Airdate: Dec 21, 2009
Scientist: Mo Lupia
Kids' Science Challenge: Forensics - Detective Science
Real-world forensic investigations can be exciting, but it's quite different from what we're exposed to on TV.
ML: Very often people will ask me questions that are really based on what they’ve seen on television. There are similarities, but the real world is different; we’re not able to get an answer within that one-hour time that’s allotted for the typical television show.
JM: Mo Lupia is not an actor playing the part of a detective. He’s the real thing a forensic investigator with the Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences in Syracuse, New York. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Armed with gloves, tweezers, fingerprint powder and evidence bags, Lupia’s job is to survey a crime scene, and then to carefully collect the evidence.
ML: You have to be careful that you don’t leave evidence behind or mix items in with the evidence that’s going to distort your findings later on. If you’re at an accident scene, very often there’s sharp objects that you need to be very careful when you’re around. There’s also biological substances that can be dangerous. So, you have to be very alert when you’re at a scene.
JM: If you’d like to pursue Mo Lupia’s line of work, you’ll want to brush up on your math and science skills, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.
ML: There have been times when I’ve gotten to a scene, and as soon as I get to the scene, there are people from the local fire department handing me rappelling gear and telling me I have to rappel down a cliff to go and examine the scene. There are other times where I’m conducting an investigation that has occurred in a maximum-security prison, and I’ve spent all day in that prison. You never know where you’re going to be or what you’re going to be doing when you go to work on a particular day.
JM: Mo Lupia is a participant in this year’s Kids’ Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders, made possible by the National Science Foundation. Go to kidsciencechallenge.com. I’m Jim Metzner.