‘Evidence never lies.’ Criminal Minds, CSI, Law & Order – the popularity of crime television shows might have a bit to do with how the audience gets a little taste of forensic technology. After all, not many people out there would have had the first-hand experience of having their DNA sampled! There wouldn’t be criminal investigations without forensics, and contrary to what TV portrays, lots of different branches exist – forensic pathology, DNA analysis, toxicology… So, how do scientists solve a crime?
‘In Vino Veritas’ or ‘in wine lies truth’ are well-known words supposedly uttered 2600 years ago by the poet Alcaeus of Mytilene. Since ancient civilizations, humans were familiar with alcoholic beverages – its effects documented even in the bible and so exquisitely by Shakespeare. Depending on the amount consumed, alcohol can cause blackouts, headaches, nausea or fatigue. But what actually happens to the glass (or glasses) of wine we consume after it enters the human body?
What do turkeys and bananas have in common? While they are indeed tasty, both also happen to be especially susceptible to… fungi. No, it’s not some mutant giant mushroom on a rampage that you should be worried about, but rather the toxic chemicals that some species of fungi produce. Mom was definitely right when she warned you against eating those colorful mushrooms growing in your backyard as a kid; here’s how these so-called mycotoxins affect us more than we think.
‘That ethanol you spilled has a flash point of 14°C, your clumsiness is going to set the room on fire!’ A highly unlikely scenario actually; we often mistake flash points of substances as the temperature at which they will catch fire. For ethanol this would require its surroundings to be a toasty 365°C, so what’s the big fuss about its flammability? And how does Fahrenheit 451 tie into all this?
Essential oils for aromatherapy are all the rage nowadays; the ‘essence’ of all that good stuff in plants captured and inhaled to treat diseases. However there is little evidence supporting aromatherapy as a form of medication, while the dangers of the concentrated chemicals in essential oils are rarely publicized. Don’t let plants pull their leaves over your eyes.