Forensics or forensic science is the application of science to questions which are of interest to the legal system. For example, forensic pathology is the study of the human body to determine cause and manner of death. Criminalistics is the application of various sciences to answer questions relating to examination and comparison of biological evidence, trace evidence, impression evidence, drugs and firearms. Forensic odontology is the study of the uniqueness of dentition, and forensic toxicology is the study of drugs and poisons, and their effects on the human body.
Sherlock Holmes, the fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was, in fact, the inspiration for forensic science. Decades later, the comic strip, Dick Tracy also featured the detective using a considerable number of forensic methods although sometimes the methods were more fanciful. The popular television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation depicts a glamorized version of the activities of forensic scientists.
The use of "forensics" used in place of "forensic science" could be considered incorrect; the term "forensic" is effectively a synonym for "legal" or "related to courts". However, it is now so closely associated with the scientific field that many dictionaries include the meaning given here.
Specialities in forensics include:
- Forensic evidence
- Forensic anthropology
- Forensic pathology
- Forensic odontology
- Forensic toxicology
- Canine forensics
- Forensic genetics
- Computer forensics
- Textile forensics
- Forensic entomology
- Forensic palynology
- Forensic engineering
- Forensic accounting
- Forensic psychiatry
- Questioned document examination
- Forensic palaeology -- see diplomatics
- Dead Reckoning: The New Science of Catching Killers. Michael Baden, M.D., former New York City Medical Examiner, and Marion Roach. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN 0-684-86758-3
- Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection. Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer. University Press of Kentucky, 1999. ISBN 0813120918.