Do Something Different Week: ‘The Art and Science of Murder’

If you are a UEA student then you will be very aware that we are currently in the midst of ‘Do Something Different Week’ – a campus wide off timetable week in which students are encouraged to, as the name suggests, do something different.

A variety of different taster sessions have been on offer from cookery classes to Introduction to Arabic, but perhaps the most well-known event is the week long interactive murder mystery: ‘The Art and Science of Murder’.

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The event was planned and written by crime fiction author Ian Rankin along with a cohort of UEA Creative Writing students. It runs across the week and follows the investigation into the (fictional) murder of UEA academic, Dr. Bland.

The first event of the week was an intro into crime scene investigation. Students who had booked onto the course were invited to come and examine the site where Dr. Bland’s ‘body’ was found, to look for DNA samples and to speak to an ‘eye witness’. It was also a good opportunity to talk to professionals who actually do these kinds of investigations for a living and they were very keen to dispel some of the fictions created by tv crime dramas (apparently detectives rarely get to see the body as it was found which ruins most detective shows I know!). I also learned that to examine a mobile the police have to isolate it in a Faraday Cage (aka, a metal bag) until the battery runs dead so that they can be sure that it remains exactly as they found it. A solution to a problem I didn’t even know existed.

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The following day included a trip to the Pathology lab where we were shown what kinds of evidence the pathologists looked for on a murder victim and were shown x-rays which helped us to identify the cause of death. The key question of the investigation is; did Dr. Bland fall from the walkway or was he pushed? Blood which had run down his face suggested that he had been upright when a blow was struck proving that he had been attacked before falling… in short, it was almost certainly homicide!

The most recent event was a dramatization of the police interviews with the one eye witness and then two suspects who were known to have seen the victim on the night of his death. This was where the event began to combine narrative along with actual science – and it was also very odd for me as I happen to know the ‘suspects’  through Drama Society. But I still very much enjoyed it and look forward to the Police Press Conference tomorrow.

The event will eventually culminate in a full trial on Friday which will be hosted by UEA Law School.

Whilst it is a bit of fun it has also been amazing to see the kind of work that people from other schools are involved in at UEA. It can be easy to get blinkered to anything beyond your own school (in my case Literature, Drama and Creative Writing) but it’s a great reminder that so much else does go on here.

I will let you know more about the investigation as it unfurls, but if you would like more immediate updates be sure to check the #somethingdifferent tag on twitter (Concrete and UEA TV will also be covering it extensively.)

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