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Investigating Crimes the Scientific Way: Secrets of Forensic Medicine

Dana Demange, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week…

We play music by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…

Answer a question about professional wrestling…

And report about a special kind of medical science known as forensics.

Forensic Science


When life unexpectedly ends, people want to know the cause. Forensic science experts can provide answers. Forensics is a special kind of medical science that explains how people die. A show about forensic science is at the National Library of Medicine near Washington, D.C. Faith Lapidus has more.


The show is called “Visible Proofs — Forensic Views of the Body”. It presents the history of forensic medicine. For centuries, medical professionals have worked to develop ways to help explain death. Such methods are also used to solve crimes, protect the innocent, or prove human rights violations.

Among the objects in the show are the medical tools used in the autopsy of President Abraham Lincoln. An autopsy is a detailed medical examination of a dead body to discover the cause of death. Autopsy was among the first scientific methods used by experts to help solve crimes. President Lincoln’s autopsy in eighteen sixty-five confirmed his death from a gunshot wound.

The show at the National Library of Medicine also includes several small models of crime areas. These are part of a collection called the “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.” Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy woman living in Boston, Massachusetts, created the collection in the nineteen forties and fifties.

Missus Lee was interested in forensic medicine and scientific crime investigation. In nineteen thirty-six, she helped establish a school for legal medicine at Harvard University. She later gave her collection to the university to be used as teaching tools. Students training to become crime investigators used the models to learn about evidence.

Michael Sappol organized the show “Visible Proofs — Forensic Views of the Body”. He is a cultural history expert on death and medicine. Mister Sappol says people naturally withdraw in the presence of death. When a life unexpectedly ends, people need answers and seek the cause. Mister Sappol says the show is meant to help people better understand death.

“Visible Proofs” continues at the National Library of Medicine through February, two thousand eight. The Library is on the grounds of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

To learn more about the history of forensic medicine, listen on Wednesday to EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Professional Wrestling


Our VOA listener question this week comes from India. P.K. Visvesvaran asks about World Wrestling Entertainment and how much the performers are paid.

World Wrestling Entertainment is the largest professional wrestling organization in North America. It was called World Wrestling Federation until it changed its name because of a legal dispute. Its more than one hundred wrestlers fight each other in competitive matches that are written and practiced before they are performed.

Professional wrestlers are athletes but act as entertainers. They are not seeking athletic records, but instead want to excite an audience. To do this, they use unusual names and wear special clothing during wrestling matches. These wrestlers include the Stone Cold Stunner and the Undertaker.

Most professional wrestling matches are between two men or two women. They fight inside an area called a ring that is separated from the audience by ropes. Each match continues until one wrestler forces the other’s shoulders to the floor and holds them there for a count of three. Most World Wrestling Entertainment matches continue for only about four to seven minutes.

An organization official called a promoter decides before the match who will win. But who wins and who loses is not the important thing in professional wrestling. The important thing is that the audience enjoys the pretend fight. Some wrestlers rarely win, but continue to be popular.

Not all wrestling matches are between two people. Some are called tag team matches and involve teams of two, three or four wrestlers. Another kind of match is called a battle royal. It involves thirty to sixty wrestlers competing against each other. A wrestler loses when he or she is thrown out of the ring. The winner is the last wrestler still standing.

Most professional wrestlers attend special schools to learn the skills they will need. Not all the students succeed. But those who do can earn a lot of money. We found a Web site that claims to show recent yearly earnings of sixty-five W.W.E. wrestlers. The wrestlers earned from forty-one thousand dollars to more than two million dollars a year.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs


“Show Your Bones” is the newest album from a musical group with an unusual name, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The energetic music made by these three rock musicians is becoming very popular in America. Steve Ember tells us more.


A singer, guitar player and drummer make up the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their rock sound is inventive, unusual, and full of personality. Their music is considered an example of “indie” rock. Indie musicians like to protect their independence or artistic freedom. One way to do this is to avoid using major recording companies.

Lead singer Karen O is known for wearing wild clothing and hairstyles while performing. Sometimes she even pours beer over herself and the audience. Imagine Karen O dancing around on stage as you listen to her sing this song, “Phenomena”.


The words to the songs on “Show Your Bones” are poetic and also a little strange. It is not always clear what the songs mean. In this song called “The Sweets”, Karen O describes colors and the motion of water. She wonders about meeting someone again.


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs started singing in New York City. But Karen O has moved to Los Angeles, California. She says she likes flying between the two cities and the band is now “bi-coastal.” Karen O also said this album was the most difficult to make. The band was trying to find a different sound from their earlier albums.

Their work seems to have been worth the effort. Critics say “Show Your Bones” might be one of the best albums of the year.

We leave you now with another Yeah Yeah Yeahs song. It is called “Cheated Hearts.”



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Dana Demange, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.