The Forensic Scientist
Contrary to popular belief forensic science is not a new discipline but has been used for thousands of years. For example, the detection of impurities in the golden crown (commissioned by Hiero king of the Syracuse) by Archimedes was a forensic examination of sorts. Of course these days the tools and techniques are a lot more high-tech than a tub and some water.
Most people believe that the job profile of a forensic scientist just revolves around corpses, yet this is just half the truth; there are many other branches of criminal investigations that require the skills and expert analysis of a forensic scientist.
Investigating Murders/Deaths – When murder and foul play has been suspected or even when there's been a sudden unexpected death a forensic scientist will be called on to try and determine time, cause, and nature of the incident surrounding the death. This involves many different techniques such as DNA fingerprinting, chemical analysis of fluids, and taking impressions such as fingerprints, footwear, and tire tracks.
One on the most famous forensic cases concerns the murder of Helle Crafts in1986. It is a gruesome tale, but her body was dispatched into a wood chipper machine, leaving hardly any remains. Her husband told friends several different stories about her absence, and eventually an investigation was launched and police found tiny pieces of metal, bone, blond hair and blood samples in a lake. The blood group was the same as Helle's. Her husband was prosecuted and found guilty of her murder.
Digital Forensics – with the increasing use of computers and the rise of networking, it is possible to steal data or valuable information sitting thousands of miles away from the crime scene. There could be other issues as well such as a person might be accused of visiting prohibited sites in certain countries and his/her computer might need to be investigated for evidence. All this comes under the job description of a digital or computer forensic scientist.
The list of forensic jobs is quite large and includes several other areas such as toxicology which deals with studying the effects of poisons and their role in crimes, and carrying out lie detection tests and interviews to determine the truth. Principally the job of a forensic investigator revolves around the laboratory; field work actually represents a small percentage of the work time.