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From Building Design to Prime Time: Forensic Engineering
(Released July 2008)

  by Marianne Stanczak  


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accelerometer: an instrument for measuring acceleration or for detecting and measuring vibrations

ballistics: the science of the motion of projectiles in flight; the study of the processes within a firearm as it is fired

collapse stability: a mathematical analysis that uses force and strength to determine how a structure may hold up to stress

computed tomography: radiography in which a three-dimensional image of a body structure is constructed by computer from a series of plane cross-sectional images made along an axis

chromatography: a process in which a chemical mixture carried by a liquid or gas is separated into components as of result of a distribution of the dissolved substances

EDS - Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy: chemical analysis technique used to examine spectra of a material

elastic analysis: examination of structures or materials based on their reaction to the stress of stretching or bending

electrophoresis: the movement of suspended particle through a medium (as paper or gel) under the action of an electrostatic force applied to electrodes in contact with the suspension

electrostatic detection: a technique used to uncover impressions made into substances such as paper; an example would be the page below the page where ink or pencil is used. Can also be used to detect fingerprints

FASAC - Fine-Grained, Active and Scalable Access Control: a computer security device in which the data fields are subdivided and can be made bigger

FEM - Finite Element Method: a type of computer simulation using mathematical equations

ion migration: movement of ion particles by electric fields; movement depends on chemical structure, so it can be determined what a substance is, by the movement of ions; can also be used as a dating technique

jurisprudence: the science or philosophy of law; course of court decisions

LS-DYNA: general purpose nonlinear finite element programs used to simulate complex "real-world" problems

metallography: preparation of a metal surface by sectioning, mounting, grinding, polishing and etching to observe microscopic structures

phonetics: the system of speech sounds of language or groups of languages

psychoacoustics: a branch of science dealing with the perception of sound, the sensations produced by sounds and the problems of communication

reverse engineering: to disassemble and examine or analyze in detail (as a product or device) to discover the concepts involved in manufacture usually in order to produce something similar

SEM - Scanning Electron Microscopy: an electron microscope in which a beam of focused electrons moves across the object with the secondary electrons produced by the object and the electrons scattered by the object being collected to form a three-dimensional image on a display screen

stereomicroscope: a microscope having a set of optics for each eye to make an object appear in 3-D

*glossary material mostly from Merriam-Webster Online