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Archive for the ‘Blue Episode’ Category

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 5 Five-Twenty-Ten

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 16, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

It is becoming a distinct possibility that an episode synopsis may not eventually be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.  I’ll have to ask Scott if the Doomsday Clock hit Daylight Saving time and skipped forward one hour.

Is That Done By Workers In a Different Union?

Is there some reason that the people who are responsible for putting up the Observers’ They Live posters don’t bother to take down all the RESIST posters?

Laser Fuel

A He-Ne laser does not use helium and neon as fuel.   It uses those gases as the gain medium, and the helium and neon are not consumed by the operation of the laser.  Walter would only need to replenish the gases if they leaked out due to poor seals, although due to the small size of the monatomic helium molecule, the helium will likely eventually diffuse out of the laser across the glass &/or seals.  The Neon should still be fine if the seals are good.

Time Keeps On Slipping Into the Future

I can understand the existance of the garbled portions of the video playback, but why do the tapes occasionally skip forward in time?  Unless a length of tape has been physically cut out and removed, there shouldn’t be any skips, as the player still has to roll through the unreadable section of tape in real time.  It’s not like a DVD where they player may just skip past the unreadable section to the next readable part of the disk, resulting in a time skip.

Why the Rube Goldberg Approach to the Plan?

At this point in the season, I’m going to ask why Walter so overcomplicated the details of the plan.  I don’t mean the details of plan’s execution; I mean the documentation of the plan.

Why use such an unreliable and volatile medium like analog encoded magnetic video tape?

Why not use some medium with some type of redundancy or multiple copies in case of damage?

Why record the plan in video at all rather than just write it out?

Why not record the whole plan on one single tape?  (Was the plan really longer than one or two hours?  If so, did it really need to be?)

If the plan is useless with any part missing, why scatter the components rather than just store everything in one secure place with the documentation?

A Bad Lie or Just Poor Writing?

Conversation between Peter and Olivia:


“I have to go meet with Anil”




“He didn’t want to say over the com, just that is was important.”

Up until now, they’ve been openly discussing resistance activity over their wireless phones without a care in the world for what they say.  Indeed, when Etta’s cover was still intact and she was not know to be resistance, they talked openly about their plans, and now Peter says Anil doesn’t want to say something over the com?  How dumb does Peter think Olivia is to fall for that story?  Wait, maybe I know the answer to that last question.

No APBs or 10 Most Wanted Lists In the Future?

Walter is known to be a very key member of the resistance, and yet he can openly walk around in public , in broad daylight, right past Loyalists, and he is not recognized and arrested.  At this point, I believe Walter, Peter, and Olivia’s faces should be on wanted posters all over the place.  I don’t think the writers have really thought out the world very well for this season.  They’re not used to the Fringe team being on the wrong side of the law.

Full of Hot Air


“The Observers created a device that dramatically alters atmospheric pressure, speeding up molecules in all the matter in a controlled area, a process called sublimation.”


“You mean converting solid matter directly into gas?”


“So all the Matter would just evaporate?”


“Essentially, yes.  They use the technology to clear large areas of land for construction, like Central Park when they were prepping it to create their air degradation machine.”

OK, let’s start at the beginning here.  First off, sublimation is indeed when a solid substance passes directly from solid phase to gas without going through a liquid phase.

However, I’m not sure how just altering atmospheric pressure is going to vaporize all that debris.  Since Nina didn’t actually specify how the device altered the pressure, I’ll cover both bases.  More atmospheric pressure would generally have the effect of keeping solid stuff in it’s current state (and even forcing gases and liquids into solid and liquid states) and raising the phase transition point.  The higher the atmospheric pressure is, the higher the boiling point of water is.  Reducing the pressure would make it easier for stuff to transition to a gaseous state; that’s why water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes and why there are special directions for baking at high altitudes.  But even in a vacuum, the concrete and steel would not sublimate away.

Second, if the molecules of the concrete and steel debris were sped up enough to vaporize it all into gas, what happens to the super heated debris vapor that must be around 5000F / ~3000C (roughly the lowest temperature that steel would exist as a gas)?

Also, If you wanted to clear out Central Park to make way for an air degradation machine, wouldn’t it be easier to kill two birds with one stone and just burn it down?


I think Joshua Jackson is doing a good job working in the Observer mannerisms as his character slowly turns into one.

They Don’t Make ’Em Like That Anymore

The car that Peter hot-wired was a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ.  Finding a ’76 Grand Prix in 2036 is basically like finding a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain in 2012.  It’s lucky for Peter that there was a 60 year old car around to steal (and that nobody bothered to report it as stolen), since even in 2012, most cars are so computerized as to make simple hot-wiring impossible.

Monitoring Alerts


“The Observers analyze any change in the atmosphere, so once you use the technology, they will respond within minutes.”

OK, known resistance members can walk around freely in broad daylight and only very infrequently get detected by the very rare security camera, but the Observers will instantly detect extremely localized changes in the atmosphere anywhere.  Have I got this straight?

Digital Watches are Still a Pretty Neat Idea/ The Future Isn’t What it used to Be

I was hoping for something a little more impressive in 2036 than Anil’s plain Jane digital watch.  Maybe it’s a retro classic.

Who Needs Keys?

Walter can vaporize many tons of concrete and steel rubble, but he needs to use Bell’s severed hand to unlock the door to the storage unit.  Why not just vaporize the door as well?

Well Give the Man a Hand

Bell’s hand looked pretty fresh, supple, clean, and full bodied for a severed hand with no blood supply.

Finally a Dead Power Source

It’s surprisingly nice attention to detail that Walter needed to supply power to the palm scan lock on the storage unit.  Apparently they don’t use car batteries to power those things, because if they did, the battery should still be good, according to previous episodes.

Five-Twenty-Ten / 5-20-10

May 5, 2010 was the original air date of the Fringe season two finale, Over There, (Part 2).


Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 5 Season 5 An Origin Story

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 4, 2012

A Dreary Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

The Etta Cave?

Presumably that was Etta’s secret hideout apartment that Peter and Olivia were in at the beginning of the episode.  Otherwise, you’d think it wouldn’t be a safe place to be, given that the Observers know about Etta being Resistance.  Regardless, that release for the secret stash wasn’t very well hidden.  Peter wasn’t even really searching for anything, and he just stumbled across it by accident.

You Say Tomato…

I’m not sure why Astrid was pronouncing ethane eeth-uh-noll (with a long E sound) rather than eth-uh-noll (with a short e sound).    Is she British?

The Observers, All Tech & No Technique?

It’s no wonder the Resistance hasn’t been squashed yet, despite their frequent missteps and poor decisions.  The Observers seem to have no idea how to run a police state or an investigation.  In addition to not having observation cameras on every street corner or eyes in the sky and not monitoring all wireless communications, it apparently never occurred to them that it might be a good idea to keep their wormhole/portal locations under observation both before and after transport in case the Resistance might get curious and investigate, stake out, or attack  such locations.  If I was with the Fringe team, I would not have wanted to be so openly wandering around in broad daylight at the portal site investigating the scene.  It seems a bit brazen and likely to arose suspicion.

Tickling the Dragon’s Tail

Peter has the components of a device in the lab that he should at least suspect may be capable of destroying all of Manhattan (or more), and he plays around with it, randomly putting pieces together to see if they go together.  All of Manhattan is lucky he just got a little shock.

Number One With a Bullet

Peter said that the power coming off the device was “off the charts.”  Which charts?  He had already shocked himself with it and he wasn’t dead.  Either there wasn’t that much power in it, or he was extremely lucky to not be dead.  If it really did have “off the charts” power in it, Peter should absolutely not been tinkering with it so casually.

One One Eight Seven at Hunterwasser…

Peter’s interrogation of the Observer was even more Blade Runner-esque than the the Observer led security interview in the previous episode.  It was an outright homage or ripp-off, depending on how you look at it.

Good-Bye, Mr. Bond

Never pause to say anything to your target before you shoot them, especially if they are super-fast Observers from the future with the ability to phase jump from one location to the other.  It may not always end so well if you do.

Better Than  Nothing

Astrid’s technique of looking for patterns in the Observer text that might correspond to dates and times wasn’t a particularly bad idea.  Though I would suspect the Observers might use such an extremely complex and foreign method of representing dates an time that such a technique might not work, it was probably the best thing they had to go on.

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 21 Season 3, The Last Sam Weiss

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 29, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Blatant Product Placement

Gee, the backup camera on the cars sure was cool.  If only I had a way of knowing what model car that was so I  could get one…

You know, there’s a distinction between product placement and writing elements into a show just to feature products and their features.  Showing that a person is driving a Ford Focus by the camera pausing on the car’s name plate is a product placement.  Intentionally inserting a scene where a car backs up just so you can show the backup camera of a Ford Focus is artistic compromise.

Today’s Winner of the Darwin Award Is…

What kind of idiot gets out of his car during a freak electrical storm like the one in this episode in order to see what’s going on, even if he thinks the storm is over?

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Lightning does strike cars, and being insulated from the ground by the tires does not make much difference.  Just as lightning is powerful enough to travel through the air to the car, it can also arc from the car to the ground.  What keeps you safe in a car that is struck by lightning is the metal skin of the car conducting the electricity around you.  (Sorry fiberglass bodied Corvette owners.)  If you are in a car and lightning is striking around you, the advice is to pull over, shut the engine down, and keep your hands in you lap and wait for the storm to pass.

Wait, What Did He Just Say?

Sam Weiss (not to be confused with Samwise Gamgee):

“It’s not a doomsday device, but it’s acting like one.”

Uhh, isn’t that exactly what everybody so far has been thinking it is, a doomsday device?  It does present the intriguing possibility that the devices were not designed to be doomsday devices but were intended for some other purpose.  Perhaps they are really anti-doomsday devices indeed to fix problems like the ones caused by Walter, and Walternate is using his device incorrectly.

 Are You Sure You Have a PhD in Physics?


“Walter this can’t possibly be safe.”


“Nonsense, I’m fully insulated.”

So were the cars, Walter.  The lightning has enough current to overcome the resistance of the air, I don’t think Walter’s rubber boots and gloves are going keep him safe.  Rubber tires don’t keep cars from being struck by lightning, and Walter has no metal skin to harmlessly conduct the electricity around him, though that didn’t seem to help the people at the beginning of the episode very much.

Top Notch Care

How come no alarms went off when Peter ripped off his monitors?  The display went flat line, and not one alarm went off?  I know the hospital was overwhelmed by the large number of lightning victims, but it sure took a long time to notice the monitors had flat lined and their patient was missing.  Apparently Peter could have actually arrested and died, and nobody would have noticed for quite a while.

Are You REALLY Sure You have a PhD in Physics?


“These two magnets create a magnetic field between them.  As a result, these iron filings line up in a pattern consistent with that field.”

Walter is explaining his demonstration wrongly.  In Walter’s demonstration, each magnet had its own magnetic field, and the iron filings lined up with the magnetic field lines of each field.    The filings would be lining up even with only one magnet.  The intersection of those patterns indicates the overlap of the two magnetic fields.  Also, if Walter had re-agitated the table after bringing the two magnets together, he would seen that the magnetic fields combined rather than disappeared, and the pattern would have look something, like this.

Security By Acme Solutions

Why would the alarm system be controlled by breakers in the regular breaker box?  How secure would that be?  I would think they would be on their own, secured bus with a battery backup system so the system could still be active in a power outage.

Secrets Of the Ancients

That paper was remarkably flexible and robust for something that was presumably thousands of years old.

What If You Believe Really Hard?


“But believing doesn’t make it true.”

Please tell that to the Birthers.

Quantum Entypement or Just Telekinetic Typing?

Just curious, how would they be able to tell the difference between Olivia controlling the typewriter in the other universe, causing the typewriter in our universe to work, and her just controlling the typewriter in our universe?

Oh, God!

The quote in the magazine Sam was reading,

I love to sing.  And I love to drink Scotch.  Most people would rather hear me drink Scotch.”

is from George Burns.

Official Personnel Only, No Exceptions

I know you’re in the loop on everything that’s going on right now, and you might prove invaluable, but I’m sorry, you aren’t an official member of the Fringe team.  You aren’t allowed to come along and try to help save the universe.  There’s liability concerns, after all.

Product Placement Question

Does Fox give the writers a list of things (like a Sprint tablet or Ford backup camera) that they have to figure out a way to work into the episode each week?

Are You Sure You Know What Exponential Means?


“Exponential microquakes building towards a massive event.”

If they were building exponentially, they wouldn’t remain micro for very long.

Did they Use Giant Rubber Gloves?

How did they move the device when it was protected by a force field that wouldn’t allow even a pen to touch it?

Unanswered Questions

What did Peter want to show Walternate when he went to Liberty Island?  Was it important or significant to the future resolution of the plot?

Why do Peter and Olivia have no memories of each other as children?

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Product Placement, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 20 Season 3, 6:01 AM EST

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 23, 2011

A Purple (Both Red and Blue) Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Genetic Noise

The need to strip out Fauxlivia’s chromosomes from her child’s genetic material was an important technical point.  If it would have worked to still have her chromosomes in the mix of the genetic sample form her son, then Walternate’s DNA would have worked just as well, since he has 23 chromosomes in common with Peter just like Peter’s son has, though likely not the exact same 23 chromosomes.  Apparently the presence of non-Peter Chromosomes is a bigger problem than having only half of Peter’s chromosomes.

It’s Electric!

The phenomenon whereby charge accumulates in certain solid materials as a result of applied mechanical strain is called piezoelectricity.   The most familiar use of piezoelectricity is in flintless cigarette lighters and gas barbecue igniters.  Quartz is a material that exhibits piezoelectricity.  Peizoelectricity does not, however, create something analogous to a battery that holds a change after the strain is relieved.  Those rocks should not have been holding a charge as they no longer had a force applied to them.  For plot convenience sake, I will have to assume that the effects of the device partially dematerialized the rocks and reassembled them such that the quartz crystals were held in strain in the matrix of the rocks.

It’s Epic!

Nina’s Sprint phone in the hit you over the head obvious product placement was the Sprint  Epic version of the Samsung Galaxy S.  It’s a pretty sweet phone, and basically the top phone out there with a physical keyboard (as of April 2011).  It is a 4G phone with slide out keyboard, front and rear facing cameras, and an LED flash, and it runs the Android OS.

The All American Sport

Ebbets Field was the home to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and apparently still is their home in the alterverse.  Also, the Montreal Expos either never moved to Washington D.C. in the alterverse, or they never changed their name to the Nationals if they did move.

Am I Missing Something Here?

I watched the episode online, and it was extremely inconvenient  to backup and replay a scene.  Fauxlivia has previously traveled to our universe and back.  While she may not have technically understood how it worked, she should remember the basics of how it was done.  I’m not sure why Fauxlivia seemd to have no inkling how inter-universe travel is done, or why her universe’s Brandon Fayett (the Chief Fringe scientist in the alterverse) would bother to pretend trans-universe travel can’t be done.  Perhaps Fauxlivia wanted to know how to bring someone back and not just how to travel between universes, but the she has accompanied someone a return trip across universes herself.


 “Ten months ago, the secretary brough Peter Bishop back from the other side, How?”

Presumably it was similar to the way you traveled between universes, Fauxlivia.


“I read the mission logs.  I know the secretary developed technology to cross between universes and bring back Peter Bishop.”

Uhh, she didn’t just read the logs, she met Peter Bishop when he was here, and she accompanied him back to our universe.

Better In the Dark?

So does Fauxlivia prefer to sit in the cell in the dark, or is she being punished and have no ability to turn the lights on?

Note For Saint Louis Viewers

If you missed this episode last night due to local Fox coverage of the storm that hit Saint Louis and attacked Lambert Airport, this episode will air again on Fox tonight (4-23-11) at 10:35PM .

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Product Placement, Purple Episode, Red Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 19 Season 3, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

Posted by Karl Withakay on April 15, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Yeah. 220… 221, Whatever it Takes -or- Do Not Reset or Power Off Your Olivia

I know the effect of dimming lights and blown breakers added drama, but wouldn’t you make sure you had enough current capacity to properly power your mind transfer device?  You always get a warning not to shut down or reset when saving a game on the Xbox360 or flashing the ROM on your computer or electronic devices.  Who knows what could happen if you lose power when in the middle of a consciousness transfer?

Did You Make Sure To Select the Right Volume?

How do you make sure your soul transfer machine transfers the right soul anyway?  What if Olivia had ended up in the body of the bearded guy on ice?

Does This Rat Seem Like that Other Rat to You?

Who knew rats had souls?  How exactly would you tell that a rat had the soul of another rat inside it?  I guess you would use the magic soul reading EEG for the rats just like you do for people.

First In, First Out?

Why is it that the natural host soul (which is presumably better anchored to the host brain) is the one to be lost rather than the invasive guest soul?

Chi, Why Did it Have to Be Chi?


“OK, what if we try and activate her Chi”




“Yes, we try and stimulate her seventh chakra.  Pure consciousness.”

First of all, Chi and Chakras are related but different forms of vitalistic woo.  As for acupuncture and Chi points, studies have shown that the location of needling in acupuncture is irrelevant.  (They have also shown that it doesn’t matter whether you penetrate with needles or just poke with toothpicks.)  Chi points have never been demonstrated to exist, and their origin lies more with astrology than with anatomy.  Chi is a prescientific, concept based on vitalism, devised before the modern understanding of the circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems.

The Emulator is Legal, But are the ROMs Copywrited?


“Whole brain emulation.  It’s another one of Belly’s old projects.  It describes how an inorganic host can house organic material.”

I think the writers are getting confused and mixing up concepts here.  If William Bell has an incorporeal soul that is independent of his old brain, as it must be since his body is now dead and his soul has moved into Olivia’s body, then that soul cannot be considered organic.  If the mind is exclusively the result of the organic brain, then there is no way to transfer the mind or soul.  Though it could be possible to copy the mind, the original would be left behind in that case.

More Mental Confusion

Mind, soul, brain, consciousness, the writers seem to randomly interchange these terms so much that it becomes difficult to tell what they’re actually talking about at times.  Are they going into Olivia’s mind to look for her consciousness or going into her brain to find her mind/soul.  The language seems clear that they are going into her mind to find her consciousness, but that means her mind is there and reachable.  Is there a danger that her consciousness will disappear while her mind is still in her body?  Is the danger that her mind will follow her consciousness if it disappears from her body?  Is this all just an elaborate excuse to do an Inception episode?

Astrid Farnsworth, M.D.?

Should Astrid really be supervising the whole LSD trip into Olivia’s mind all by herself?  What if one of them seizes, arrests, or experiences some other form of serious complication?

She’s Got a Lot On Her Mind

That’s a very large, complicated, and involved world that Olivia’s mind was generating.  No wonder her consciousness was suppressed, it was too busy generating a dream consisting of a large portion of the United States with a cast of at least thousands of people in it.

Peter, I Made a Skid!

Normally, that would have a different meaning coming out of Walter’s mouth.  Enough said.

A Mind Scanner Darkly

It seems like they did the animation just for scenes involving Leonard Nimoy as Bell.  Nimoy had retired from acting, but he returned for Fringe and to voice Sentinel Prime in the next Transformers movie.  It’s almost like Nimoy will only do voice acting work now, so they animated his scenes.  The other option presumably would have been to make Bell a large transforming robot from another planet.

Explosive Decompression?

Hydrogen filled rigid airships typically cruised at about 3,000 ft, with the highest altitude achieved by a hydrogen filled rigid passenger airship being 5,500 ft on the Graf Zeppelin’s maiden voyage.  As far as I can find from very limited research, explosive decompression does not even begin to be a concern until sometime around or after 15,000 ft.  That guy should not have been sucked out of the zeppelin like that.

Mostly For the Search Engines

The ECL82 is an actual vacuum tube used in record players with crystal pickups.  I’m not sure why Walter’s digital soul computer would need one, or where he would plug it in.  Perhaps Walter was looking to mellow out Bell’s soul a little bit.

Fear Is The Mind Killer

The resolution seemed a little anticlimactic/ Deus Ex Humana to me.  All it took to resolve the situation was for Olivia to become a Bene Gesserit.

Product Placement

It’s strange.  The SPRINT tablets I see online and in the stores don’t seem to have SPRINT in GAINT LETTERS across the top to let you know they are SPRINT tablets like the one in the show did.  I wonder if it was supposed to be a product placement, kind of like an in-show ad or something?  🙂

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Product Placement, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 17 Season 3, Stowaway

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 18, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will eventually be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Soul Rape/ The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul

I hope I’m not the only one who considers that what William Bell did to Olivia without her consent constitutes an immoral assault against Olivia.  He slipped her the soul magnets into her tea without her consent, which constitutes an assault by itself.  The purpose of the magnets was to facilitate the seizure of her body and suppression of her consciousness against her will, another assault, both legally and morally.

I proclaim “Bellivia”

…as the name for Bell possessed Olivia

Why the Funny Voice?

I guess I have to accept that the funny voice was so we could tell when it was Bellivia and not Olivia, because I can’t really think of any other good reason for Olivia’s body to talk with a funny voice when Bell is controlling it.

I Proclaim “Nerdly”

First, let me just say, I have street cred here, so I can get away with calling someone a nerd.  I’m going with the name Nerdly (or NerdLee or Nerd Lee if you prefer) for our universe’s version of Agent Lincoln Lee with the thick, black framed glasses and conservative clothes & haircut.

Location, Location, Location

I’ve probably asked this before, but why hasn’t Walter moved his lab to Massive Dynamic where they have many more resources available, or at least decked his lab out a little more now that he’s the owner of a multi-billion dollar corporation?

Physics 102 (Literally 2nd Semester Physics, After Motion and Kinematics)


“In performing the tests, we noticed something odd in the molecules of Miss Gray’s body.  They didn’t want to come apart.  They were held together by an unusually strong electromagnetic bond.”


“I’m Confused.  You’re saying her body is held together by magnetism?”


“Well, we’re all held together by magnetism.  Our molecules are like theses hematite rocks.  Magnetism is what keeps us from flying apart.  It’s what keeps us solid.”


“In Miss Gray’s case. The attraction was almost unbreakable.  Uh, it’s a miracle she left behind any blood at all.”

Ok, let’s set things straight here.  Magnetism and electromagnetism are not the same thing.   Magnetism is property of materials that respond at an atomic or subatomic level to an applied magnetic field.  Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions or forces in nature.  Electromagnetism is responsible for molecular bonds, not magnetism.  Out molecules are not held together like ferromagnetic hematite stones.

Stronger Molecular Bonds = Dead

If Dana Gray’s molecules had unusually strong molecular bonds, her molecules would have a very hard time undergoing chemical reactions.  Chemical reactions are all about the breaking and forming of molecular bonds.  If the bonds of Dana’s molecules were so strong that they are nearly impossible to break, they wouldn’t’ be able to undergo the chemical reactions necessary to support life, and she’d be dead.  Consider the following in support of the notion that even minor changes to chemical properties can be detrimental to life:  While we generally state that different isotopes of the same element have identical chemical properties, this is not 100% accurate.  For all practical purposes, most isotopes of the same elements have indistinguishable chemical properties, but in rare instances, there is a detectable difference.  One such instance is with Deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen.  Normal hydrogen has no neutrons in its nucleus, but deuterium has one neutron in its nucleus.  The chemical properties of deuterium are very close to those of regular hydrogen, but they are not 100% identical.  The properties are different enough, that water with at least one atom of deuterium (heavy water) is slightly different from regular water.  If as little of 25% of the water in the human body is replaced with heavy water, heath problems such as sterility occur. At 50% concentration death occurs, due to inhibited cell division due to the altered bond energy in the deuterium-oxygen bond.

An Innuendo Too Far

Hey, I’m a healthy, heterosexual male, and I appreciate a hint of girl on girl action as much as anyone, even if I know it’s not going to happen (even though one of the hot actresses is gay), but the milking comment by Bellivia was a little creepy.

It’s All Energy, Man…


“Life force?  You mean like a soul?  Is that even a scientific concept?”


“It’s best to try to not be reductive.  I mean After all, every living thing is just bundled energy.”

Any so is a rock, and a block of ice, and a cloud of hydrogen (e=mc^2).  No souls there.

Not In an Unfringified Universe


“If Dana Gray was struck by lightening twice, do you think that would help to explain whye she was overly electromagnetic?”


“I suppose that’s possible.  The ions due to multiple lightning strikes could cause her molecules to become supercharged.”


“And possibly intensify the electromagnetism, why do you ask?”

The elementary charge carried by electrons and protons is one of the fundamental physical constants of the universe.  You can zap someone with lightning all day long and its not going to change the behavior of molecular bonds or behavior of the electromagnetic force.

Remedial Phone Trace 101

FBI Phone Trace Guy:

“Can’t run a  trace unless the line’s open.  She has to pick up.”

OK, apparently the FBI assigns their technical flunkies to Fringe division work.  For a physical land line, you don’t need to do a trace if you have the number; you just look up the address in the phone company’s database.  For a CELL PHONE, you don’t need to do a traditional trace at all if you know the number of the phone.  Even if the GPS function on the phone is switched off, as long as the phone is on and able to receive calls, you can do a reasonably accurate location of the phone by determining which cell towers it is registering with.  They should also have been able to tell that the phone was moving at a reasonable velocity and determine the general path it was taking by observing it switching between towers as it moved.

Superman’s Suit is Super Too?

How come Dana’s Clothes weren’t singed at all by the explosion?



“As a scientist, I like to believe that nothing just happens,”

OK, so far, so good, cause and effect, that’s from science…

“that every event has some meaning, some sort of message.  You just have to be able to listen closely enough to hear it.”

Whoops, you lost me here as to how that has anything to do with science.  You just jumped into philosophy, which is fine.  It’s just not science anymore.

Please Set Your Phone to Vibrate, or Set a Non-Ringy Ringtone, Mr Potter.

Is Bellivia going to swap with Olivia every time an angel gets their wings?

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 16 Season 3, Os

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 11, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent

Network 101

Those shapeshifter memory discs didn’t look like they were arranged in a daisy chain wiring pattern.  In a daisy chain, each device is hooked to the next device in series, like links in a chain.  Those discs looked more like they were wired in a centralized topology.

Product Placement

Well Thanks to Fringe, we now know that Olivia’s Ford can read text messages aloud to you.  At this point, if they have any chance of helping get Fringe renewed for another season, I’ll put up with the blatant product placements.


Well, I think I know how they achieved counterbalance.  The boots are weighted.

I think Peter means something more like counter-buoyancy or counter-weight.  The thieves weren’t balancing against an opposing weight on a pivot or working with a center of gravity, they were countering the mystery buoyancy.

Let My Cameron Go

The bad guy in this episode was played by Alan Ruck, probably best known for his portrayal of Cameron Frye in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.  He also played the captain of the Enterprise B in the horrible movie Star Trek: Generations, but I won’t hold that against him.

Dead Weight

What was the point of testing the body for lighter than air gases like helium?  In a non Fringified universe, for buoyancy, the buoyant force on an object is going to be equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object, meaning that you would have to displace enough volume of air with helium, such that the mass of the air displaced has to be greater than the mass of the body to be lifted + the mass of the lifting gas.  There’s not nearly enough volume in a human body to achieve buoyancy by traditional lifting gas no matter how much (or how little) helium or hydrogen it contains.

The World’s Heaviest Element

Osmium is the world’s densest element, but it is not really correct to refer to it as the heaviest element.  When you refer to the weight of an element, you are usually referring to it’s atomic mass, as in the combined number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus or it’s atomic weight, which is basically the average atomic mass of a sample of the element.   At this time, the world’s heaviest element would be Ununoctium.  The world’s heaviest stable element is Lead, although Bismuth-209 has a half life so long (nine orders of magnitude greater than the current age of the universe) that it can be considered stable for all practical purposes.

Sure, Shoot Me Up!

Would you let some stranger you met in a gymnasium shoot you up with some mystery juice that he told you could cure your incurable condition?  I’d be a little worried that I’d wake up in an alley several hours later with my pants around my ankles and my wallet missing.

Ice Hot, Doctor, Ice Hot!

If extremely cold temperatures melt the Osmium, is the boiling point below absolute zero, and therefore unachievable?  Is there a limit to how cold you can get it by applying unlimited heat, or is it possible to get it colder than absolute zero by supplying enough heat?

Elemental Mistake

I think the writers got their elements mixed up. Lutetium (9.84 g/cm^3) is rare, but is not even as dense as lead (11.34 g/cm^3), let alone Osmium (22.59 g/cm^3), and it does not come from meteorites.  It think the writers were thinking of Iridium (22.56 g/cm^3), which is very nearly as dense as Osmium, is also rare, and is found in meteorites.  In fact, it is the relative abundance of iridium in the K-T boundary of 65 million years ago that provide support for the theory that an impact  of a comet or asteroid lead to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

I Am Your Density

Density does not equal strength.  Gold is very dense (19.3 g/cm^3) and also very soft.  It would make horrible armor protection.  Why would you work with “two of the densest elements on earth” when trying to make a material to protect aircraft from ground fire?  Strength to weight ratio is the key for aircraft, not density.  Titanium (4.51 g/cm^3) is used in the A-10 to protect the pilot from enemy fire .

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Product Placement, Science, Television | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 15 Season 3, Subject 13

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 26, 2011

A Mostly Blue, 80’s Episode

As always, an episode synopsis will be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Plan Vs Improv?

Am I the only one who thinks the writers changed their minds about why Peter wasn’t returned to the Alterverse?  I got the impression in episode 15 of season 2, Peter, that the reason why Peter wasn’t returned was that Walter’s wife couldn’t stand losing Peter a second time, and Walter couldn’t bear causing his wife to lose their son a second time.  Now we see that they want to return Peter, but have been unable to do so.  It seems like the writers decided this works better for the overall story arch.  I’m not really complaining, but I’m curious if anyone else has the same impression.

Periodic Anachronisms

The regular periodic table on the wall in the Walter’s office was wrong for the years 1985 and 1986.  (I am assuming it may be 1986, since this is 6 months after the Peter episode set in 1985)  The regular table went up to element 117, with the elements up to 111 having their current, official names.  The circular table was also wrong, going upto elemnt 118, with elements up to 109 having their current, official names.  The names for elements 104-109 were not finalized until 1997.  Bohrium would not be shown as Bohrium on any periodic table in 1986, as the proposed name at the time was Neilsbohrium.  The name Bohrium was not proposed until 1994.  The name for the element 108 was not proposed until 1994, and element 109 was not even discovered/ synthesized until 1994, so there couldn’t have even been a proposed name for it yet.  It’s not important to the plot, but it’s a glaring error by the showmakers.

A Toy Store For the Ages

The original Battlestar Galactica aired from 1978-1979 and was cancelled after one season.  The Battlestar Galactica board game was put out by Parker Brothers in 1978, and it would not have been on the shelves of a toy store in our universe in 1985 or later.

The Real Ghostbusters cartoon ran from 1986-1991, so those toys are OK.

The Rubik’s Cube was introduced to the toy market in 1980.  I remember it having a pretty long run at being in toy stores, but 1986 is probably a little late for it to be so prominently featured in a toy store.

The game console being played was an Atari 5200, recognized by its distinctive controller.  By 1986, the video game industry was in a slump, and the 5200 had been discontinued back in May 1984, and it would not have been in toy stores in ’86.

CORRECTION PROMPTED BY  COMMENT BY DeRa1s:  The video game controller is for either a 2600 Junior or 7800 and not a 5200 as stated above.  The game box leaning on the side of the TV was for the 2600 version of Joust, and not the 5200 or 7800 versions.  The cartridges in front of the TV were 2600 cartridges, which would be consistent with either an Atari 2600 Junior or Atari 7800, as the 7800 could play 2600 cartridges.  The graphics were clearly not that of the 2600 version, though.  It could be either the 5200 version or the 7800 version, but Joust was not released for the 7800 until 1987.  An Atari 2600 Junior or 7800 would not be anachronistic in 1986, but the version of Joust on the screen would be.

No Necessarily Anachronistic

The Betamax VCR format was introduced by Sony in 1975, and by 1980, had been completely overtaken by its rival, JVC’s VHS format, which controlled 70% of the North American market.  However, Betamax retained a following as it has slightly superior picture quality and resolution compared to VHS.  It’s not unlikely that someone like Walter would have continued to use Betamax in 1986, or that he would obtain a new Betamax setup in that year.  It seems though, that the writers are implying Walters Betamax is new as a technology, which would be incorrect.

Anachronistic Displays

The readouts on the green, monochrome CRTs were way too sophisticated for 1986.

Did Peter Bring Some Board Games with Him From the Alterverse?

Quizzard was released in 1988 in our universe; Peter has a copy in our universe in 1986.

Aren’t You Supposed to Be Dead?

Strange that it never occurred to Walternate and his wife that Peter might be dead already.  He was deathly ill the last time they saw him, and they knew he didn’t have long to live.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that 6 months later, he might not still be alive, regardless of who kidnapped him.

Bishop Dynamic, Home of Broken Windows and Deaf or Dead Employees

I recently took a tour of Cape Canaveral, and from what I have been told, Bishop Dynamic is way too close to the shuttle launch pad to be safe.  At that distance, windows would shatter, cars would flip over, and people would probably be killed by a shuttle launch.  I was at a location about twice as far away where I was told NASA had a large generator flung about 50 feet by a launch.

Battleship Amana

My parents had the same Amana Radarange microwave oven that the Bishops had in their kitchen.  The thing weighed about a ton, and had more chrome than a 57 Chevy.

Unanswered Question

Why did Olivia and Peter have no recollection of each other or the events portrayed in this episode when they first met?

Posted in 80's Episoide, Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 14, Season 3, 6B

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 20, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Building and Small Kitchen Appliance Manager

OK, the blender comes on by itself, and they are going to call the building manager.?  Um, did the blender come with the apartment?  I understand the building had been having other problems, but why would the building manager care about problems with a tenant’s blender?  There’s no reason to think electrical problems in the building would cause a blender to turn itself on, unless you’re in the loop on the whole Fringe thing.  Call GE or Black & Decker for a defective blender, not the building manager.

Fringe Division, Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work

So let me get this straight, when there are no active Fringe cases, the Fringe division can’t find anything for Walter or Peter (but especially Walter) to work on or research?  Is the division in pure reaction mode, doing nothing while waiting for a Fringe event to happen?  I guess they’re done researching the doomsday machine.  What do Olivia, Astrid, and Broyles do when there are no active cases, work part time jobs?  Is this a division of the FBI or a volunteer fire department?

If the Building is  a Rockin’, Don’t Come a Knockin’…

Is putting a portable seismograph in a multi-story building in a busy urban are really going to be very useful?  The normal motion of the building (yes, buildings move in the wind), the vibration cause by people moving about in the building and using the elevator, and the traffic in the streets below, etc are going to create a lot of background noise on that seismograph.

Walter’s Consistent Position

Peter is surprised that after all the Fringe events that Walter has seen, he doesn’t believe in ghosts, but it seems consistent to me.  The Fringe events are weird, but scientifically explainable phenomenon (at least in the show they are) and not really paranormal in nature.   It appears that Walter believes that the mind is a scientifically explainable, emergent property of the brain, and that there is no soul to survive the death of the body and brain; therefore he doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Proof, You Keep Using that Word, I Do Not Think it Means What You think it Does…


“If her husband had this apartment, then it stands to reason that her husband’s double may have this apartment on the other side.”

Wlater’s OK, so far…

“Which proves I’m right.”

Um, non sequitur.  At this point, what Walter had was a reasonable speculation, and the basis of a plausible hypothesis, but he doesn’t have proof of anything, yet.

Quantum Plot Point

Quantum entanglement has been a somewhat popular science fiction device recently, having been used in Flash Forward, Mass Effect 2, and now Fringe, and it’s pretty much always used wrongly.  It doesn’t work on the macroscopic level, and the real potential applications aren’t as cool as things like faster than light communication or bridging universes with emotional longing.  Quantum teleporting sounds cool, but is mostly of interest to physicists.  Quantum computing and cryptography are technically cool, but don’t provide any major new plot devices beyond faster computers and unbreakable codes.

Einstein was not a fan of quantum theory, and was never able to fully accept it.  His “spooky action at a distance” and “God does not play dice with the universe” quotes were intended as disparaging remarks about quantum theory.

Premature Comment…

During the climatic scene in the apartment, I wrote down in my notes that it was a lost opportunity that the writers didn’t make this a parallel episode showing how the teams in each universe dealt with the two different sides of the same Fringe event, beginning to end, especially considering the dilemma that Walter was facing in this episode.  At the end of the episode, they did show the Fringe team in the Alterverse investigating the disturbance on that side, but I still think it would have been more interesting to see my version.  It will be interesting to see if the disappearing event in the alterverse ever gets questioned further, but I’m not holding my breath.

Location, Location, Location.

Just a couple of notes here about the vortex events in Fringe.  First, it’s very convenient that none of them have occurred anywhere not on or very close to the surface of the Earth.  If one occurred at the bottom of a deep ocean trench, in the core of the Earth, high in the atmosphere, in or on the Sun, or on the moon, etc, they could be kind of hard to seal in amber.  Also, the writers are portraying a geocentric universe.  Think about it for a minute.  The location of the disturbances and the vortices are fixed positions on the surface of the Earth, but those locations are not fixed in space.  The Earth rotates on its axis, so the rips in space are also rotating about the Earth’s axis as well.  The Earth, and the rips in space also orbit the sun, which orbits the center on the Milky Way, which is also in motion as well.  The rips in space are not fixed points in the fabric of the universe (if such a concept even has any meaning), but they follow the same somewhat chaotic path in the universe that the locations on Earth where they first appeared do.  The vortices appear to be dragged along by gravity.

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12, Season 3, Concentrate and Ask Again

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 5, 2011

A Blue Episode

As always, an episode synopsis can be found over at Scott’s Polite Dissent.

Pure Energy

I’m assuming the book Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care in the William Bell artifact storage room was an intentional nod to Leonard Nimoy’s most famous role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

For the Search Engines:

Die Ersten Menchen: Literally translates to “the first people” from German.

From a Mile away…

Who watching the show didn’t know something was going to shoot out of the doll when the ring was pulled?

No Offense, Walter, but is that a Rhetorical Question?


“Why would anyone want to kill a scientist?  What did we ever do?”



Peter Bishop: Fringe CSI Team

Hey Peter, maybe it’s not such a good idea to pull the ring on that doll.  On one hand, it’s going to make the crime scene decontamination/remediation more difficult by spewing extra toxin everwhere, and on the second hand, that might be the last sample of the toxin left you just sprayed all over the room.

Crack Biohazzard Investigation Team

First, it’s interesting that their chemical & biological agent detector makes noises like a Geiger counter.  Second, it’s strange that they declare the site clean and safe after running their detectors through the house.  I guess it never occurred to them that the canisters of toxin they found might be booby trapped.

Service Medals/ Decorations Trivia

The decorations in the case were a USN/USMC Combat Action Ribbon, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a Purple Heart, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Frankly Olivia, I wouldn’t Blame Peter if He Did Like Faulivia Better…

Faulivia is more self confident and no nonsense than Olivia is, especially since Olivia got back.  I wish Olivia would either just get mad at Peter or get over it, but one way or another, just deal with it and move on one way or another.  Frankly Fauxlivia exudes a hotness that Olivia usually lacks.  Olivia did look pretty hot at the museum, though.

HIPPA, Schmippa, Who Cares?


“May I See his medical chart?”

Sure, that won’t constitute any kind of HIPPA violation will it?  We can just hand out confidential medical information to anyone who asks for it, can’t we?

Medical Mumbo Jumbo

Suspect’s wife:

“The doctors said there was something wrong with Aaron, some kind of DNA pathogen that he passed on to our child.”

Pardon me, but WTF is a “DNA pathogen” supposed to be?  Any pathogen other than a prion is going to have DNA, or at least RNA.  It would be only slightly less descriptive to call it a organic or carbon based pathogen.  Is it supposed to mean a pathogen that attacks DNA???

Read What Thoughts?

I question what thoughts the mind reader was supposed to be reading.  The patient had severe brain damage, not locked in syndrome.  I would think he brain was too damaged to process any of the questions that were put to him.  I doubt anything useful could have been gleaned from reading his mind.

What is Walter’s Degree In Again?

Because it’s certainly not biology, physiology, taxonomy or anatomy.


“Jellyfish are one of the few creatures without any bones.”

Lets ignore the various non-animal creatures such as protists and bacteria for now.  Apparently Walter is not aware that 95% of all animal species are invertebrates.  In fact, vertebrates are basically the exceptions.  Technically, it would be more proper to say, “Humans are one of the few creatures to actually have any bones.” than it was to say what Walter said.

Stylish, but Useless

The suppressor (they’re properly called suppressors, not silencers) on Olivia’s gun sure was nice, cute, and concealable in that dress, but it was way too small to be the least bit effective.  Suppressors need sufficient room for an expansion chamber to allow the muzzle gases to slow down to subsonic speed.  That gimmick suppressor would have been useless.

Posted in Blue Episode, Fringe, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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