Does Watching BONES Make You Smarter?

Imagine this: You’ve got a stack of science homework that you should be tackling, but instead you’re parked in front of the TV to catch an episode of Bones. With all of the technical terms, biology, and archeology facts being throw around, are you just swapping science homework for science application on FOX Network? While it might not fly with your science teacher, watching Bonescould actually be filling up your subconscious with real-life science facts mixed with a generous dollop of drama and humor. Check out some of the cool stuff you could be learning just by watching.

Skull Reconstruction
Yeah, the name of the technique might sound ominous, but skull recon is a major part of the show and a major part of forensic science in the real world. It’s necessary when a skull has been fractured and must be pieced back together to determine a cause of death or help a team identify a body. Just like on Bones, real-world skull reconstruction is completed via 2D or 3D model in order to piece the actual skull back together. Tissue markers are use to estimate facial features to the point that a forensic scientist can guess the age, sex, and race of a person from the skull alone. On the show, characters most often use the 2D model on a computer – probably to tone down the “ick” factor.

Entomology is the study of insects. When it comes to human remains, the study of entomology is applied to the amount of time that a body has been decomposing and can provide valuable insight into the length of time between death and discovery. Entomology can also help define whether or not a body has been moved after death, as different insects are found in different parts of the country, areas of terrain, and types of soil. Entomology is commonly used on Bones  for the same reason; bet you didn’t think a worm scientist could tell you much about criminal activity!

One of the ways that Bones  is almost identical to real life is the delineation between specialties. While other shows portray forensic scientists as “jack of all trades” in the field, Bones  correctly points out that each forensic scientist has a specific specialty. Whether it’s a DNA expert or someone who specializes in carbon dating for much older remains, forensic science is a wide field. Watching Bones could not only teach you the difference between specialties, but could you set on a career path based on your interests.

Fact or fiction?
So how do the people at Bones ensure that their storylines stay as truthful as possible? They have a fact checker on staff whose only job is to ensure scientific accuracy. Donna Cline has a master’s in biomedical illustration and is responsible for making sure that drama doesn’t get in the way of science when drawing up storylines. She even hangs out over the actors’ shoulders to ensure that they’re working with the remains and bones as accurately as possible. While Bones is just as much about the drama and the characters’ lives, Cline makes sure that they can boast scientific accuracy as well as a killer cliffhanger.

However accurate the show might be, it’s important to remember that Bones is based on a book; not real life. Some liberties are definitely taken with facts, but among all of the forensic science shows, Bones is among those that stick as close to the real-deal as possible. It might not get you credit for school, but it might snag you some extra points with your teacher!

Stephanie Caldwell is from Salt Lake City and writes for CableTV.com. Her interests are watching TV and reading books.

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