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Crime Science

How Hair Can be Used To Track Where You've Been 133

First time accepted submitter kandelar writes "PBS recently ran a story about how some scientists are using human hair to trace where a person has been. The combinations of different isotopes in water make for somewhat unique signatures from place to place. These isotopes get placed in growing hair strands which can then be traced back to identify where a person has been."
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How Hair Can be Used To Track Where You've Been

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  • by ls671 ( 1122017 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:52PM (#41689063) Homepage

    This has been done for year, it isn't a new concept.

  • Perrier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @10:59PM (#41689107)

    My hair would say I've been in southern France for a long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @11:00PM (#41689117)

    We eat food and drink water.
    Food comes from multiple sources, some transported large distances.
    This will distort results significently and reduce the accuracy of the claimed results.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @11:24PM (#41689271)
    Or some local reservoir near the Perrier bottling factory in China
  • The 15-year logos! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @11:27PM (#41689291)

    By gum, we need a meta-story that summarizes the fantastic 15-year anniversary logos that we've been enjoying this month when the celebrations come to an end.

    They've been great. Middle-earth? Braille? Mysterious crypto-patterns? Imagination! Experience! Effort!

    We true Slashdotters must all appreciate the effort put in; we should therefore demand a forum to discuss and congratulate the various artists.

    Who's with me? Vote this post up! I'm AC, so there's no karma-whoring here! Vote this post up to show: we want a story about the logos!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @11:44PM (#41689411)

    If used improperly, i.e. to determine where any individual has been, such a thing cannot be used to ascertain where you've been at any time prior to the eruption of any individual strand from its follicle. It MIGHT, if what has been written is true, determine where the food and/or water a person has consumed came from, or if anthropologists were using the technique to identify the migration patterns of ancient humans before the rise of international, then intercontinental trade.

    A quick census of my kitchen and fridge would imply that I have been to Ecuador, (where my bananas came from,) Mexico, (where my avocados and tomatoes came from,) Florida, (where my oranges and the oranges that were squeezed to form my orange juice came from,) Iowa (where the corn that goes into 50 different products in my diet came from,) Italy, (where the wheat that goes into my pasta was grown,) Japan, (where the rice that goes into many of the soups and snacks I enjoy was grown,) Columbia, (where the beans in my coffee were grown,) Greece, (where the olives that were squeezed to make my olive oil were grown,) France, (where most of the water I drink was bottled,) Spain, (where the grapes in my Sangria were grown,) to say nothing of China, where the lead in my toys comes from.

    A person analyzing my hair might well assume I've been to all of these places, as they might so many people, who like me, rarely leave their home-towns for any reason, but they'd be WRONG. This is phrenology all over again.

    But then, this has given me an opportunity to realize just how many different locales on this planet contribute to my diet. Globalism, hey?

    Imagine if the human race still exists a thousand years from now, and assuming the pace of forward technological progress and human knowledge and proliferation continues to follow the pattern it has. Our distant descendants could look around their kitchens and marvel at how they've hardly ever been off whatever interstellar habitat they live in, or how given what moon or planet they live on, how very many different worlds their consumables come to them from. Well, Blue Sun, hey?

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982