Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"World Trade Centre forensics break new ground," by John Whitfield. Nature Science Update, 23 April 2003.

Forensic DNA expert John Butler of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology says that the new "DNA fingerprinting" methods being used to identify 9-11 victims will be valuable in other arenas in which individual identification is needed---such as in war and murder investigations. Charles Brenner, "a consultant forensic mathematician" in Oakland, California, has recommended collecting DNA from several relatives of each victim: "It's unlikely that one victim's DNA profile would erroneously match both the father and mother of another victim, for example." Brenner has also developed new software to search rapidly for the strongest DNA matches from among all the possible combinations.

--- Annette Emerson