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Skin and bones

A conversation with forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, whose best-selling Temperance Brennan mystery novels were the inspiration for the Fox television series Bones

Kate Fodor
KF: What kinds of science get used to solve the mysteries in your books?KR: The base science is forensic anthropology, which is what I do. But otherwise, I try in all of the stories to bring in a different type of science. I've used chemistry via toxicology; I've used physics via blood-splatter-pattern analysis; I've used microbiology via DNA analysis. The only common denominator is that there's a forensic application.KF: You mentioned DNA analysis. Can you talk a little about how that technique is transforming forensic science?KR: Until very recently, DNA was only used in a comparative sense, where you have a sample and you see whether it matches another sample. But there are some techniques now developing where it can actually be predictive. You have a sample from a crime scene of blood or another bodily fluid, and it can identify the person as being of a very...

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