Up until now, crime scene investigators have relied mainly on sniffing dogs to discover buried bodies, but a probe with the thickness of a human hair could send the doggies off to early retirement if scientists have their way.
Over at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, boffins discovered that a probe-like device can successfully detect ninhydrin-reactive nitrogen, a vapour which is found in air pockets near buried bodies. It can even work in concrete, with just a small drill hole required to be able to analyse the underground vapours.
More work is needed before the system is sent out to Grissom, Horatio and co, as the NIST team has only tested the probe on lab rats so far. I don't think the world is quite ready for a dead rat-detecting system. [PhysOrg]
Image Credit: Leo Reynolds