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Scientists Trace Molecules Left on Phones to Identify Users

It's a well-known fact that mobile phones continue to store more and more of our personal information. What people might not realize, however, is how much information is stored not just internally, but externally. Scientists from the University of California at San Diego recently ran a series of experimental molecular swab tests and were successful in identifying a series of traits about different cell phones' users. The process can "reveal the types of soaps, lotions, shampoo, make-up, food—such as vegetarian versus meat-eater or spicy foods—type of drinks, medications, even materials of clothing one uses," says Dr. Pieter Dorrestein, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the university. "We could tell if a person is likely female, uses high-end cosmetics, dyes her hair, drinks coffee, prefers beer over wine, likes spicy food, is being treated for depression …" Some of the swabs were able to trace molecular deposits over a month old, leading the researchers to project high potential for use in a variety of settings, including criminal investigations, airport security, and other institutions requiring identity verification. "With our approach," said Dorrestein, "one can create a profile of the lifestyle of a person to narrow down a subject pool."

Potential Preaching Angles: Everything we do on earth leaves a visible trace that points back to our lifestyles. It doesn't take a team of molecular biologists at the University of California to tell whether you drink too much, have an anger problem, or don't spend enough time with your family. Especially as Christians and ambassadors for Christ, every action we take on a day to day basis should leave a "trace" that points clearly back to our devotion to Christ and the church.

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