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Is Fingerprinting the Best Way to Identify People?

When it comes to modern crime-solving, everyone knows that fingerprints are nothing compared with DNA evidence. Fingerprints long held sway in forensics, but the human element -- one fingerprint examiner might disagree with another -- kept them from being foolproof in court. DNA evidence, on the other hand, is unambiguous and has helped solve cases that had been considered lost causes. And now, there's a new identification technology making waves. The Pentagon has developed an infrared laser tool that can identify an individual with certainty, from a distance. Known as the Jetson, the device utilizes laser vibrometry to identify a person's cardiac rhythm -- right through his or her clothes. Like fingerprints and DNA, heartbeats are unique to each person. Of course, as with most new technologies, there are issues to overcome before the Jetson becomes standard operating procedure. For example, accurate reading distances are currently limited to approximately 220 yards (200 meters). The subject must be standing or sitting and can't be wearing anything thicker than a light jacket over regular clothes. Then, of course, there's also the need for a big database of cardiac signatures. But it's a promising new tool that will have untold implications for the future of identification.

At the heart of things:

  • The average human heart beats approximately 115,000 times a day, pumping roughly 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood through the body.

  • A sudden surge of stress hormones, as from a traumatic event, can literally cause heartbreak, which is similar to a heart attack.

  • Studies suggest that when in close contact, a horse's heart rate can mirror a person's, reflecting an empathic emotional connection.

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More Info: MIT Technology Review

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