In recent years forensic science has become much more prominent, enjoying widespread interest. It attracts more and more students at university. Forensic scientists have investigated the sites of atrocities of war as well as playing a role in more mundane criminal investigations. Many politicians argue that DNA databases will help fight crime, while in the courts, juries have come to expect increasingly high standards of forensic evidence.
This preoccupation is reflected in the high profile of forensic science in popular culture, especially detective fiction, with ‘forensics’ having taken over from old-fashioned interrogations as the prime means of solving crimes in TV dramas, most notably in the popular CSI franchise: ‘The evidence doesn’t lie,’ we are told. But are there dangers in placing so much authority - social, legal and cultural - in forensic science? What explains its popularity?
|Dr Christopher McCabe
cancer researcher; under the name John Macken, author of forensic crime novels including Dirty Little Lies and Trial by Blood
| Tim Thompson
senior lecturer in crime scene science, School of Science & Technology, University of Teeside; author The Role of the Photograph in the Application of Forensic Anthropology and the Interpretation of Clandestine Scenes of Crime.
|Dr Steve Sturdy
deputy director, ESRC Genomics Forum; researcher and lecturer, history and sociology of science and medicine, University of Edinburgh.
|Dr Sarah Dauncey
literary researcher into the transactions between literature and forensic science; author These Bones Can Talk: Twentieth-Century Forensic Narratives; co-editor Corpse Life: The Contemporary Preoccupation with Human Remains (forthcoming).
|Dr Tiffany Jenkins
sociologist and cultural commentator; arts and society director, Institute of Ideas
For decades, the whereabouts of thousands executed in Spain under Franco's rule have remained a mystery. Now the exhumation of mass graves is reuniting relatives with their loved ones' remains - and revealing the country's dark history.Graham Keeley, The Guardian, 21 August 2008
Sue Black's job involves rummaging around in mass graves, examining the remains of dead children and identifying people from their severed limbs. The forensic anthropologist tells Julie Bindel about the many secrets revealed by our skeletons and why 95% of her students are female.Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 30 April 2008
The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said.BBC News, 5 September 2007
Forensic science has become a hot subject due to US television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law and Order.John Pickrell, New Scientist, 10 November 2006
In highlighting DNA as it appears in soap operas, comic books, advertising, and other expressions of mass culture, the authors propose that these domains provide critical insights into science itself.
Dorothy Nelkin & M. Susan Lindee, University of Michigan Press, 19 July 2004
"Participating in the Battle was a little like entering a Bombay train at rush hour - it's a plunge into a swirl of wildly differing notions of how people should arrange themselves in a really tight situation. When you eventually emerge, you find that you're in a different place from where you started - and that you've been thoroughly energised from the journey. I can't wait to take the trip again next year."
Naresh Fernandes, editor-in-chief, Time Out India