Monday, September 10, 2007

Enthusiasm for Forensic Science in our Homeschool!

I have always believed that John F. Kennedy was murdered as the result of a conspiracy against his life and I had always hoped to live long enough to find out "who done it!" I based my thinking on books and movies that I have read on the topic since high school. The "magic bullet theory" was one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that made me believe that Kennedy was ambushed from the front and the back. I simply did not believe that one bullet could make seven wounds and end up pristine on a stretcher at Parkland Hospital!

If you are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, this site explains the magic bullet theory in detail. You can also watch Keven Cstner explain the magic bullet theory in the movie JFK. (warning - contains life clips from the assassination).

Mr. Pete watched this show Discovery Channel :: TV Listings :: JFK: Beyond the Magic Bullet"JFK: Beyond the Magic Bullet on the Discovery Channel this weekend that virtually proved that the Magic Bullet could actually have behaved just as the Warren Report said that it did! Maybe Oswald really did act alone!

Now my children have very little interest in this topic, but they started watching with me and were soon captivated with the scientific practice and procedures that went into testing this theory.

The program showed how computer technology has been able to enhance the Zapruder film so that President Kennedy's and Governor Connelly's movements just prior to the second shot could be examined and analyzed. This was critical for the two men to line up for the bullet to make so many entrance and exit wounds. Computer technology has also made it possible to line up all of the photos and movies taken that fateful day to get a better understanding of what it was really like it Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963.

However the part that really captivated my high school and jr. high students surrounded the use of new ballistic evidence in recreating the event. First men were chosen to approximate the size of the president and governor. The position of their bodies in the car and the angle Governor Connelly as he sat talking to the president is something that has been left out many explanations. From the models, scientist were able to construct models of Kennedy and Connelly's torsos from materials that would react with much as skin, bone, cartilage and muscle.

The scientists were painstaking in their preparation for the shot. Every angle was measured and triple checked. I saw my boys on the edge of their seats, finally understanding why it was so important to be careful in their experiments and to be precise in their math! Suddenly those two subjects became meaningful. They could understand why it is so important to think your experiment through and prepare for it carefully. At the end of the program, the scientific gunman actually succeeded in pulling off what single-gunman supporters have said for years. He made one bullet perform what the magic bullet is said to have done.

I'm not sure that I totally think Oswald acted alone. I haven't seen or heard a good explanation for the angle and position of Kennedy's fatal wound yet, but I am changing my opinion of the single-bullet theory based on this scientific evidence.

But more importantly, my kids got to see science and math in action to explain an incredible mystery and it has sparked their enthusiasm for those two subjects.


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1 comment:

Dana said...

That's pretty cool...I grew up with the JFK conspiracy theories because they fascinated my dad. But I never invested myself too much in any theory.

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