Lessons from a fingerprint expert

The saga of trying to provide legible fingerprints continues, today with a few new lessons I had never imagined were there for the learning.

Did you know that “worn” or “tired” fingerprints regenerate to legibility if you don’t touch anything for three weeks?  Okay, now think about not touching anything for three weeks.  The likelihood of this, if one is not comatose, seems slim to none.

Did you know that warm fingertips are more elgible than cold ones?  How does one warm up only one’s fingertips (without burning off ridges by handling hot tortillas)?  Why, by rubbing yours fingertips together briskly, of course.  (This takes more coordination, by the way, than briskly rubbing your hands together).

Today I also got to experience high tech fingerprinting, as the subject.  This nifty process reads out how many points of reference a given fingerprint offers (50 being a good score).  If the person doing the fingerprinting is very patient–as was the case for me–you can stand there for an hour while your fingertips are pressed and rolled again and again on the glass plate. This isn’t tortuous but it is a little strange as ways to pass the time go.

So, it’s not like tv.  It’s not like the mystery books. But it’s not as prosaic as either of these media protray the science.  It’s actually pretty weird.


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