CSI in Real Life – How Modern Forensics Identifies Unknown Substances

Television shows featuring in-depth crime analysis have become incredibly popular. No longer are the detectives who apprehend criminals the sole heroes of crime dramas. Now, the behind-the-scenes scientists who help to identify these criminals have been pushed into the spotlight and onto our television screens.

Americans are certainly fascinated with how forensics works and the seemingly minute details that can make or break a crime scene investigation. But is real-life at all similar to what plays out on the small screen in shows like CSI?

Modern science has made extreme leaps in terms of forensics in recent years. New chemical analysis processes can in fact identify mere traces of unknown substances. When coupled with advances in DNA identification, forensic scientists are able to play a key role in determining the who and the how of crime scenes.

Forensic scientists rely on highly-technical materials analysis processes in order to turn the seemingly minute details into hard and fast evidence that plays a major role in criminal cases. One such process is known as Fourier Transform – Infrared Spectroscopy, or FTIR.

FTIR is mainly utilized for identifying organic compounds, though it can in some cases also identify inorganic materials. Essentially, FTIR measures the frequency of wavelengths in the infrared spectrum that are absorbed by a given material. This frequency is usually measured in wavenumbers.

The specific absorption bands of organic materials can be used to identify the functional groups present in a compound and can be compared to existing reference spectra of known substances to identify the material.

With the ability of FTIR to identify something as small as a human hair, FTIR is extremely useful for identifying trace amounts of substances found at a crime scene to determine what, and who, was there. However FTIR also has uses outside of the realm of crime scene investigation.

Commercial laboratories like Innovatech Labs provide FTIR services to clients looking to identify potential product contaminants, or the levels of a specific organic compound present in a given material. This use of FTIR helps companies maintain and ensure the integrity of the products they put on the market.

From crime scene analysis to contamination identification, the science behind popular television crime dramas impacts our lives every day.…

Choosing Your Major and Further: First Steps to Choosing a Career

Choosing what you are going to study at university is an important first step in building the stairs to a successful career. However, it is not the end of the world once you choose a major, and do not want to get a job that is offered to the graduates of that department. There are various opportunities even after you choose your major to give your career a new direction.

First of all, keep in mind that most companies today are very flexible with the major of their potential employees especially in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences. Of course, no company would like to give a Computer Engineering job to a Medicine graduate. But just because you have studied History, it does not mean you cannot work as a Public Relations Manager. The skills you have obtained from your major may seem useless once you decide to work at a relatively unrelated job, but nothing can be more deceiving. The skills that seem to be related only to your major are indeed to be used in a variety of fields, which you will discover as you work.

Let’s say you have recognized that you want to give your career a new direction in the first years of your undergraduate studies. This is good news. You can choose from a variety of alternatives depending on the options provided by your college. You may be transferred to another department, you may consider doing a Double Major, or you may add a Minor next to your Major degree. Of course, not all of these are offered at all colleges, neither are they available for all departments. However, you will definitely find an alternative that suits you, and shows you the exit out of the maze.

What if none of the alternatives above are available, or you have already finished your undergraduate studies? Then, there are still other options for you. One option is doing your Master’s in a field related to the new path you would like your career to take. You can discuss which Graduate Program would be the best with your professors at college, and also with your employers if you have had the chance to have any. If you do not have any work experience, talking to a potential employer could also benefit you in the same way. Other than looking for an appropriate Master’s Degree, you could also search for Certificate Programs. These programs are more direct and can add a lot to your existing skills. With these programs, you can have both a certificate in the hand and also a new feld of expertise, both of which will be of great use in your job applications.…