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In order to get an idea of the history of forensic science, you can trace the profession’s origins all the back to ancient Babylon. Some anthropologists believe forensic science began around 700 BC, when government officials used signet rings as signs of authority, and they employed fingerprints to consummate business transactions. These anthropologists have found fingerprints in early rock carvings and cave paintings made by prehistoric man. In Nova Scotia, a recently discovered prehistoric painting showed ridge patterns from the fingertip of a hand.
In 212 BC, Archimedes proved that artists did not make the crown using gold. He accomplished this by implementing buoyancy and density experiments. Ancient Greece is where Erasistratus (Greek Physician) made a very astute observation. He noticed that his patients would experience an increase in their pulse rates when they lied to him. This was first step in the creation of a lie detector. In 1877, a man named Thomas Taylor, an American, made the argument that a person’s fingertips could be identifiers in criminal cases. Then, in 1880, a Scotsman named Henry Faulds used fingerprints as a way of eliminating innocent suspects.
Forensic Science Advancements
By now, the history of forensic science began to take on momentum. The White Chapel murderer was on the loose in 1888. Sir Francis Gaton made some excellent observations about fingerprint identification and published his book about the topic in 1892. This was the year that Juan Vucetich, an Argentinean police researcher, finally developed a much needed fingerprint classification system.
In 1902, Scotland Yard introduced fingerprinting as a viable method for identifying criminal suspects. Serial killers were plentiful and fingerprints played a vital role in catching these horrific murderers. The incidence of serial killers increased over the years, growing from 6% of the total crimes committed each year to 18% of all crimes committed by the turn of the 20th century. Serial killers comprised 4000 cases for Scotland Yard detectives to solve annually.
Detectives learned a very valuable lesson from the case of the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer whose crime spree reached its apex in 1978. Scotland Yard began to collect valuable personal data, such as blood type, shoe size, and body statistics, and stored the data in a computer for future reference. This system was the precursor to DNA collection.
Forensic Technology Goes Technical
The history of forensic science culminates with the introduction of DNA profile test. Sir Alec Jefferies published his finding in 1985, which became the model used to catch the first murder suspect in 1986. Colin Pitchfork murdered two British girls and detective sealed his fate by using a DNA test. In 1987, the United States finally introduced to DNA profiling tests in the case of Tommy Lee Andrews, who committed a series of vicious sexual assaults.
With the fast pace of advanced technology, breakthroughs continued to allow forensic science to remain one-step ahead of criminals. Dr. Lawrence Farwell came up with a technique known as “Farwell Brain Fingerprinting.” This technique uses computers to identify criminals by measuring brainwave responses after a suspect views a set of photographs.
If you find this condensed history of forensic science fascinating, you may want to consider making a career out of it. You can do so by earning your degree in forensic science and criminal justice. Many people who could not go back to college now earn degrees from an online college or university. They work on a schedule they set, allowing them to fulfill family and professional responsibilities. A career forensic science waits for you. Enroll in an online degree program today!