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Fingerprint Test Tells Much More Than Identity 166

Mike sends in the story of a new fingerprint technology with interesting potential for both crime detection and rights violations; there are also intriguing possibilities in fighting cancer. "Using a variation of mass spectrometry called 'desorption electrospray ionization' or 'Desi,' a fingerprint can identify what the person has been touching — drugs, explosives, or poisons, for example. Writing in the Friday issue of the journal Science, R. Graham Cooks, a professor of chemistry at Purdue University, and his colleagues describe how the technique could find a wider application in crime investigations. As it becomes cheaper and more widely available, the Desi technology has potential ethical implications, Cooks said. Instead of drug tests, a company could surreptitiously check for illegal drug use of its employees by analyzing computer keyboards after the employees have gone home, for instance."

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