Monday, November 22, 2010

(empo-tuulwey) Non-sexy tools can be useful - the forensic ruler

My day job involves some interaction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and therefore I received information about the Forensics at NIST 2010 conference, which will be held in Gaithersburg, Maryland on December 6-8.

When I looked over the agenda, a particular session (December 8, 9:25 am) caught my eye:

Standardizing the Most Widely Used Tool in Forensic Science: The American Board of Forensic Odontologists’ #2 Ruler

Now that's an eye-catching title. In a world in which I learn about a variety of high-tech devices, and in which the public perception of a CSI is heavily influenced by sexy technologies, the presenter is asserting - probably correctly - that the most important tool in forensics is a ruler.

And NIST being NIST, they want to make sure that the ruler is accurate:

In response to concerns regarding the accuracy of forensic photo scales, the Engineering Metrology Group at NIST studied the conformance of commercially available forensic rulers. The speaker will present the results of this study and discuss potential methods for the development of a quality assurance program for forensic photo scales.

Massimiliano Ferrucci, Physicist, Mechanical Metrology Division

Now I must confess that before reading this abstract, I had never heard of the American Board of Forensic Odontology. I couldn't easily find any information about forensic rulers at that site, but I did find a ton of discussion about accurate measurement at...well, it was at a 9/11 truth thread.

65. I think it is a forensic ruler.

The tool in the engine picture has a circle with a cross inside it in the corner as you see here. The tool also has the inch marks with offset lines as in this illustration. They must come in many sizes.

Not that you can trust a forensic ruler:

I bet that forensic ruler can't be used because it is anti-semetic. Or maybe one time at a party it turned down the sound on a 911 video, so it fakes evidence. Or it used to belong to Alex Jones - so it can't be trusted. Or one time it was used to measure the distance from the grassy knoll to where JFK was shot, so it must be a nut.
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