Science: The Atomic Eye

In a California courtroom, an accused murderer will soon be confronted by a novel adversary. A witness for the prosecution will be an atomic scientist, armed with "radiation fingerprints," evidence that can be as accurate and reliable as a photograph of the actual crime. No ordinary cop could hope to gather such fingerprints, or even to decipher them. They are the product of neutron activation analysis, which requires that specimens under study be irradiated with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. Then the fine details of their chemical composition can be deduced from the pattern of the radiation they give off.

Though the...

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