Last summer, police in Bucks County, Pennsylvania picked up a man carrying an unmarked vial of red liquid. During questioning, the 33-year-old explained that the vial contained human blood and fentanyl, a painkiller 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The liquid’s street name: “BLOOD.” (All-caps is apparently the going style for the substance’s street name, but we’ll stick to “Blood” from this point forward because frankly, using BLOOD over and over again makes this article look like it was written by the Count from “Sesame Street”.)
If you’ve watched enough reruns of shows like CSI, Bones, and Law and Order, you probably know by now that when forensic specialists find DNA evidence, the suspect is often identified within the next couple of minutes—as soon as the team sticks the results of DNA analysis into a computer program. Although the real life process isn’t quite as speedy, DNA certainly has been the highest bar for identification in forensics. But when it comes to hair samples of missing persons or those found at crime scenes, sequencing the proteins in those locks may work better than DNA.
Set design’s loss may be criminal justice’s gain. A new technology may eventually replace luminol in detecting traces of blood.