Let's Play Detective and Write the Report

The case:

At around 9 AM Sunday morning, I lost my book, a hard copy of my final project which I had written before I graduated from college. (Case: missing item.)

Moments later, I found the book, standing awkwardly on the floor, in the small, dark gap between the bed and the wall. As I picked it up, apparently it was completely drenched, soggy, and absolutely ruined. (Case: missing item--found. New case: suspicious cause of destruction of an item of mine.)

The victim:

A book, hard copy of my final project.

The crime scene:

My brothers' room.

*Note: Photos taken NOT at the crime scene.

The question:

I needed to know what had caused this. But most importantly, I needed to know if the water that wet my book came falling down from above the book, or slowly crept from the book's bottom to the top due to capillary action.

(Instead of hypothesis...) The conjectures:

Possibility number one: I know for a fact that the air conditioner in my brothers' room was broken, so it leaked a lot of water. My conjecture is that the water dropped from the AC and ran through the floor, slowly reaching my book which had been on the floor for some time. Because of capillarity, the book soaked up the water slowly, transporting the water to the whole area of the book, from bottom to the top, until it is ruined completely.

Possibility number two: Same as possibility number one, the book had been on the floor for some time. And then someone spilled a lot of water, or knocked over a bottle of water while he was in the bed, causing the book which was located in the small gap between the bed and the wall to be drenched. This made a possible conclusion that the water came from above.

The investigation:

-Observation of the crime scene (With flashlight, and a camera.)
-Observation of the victim (Touching, without gloves...)
-Event reconstruction (By conducting a scientific experiment.)
-Interrogation of suspects (The main suspects were my brothers.)

The experiment:

As an attempt to reconstruct the victim's cause of destruction by water, I tested both of my conjectures that I had come up with, to see whether it was "possibility number one" or "possibility number two" that would have a similar result with the victim's condition.

In this experiment, two sets of paper with 6 sheets of paper in each set were placed in two different locations and given different treatment. Both came into contact with water, only the method of how the water got to them was different.

Test number one, a set of paper was put in a standing position on the floor, while water was squirted in a certain way so that it touched only the bottom part of the set of paper. And then I expected to see some capillary action.

Test number two, a set of paper was put in a standing position on the floor, while water was splashed and poured from above. This was done to imitate "possibility number two" where water fell down from above the paper.

One test had the water moving from bottom to top, and the other test had the water moving from top to bottom.

The results of experiment:

Picture #1: Result of capillary action

Picture #2: Another look at capillarity

Picture #3: Result of water being poured down

Picture #4: Another look at water-poured paper

The analysis:

From "Picture #1" and "Picture #2", we can see that capillary action indeed had happened to a set of paper in "test number one". Notice how capillarity formed weird squiggly lines that separated wet and dry area. We could see these lines in the documentation of the victim as well.

Judging by the physical similarity between "test number one" and the victim, I thought it was save to say that the water that wet my book crept up from the bottom to the top due to capillary action.

But I wasn't entirely sure when I saw the yellow stain at the edge of the paper from "test number two" in "Picture #3", which was similar to that of the victim as well.

In other words, the results from both "test number one" and "test number two" shared similarity with the victim's condition, so at this point I could not conclusively and definitively state which one of the methods tested was the method by which the book got destroyed.

However, since crime investigation gathers information from many sources (not only from scientific experiment but also from interrogation, or witness, or confidential informants), I decided to take another information into consideration.

During the interrogation of one of my brothers, he stated that indeed, there was leakage from air conditioner, and that it streamed a great deal of water. This statement supported my initial conjecture that AC had something to do with the book's destruction. And considering the amount of water there was, it was possible for the book to be greatly damaged by soaking up a great deal of water.

The verdict:

Considering the results from the experiment, where it was proven that capillary action could cause such damage, and combined with the additional information gathered from interrogation, I hereby declare that the water that destroyed my book came from air conditioner. My first conjecture which I referred to as "possibility number one" is proven right.

P.S.: Red sentences indicate that this so-called detective still needs training.

* Originally posted on my Blogspot. Last edit: January 31, 2018.


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