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Excessively sweaty? Here’s some career advice.

Monday, December 3, 2012
posted by Rita Handrich

Do not pursue a life of crime. And that advice goes beyond the idea you would be too easy to smell. And way beyond the tired recommendation of heavy-duty, clinical strength antiperspirant (although far be it from us to dissuade you from smelling nice). This is instead, as is our tendency here, a recommendation based on research.

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found a way to lift high-quality fingerprints from soaking wet paper. As it turns out, the amino acids in some human sweat can degrade fingerprint quality. In the past, therefore, the sweaty criminal may have been tough to identify. But progress is being made!

In this study, the scientists fixed this problem by making the gold nanoparticles stick to the paper upon which the fingerprint is located, instead of to the print itself. This method, detailed in the November issue of the German journal Angewandte Chemie [Applied Chemistry], results in a negative image of the fingerprint, with the particles sticking to the divots between the fatty ridges formed by greasy fingers. Since fat is impermeable, the ridges stay in place even when faced with massive amounts of water. You can read a detailed description of why this is so tough to do over at the Salamander Hours blog.

It would seem that sweaty criminals have a short time frame for choosing new career paths. So why is this important for litigation advocates to know?

Because it represents a significant advance in finger-printing technology and fingerprint identification.

It is a sign of moving closer to catching criminals whose amino acids may have unwittingly helped them to escape detection up until now.

Plus–there are times when it’s good to know something a little amusing and yet ostensibly relevant for litigation advocacy.

Jaber N, Lesniewski A, Gabizon H, Shenawi S, Mandler D, & Almog J (2012). Visualization of latent fingermarks by nanotechnology: reversed development on paper-a remedy to the variation in sweat composition. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 51 (49), 12224-7 PMID: 23125068

***We appreciate being included in the ABA Blawg 100 for the third year in a row! If you like our blawg, take a minute to vote for us here (under the Trial Practice category). Thanks! Doug and Rita***




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