With more than 67 million viewers per week, the "CSI" television franchise has spawned a national obsession with forensic science. There's even a recognized "CSI effect," where juries have unreasonable expectations of real-life cases because of the show's story lines. Now we're invited to become crime scene investigators ourselves at "CSI: The Experience," an interactive educational exhibition opening tomorrow at Discovery Times Square.
"CSI: The Experience" challenges visitors to "listen to what the evidence is saying" and solve one of three true-to-life mysteries. Housed in a 12,000 square-foot space, the exhibit leads you through a detailed crime scene with help from interactive messages by "CSI" creator Anthony E. Zuiker, past and present cast members and actual forensic experts. There are 15 lab stations to analyze evidence -- DNA, blood spatter, fingerprint patterns, autopsy reports, toxicology -- and at the end, findings are presented in the recreated office of Gil Grissom, CSI's fabled supervisor. Here's a closer look at the three crime scenes.
1. 'A House Collided'
Resembling a shot in an action flick, this chaotic exhibit features a car that has crashed through the living room window of someone's home. In the driver's seat is a body, slumped over, seat belt on. Muddy shoe prints litter the living room. There are drops of blood and a stain near a sofa; a handprint is found on the car hood. Compare fingerprints, review toxicology reports and examine fiber and footprint patterns to find out what this crime scene is telling you.
2.'Who Got Served?'
In this disturbing and eerily lifelike crime scene, a woman has been found dead behind a Las Vegas motel. Sprawled beneath a Dumpster, wearing a waitress outfit, a tire tread spreads across her stomach. No other injuries are visible. Also nearby are a handbag and a cellphone that may or may not belong to her. Don't make assumptions. Instead, use drug testing, cellphone records and an established time of death to unravel the clues of this ghastly crime.
Best for kids, this desolate crime scene is different from the others, and seems to lack for clues -- with the exception of a human skull found in a desert canyon. Look closely; the skull has a visible hole; remnants of a tattered coat, backpack, and more bones are buried in the sand. Was it murder, or a hike gone awry? Hit the lab to use firearm identification to analyze the bullet from the skull, forensic anthropology to identify hairs found on the body and autopsy to compare dental records to solve the case.
"CSI: The Experience"
WHEN | WHERE Opens Saturday at Discovery Times Square, 226 W. 44th St. (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). Through Jan. 1, 2012