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How Much Do You Know About Forensic Science?
by Torrance Grey
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Forensic science -- or "forensics" for short -- has fascinated fiction writers since, at least, the time of Arthur Conan Doyle, when the 19th-century doctor-turned-writer had his protagonist, Sherlock Holmes, use forensic methods to solve crimes. But how much of what you've seen on the screen is realistic?

Forensics has become even more popular in recent decades, giving us the novels of Patricia Cornwell and television shows like "CSI." However, real-life forensic scientists (FYI, they hate being called "techs"!) say that these TV shows greatly exaggerate the ease and speed with which they do their work (and, probably, the drama of their love lives!)

Although real-life forensic science isn't nearly as sexy as TV and the movies makes it appear, it's also a much broader field than you might realize. It involves a lot more than fingerprints and DNA analysis (to name that two best-known sub-disciplines). Branches of forensic science include handwriting and document analysis, examination of video recordings or digital/computer evidence, and toxicology (the study of drugs and poisons). There's an entire branch dedicated to blood spatter alone!

Whether you're a fan of "CSI"-style TV shows and movies, or you once considered pursuing a branch of criminalistics as a career, we've got a quiz to challenge you. Do you know what kind of technician would study "metadata"? Or in what kind of crime scene you'd find a "void area"? Duck under the yellow tape and put your knowledge to the test!

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