Posted: Friday, July 26th, 2013
In fifth grade, we had a unit completely devoted to fingerprints. This was, not surprisingly, during the era when the C.S.I. craze was at its apex and the study of forensics was deemed supremely cool. My classmates and I examined the different types of fingerprints and learned about famous cases where fingerprints brought down the bad guy. Fingerprints captured my imagination. I found them visually fascinating and was amazed to learn that although my fingers would grow larger, the prints wouldn’t change. At this age, I was just beginning the process of figuring out what set me apart from my peers, and I considered fingerprints as a kind of proof that I was one of a kind.
Our fingerprints form when we’re still in the womb and are truly an exact science. Their shape is determined by the combination of our position in the uterus and the density of amniotic fluid that is flowing around our tiny fingertips at a precise moment in our development. It is all but impossible that any two people during the course of human history have had identical fingerprints.
Fingerprints are what make us all unique, and that’s something to celebrate! In fact, there’s a whole day devoted to them: Fingerprint Day, which falls on July 28th this year. Though it’s mostly observed within science communities, we have a wide variety of projects in our activities section that feature little handprints and fingerprints. From a distance all these paint projects may look more or less the same, but when you look closely you can see the complexity of the hands and fingers that make these prints and give each project a personal touch.
In these painted projects I see more than just prints, I see expressions of individuality. The prints stand as proof that in spite of the similarities we share, there is something about each of us that distinguishes us from everyone else. So the next time you’re presented with a silly little hand or fingerprint creation, take a second to reflect on how truly unique it is.