Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can maths catch criminals and bring them to justice?

23.03.2006


Mathematics is playing such an increasingly important role in crime scene investigations, helping forensic scientists work out a range of problems including the trajectories of bullets, fingerprint recognition and the speed of moving vehicles, that an understanding of the subject could be key for the next great detective.

Professor Christopher Budd from the University of Bath will explore this further when he delivers a lecture entitled Can maths catch criminals and bring them to justice? at Gresham College on Wednesday 29 March at 6.30pm.

Describing the mathematical techniques used in investigating everything from tracing the culprit in water pollution to what or who killed Tutankhamen, Professor Budd will suggest that mathematics has a key role to play in modern-day crime detection.



“Mathematics is important and highly relevant to crime fighting in particular, and to many other real life problems in general,” said Professor Budd.

“It won’t solve every problem, but mathematics is a particularly useful tool in the set of techniques used in the forensic service.”

In an attempt to resolve an ancient murder mystery, X-ray analyses of Tutankhamen’s mummified body in the 1960s had proved inconclusive. It was only through a recent investigation using CAT scanning technology that scientists could work out that the Egyptian king probably died of an infection following a broken leg.

CAT scans allow scientists to build a 3D image from x-rays using a mathematical formula discovered by Johann Radon in 1917. Without mathematics the CAT scanner would not work, nor would any other method of medical imaging. However, whilst the engineers who built the first CAT scan machine in 1972 received a Nobel Prize, Radon got nothing.

Mathematicians are now using the same approach, only in reverse, to work out the position of landmines from a photograph of an area of land. By looking for clues hidden in the photograph, the formula can help pin point the likely location of land mines and trip wires.

“People often ask the question, ‘what is the use of maths?’ The answer is that it plays such an important role in almost every aspect of our lives, we just don’t often notice it’s there,” said Professor Budd who is also President of the Mathematics Section at the British Association and Chair of Mathematics at the Royal Institution.

“Many of the mathematical techniques used by forensic scientists are similar to those used in medical imaging for brain tumours, oil prospecting and remote sensing by satellites.

“It is remarkable how often ideas which might be thought of as pure mathematics often find very real and important applications.”

Helene Murphy | alfa
Further information:
http://www.gresham.ac.uk

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht New Master’s programme: University of Kaiserslautern educates experts in quantum technology
15.03.2017 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Research sheds new light on forces that threaten sensitive coastlines

24.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

24.04.2017 | Machine Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>