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World of Science: how do we get our fingerprints?

Sat 06 Nov 2010 21:10


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For nearly a hundred years now the world’s smartest criminals have fallen foul to a devious scientific method that pinpoints the sole part of a human body that renders us completely individual.

It is of course; the fingerprint! From the blood stained streets of TV shows like Taggart and CSI: Miami to the FBI’s secret databases, our fingers can trace us back to a certain place and, thanks to modern technology, even to a certain point in time.

Science brainbox Ali Floyd from Glasgow’s Science Centre, explains how our sweaty fingers can give the game away and frame even the most devious of criminal masterminds.

Ali said: “We can leave our fingerprints behind anytime we touch something, because our hands naturally produce sweat.

“Or, should we want to make a better impression – which criminals rarely do – we can use ink.”

Fingerprint markings have been around since Egyptian times, and artists would often use them to give their work an original signature.

In more recent times, they have been used to identify criminals and are becoming increasingly important in the fight against drugs crime and burglary.

Ali added: “Identifying people by their fingerprints has been universally accepted as a way of solving crimes for over a hundred years.

“Even identical twins have different fingerprints, because of the way they are formed.”

Wean's world of Science

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