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CSI: Cairo - The Future of Forensics Originated in Ancient Egypt

A team of researchers have just discovered that there's an Ancient Egyptian chemical that's better at detecting fingerprints than commercial infrared powders.

Egyptians can add another notch to their belt because CSI did not originate in America, as TV would have you believe, but right here in Om El Dunya. Before we break the news about this latest (rather wicked) discovery, we'll give you a really quick history lesson. The oldest produced pigment in the world is thought to be Egyptian Blue and dates back approximately 5000 years. Scientists have discovered that the brilliant blue powder we've seen on Pharaonic artifacts can be used to make "near-infrared luminescent fingerprint dusting powder."Egyptian Blue is scientifically known as CaCuSi4O10, but is better known as that blue stuff that colours those fake scarab necklaces no one wants to buy in Khan El Khalili. You've probably seen it in paintings and ceramics, but most notably on Tutankhamun's mask and Nefertiti's head.

Researchers led by Professor Lewis at Curtin University teamed up with Indianapolis Museum Conservation's Dr. Gregory Smith and, following the doctor's suggestion to use the powder for forensic purposes, have created a product to help fight crime. They found artisans that still make the ancient powder (probably hailing from a souvenir shop by the Egyptian Museum) and they cooked it to 800-900 degrees Celsius.  

Honey, they shrunk the pigment particles! The now-micron-sized powder was compared to commercial infrared powders for fingerprint dusting and that's when the magic happened... Egyptian Blue powder works better! Not only can it work the same way traditional forensic powders are used at crime scenes, but Professor Lewis says it makes all other patterns on the surface disappear, making the fingerprint the only visible pattern. Additionally, it clarifies prints better than its commercial counterparts, particularly on reflective surfaces.

This amazing breakthrough has been millenniums in the making, and none of it would be possible without the amazing artists of Pharaonic Egypt. We secretly hope that Hollywood will take this opportunity to start production on CSI:Cairo.


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