(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘forensics

“Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it”*…


(Roughly) Daily has taken a look at the obscure corner of the U.S. Treasury once devoted (literally) to laundering money (“Cleanliness is Next to Godliness“); today we visit that operation’s forensic cousin…

The colorfully named Mutilated Currency Division at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is a small office of crack forensics that spend their days poring over all manner of defaced dollars. Provided for free as a public service, the Mutilated Currency employees labor to identify bits and fragments of identifiable denominations that can be redeemed at face value.

Established by Congress in 1866—less than five years after the government started issuing paper money—the Mutilated Currency Division handles about 30,000 cases a year, returning currency valued at over $30 million. As long as more than half of the note remains, or the Treasury can be satisfied that the missing portions have been destroyed, the Mutilated Currency Division will redeem the amount of money that has been damaged by fire, water, chemicals, and acts of god…

Cash in your burnt, moldy, or soiled greenbacks at “The Mutilated Currency Division.”

* Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


As we take it to the bank, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928, after more than 130 years of trading, that the New York Stock Exchange finally had its first day on which more than 5 million shares trade hands, as total daily volume hit 5,252,425 shares.  Just over a year later, on Black Tuesday, volume spiked to over 16 million shares…  as traders dumped their holdings and the Wall Street Crash of 1929 began (presaging the Great Depression).

Average daily volume (over the last three months) on the NYSE today is 880,564,865 shares.

Trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 1929



“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the former”*…


Figure 1. Screenshot of a video of a Golden Retriever chasing its tail on YouTube™.
“Tail-chasing is widely celebrated as normal canine behaviour in cultural references. However, all previous scientific studies of tail-chasing or ‘spinning’ have comprised small clinical populations of dogs with neurological, compulsive or other pathological conditions; most were ultimately euthanased. Thus, there is great disparity between scientific and public information on tail-chasing. I gathered data on the first large (n = 400), non-clinical tail-chasing population, made possible through a vast, free, online video repository, YouTube™…” (more…)


Meredith Carpenter and Lillian Fritz-Laylin, “two prone-to-distraction grad students,” are NCBI-ROFL (National Center for Biotechnology Information- Roll on the Floor Laughing), the source of a daily blog, nestled in the Discoblog section of Discover.com.  Day in, day out, they post what they describe (with estimable understatement) as “real scientific papers with funny subjects”… like the one above.

For a quick– and enormously entertaining– survey of the sorts of research they’ve uncovered, readers should view this presentation (from O’Reilly Media’s Ignite Sci FOO, 2011):

*Albert Einstein


As we rethink our dissertation topics, we might send carefully deduced birthday wishes to criminologist Dr. Henry Chang-Yu Lee; he was born on this date in 1938 in Rugao city, Jiangsu province, China, and fled to Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War in the late 1940s.  He entered the police force there, and rose to the rank of Captain before coming to the U.S. in 1972.  He studied forensics at John Jay College, then biochemistry at NYU– after which he moved into law enforcement in Connecticut, where he became Director, Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory and Chief of the Division of Scientific Services and Chief Criminologist of the State.

Dr. Lee has authored or co-authored of 30 books and over 300 articles, for most part academic forensics works; but of late, “true crime”: after his retirement some years ago, Dr. Lee turned to consulting, mostly to criminal defense teams, on high profile cases (O.J. Simpson, Jon-Benet Ramsey, Laci Peterson), and on investigations of note (Vince Foster, 9/11)… stories he also recounts on his TruTV series, Trace Evidence: The Case Files of Dr. Henry Lee.  While Dr. Lee and his work remain widely respected, he is not without controversy:  In 2007, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, the judge in the Phil Spector murder trial, said that he had concluded Dr. Henry Lee hid or accidentally destroyed a piece of evidence from the scene of actress Lana Clarkson’s shooting.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

November 22, 2011 at 1:01 am

No BONES about it…

From the ever-entertaining (and insightful) xkcd.  (As to the allusion in the title of this post… a weakness to which your correspondent will confess.)

As we recalibrate our expectations of our instruments, we might acknowledge imprecision-in-practice, as it was on this date in 2001 that a Joint Session of Congress (with then Vice President Al Gore presiding) certified the election of George W. Bush…

at work

And in an example of synchronicity that would light Arthur Koestler’s eyes, this was also the date on which, in 1936, Porky Pig made his debut in his commonly-known form in Tex Avery’s Gold Diggers of ’49.  Porky had been introduced the prior year, but in a younger, quieter, and thinner incarnation, by Bob Clampitt (of later Beany and Cecil renown).  Porky was voiced in (and immediately following) Avery’s toon by Joe Dougherty, who actually did have a stuttering problem.  But because Dougherty could not control his stutter,  his recording sessions took hours. Thus, the extraordinary Mel Blanc replaced Dougherty in 1937.

What more is there to say?…

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 6, 2010 at 1:01 am

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