It is obvious that technology nowadays is so advanced and develops so swiftly that one can’t even get a hold of it. Every single day, discoveries upon discoveries, theories upon theories, ideas so fresh and innovative are produced and resulted. All of these are geared towards a beneficial end which making our complex lives here in earth more easy.
Various breakthroughs are evident even to the most complex and difficult ones. Again the word and the idea of a once perceived product of the mind as being impossible can rarely be heard in our current situation. One cannot escape the idea of having a more “livable” life just by simply glancing at these technologies and wonder on what will the world look like a decade from now but how will it appear tomorrow.
But with all these ideas of ours coming into reality with the help of great minds and technology, people must take into consideration and realize that all these come from simple, basic and elementary things and ideas that somewhat triggered to the development of a more advance and suitable one. This mindset should be present in all aspects. History perhaps is the one that should be present in trying to regard them. Let us take a particular current breakthrough that the world is being proud of right now. Consider the latest in forensic science for example. And this time plunge ourselves to a particular subject…fingerprints. It may sound so basic but a lot of things have already been done and a lot of information about fingerprints has been written and stored and what better way to appreciate it than to study a bit of it and learn some facts about fingerprints.
I. Meaning and nature
We would be confronted initially of the meaning of the word “fingerprint” as a start. A very helpful and handy dictionary would instantly tell us that “fingerprint” is a noun that means as that impression given by a fingertip on any surface. A deeper meaning of it is that is that impression or mark that is left by the ridges or creases of a finger, palm or just about any part of the body. We may opt to use palm prints, foot prints or any print that emanated from the body, but in this case, it will particularly be the fingerprint that our discussion will focus on.
If you look closely, our fingers as well as our palms (which are closely connected by the way) are composed of ridges. These ridges are interconnected on our fingers and palms in such a way that these ridges are very helpful in creating friction in order for us to grasp things easily when it landed on a surface. These ridges are known also to participate by generating the needed vibrations and signals to our sensory nerves.
The impression, the mark, or the print is made by the secretion of mostly water from our eccrine glands which are natural. The presence of fingerprints is also attributable to inks or any other chemical and contaminants applied on the fingers for the ridges to absorb and transferred to a smooth surface.
II. Types of fingerprint
1. Latent prints – According to forensic science experts, a latent fingerprint is that type of fingerprint that is accidentally done on any surface. It is in this regard that said fingerprint may in one way or another, hidden or invisible depending on the amount of pressure, kind of surface and other underlying factors. These types of fingerprints are often considered by forensic science experts as hard to identify for most of these types are unclear, smudged and distorted in nature.
2. Patent prints – These are the most common types of fingerprints. These prints are mostly clear in nature and can easily be identified. These marks are commonly made in the deposits of the creases done by separate materials such as water, ink and oil. These types of fingerprints are clearly evident that most of it can be photographed instead of lifting for identification.
3. Plastic prints – These types of prints are also similar to the patent type only in the manner of impression. Plastic prints are those prints that are impressed or deposited into a material which is capable of retaining the impressed ridges. A clear example of this type is that print left after touching a melted candle or some prints that are left on some grease on a car.
Today, quick and accurate identification and acquisition of fingerprints are the foundations of some of the state of the art technology in the field. A fingerprint can be easily identified in a matter of minutes with the Automated Fingerprint Identification system (AFIS). This procedure also allows the transfer of prints from one place to another as a coded or encrypted data.
Acquisition on the other hand would require the use of print scanners that allows one to either touch or roll your fingers on the scanning area. These scanners usually take into account the physical differences of the ridges on the print. Some fingerprint acquisition scanners would rely most on the captured ridges presented on a certain amount of impression given by a certain subject. These types of scanners sometimes fail since changes in the amount of impression of a single print can vary depending on said factor. What the technology experts focuses on right now is on the acquisition and identification of prints as based on the captured ridges. It is through the different patterns that these ridges are presented that makes a print distinct from the other.
III. Patterns – Our fingerprint experts say that there are three basic fingerprint patterns. They are the Arch, the Loop and the Whorl. There are more complex sub-classifications of these basic patterns depending on the position and the direction of the hand. Loops may either be radial or ulnar in nature. There are also sub-classifications on an Arch if it is either plain arches or a tented arch. Whorls also have its share as there are accidental, double-loop and pocket-loop whorls.
IV. Interesting and other fun facts about fingerprints
- As many have already known this fact about fingerprints, it is interesting to consider reiterating the fact that there are absolutely NO identical fingerprints. It is said that the ridges that form largely of our prints develops as early as in the first few weeks of the fetus stages and each is individually develop that even an identical twin doesn’t posses the same fingerprints;
- It is possible that relatives do have same fingerprint patterns;
- You can outgrow your shoes but not your prints as they will stay the same no matter how old you are;
- In order to seal or close their business transactions, ancient Babylonians used fingerprints in their tablets;
- Brothers Alfred and Albert Stratton of 1905 were the first victims of fingerprinting evidence. They were convicted of murder;
- Fingerprints are considered to be the very basis of criminal history of every police agency;
- Fingerprints are believed to have outnumbered the DNA in the identification process with regards to crime solving and other incident-related cases;
- That the fingerprint database of the FBI is ten times larger than their DNA’s;
- You can’t change or alter your fingerprints by cutting, burning or scraping them. Its pattern will remain the same as a new skin is developed;
- And it is thru excessive damage of the skin that our prints can be deranged;
- Koala’s fingerprints can be mistakenly identified from that of a human being’s;
- It was Sir William Hershel who first used the fingerprints (1858) as a mean of identification;
- The FBI’s fingerprint database is the largest in the world;
- Because they (FBI) receives 34,000 fingerprint cards every day;
- It was Mark twain who first used the fingerprinting evidence to solve a crime in one of his fictional novels, “Life on the Mississippi” (1883);
- Birds do have fingerprints. They are evident in their eggs that they law;
- Experts say that an Egyptian mummy still has very clear fingerprints even if they were embalmed for a handful of years ago;
- A cat’s nose has ridges like that of human and is capable of producing prints;
- As humans get identified through their fingerprints, the dogs are by their nose prints;
- As the fingerprinting wasn’t used then for identifying criminals, the crime busters instead used tattoos;
The way we see it and as discussed above, fields like the forensic sciences have long benefited from this fingerprinting phenomenon that our early ancestors used to do. These has enabled to solve more crimes and thus aided in the identification aspects and issues of human beings. It is also interesting to consider its intense effect on the society in developing more ways to make our lives simpler and easier. What better way to develop something and enhance the same to make it more beneficial and helpful for the society and the environment. Such things as fingerprints are small and minute things we don’t normally see but these are the basic structural basis of our being distinct from the others. And it is indeed, a huge factor in considering our true identity in this ever-growing and developing society of ours.