Tag Archives: adjacent possible

Police bees will hunt rogue geneticists


Regine has a lovely interview with Thomas Thwaites 1 about a future where the police hunt growers of hallucinogenic plants via special bees.

How did the pollen forensics researchers react to your project?

In general the reaction was that it was almost believable… which is the reaction you want for a futures project I think. A plant geneticist, (who’s ‘Crash Course in Synthetic Biology’ I later crashed) saw the project and said he’d thought about taking genes from the Marijuana plant and putting them into a tomato plant (being a respected scientist I’m sure he wasn’t saying he’d thought about ‘doing it’, just ‘about it’).

And this gem of what’s actually happening now to translate pollen to crime:

Are the police in the UK already using pollen forensics?

Yes, and its been pretty instrumental in several very high profile cases. There’s this lady called Pat Wiltshire who is the police’s go-to person for pollen forensics. She can look at a sample of pollen from clothes or whatever, and visualise the landscape it’s from – a filed of maze, with a river next to it, and an oak tree in the middle – or something like that. The impression I got about police work when I was interviewing James, and a detective, was that it’s really arduous. Pollen forensics would be one detail in many that would lead to cracking a case, and as importantly, proving it in court.

This high weirdness is definitely part of the adjacent possible, one of those strange futures that hasn’t happened, but should.

  1. He’s the guy who tried to make a toaster out of raw materials, start to finish   (back)