The word "forensic" is derived from the Latin term "forensis", which means "in open court". Forensic science is defined as, "the application of scientific knowledge and methodology to legal problems and criminal investigations". Forensic science (also known as forensics) encompasses many fields of science like chemistry, medicine, pathology, anthropology, genetics, engineering, biology, medicine, pathology, toxicology and psychiatry. Forensic scientists use many tools to help them in their endeavor to deliver reliable and accurate results.
Forensic scientists use blood test kits. A blood test kit is used to determine the presence of blood at a crime scene. It also enables them to determine the blood group. This kit usually contains chemical substances like benzidine and phenolphthalein. When benzidine is added to a solution made from dried blood and water, the solution turns blue. If phenolphthalein is used, the solution turns pink. Blood test kits are available on the Internet.
A survey reveals that handguns are used in half the homicides committed in the United States of America. Sixty percent of homicides are caused by firearms. Forensic scientists spend substantial amount of time in ballistic analysis. Comparison microscope helps them in investigating fire-arm related homicides. This tool makes it possible for forensic scientists to observe two specimens simultaneously. Drug analyzers are used to detect substances like cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
Finger print kits are used to identify fingerprints. A finger print kit contains items like fingerprint brushes, latent print backing cards, fingerprint powder, fingerprint lifting tapes, a storage case, a magnifying glass and a pair of gloves. It usually contains a fingerprinting station with an inkless fingerprint pad with non-skid rubber feet. The kit also contains fingerprinting slab and roller.
Fabric identification kit helps forensic scientists analyze fabrics. Thin layer chromatography (TLC) helps in analyzing the dye composition of fibers. Neutron activation analyzer enables forensic scientists to study bullet shards. UV flashlight is an important forensic tool. It is used for close examination of the crime scene.
Scanning electron microscopes and X-ray micro analyzers help in analyzing gunshot residue. Mass spectrometer is effective in drug analysis. Forensic scientists use plasma emission spectroscope to analyze glass pieces. Many software programs like Multiplex_QA, STR_MatchSamples, STR_Convert Formats and Virtual Mixture Maker are used to help forensic scientists in their work.
Forensic science is a fascinating subject. "Handbook of Forensic Science", published by the U.S. Government in 1994, is a very good book on the subject.