Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Your DNA

What makes you look different than your brother? DNA. What makes your eyes blue? DNA. What makes your hair so curly it's a waste of time to comb it? DNA. DNA ,makes us different than anyone else. OK, you have about forty secret twins in the world. It's a fact. But still, you are a unique person, created and designed by God. Some people may look like you, but there are probably some differences you don't notice because they're so small. Your DNA is unique to you, though. No one has DNA like yours. Here's an example of how unique you are. If you took one man and one woman (hypothetically speaking) you could have more combinations of genetic information than there are atoms in the universe.

Here is what scientists do to use DNA to solve a crime. They usually don't have too much to work with, DNA being so small, but they probably have something like a piece of hair.
1. Prepare the sample. (That takes a lot of work, but it's too much to go into here.)

2. They divide a special gel into columns, called lanes. They place a DNA sample at the beginning of each lane.

3. An electric current is applied. The DNA fragments move independent of each other. This causes each sample to separate into a series of bands.

4. A match of the DNA is made when the bands in a lane of known and a lane of unknown DNA match. This comparison can be made with a computer or done visually.

As I said earlier, DNA is unique to you. If you ever feel like you look like everyone else, think about that, and remember we're all unique in God's eyes, even if it does feel like we were all made in a photocopy machine.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Woman's Status in Ancient Rome

Women in Ancient Rome did not have too many rights. Their husbands could divorce them if they remained childless or didn't please them. A husband could even kill his wife if he thought she'd been unfaithful. Women, on the other hand, could only divorce husbands if he joined the military, became a prisoner of war, or deserted her (in which case her husband would probably divorce her anyway.)

Girls had no choice as to who they married. They were usually married to men whose parents wanted to form an alliance with her family. Men were often twenty, while girls were twelve. Not a choice age to marry. But do you know why boys were always much older than the girls they married? It's because of maturity. A twelve year old girl is far more mature than a twelve year old boy.

Women didn't have too many rights, but they were powerful in another way. Women had a great deal of power through their husbands. This theology was used when women were not allowed to vote in the United States and Canada. They were supposed to be able to persuade their husbands to pick the right candidate to vote for. I'm sure some women did that, but not all. In Roman times, this could have been true.

Not all women worked just in the home, however. Some had jobs outside of the home. A few women worked as acrobats or as dancers. These jobs were not considered respectable, however, so there weren't many women in those jobs. Other women worked as hairdressers or midwives. Some women just helped out in the family farm or shop.

Roman women were not so bad off, actually, compared to some modern societies' treatment of women. They weren't allowed to sit too near to the stage when watching a play, because they might run away with one of the actors. They couldn't do all the things men could. Still, life was probably not so bad.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Roman Fashion

In Roman times, appearances were very important. They still are today. The fashions were often determined by what the emperor and his wife wore. Many people tried hard to keep up with the latest trends. They still do today.

For men, the most important garment was a tunic. Underneath, men wore a loincloth. That was their version of underwear. Over the tunic, men would sometimes wear togas. Togas are probably the most famous piece of Roman clothing. It was only worn by Roman citizens. It was so uncomfortable that it was usually only worn on special occasions. I once wore a toga for a Halloween costume. It wasn't that uncomfortable. Then again, I wore it years ago, so maybe I don't remember right. Some men also wore cloaks.

Women wore the same type of underwear as men. On top of those they wore a long robe called a stola. They would also wear a palla, a large shawl. During the time of the Roman empire, women wore brightly colored stolas and pallas. These were made from Chinese silk or Indian cotton. Silk was worth its weight in gold at the time.

Hairstyles were not very important for men during most of the reign of the Roman empire. Men were usually clean-shaven, with short hair. During earlier Roman times,
hair was not important to Roman women either. After the time of the Roman Republic,
elaborate hairstyles were invented. They would curl their hair with heated tongs, then arrange it into a pile. What a waste of time.

Roman styles were very different than ours. But the reason for them was the same: people wanting to look good.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Validity of Documents

Forensics is the type of science detectives use to solve their cases. Some of this stuff is pretty gross. I won't go too far into that. I'm starting off today with something that isn't too gross. I'm starting with a bit on, well, to put it bluntly, forgery-type stuff. Handwriting tells a lot about us. In some countries you must give a handwriting sample to buy an apartment or get a job. Graphology is the study of handwriting. It's not scientific, but it's still interesting (and even sometimes accurate!) If you draw a circle above your "i"s instead of a dot, you're probably a person who follows the current fads. If there are big loops, the person is probably imaginative and romantic.

Forgers usually do what they do with the intent to defraud. That can include adding zeros to banknotes, changing the whatever is written in a will, or whatever. One of the different ways of being able to tell if something is different are testing the ink to see if it is different than that of the rest of the document. Holding it up to a certain kind of light works. Chemical tests work too, if you're a chemist.

Handwriting is a little easier to check than typed letters. Grammar, punctuation, and word choice all can hint at the level of the writer's education. Also, forgers sometimes have to erase things. You can't always see where they do that. That's unless you have a microscope. If you really need to know if there are any erasures, you can always get a ultraviolet or infrared light to hold it up to.(I'm joking about getting one, but that does work.)

How accurate is the study of handwriting? Let's look at a story. A psychiatrist, James Brussel, was called to investigate a series of bombings. He read the notes left with the bombs and the police reports. He predicted the man was middle-aged, paranoid, and introverted. He also said the man was likely good with tools, neat, and well educated. He was probably of Slavic descent, lived with an older relative, and when caught would be wearing a double-breasted suit. When caught, George Metesky was living with two older sisters, Polish, unmarried, and wearing a double-breasted suit.