Forensics is when any science is used to support the law, such as solving crimes. Forensic science covers a really wide range of subjects. Some more well-known areas are analysing fingerprints and extracting DNA from blood spots at crime scenes.
Other exciting areas include forensic botany (studying plant life to find crime information), forensic anthropology (identifying skeletonised human remains) and digital forensics (investigating crime through material found on computers and digital devices).
Forensic scientists provide impartial scientific evidence to use in law courts during criminal trials. Typically, crime scene investigators gather material evidence at the crime scene or from victims or suspects. These samples are then passed onto forensic scientists, who analyse them to find scientific evidence. This evidence is then used during court cases, to support police work.
Forensic science has been used in books and TV series. Sherlock Holmes used it as one of his investigative techniques, and more recently TV shows such as CSI, Dexter and Bones have glamorised it.
The first school of forensic science was created in 1909 in Lausanne in Switzerland but forensic science has been used to solve crimes before this. In 1248 an investigator in China solved a murder using science. By comparing blade marks he found that the murder weapon was a sickle, and the murderer was identified when flies were attracted to the smell of blood on his sickle.