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DaveKuzminski
10-14-2005, 11:26 PM
Okay, I know the FBI has a database filled with information about types of soil found all over the US. Probably samples, too.

Anyone know if they also have samples from around the world in their database?

Tiaga
10-15-2005, 01:24 AM
Yes

DaveKuzminski
10-16-2005, 03:43 AM
Thank you.

Tiaga
10-16-2005, 03:51 AM
They have soil analyst's in the bomb investigation unit. They take sample after Beirut etc and share with CSIS and MI6

DaveKuzminski
10-17-2005, 07:40 PM
Those do help, but I just realized something. Soil, I would guess, would change its properties slightly over the centuries. Therefore, the situation changes slightly and I'm guessing that a forensics lab probably wouldn't have on hand any samples dating back more than a century.

Yes, my story involves time travel, so the trace amount of soil from the boot worn by a character is probably not enough for anyone to pinpoint since it would lack some characteristics found in a modern sample. By the way, it wasn't my intention to bring in a forensics angle, but there turned out to be no way to avoid it since all the agents have are blood residue from where some bodies bled out to even know that a crime was committed.

Tiaga
10-17-2005, 10:07 PM
Depending on the location....I don't think you would find blood after the weather has been at it for centuries.

DaveKuzminski
10-18-2005, 12:00 AM
The blood is recent. It's the soil sample found near the blood that's old from where our time traveler just arrived. She had to remove the bodies in order to divert attention from herself which is why only the blood is left.

Tiaga
10-18-2005, 01:49 AM
Oh OK. I believe the FBI started taking samples during the manhattan project when they wanted to see how far the dust travelled. But it also seems to me they had some form of analyst during the lindburgh baby kidnapping. I guess you could make up a forensic history.

ideagirl
10-22-2005, 09:35 PM
I believe the FBI started taking samples during the manhattan project when they wanted to see how far the dust travelled. But it also seems to me they had some form of analyst during the lindburgh baby kidnapping. I guess you could make up a forensic history.

Sherlock Holmes stories have Holmes identifying types of soil as coming from various different parts of London. I know that's not real, and Holmes used his senses rather than microscopes, but it's worth noting that the idea for this was definitely in the air 100-120 years ago. So your idea's a good one: it's not implausible to make up a forensic history of soil analysis that long ago. The necessary technology isn't recent, it's basically microscopes and chemistry--such analysis could probably have been done back than, though it would've taken longer and been less precise.

So you could plausibly have a story in which a catalog of soil types that old existed. To seem realistic, the catalog would almost certainly be black-ink drawings done by hand; it was a while before photography had reached the point where you could take a photo through a microscope. So it would be drawings depicting the shape, arrangement, etc. of the soil type as seen through a microscope, along with written descriptions specifying other details (e.g. size of sand crystals in this particular type of sand, any common color variations, etc.). I would think it would look kind of like those 19th-century botanical drawings (it could be in color or just ink, but the overall style would be like those). And it might be stored in a drawer along with little glass vials of each soil type, with each vial having a hand-lettered (calligraphy style, 19th-century lettering) label. Picture the storage cases in old museums--huge, dark wooden cabinets with tons of drawers and some glass-fronted cabinets on top for larger items.

DaveKuzminski
10-25-2005, 10:33 PM
Well, one of the things the forensic specialists will report is an absence of radioactive isotopes in the sample as opposed to what would be found in soils around the world now from fallout. I think this is a reasonable analysis for them to undertake if they're trying to pinpoint where a sample came from since the levels probably vary for different places.

Now I've got to decide whether the agents would be open-minded enough to include the possibility of time travel among the possibilities.