How Science Solves Crimes

From ballistics to DNA, forensic scientists are revolutionizing police work--on TV and in reality. And just in time

To the untrained eye, the misshapen lump of lead looks utterly worthless. But to the examiners in the windowless lab of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Rockville, Md., this is pure gold: a fragment of the slug that could link the latest victim of the sniper rampage to the ones who came before. Like the other bullets, this one is carefully carried into the lab and hand-delivered to Walter Dandridge, 50, the principal examiner in the case. Using a bit of sticky wax, he attaches the crumpled slug to a slender rod suspended under his Leica comparison microscope,...

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