Where does my body end?
When do my bodily excretions and deposits, both those visible and those unseen, not stay mine?
The boundaries between the world and ourselves are not as distinct as some imagine, for we constantly leave traces of our presence – a unique calling card – to be discovered. The characteristics of these deposits manifest differently; including the obvious as in excrement, the discreet but still clearly tangible as in hair (one loses about fifty hairs a day), ear wax or skin flakes and the less visibly defined in saliva and sweat. What spray of microscopic human detritus explodes from a scratch?
Who owns these ‘sheddings’ – the imprints of ourselves?
Each shed particle is loaded with DNA – blood and semen are DNA rich with every millilitre containing 30,000 nanaograms whilst saliva contains a tenth of that. Perspiration leaves 11.5 nanograms per millilitre of DNA on a touched object, which is enough to identify a person. These abandon traces are obviously highly valuable evidence for the forensic scientist in his quest to uncover the hidden passages of people’s lives.
From a legal, ethical and philosophical position are these parts still us and if so who owns them?
Image shows a dust particle on a synthetic carpet magnified 3000 times using a scanning electron microscope at University of Central Lancashire – who does it belong to?