Task 6. Tell your partner about your future profession, i.e. what you are going to study, analyze, investigate, or to specialize in.
Task 7. Before you read the text «Pollen nature’s tiny clues» discuss the following:
What is a palynologist? Is this profession interesting to you? Why? Why not?
Task 8. Read the text «Pollen nature’s tiny clues» and match the highlighted words with their definitions.
a) when something wastes or wears away or changes from healthy to unhealthy such as when food becomes rotten.
b) using scientific knowledge for legal needs.
c) it’s too small to be seen with an unaided eye.
d) parts of living things made for easy dispersal and reproduction.
e) abbreviation for Crime Scene Investigation.
f) microscopic objects such as pollen and spores studied by scientists.
g) things solving a problem or mystery.
h) individual pollen.
i) abbreviation for scanning electron microscope.
j) male spores.
k) person who studies spores and pollen.
l) used to determine if something is the truth.
Pollen nature’s tiny clues
(1) CSI and Pollen
Most might be surprised that pollen is being used to catch thieves, illegal drug dealers, murders, terrorists, and even catching those who commit less visible crimes such as making and selling fake prescription drugs. To many, pollen is that yellow stuff that bees collect, or the material plants need to complete fertilization and produce the seeds and fruits that most of us eat every day. Some people suffer from hay fever hate (2) pollen because it gives them watery eyes and runny noses. But, for biologists who specialize in pollen evidence, those microscopic pollen (3) grains are important (4) clues being used to catch crooks and murderers just like DNA, fingerprints, and gunpowder residue.
You might have never heard of pollen being used as important (5) evidence in court cases or the scientists that study pollen and spores called palynologists. And you probably didn’t know there were forensic palynologists out there trying to make the world safer by catching terrorists, murders, thieves, and drug dealers. The reason is that this is one of the newer (6) forensic techniques. Although it has been used effectively in some countries, such as New Zealand for several decades, and is now being used more frequently in other countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, it is still virtually unknown and unused in the United States.
But, why is pollen such a good tool for forensics?
Many types of pollen and spore-producing plants spread a large amount of these (7) palynomorphs into the air. Once in the air they are carried by air currents and eventually fall to the ground in a thin coating called «pollen rain». In some areas the amount of pollen and (8) spores that spread is so great that exposed land and water surfaces turn yellow from the pollen rain. And even though it is not an exact measurement of the types and amount of plant life and climate, this coating is a snapshot of the area and becomes its «pollen print». Pollen prints can then be used to identify and locate a region.
Pollen and spores are also (9) microscopic in size, and can become trapped on almost any type of surface. In fact, most pollen is so small it is invisible to our eyes without a magnifying tool like a microscope. Depending on the pollen grain you could fit thousands of them on the head of pin. So a person has no idea of all the pollen they have on their clothes. This makes it is almost impossible for a criminal to remove all evidence of pollen in their clothes and belongings. A forensic (10) palynologistcan tell where the pollen or spores found at a crime scene or on a criminal came from and use them as evidence to link the suspect or an object to a crime scene.
Now if you think you can just wash your clothes or try some other method to get rid of any pollen, think again. Most pollen and spores are hard to destroy and they don't easily (11) decay. This means that pollen and spore evidence from a region or crime scene can remain intact for years, hundreds of years, or even thousands and millions of years! As long as the crime scene evidence is handled correctly and stored safely, years or decades later the trapped pollen and spores can still be recovered and used to assist investigators.