This Just Science Podcast episode consists of an interview with John Vanderkolk from the Indiana State Police Laboratory, who expands upon his previous interview about "nature's patterns" in this current discussion of the philosophy underlying this term and how he uses his Fracture Examination Workshop to teach these ideas.
The interview focuses first on Vanderkolk's Fracture Examination Workshop in which he lectures on commonalities and uniqueness in natural and manufactured items, such that it can be determined that two items that are separated (fractured) - one present at the crime scene and the other distinctively associated with the offender - can be matched. Following Vandrkolk's workshop lecture on this subject, he has workshop participants make fractures (separations) of various materials and then engage in a determination of whether they can or cannot identify patterns that can render correct judgments about matches from fractures of various materials. Much of the interview is devoted to how forensic scientists proceed in determining whether a shoeprint found at a crime scene matches the sole of a suspect's shoe. Fingerprints are discussed as an example of how nature's reproductive processes create uniqueness that facilitates matches. The interview concludes with the discussion of a case study in which Vanderkolk succeeded in matching a garbage bag found over the head of a murdered victim to a roll of garbage bags in the suspect's residence.