McCrone, Walter C (World of Forensic Science)
For more than sixty years, Walter C. McCrone worked as a chemical microscopist, consultant, and educator. He is best known for his work on analyzing The Shroud of Turin and the Vinland Map, but McCrone also made significant contributions to his field by establishing the McCrone Research Institute, a not-for-profit center for teaching microscopy. He is also the author of more than 600 articles and sixteen books and chapters, including the well-known text The Particle Atlas.
McCrone pursued his interest in chemistry early on. He attended Cornell University, earning an under-graduate degree in chemistry in 1938 and a doctorate in organic chemistry in 1942. Continuing his work in the academic field, McCrone worked for Cornell for two years before becoming a chemist and professor at Armour Research Foundation (now Illinois Institute of Technology).
After twelve years at the Armour Research Foundation, McCrone left to start his own consulting firm. He founded McCrone Associates, a company that grew from a one-man shop to a renowned facility serving more than 2,000 clients each year. And while he enjoyed his work as an independent consultant, McCrone was also interested in promoting the education of microscopy. So in 1960, McCrone founded the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, Illinois. The not-for-profit organization has taught more than 22,000 students in every facet of applied microscopy, as well as conducted research in that field. Later, McCrone opened its sister organization, McCrone Scientific, in London, England. In addition, McCrone continued to write about his research and findings in the field of microscopy, publishing 600 technical papers and sixteen books and chapters. His best-known publication is The Particle Atlas, a handbook for solving materials analysis problems.
McCrone is also known for his analytical work on a number of famous antiquities. In the 1970s, he analyzed the Vinland Map, a map possibly depicting parts of North America some sixty years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. McCrone found the ink on the map to contain a mineral commonly found in inks after 1920. In 1978, McCrone was asked to analyze the Shroud of Turin, a strip of cloth thought to be the shroud Jesus Christ was buried in. After studying the shroud, McCrone concluded that the material was instead a medieval painting. While many contested McCrone's findings, carbon dating tests conducted ten years later upheld McCrone's assessment. In 2000, he received the American Chemical Society National Award in Analytical Chemistry for his work on the Turin Shroud.
SEE ALSO Anthropology; Art forgery; Microscopes.