Forensic science is used an incredible amount in criminal investigations. For a lot of cases, the science is key to unlocking evidence and how the events occurred. The main gap within forensic science has been time. When did a stain occur or when did someone die?
Research has been progressing over the past few years where a new area has been the focus; temporal forensics. The progression of this study will improve our understanding of what happens to the human body after it dies.
A big part of forensic investigations is to consider an alternative possibility. Time plays a big part in crime scenes where if an individual claims they were at the scene prior to the incident; any DNA evidence relating to a crime could negate it entirely.
Recent research has found that certain genes become more active postmortem. They become more active by producing RNA transcripts. Scientists believe that this change in RNA production could be a repair mechanism on a cellular level due to the drop in oxygen in the blood.
The protein in muscles is another indication that forensic scientists are using to date the time of death. New findings indicate that the protein breaks down in a predictable manner. How it is used to have an approximate time of death is from analyzing to different protein chains.
One of the chains breaks down within 8 hours and the second within 20. If the second protein is found within a tissue sample and the first is not, you can conclude that the death happened within 8 to 20 hours. Currently this research has only been conducted with pigs but the findings look promising to transfer over to human subjects.