Factual error: In a number of episodes people are shown eating and drinking in the laboratories. For instance, in "Miss Willows' Regrets" Nick and Greg are seen eating fried chicken in the lab, and in "Overload" Sara eats a sandwich while watching Grissom experiment with her deli pickle. There are other examples. No reputable laboratory (which this is supposed to be) would allow its staff to eat or drink while in the lab. It is basic scientific protocol to prevent contamination of samples or the person picking up toxins on their food.
Factual error: The murderer kills the two students by drilling a hole through the adjoining wall of the victim's room at floor level, placing 40lbs of dry ice next to the hole, and allowing the sublimating carbon dioxide to pass through the hole into the victim's room and creating a toxic atmosphere. Since the two rooms are at the same air pressure, the only possible way for the CO2 to move from one room to the next is to be pumped through. As neither room has an excessive level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the sublimating gas would fill both rooms until the CO2 levels in both rooms was the same.
Factual error: Several problems surround the electrocution death and the investigation. First, there is the insinuation that the boots should have protected the victim from the electrocution because of the rubber soles. Regular shoes and standard work boots will not protect anyone from electric shock. You are still grounded. You have to wear special electrician's boots to insulate you from electric shock. These boots cost about triple standard work boots. Second, the CSI crew found a nail embedded in the boot. They theorized that is how the boots were grounded out. The problem there is the nail had to be pushed all the way through the sole and through the insole for it to work (the close up of the boot showed the nail in all the way). Even if the nail was barely through the insole, the victim would have felt the nail poking him at every step. With the nail all the way through, he wouldn't have even walked two steps before puncturing his foot on the nail. Third, there is the nail itself. When Grissom is examining the boots trying to find why they failed (failed to prevent the electrocution), he poses the question "What is the most common item found during construction?" The answer is a nail, and the nail in the boot appears to be a roofing nail. The construction site is for a multi-story prison. Nails aren't used in the construction of multi-story urban buildings: concrete and steel are. Carpenters come in after the building is erected and work on the interior, but there are no roofing nails.
Factual error: There are some majors problems with the "jumper's" crime scene. The girlfriend bashes the boyfriend on the back of his head. He bleeds out all over the balcony (she cleans up the blood with towels) but the body leaves absolutely no blood behind on the carpet (It's white\off white so blood would stain badly). She drags his body across the carpet and carpet fibers get stuck in his watchband by the adjustment knob. Dragging a body across the carpet would snag fibers on the opposite side. The CSI crew experiment and conclude the boyfriend was pushed. The blow to the head killed him instantly (coroner's report): therefore, the girlfriend would have dumped the body. Dumping a dead body over a rail would provide a different trajectory than pushing a live person and would not have matched their experiments. Finally, the boyfriend is fairly muscular and heavy. The girlfriend is petite. It would be an extremely difficult task to stand a lifeless body up at the balcony rail and flip him over. (If she could have lifted him up and over the rail, she should have been able to carry him to the balcony instead of dragging him.)
Factual error: Grissom and Catherine are looking through a microscope and discussing a microscopic specimen (heart of frozen body). In reality they would not see anything as all microscope objectives are missing on this instrument (the microscope nose-piece is totally empty.). (00:21:00)
Factual error: In the episode where the worker got electrocuted in a construction site the main character, before replaying the victim's fall, says that "terminal velocity is 9.8 seconds squared". What he should have said was that acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters per second squared.
Factual error: The show falls into the Hollywood myth on polygraphs. Jesse is given a polygraph test after pleading guilty to the 4 murders. He answers all questions, except the last one, honestly. The 4 traces on the polygraph show no real movement on these questions. On the final question, Jesse lies and all 4 traces spike. If polygraphs actually did that, they would be admissible in court. But the reality is, it is the opinion of a highly trained operator that decides if there is a lie. The average person could not look at a polygraph results and point out a lie. There is no huge, visible spike. The producers could have replaced the 4 traces with a red\green light: Green is an honest answer and red a lie.
Factual error: When they are explaining why a nail was hammered into the electrocuted workman's boot, it is said that cars are protected from lightning strikes because they are insulated from the ground by their tires. Actually, tires conduct electricity, because they contain carbon (see: http://cartalk.cars.com/Columns/Archive/1994/November/11.html). Cars are actually protected from lightning by the Faraday Cage effect, which is explained on http://www.physics.gla.ac.uk/~kskeldon/PubSci/exhibits/E3/. Not a mistake CSI scientists would make.
Factual error: Sanders is seen in the burn victim's OR, during debridement, wearing his street clothes (under a paper apron), and no mask or hat. Considering that the woman's skin is practically one continuous open wound, and her immune system is in an exceedingly fragile state, there's no way a breach of sterility like that would be allowed.
Factual error: Grissom sets up a little experiment to see if the deceased's blood is conductive to electricity. All are amazed when the blood does conduct electricity. All blood is naturally conductive. As a matter of fact, cardiac output is measured as a function of blood conductivity.
Factual error: In the scene where Grissom is talking to the coroner about the bully who was shot, they talk about how the bully had "Dextrocardia" which is why all his organs are a mirror image of normality e.g. heart on right and liver on left. In actual fact Dextrocardia is only when the heart is on the right rather than left, the actual condition Grissom should have said was "Situs Inversus" not "Dextrocardia."
Factual error: Grissom sees an information card for a 17th century suit of Japanese armour (just the card, not the suit itself), and immediately deduces that the suit must actually be from the 19th century, because the Japanese military was formed in the 1860s. That military was westernised, and did not wear armour. There was nothing on the card that falsely referred to that military as being established earlier, or indicated that the suit belonged to it. There was a reference to the "military class", but that was historically correct, and meant the Samurai.
Factual error: Grissom does a quick analysis on the rough diamonds (chemical or laser) and immediately identifies the region of origin for the diamonds. He and Catherine then postulate that the diamonds are conflict diamonds. There is no way to identify the country or region of origin through any type of analysis. The United Nations and the world's diamond industry are looking for a way. http://www.reliefweb.int/library/documents/conflictdiamonds.htm http://pubs.acs.org/hotartcl/cenear/010212/7907sci1.html http://www.whitefirejewelry.com/wfbb/viewtopic.php?p=88&sid=b0e62206a64d98c81e53b600e053582f.
Factual error: Brown and Stokes are investigating a mysterious fatal accident involving a Jeep and a downed power line. They state that the driver would have been safe if the Jeep had made contact with the power line because the tires would have insulated the Jeep from the electrical current. Wrong. First, a car is a Faraday cage, that is an electrical current would pass on the outside of a car on the way to the ground. As long as you don't touch the outer surface, you are safe. Second, tires are (almost always now) steel belted radials and conduct electricity nicely. Lastly, it was an open top Jeep. The power line made contact with the roll bar thereby electrifying the inner surface of the Jeep. The driver is in contact with the inner surface. This is a list, from one year from one utility company, of people that died from contact with power lines. You will see that tires exploded from the contact and some caught fire. http://www.sigalarminc.com/HistoricalNotes.htm.
Factual error: The Titan arum, corpse flower, has some problems in this episode. First, the flower grows naturally in the tropical forests of Sumatra. It is not very likely to survive sitting on a bench in the arid desert sun of Nevada. Second, Brown and Stokes track the smell of decomposing flesh to the flowers on the bench. The question is asked who would have a corpse flower besides someone trying to cover the smell of a decomposing body. To start with, none of the plants shown are flowering. The corpse flowers stench comes about when the flower opens. Then there is the rarity of the bloom itself. The botanical gardens around the world with corpse flowers make a very big event out of the bloom. Also, the bloom lasts no more than 36 hours. And then there is the stench of the bloom itself. That stench lasts no more than 8 hours. All this makes it useless to try to hide the smell of dead bodies with this plant and makes it impossible for Brown to state the plants are giving off the odor of decomp.
Factual error: The CSI crew set up an experiment. They put some chloroform into the tire, set the bus on a dynamometer (or some other testing platform) and wait for the tire to fail. The tire fails in the experiment in the exact same amount of time as it did in real life. Problem: They have no idea how much chloroform was used and it would be impossible to match it by luck. More chloroform used would equal quicker failure. Then, there is the heat. The tire traveling over the hot asphalt road would build heat faster then on their testing platform. More heat would mean a quicker failure, too.
Factual error: In Kiss-Kiss,Bye-Bye, Stokes and Brown are watching surveillance footage when a Trans-Am pulls up on screen. They are able to get the license plate number and when they pull it up, the computer says it is a 1978 Trans Am. When looking at the rear end of the car on screen, it is from a 1979-1982 model where the licence plate was placed on the rear bumper. The 1978 model had the license plate mounted between the taillights.