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Fields & Applications Forensics, Clinical, Genomics & DNA Analysis, Metabolomics & Lipidomics

Forensic Science for the Living

I testified at a trial perhaps a decade ago and was asked to explain “metabolism” to a jury. They all looked at me with what I think was dread – all except one juror who really seemed to want to know. They certainly didn’t want a complex science lecture, so I put this to them: “You eat all kinds of food for energy. That food is mostly made of carbon and hydrogen, just like coal. Of course we don’t eat coal, but we do burn coal for energy in the form of heat. We burn the food we eat to generate the energy (and heat) we need. When you burn coal you produce carbon dioxide – CO2 – the greenhouse gas (lots of head nods) and we exhale CO2  as well. Coal needs oxygen to burn – and we need it to live.

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About the Author

Donald Chace

Donald Chace is Director, Pediatrix Analytical, Mednax Centers for Research, Education and Quality; and a guest researcher at the Newborn Screening and Molecular Biology Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based in Massachusetts, USA.

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