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What is Forensic Science?

What is Forensic Science?

Does criminology interest you? Ever wondered what is forensic science all about? Well, then you've hit the right site my friend!
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Certainly going back to Sherlock Holmes we have a tradition of forensic science featured in detective stories.
~ Jeffery Deaver

If solving crime scene mysteries and cracking criminal cases interests you to the extent of a passion - so much so that you wouldn't mind making a career out of it - then a forensics career is just the thing for you! So what is forensic science all about and what all disciplinary scopes does it spread across? Let's take a look at the details of the history of forensics and what all disciplinary specializations are covered within its scope.

A Brief Overview of Forensics

The science of forensics is the accumulation and application of a wide field of combined knowledge borrowed from a large number of scientific and semi-scientific disciplines to reveal facts about ambiguous situations and answer questions pertaining to unexplained occurrences that hold relevance to the legal system of the society. These situations and occurrences may be of civil as well as criminal nature. The first historical record of forensic methodology and investigation dates back to the years 1247 and 1248 when a method of solving criminal cases by the application of knowledge pertaining to the fields of medicine and entomology was first written down by Song Ci, a forensic medical expert of the Song Dynasty, in his most acclaimed work Xi Juan Yi Lu (which translates as Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified). This book was a collection of records of actual criminal cases (mostly murders and homicides) and the methods used in solving each case which were forensic in nature.

Juan Vucetich pioneered the use of fingerprints on the crime scene to locate the criminals in the early 1800s. In 16th century Europe, a number of medical practitioners came up with evidence that the cause of death, whether it is natural, accidental or violent, can be ascertained by examining the effects of the cause of death upon various internal organs. A list of such medical geniuses who contributed towards the gradual development and popularization of forensic investigative methods include such names as Ambroise Pare, Fortunato Fidelis, Paolo Zacchia, Fodere, Johann Peter Frank, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Valentin Ross, James Marsh, Bernard Spilsbury, Francis Camps, Keith Simpson and Sydney Smith.

Although the forensic method derives their methods and investigative techniques from a lot of disciplines, its relationship with biochemistry and technology is very prominent and significant. A sound knowledge of biochemistry is desired as most of the forensic investigation in criminal cases involves handling and investigation of chemicals, bodily fluids and biological tissues. Also, a good command over various technologies helps in getting most accurate results from samples collected at crime scenes. Also, a good knowledge of computer science and information technology also come handy when dealing with cold-blooded and well planned crimes.

Fields of Forensic Studies

The following list enumerates the various different branches of forensic science that offer a lot of career scope for people with diverse academic backgrounds and disciplinary specializations.
  • Forensic Podiatry
  • Forensic Accounting
  • Trace Evidence Analysis
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Forensic Archeology
  • Forensic Botany
  • Forensic Astronomy
  • Computer Forensics
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Dactyloscopy
  • Criminalistics
  • Forensic DNA Analysis
  • Digital Forensics
  • Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Forensic Limmology
  • Forensic Geology
  • Forensic Meteorology
  • Forensic Linguistics
  • Forensic Optometry
  • Forensic Odontology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Forensic Serology
  • Forensic Seismology
  • Forensic Video Analysis
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Mobile Device Forensics
That, I presume, more or less answers the titular question and also gives a brief historical outline of this scientific method of solving civil and criminal cases for the legal system to arrive at a conclusion for imparting and upholding justice. Today, with the all round advances in science and technology, forensic studies and methods have got a major face lift in terms of investigative efficiency and accuracy of results and this has greatly accelerated the pace of civil and criminal investigations.
Forensic Engineering
Forensic Entomology
Digital Forensics
Forensic Criminalistics
Forensic Astronomy
Forensic Archeology
Forensic Anthropology
Forensic Toxicology
Forensic Video Analysis
Forensic Pathology
Forensic Odontology
Forensic Linguistics
Forensic Geology
Forensic Accounting
Forensic Podiatry
Forensic Limnology