Friday, November 20, 2009

TV questioning "high tech" forensics?

On Monday, Nov. 16, CSI-Miami went through a number of "false positives" in forensics, including a "false positive" for blood alcohol caused by ethanol-producing micro-organisms elevating the ethanol level. [the details were not fleshed out, tho the investigators acted as if ethanol-producers were a known problem]

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, NCIS had its black-out episode, showing how the investigators were held-back without their computers.
The episode included "Gibbs using the mimeograph," even though Gibbs didn't use a stencil. How many viewers have used a mimeograph, or know how it works?

Note the following exchange on comicbookresources:

Originally Posted by Stressfactor
No, mimeographs still take electricity.... and the print on them is purple because of the ink used.

I am old enough to recall the smell of the alcohol and ink on a freshly mimeographed document from when I was in grade school.

No, what Gibbs was using looked like some kind of hand cranked roller copier.
That is a mimeograph machine.

From Wikipedia:
"Although in mid-range quantities, mimeographs remain more economical and energy efficient, easier-to-use photocopying and offset have replaced mimeography almost entirely in developed countries, although it continues to be a working technology in developing countries because it's a simpler, cheaper, and more robust technology, and because many mimeographs can be hand-cranked and thus require no electricity."

I know for certain that, growing up, my school had such a mimeograph. A few of us kids were taught to use it. Our original machine was purely manual, but we later got one that was capable of both.

And, yes, there is a patent story. From officemuseum:

Albert Blake Dick invented the Mimeograph stencil in 1884. The A. B. Dick Co., Chicago, acquired Edison’s copying system patents and, with Edison’s support, began manufacturing and marketing Edison Mimeograph systems in 1887. Models were sold in rectangular wooden boxes (Plates 21B-23). The boxes contained a hand printing frame that consisted of a flat bed or printing board and a hinged frame that held the stencil. The boxes also contained an ink roller, an inking slate, ink, varnish and a brush for making corrections, waxed stencil paper, blotters, a writing stylus, and a writing plate with a file-like surface (see Plate 19) that was 1.5" to 3" top-to-bottom and as wide as the printing frame.

On Wednesday, Nov. 18, Law & Order SVU had Olivia under accusations because of some manipulated DNA evidence. [Episode titled "Perverted" wherein (manipulated) DNA evidence links Olivia to the murder of a biker in Central Park whose gang specialized in hits and prostitution.]


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