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He then looked for eclipses within that period, and one by one, he says, it all fell into place.
“According to my research, the war would have started on 14 October 1792 [1793 BCE].” A balding middle-aged man with the benign manner of one who spends a large part of his time behind mounds of data, Bhatnagar now works as the technical director of the Delhi chapter of I-Serve (Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas, an NGO).
"Some disappear over time and it's the relative proportions of these chemicals that allow us to date a fingerprint." Previous attempts to crack the formula for dating fingerprints failed because they focused on the amounts of chemicals, rather than their relative proportions, says De Puit.
Taking into account the temperature of the original prints' surroundings, which affects the speed of deterioration, forensic experts can now date fingerprints to within "one or two days", up to 15 days.
"Relative" dating involves comparing one object to others to build a chronology.
Scientists currently don't have a technique for dating fossils like Lucy directly, but they can assign these fossils relative dates based on the age of layers of volcanic ash found above and below them.
There exists a long tradition of astronomical dating of Indian epics (done by studying celestial events like eclipses, comets, and planetary positions mentioned in texts), some by scholars, and now with easily available software packages, increasingly by amateurs.
A quick search on the internet would have you believe that astronomy has already proved the veracity of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, with countless websites carrying contradictory data. Take the case of the discrepant dating that astronomy throws up for the Mahabharata.
Fingerprints leave nearly-unique marks on a surface that can be copied and compared to a database to identify a suspect, a police technique that rose to prominence in the early 1900s.
But alas, there’s always someone out there who’s failed the social aptitude test.