Americans pride themselves on never forgetting the attacks and terrorism of our history, but somehow a 1920 attack on New York City has slipped through the cracks. Author Jed Rubenfeld talks about the first car bomb attack on Wall Street, the backdrop for one of his historical fiction novels.
Developing Forensic Technology: New solutions for tracking and convicting criminals
New gadgets and programs are constantly being invented. We talk to two leading experts on the subjects to highlight some of the software and hardware helping police and lawyers find the right criminals and get them convicted.
Over 95 years ago, New York City was the target of a terrorist attack that has yet to be solved. No suspects have ever been named in the attack that killed or injured over 400 Wall Street bystanders. In contrast to Pearl Harbor and the attacks of September 11th, which occurred just around the corner from the site of the 1920 bombing, this deadly event has been all but erased from the collective American consciousness.
Jed Rubenfeld’s work of historical fiction, The Death Instinct, brings the 1920 bombing back to life. Although some characters and plot elements are fictionalized, Rubenfeld carefully matches historical details and events to accurately convey the context and sentiment surrounding what at the time was the deadliest terrorist attack in the world.
World War I had ended and the Depression was taking form, creating a society of lawlessness. Rubenfeld contends that there was further reasoning behind the bombing than just spreading terror. There was a billion dollars in gold being transferred from one vault to another at the exact time the attack took place, but authorities deny this was anything more than coincidence. At this point, the 1920 attack will likely never be solved, but Rubenfeld explores his own resolution in The Death Instinct.
The technology used to catch criminals is constantly being invented and then reinvented. From fingerprints to DNA, advancements in technology have allowed authorities to more accurately and efficiently locate and apprehend criminals. Now, what may be the largest addition to the tool belt of the criminal justice system yet is the technology we all carry in our pockets daily.
Cellphones have long been used to find and convict criminals, mainly through call logs and cell tower triangulation, but mobile devices now serve as de facto personal GPS trackers with extreme accuracy. Oxygen Forensics Inc. creates software that allows investigators to extract and interpret data from practically any digital device. Lee Reiber, COO for the company, says there now exists more mobile devices than people on this Earth, and the uses for our mobile data are infinite.
Even if a suspect refuses to talk, their mobile data can serve as evidence of location, communication history, and proximity to others. It also holds records of all documents and information that many of us wrongly assume is private. Pressing delete doesn’t mean information can’t be recovered and, even in cases where no mobile phone is involved, Reiber says any ‘smart’ device that collects data (and they all do) can be utilized.
What else can the data being collected around us be used for? Jerry Ropelato is the CEO of White Clouds, a large scale 3D printing technology company. He says virtually any set of information can be transformed to a physical object using 3D printing.
Whether it’s used to create medical materials or to build a exact model of an object, the possibilities are endless. Recently, White Clouds aided a defense attorney by replicating a residential crime scene to better convey their side of the story to the jury. No matter the use of these technologies, one thing is clear. This is only the beginning phase of the possible applications and only time will tell the true impact.
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.
It has been a turbulent few months for the entertainment industry- especially the film world. Mega-producer Harvey Weinstein has been embroiled in controversy since accusations of sexual assault have been made public. In just a few weeks time, more than 75 individuals have come forward accusing Weinstein of wrongdoing- leading to his dismissal from his own company and a frantic scramble to disassociate the movies his company was working on from his shadow.
Then, accusations against other stars began to break. Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Sheen, producer Brett Ratner, and Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick have all been accused of various sexual crimes.
There’s too many people accused of these crime to list them all, but notably, actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of sexually assaulting Rapp when he was just 14. In response, Spacey put out a statement saying he didn’t remember the incident but apologized if it did happen, and then came out as a gay man. The LGBTQ+ community widely criticized Spacey for conflating his homosexuality with his alleged pedophilia and assault. And then more accusations came against Spacey. At the time of recording, at least 14 individuals have specifically accused spacey of wrongdoing.
With these accusations has come a swell of individuals and companies trying to distance themselves from the accused.
None have done so more swiftly than director Ridley Scott, whose forthcoming film All the Money in the World featured Spacey in a supporting role. The movie is set to be released in December, but Scott has announced his intention to replace Spacey with actor Christopher Plummer. The announcement came on november 8, and reports are Scott is determined to re-shoot the role and have the film completed in time for the December 22 release date.
It’s a move that is unprecedented-replacing an actor in a completed film.
If Scott pulls it off, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t- he will completely re-write the narrative of his movie from a film starring an alleged sexual criminal to the movie that took a stand against the sexual crime that has apparently run rampant in Hollywood for decades.
Resources for victims of sexual assault are available at OnlyWithConsent.org or by calling the national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
It’s no secret: American students are way down the international list when it comes to math scores. Why is this? Is there something we could be doing to make learning math a simpler task? Our guests say yes, and have suggestions for kids- and adults- struggling to master mathematics.
Bob Sun, inventor of The 24 Game and First in Math
Jason Wilkes, author, Burn Math Class: And reinvent mathematics for yourself
We all sleep, but the amount of sleep we get and the quality of that sleep can vary greatly. We talk to Matthew Walker, a professor at California-Berkeley, who says sleep in the single biggest thing we can do to help our physical and mental health both in the short-term and long-term.
Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California-Berkeley and author, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams