of hours of drama to find his indicators, and what his results were is an intriguing look at how technology has integrated with the culture of crime-solving.

by Rebecca J Rosen


TV Habits? Medical History? Tests for Jury Duty Get Personal

Selecting a jury has become a science. Each side develops questions to see if a potential decision-maker has attitudes, background or biases that will either help or harm the client, and those questions are becoming more personal and in-depth. Stephanie Clifford looks at a number of high-profile criminal cases and then investigates how the jury was selected. This is a look inside the minds of attorneys who must pass their stories through the minds of citizens to obtain a verdict that is favourable to their client. Can justice be manipulated? Read this article and decide for yourself.

by Stephanie Clifford


It’s Elementary – Of Course Sherlock Holmes was Real

A new exhibit “Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die” at the Museum of London honours the most famous 19th century Englishman — Sherlock Holmes. Suspending the concept that Holmes was a fictional character, to many of his followers and societies the world over, the investigator clearly lived among us. The exhibit and this article point to the many indications that he did exist in this world. Allan Massie takes this theory to the next level and, following the lead of the exhibit, asks us to consider if Sherlock actually lived.

by Allan Massie


Why Sherlock Still Captures our Imagination, 130 Years On

Benjamin Poore takes a different look at the Sherlock Holmes exhibit at the Museum of London. He notes how the life and adventures of the great detective and his associate, Dr Watson, mirror the happenings of London in a historical context, including the Victorian age and its growth into a world city. Although “a bit of fiction inside historical fact,” as claimed by Mr. Poole, much can be taken from the many adventures of the duo, including forensic techniques being developed during the time of Sherlock which have become commonplace today. Sherlock is popular now — never losing the adoration of his fans — because he, as an innovator, hero, maverick and successful sleuth, is somehow one of us. Referencing character traits taken from the books, we can see why this hero of the times has aged with us, even into modern times.

by Benjamin Poore




King Tutankhamun Did Not Die in Chariot Crash, Virtual Autopsy Reveals

The legend of King Tutankhamun is rife with theories and legends, and many of them were conjured up by educated guesses without much proof, since the body has never been exhumed from its golden sarcophagus. But with today’s scanning technologies, we are finally allowed to take a detailed look without breaking any seals at the body and injuries, and make a better determination of the cause of death of the boy king. The virtual autopsy undertaken by Professor Albert Zink and the Institute for Mummies and Icemen in Italy has resulted in new theories and determinations about the life and death of King Tut. It also addresses deformities consistent with his inbred conception and birth. Nicely illustrated, this article provides the latest scientific theory surrounding the short but illustrious life of a boy born into royalty and thrust into leadership at a very early age.

by Rose Troup Buchanan


Eleven Wounds that Killed King Richard III

Whoever assaulted King Richard III wanted to make sure he was dead, dead, dead. With eleven fatal injuries incurred during the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire in 1483, Patrick Kidd details these injuries with photographs of the skeleton and details of each injury after the skeleton was found in 2012 under a car park, using ground-penetrating radar. Since King Richard’s remains had been buried without pomp, and may have been moved during the reformation, it took 500 years until his remains were located and verified. However, to access this article, you need to be subscribed to or pay for a subscription to The Times and The Sunday Times.

by Patrick Kidd


Fun Stuff


A Forensic Artist Has Re-Created a Face For Crystal Head Vodka

Scottish forensic artist Nigel Cockerton has recreated many faces from skulls in the course of his work. When he saw the Crystal Head Vodka bottle, shaped like a human skull, he had to take the challenge on to discover what the person would look like in real life, based on the skull contours and Cockerton’s extensive knowledge of tissue structure and depth for human faces. The result is not so much a written record, but a series of photographs that show the progress of the procedure as the happy face of the vodka bottle comes to life. Does it reveal a drunken fool? You be the judge.

by Matt Essert


World’s First Space Detective Agency Launched

It is now easy to look over the neighbour’s fence. Paul Marks reports on the first Space Detective Agency called Air & Space Evidence Ltd of London. Formed by imaging specialist Raymond Harris and space lawyer Raymond Purdy, the pair of experts intend to use their specialties including knowledge of the Earth Observation Privacy Law to provide authentic imagery that will stand up to scrutiny in court. There are obvious uses for this technology, and Paul details some of the issues that will cause you to exclaim “of course” and wish you had thought of the idea sooner.

by Paul Marks


MovieDNA: Every Frame of a Movie on One Canvas

Another look at media from a completely different angle, MovieDNA, created by two British film enthusiasts and graphic artists, compress every frame of a popular movie, including The Matrix and Pulp Fiction into a single vertical line, and then combine them into a single gestalt image that represents the storyline in a glance. The makers of MovieDNA were on Kickstarter. You can view several of their results and determine for yourself if the images fit the mood of the movie, and whether or not you would hang one on your wall.

by Beckett Mufson


It’s your turn: Do you know of any articles you like that have not yet made it onto one of our lists? Authors, do you have a recent blog or writing that you feel we should share with our enthusiastic audience? Did one of these articles move you in a certain way, inspire you, or cause you to remember an event or a situation? Please tell us in the comments section below.