Sunday, December 29, 2013


Today we learn that the crimefighters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries weren't far off the mark. They believed that the last thing a dead person saw was imprinted on his or her retina, and that the image could be retrieved from the victim's eye to reveal the murderer. Now psychologists Rob Jenkins of the University of York and Christie Kerr of the University of Glasgow have shown that the eyes of victims in photographs can be "mined" for hidden information that may even include an image of the attacker. In an experimental setting, Jenkins and Kerr were able to recover bystander images that were then accurately identified, even if the image quality was poor. In the image above, the red frame in the photograph at the left indicates the region of interest on the reflective surface of the cornea. The photo at the center is a zoomed view with enhanced contrast revealing 5 bystanders. The photo at the right is the individual framed in green, whose gender, ethnicity, hair color, and approximate age can be clearly discerned. The Verge writes, "There are some limitations to the forensic use of photographs like these. Jenkins shot his study photographs with a 39-megapixel Hasselblad camera, and the subjects must be looking straight into the camera when the photo is shot for the best results. No one can control the circumstances in which a crime photo is shot, but the research does show a new tactic investigators have at their disposal."

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