Cordial Deconstruction

Observations from our shared single objective reality in a materialistic, naturalistic, & effectively macro-deterministic universe.

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Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 15 Season 4, A Short Story About Love

Posted by Karl Withakay on March 23, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Down the Rabbit Hole or Not?

Interesting that at the start of the episode where we later learn (or confirm) that this is Peter’s native world, the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane was playing in Walter’s lab.

Someone Read an News Article They Didn’t Really Understand

While researchers at MIT have been able to create a one trillion frame per second video that allows them to capture the motion of a light pulse, it is not a device that can be used to slow down existing video from other sources, nor can it see individual light particles as Walter described.  Half of slow motion video is playing back the video at a slower frame rate than it was recorded at, but the other half is that the slow motion/ high speed video is recorded at a much higher frame rate than normal video, in order to capture motion that would not be recordable at the regular frame rate.  It’s not at all difficult to play back video as slowly as you want; the problem is recording the video fast enough in the first place.

Look at it this way, the video from that nanny-cam bear would have been recorded at a standard frame rate, likely no more than 60 frames per second, and so a frame of video would be captured every 1/60th of a second.  If an observer moved rapidly across the picture in less than 1/60th of a second, he either wouldn’t even be in the picture, or would just be a blur across the frame, no matter how slowly you played the video back.

Also, even if Walter had a one trillion frame per second video recording from the bear, if he slowed it down to play back at 60 frames per second, it would take 528 years for Walter to watch just one second of video, and he would need a the same amount of memory in the bear as would be required to store 528 years of video recorded at regular speed.  The video of the light pulse recorded by the MIT researchers represents just a miniscule fraction of a second of real time action.


After Walter removes the message lens (for lack of a better description) form Peter’s eye and analyzing it, the following conversation takes place:


“I suspect that this message, if left alone to run its course, would have fully dissolved, taking its place firmly in your mind’s eye.”


“You think this would have etched itself into my brain?”


“Organic ocular suggestion.  You wouldn’t be aware, but you be irritably compelled to visit.”

On one hand, it seems like the idea behind the message lens was that being overlaid over his eye, it would present the address as a subliminal message.  His conscious mind would not notice the address, but his subconscious mind would see it.  This idea is fairly implausible as the address would be way too close to his eye to be in resolvable focus, but this is science fiction after all, and though it’s pretty outlandish, it’s not that bad of a science fiction element.  But from what Walter says, it sounds like he is saying that the process of the message lens dissolving is what would cause it to be absorbed into Peter’s “mind’s eye”, which might be worse than the time Walter captured the last image seen by a murder victim.

Pull My Finger

I’ll just quote Wikipedia here, “…no pheromonal substance has ever been demonstrated to directly influence human behavior in a peer reviewed study.”  There is as yet, no conclusive support for the existence of human pheromones.

Extra, Extra, Read All About it!

Some of the headlines on the newspapers on the wall in September’s apartment were:





Home Sweet Home

As many of us have suspected, this is indeed Peter’s world, and this is his Olivia.  It remains to be seen how or if it will all be reconciled.  Will Walter forever be without the last four years he and Peter shared together?  Will Olivia loose her memories of her relationship with Nina?  How will the Alterverse come into play for all this?  Will there be a season five?

Not E’l Nina

Blair Brown herself has dubbed the evil Nina “Meana”, so when she appears in future episodes, I will use that moniker to refer to her.


Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 14 Season 4, The End of All Things

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 24, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Dumbest Quote of the Show


“You know that’s impossible”

Why would anybody that has seen even a small fraction of the things the Fringe team has dealt with ever say that anything was impossible?

Now We Need a Name for Evil Nina

It seems that this is the Nina from the Alterverse and not a shape shifter, though it’s still possible that it is a shape shifter that has replaced the alternate Nina.  Until someone comes up with something better, I will call her E’l Nina for Evil Nina.

Can You Lend Me a Hand?

Did Jones replace E’l Nina’s hand with a robotic prosthetic just to make her match Nina?  How devoted a follower is E’l Nina?  Are we sure she’s not a shape shifter?

Storage Terminology Nitpick

Peter twice referred to the flash memory card as a disk.  It would be OK to call it a drive, but a flash memory card is not a disk.

Did You Wipe When You Were Done?

There’s a problem or two with Peter’s recovery of older images form the flash drive.  The first is that flash memory is different from magnetic disks.  If you completely over-write a magnetic disk, it is can still be possible to recover the old data because there may be a residual magnetic signature of the old data left behind, much like with a palimpsest as Walter mentioned.  This is why a “government level wipe” requires multiple passes of over-writing every bit of data on the drive, although now even that is considered insufficient and it is recommended to degauss the hard drive, effectively destroying it. (Note:  Some maintain that one pass is sufficient with modern drives.)

However, a flash drive is a bit different, and I don’t know if transistor based flash memory can have residual traces of over-written data like magnetic disks can if you completely wipe and over-write the entire drive even one time.

Even if you could recover residual data from a flash drive like you can with a magnetic drive, Peter stated that the drive recorded in 60 minute loops*, and this is the second problem.  If we assume that 60 minutes was all the flash card had room to hold and not that it had room for hundreds of hours of video, but for some reason was configured to only buffer 60 minutes, then every hour, the entire data set would be over-written.  The drive would receive the equivalent of 24 full pass wipes every day, and it would be essentially impossible to recover any data more than a few hours old.

*  I’m guessing that the purpose of the local storage of the video loop was to buffer the recording in case the connection to wherever the camera was sending its data was temporarily interrupted so that no data would be lost.

Mama Said Knock You Out

Another minor nitpick:  Did you ever notice that nobody ever seems to suffer from post concussion syndrome (other than maybe a headache immediately after regaining consciousness) after being knocked unconscious in the movies or on TV?

Clear As Mud

It seems the show is being deliberately vague and ambiguous as to whether this is or isn’t Peter’s Olivia.  Peter seems to again believe it is not, but September never stated that it was not Peter’s Olivia or that this wasn’t Peter’s native/proper multiverse.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 11 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 13 Season 4, A Better Human Being

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 18, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Spur Your Memory

As far as I know, DNA profiling done for criminal investigations doesn’t involve photographically imaging the chromosomes.  If we accept that that the Fringe team does produce images of the chromosomes, then it’s plausible that Walter would remember and recognize the “chromosomal spur” from Shawn’s chromosome images.

A Stand of Truth

Calling a chromosome a “strand of DNA” is roughly analogous to calling a ball of yarn a strand of yarn or a spring a strand of wire.  A chromosome is a piece of coiled DNA that is technically a strand of DNA , but when I hear the term strand used, I usually think of something that is unwound.

I  Spy With My Little Eye…

Apparently Walter can eyeball two DNA profiles at different times and determine from memory that they share a single common parent and only a single common parent.  You certainly couldn’t tell that from images of the chromosomes, even if you over-layed the two images.

Far More Likely Than Winning The Lottery, but Still…

Before the learning of the Doctor’s genetic involvement, Walter should have been very suspicious of 4 different half siblings sharing a common, rare chromosome.  If it is rare, we can assume the common parent carried only one copy of the rare chromosome, and had a 50% chance of passing that chromosome to any individual offspring.  The odds that 4 children of that parent would all inherit the rare version of the chromosome is 1 in 16 or 6.25%.

You Keep Using that Word.  I Do Not Think it Means What You think it Does.

“There are many cases of siblings communicating non–verbally, typically identical twins, but not always.”

Yes, deaf siblings do it quite often.  It’s called sign language.  Most siblings, even the ones who can hear and speak will frequently use non verbal communication, such as facial expressions, hand/arm gestures, groaning, sighing, poking, shoving, etc.  Depending on how you define verbal communication, writing, emailing, texting, Facebooking, and Tweeting could all be considered non verbal communication as well.

However, if Walter is talking about telepathic communication, The James Randi Education Foundation will pay one million dollars to anyone who can demonstrate such an ability under controlled testing conditions using a mutually agreed upon protocol.  The paranormal challenge has been in place since 1964, and has been worth $1,000,000 since 1996.  To date, nobody has ever gotten past the preliminary test.


I’m not sure what the point of looking at Olivia’s hair sample under a microscope was.  Can you see evidence of cortexiphan in a hair sample under a microscope?

Cool Science

“Many forms of non-verbal communication exist in nature.  Eels use electrical pulses.  Whales use echolocation, elephants use seismic vibrations.”

Electric eels (which I learned while writing this are not eels, but knife fish) produce two different types of electric discharges.  One is high voltage used for hunting and defense, and the other is a low voltage discharge thought to be used for both location and communication.

However, I think Walter is confusing whale sounds (which includes echolocation) with echolocation used by toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises.   As far as I can tell, echolocation is not used for communication.

While elephants do use the soft underside of their feet to detect low frequency sound, I’m not sure that these sounds could reasonably be called seismic vibrations, as seismic means relating to or caused by earthquakes.  The next time an earthquake happens, be sure to shush the elephants.

Actually, if you think about it, non-verbal communication is really the norm in nature, as only humans use verbal communication, whereas all other forms of communication used in nature by other life forms and humans are non-verbal.  In fact, up until a few million years ago, all communication used on Earth was non-verbal.

Are We So Sure the Drugs Were Bad?

Yes, he didn’t have schizophrenia, but maybe the drugs did help Shawn maintain his identity and protect him from succumbing to the collective identity.

Typically, but Not Always

Recombinant DNA is usually made of DNA from two or more different species, but it doesn’t have to be.

Where Did You Go to Evil Medical School/ Did you Go to the Same School as Walter?

“I promised them successful pregnancies and healthy babies, and that’s what I gave them.”

The good doctor doesn’t seem to understand what was fundamentally wrong with what he did.  What he did was illegal and unethical for numerous reasons.  First and foremost from an ethical viewpoint, he violated informed consent, which is one of the most fundamental concepts in medicine.  In medicine, a patient must be properly informed of the nature and risks of what is being done to them so that they make an informed decision of whether to consent to the treatment or not.  You’re especially not allowed to experiment on people without their knowledge.  Oh yeah, and there’s all those laws he broke as well.


Dr. Owen Frank:

“I attempted to re-introduce abilities that we humans have long since evolved away from, the hard wired instincts that we share with other animal species.”


“And that would include telepathy?”

Frank nods and grunts in acknowledgement

A few points here.

First, species don’t generally evolve away from traits that confer a survival benefit.  If humans had evolved away from a trait, it would have likely been because that trait was no longer beneficial.

Second, why would you want to re-introduce hard wired instincts?  Surely one of the advantages of being human is to be able to think rationally (though you might not know it during an election year) and not just react instinctively.

Third, is either Olivia or the doctor saying that

A.) Humans once had telepathic abilities,


B.) we shared those abilities with other animal species?


Considering the doctor has no regard for ethics or the law, I guess I can’t really harp on him for sharing confidential medical records with the Fringe team without either a warrant or signed consent of the former patients.

Is it Live, or is it Memorex?

So, was Nina pretending to be held prisoner with Olivia, or is the Nina running Massive Dynamic a shape shifter?

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 11 Season 4, Making Angels

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 3, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Peter Being Selfish Again

I suppose it’s never occurred to Peter how it might affect Walter if and when Peter manages to get back to his time line.  I’m not even saying that it should be motivation for not trying to get back, just that at lest Peter might try to empathize a little and try to understand why Walter is being so short with him.

Mentat Astrid is Now Rain Man Astrid

I agree with Polite Scott that the other Astrid has gone changed from a mentat into basically someone with a form of autism spectrum disorder.  As much as I want to find her new found sensitivity and vulnerability endearing, I prefer Mantat Mentat Astrid.

Never Send the Fringe Team to the Congo

Once again, we have a mysterious, unexplained death due to an unknown cause where the body manifests strange signs such as bleeding from the eyes (a common symptom of hemorrhagic fevers, like Ebola), and there is no biological containment set up, no safety procedures, and no protective gear of any kind beyond gloves used.  Sooner or later, these guys are going to get themselves and a lot of other people killed.

Tears of Ra?

My research on Google and Wikipedia revealed nothing about any poison/ potion called the Tears of Ra used to euthanize pets.  All references to the Tears of Ra I found were in regards to bees being born from the tears of Ra or some variation of that.  (I did find one reference stating that humans were supposed to evolved from the tears or Ra, but no references to any potion or poison.)

Quote of the Show


“So you’re saying it’s magic?”


“It’s science, just unusual science.”

Mentat/Rain Man Astrid Makes a Mistake


“He’s not my son.”

Mentat/ Rain Man Astrid:

“As I understand it, in another timeline, he is.”

Actually, in another time line, he is Walternate’s son, not Walter’s.  In that time line, Walter did raise him though.

Choose to Believe?

Mentat/Rain Man Astrid:

“In that case, wouldn’t it be preferable if you chose to believe he was your son, and then you could love him and be happy?”

You may think I am being pedantic, but I would have phrased it “…if you tried to think of him as your son” and not used the word chose.  I don’t how easy it is for someone to actually choose to believe something rather than choose to act as if they believe something or come to believe something.  I can act as if I believe 2+2=5, I can come to a conclusion that 2+2=5 if I find compelling evidence that it is so, but I can’t just choose to believe 2+2 is 5 no matter how much I might want to.

Fringe Team, Trusted with the Safety of Two Universes #1

That attempt to arrest Neil on the job was one of the worst thought out operations the Fringe team has carried out so far.  I guess it never occurred to the Fringe team to arrange ahead of time for TSA clearance to get access to the security area or alert the TSA that Neil was a terror suspect suspected of using chemical weapons and have them detain him.  Even so, it also apparently never occurred to Olivia to shout out “Neil’s a terror suspect, arrest him!” when TSA wouldn’t let her through.

Slightly Absurd Product Placement

The Nissan Leaf is all electric, with no gasoline motor like hybrid vehicles.  It seems unlikely that the FBI would issue vehicles with a range of about 73 miles between charges for regular use.  It sure was convenient that the place where Neil used to work (MIT) happens to have a rapid recharge station, and they appear to let you use it for free.

No Search Warrant, No Problem

No further comment.

Fringe Team, Trusted with the Safety of Two Universes #2

Did it never occur to anyone to search Neil’s house for the Tears of Ra (or more of it if he had his atomizer on him) or the thing he said he had found that let him see the future?  Eh, there’s probably nothing interesting in that safe, just head back to the office.  They must have studied the Storm Trooper method of searching:  “Door’s locked, move on to the next one.”

Did Neil See All Possible Futures?

OK, the cancer thing I can sort of get; it was fatal, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.  (If only there was some way to get a cure for cancer from the future like you can get the formula for a poison).  But the guy’s car accident was preventable.  Why not prevent his suffering by preventing the accident rather than killing him before it happens?  Frankly, just the delay due to the conversation in the garage might have thrown of the timing enough to prevent the accident.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Product Placement, Quotes, Television | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 10 Season 4, Forced Perspective

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 28, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Occam’s Razor


“The Spanish Flu, isn’t that extinct?”


“Well, the last reported epidemic was in 1919, which makes him a minimum of 91 years old.”

Setting aside Olivia’s deficiency in basic math skills (it is 2012, not 2010 right?), and the fact that the last reported epidemic doesn’t matter as much as the last reported case, what’s more likely, that there’s a man over 93 years old that appears to be about half that age, or that a man managed to expose himself to a virus that wasn’t been circulating in 93 years, but is not truly extinct.  Samples of the Spanish Flu have been recovered from the bodies of its victims and used in research in laboratories fairly recently.   It’s at least as likely, if not more so (to anyone unfamiliar with the nature of the observers, at least) that the man in question had been exposed to the Spanish Flu in one of these laboratories.

HIPPA HIPAA Violation?

So health services informs Broyles of Olivia’s visits without any concern for confidentiality or HIPAA violations?  Do Fringe agents have to sign a waiver/release to allow their supervisors to have access to confidential, personal medical information?

Observer Bias?

Do the Observers’ ability to see/experience all possible futures include those that may result from Peter’s tinkering with The Machine, or is The Machine a confounding variable even they have trouble accounting for?  They didn’t anticipate Peter continuing to exist/ returning after the last use of the machine.  Maybe Olivia doesn’t have to die, after all.

I Be Jammin, Man

It’s a good thing the Fringe team somehow knew that the bomb was triggered by a coded signal rather than just any signal on the frequency.  If the detonator was more primitive, like my old radio controlled car I had as a child, their attempt at jamming could have easily triggered the bomb.

Major Plot Problem

It seems the whole point of the bomb in the truck in the garage beneath the building was that it wouldn’t be possible to get a bomb past the building security check point.  How then did Albert get his vest bomb and detonator through the check point, and why did he bother with the truck bomb at all, since the vest bomb rendered it redundant, and it was less precise than the vest bomb?

By Definition, His Actions Demonstrate He is Ready to Die

Given Albert’s deliberate, premeditated, and well planned actions, and the fact that he had been foreseen to have actually carried out his plan, Olivia’s statement, “I’m not ready to die, and I don’t think that you are ready to die either.” don’t seem too well thought out, but given the situation and the need to think fast, I’ll give her a bit of a pass on not making too much sense there.

I Never Really Loved Mom or Danny


“Why didn’t you tell me?”


“I knew you’d be here.”

She supposedly also knew her mom and brother wouldn’t be there.  I guess she didn’t care about saying goodbye to them.

Stroke Me, Stroke Me…


“They said it was some kind of stroke.”


“Yeah, the overload of electrical activity in her brain was just too much.”

Excessive electrical activity in the brain is called a seizure.  A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain.  Somewhere terminology is getting messed up by someone.  I suppose that the earlier mention of her brain “drawing” elevated levels of oxygen and blood could be interpreted to imply elevated blood pressure, which could lead to an aneurism, which could result in a hemorrhagic stoke if it ruptured, but it wouldn’t be due to any overload of electrical activity in the brain.

Plot Conveniently Unpreventable

How can Walter be so sure that Emily’s death was unpreventable?  Nobody ever mentioned any previous attempts to use drugs to suppress Emily’s ability.  It seems at least plausible that either drugs or surgery could be used in an attempt to suppress her precognition.  Both drugs and various forms of surgery have been used to treat epilepsy (which is what you call it when someone has a neurological condition that causes chronic seizures) with varying degrees of success.

Thick as a Plank, or Just Not Pushing It?

Is Peter really that dense that he accepts Olivia’s protestation that she hasn’t been contacted by an Observer, or is he just letting it slide?

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Medicine / Health, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 9 Season 4, Enemy of My enemy

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 20, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Kids in the Hall Tactics

Jones uses a Kids in the Hall tactic to show he’s not one to be trifled with.  (Tactic first used at about 40 sec in the vid.)

But How Many of Them Were Just Facebook Friends?

NerdLee: “I lost a partner”

Peter: “I lost a universe”

Of course, Peter probably didn’t know everyone in his lost universe/timeline personally.

We’ve Got Him Right Where He Wants Us.

In regards to releasing Jones, Walternate says, “Obviously we’ll be keeping him under constant surveillance.”   Did it not occur to anyone that since Jones has been two steps ahead of them the whole way so far, that he might already have a plan to escape that surveillance?

It’s all About the Newts

In case you didn’t catch it, in the Alterverse (in this timeline at least), Newt Gingrich is on the $100 bill.

Does this Timeline Have a Spinal Tap?

Olivia missed an opportunity for a Spinal Tap reference by finishing the line “On a scale from one to ten…” with “a lot.”  instead of “eleven.”

Can I Get One of Those?  Pretty Please?

I know the situation is unusual, but shouldn’t NerdLeed at least asked Peter if he had ever used or even handled a gun before handing him one like it was a party favor?  Frankly, if Peter had told him the truth about some of the previous times he had used a gun on his Fringe team, NerdLee might have been a little more reluctant to arm Peter.

The Only Ship in the Quadrant

I know they didn’t have much time to assemble a team, but I would have expected more Fringe agents on the team that went to the quarry, plus some snipers and a few helicopters maybe.

Minor Observation

Olivia must have stopped her SUV before the portal closed because the remaining half  tire and wheel were oriented with the flat side facing forward, indicating they did not roll at all after being sliced in half.  If the SUV was still in motion at the time the portal closed, I would expect the tire and wheel would have continued to roll until that the flat side was on the ground.

A Refined Observation

Fauxlivia said Jones must have at least 100 pounds of the mineral.  For her to be able to estimate that, she had to know or estimate the following:

1        How much material Jones collected.

2        The average concentration of the mineral in the sample collected.

3        The approximate yield of the process used to refine the raw ore into a usable form.

Posted in Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 8 Season 4, Back to Where You’ve Never Been

Posted by Karl Withakay on January 13, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

No Fringe Event Science to Deconstruct

This post is going to be somewhat short as I didn’t find very much worthy of Deconstruction.  It was a good episode, but there really wasn’t much fringe science to deconstruct and the episode focused mainly on laying the groundwork for the rest of the season.

Is There a Picture of Peter in the Dictionary Next to the Word Selfish?

Wow, not only does Peter not care whatsoever about the cold war between the two universe’s in this timeline (“not my fight”), but he’s willing to use the machine and risk destroying both universes, and killing about 12 billion people on the two Earth’s combined (depending on how many in the alterverse have lost their lives in Fringe events) in addition to whatever civilizations on other worlds might be wiped out, just to get back to his native timeline, assuming it still exists (which he can’t be sure of).

Here it is, Item 317, Destroyer of Worlds: Aisle 5, Top Shelf, Next to the Printer Paper

If the use of Walter’s portal device was the cause of all the Fringe events in the first place, why would Olivia ever consider using it to recon the other side (or help Peter), especially now that both sides have been stabilized?  Wouldn’t it be kept under very tight security, and not just kept “in storage”?

We Have a New Automotive Sponsor

Remember the days when product placement was just a product being used in a show, but not necessarily in an obviously, in you face kind of way?  Neither does Nissan.

Quote of the Show/ But was it Just to Watch Him Die?


“Just out of curiousity, if this thing closes while I’m still crossing through, what happens?”


“It’ll cut you in half.  I killed a guy like that once.  Eh, Don’t worry, he was a bad guy.”

This Was Not Among the Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men.

Apparently  the Fringe team needs to employ an eight year old child to let them know when they’ve come up with an incredibly bad plan.  Their plan to have NerdLee pass for Lincoln Lee and escort Peter to Walternate had more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

-What if Lincoln Lee had been at Liberty Island at the time?

-What if they needed a password or code (Shapeshifters are in play after all.)

-What if handprints were not identical across universes, just like they are not identical between identical twins? (Maybe that was previous established, and I’m forgetting.  Even still, Lincoln could still have a scar on his palm that NerdLee dosen’t)

-What if they required the Show Me? (Shapeshifters are in play after all.)  Not having a plan for dealing with the universally required  Show Me was a total non-starter, end of story; go back and start over and tell me when you have a real plan.

I could go on, but you seem my point

It Wasn’t a Problem This Time, but…

Neither Olivia nor Fauxlivia have yet figured out not to separate from their partner.  In addition to all the things that tend to go wrong when that happens, WE’RE DEALING WITH SHAPESHIFTERS THESE DAYS!  There should be protocols in place for what to do if you ever lose sight of your partner.  Admittedly, the Alterverse Fringe team members are just starting to realize the shapeshifter threat to their universe, but it’s still a bad idea to abandon your wingman and be without backup.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Product Placement, Science, Television | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 7 Season 4, Wallflower

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 18, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

Transfer That Man to the Fringe Division, ASAP!

The officer gets a little spooked, and he discharges the entire magazine of his Beretta 92F with no target in sight and no concern where the bullets might end up.  He’s definitely Fringe material.

Gun Notes

The officer discharged only 4 rounds, which means that starting with one in the chamber, he had only 3 rounds in a 15 round magazine.

Also, the slide did not lock back on the last round like it should have, and the officer pulled the trigger a fifth time on an empty chamber.  Before it was mentioned the he emptied his entire clip (see below on that), I considered the possibility that the fifth round was a dud, and he had not emptied the magazine, but the dialog nixed that possibility.  Perhaps the officer had a low quality magazine with a weak spring and intentionally did not fully load the magazine to prevent over compressing the spring, but if your magazine can’t reliably feed a full load of rounds , it’s a liability and needs to be replaced or resprung.  A weak magazine spring is a common cause of slide lock failures.

Magazine Clippings

A clip is a device (usually a bent strip of metal) that holds rounds of ammunition to facilitate loading certain firearm magazines.  A magazine is a device that holds and feeds ammunition in a gun.  The Beretta 92F has a detachable 15 round box magazine and does not use clips.  Most modern pistols designed after WW I do not use clips at all.

Revisiting White Fright

I’ve covered this before, but despite Walter’s credulity on the subject, fright can not turn hair white.  Hair is not living, and no chemical process in the body can affect its color once it is grown.

Also, I don’t believe fright can make you go albino either.  You can go momentarily pale if the blood flushes from your face, but that’s not the same as loosing your skin pigment, and you really wouldn’t be any paler than your average corpse.  Fright certainly won’t cause your eyes to go red.

If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It

Chromatophores and the animals that have them are pretty cool, but they’re not Harry Potter invisibility cloaks.  They can blend into and with backgrounds, but they cannot become transparent such that you can look right through them.

MayI Please Borrow The Multiverse Manipulator Sometime, Broyles?

Broyles won’t even let Peter walk around in public without an armed escort to limit his interaction with other people.  Does Peter really think they will let him play around with the big, scary machine built to destroy universes?

Quote #1


“Tell Broyles, Science has no price tag!”

Wait, What…?

U-Gene originally had a pigment problem, and was treated with chromatophores that made him able to be invisible by dynamically blending in with the environment around him, but he’s not bending light around him like an invisibility cloak would, so he should be creating shadows.  Also, no explanation was giving as to how these cells could accurately reproduce 3D lifelike images in real time capable of making him not noticeable to people looking in his direction, if not right at him.  That’s some major processing power to do that.

Additionally, if his original problem was a lack of pigment, why wouldn’t stealing other people’s pigment be a workable substitute cure (at least in the Fringaverse) in place of the chromatophores?  Yes it was a genetic deformity so I would expect he would need to constantly replenish his pigment, but I don’t see why it would revert him to his original, pre-cure state and kill him

Was He Being Politically Correct?

Why target Caucasians for acquiring pigment; wouldn’t U-Gene have had to kill fewer people if he went after darker skinned people?

Magic UV Light

That mouse didn’t fluoresce under the UV light, it simply became visible as if a normal light was shining on it.  Apparently the super chromatophores absorb UV light and re-emit it at the exact same wavelength of light that would be normally be reflected by normal cells when regular visible spectrum white light shines on them.  Also, apparently U-Gene’s and the mouse’s hair is made up of these chromatophores as it’s also invisible.  I wonder about the mouse droppings.

Bad Plot Convenience Theater

Olivia’s line about the search taking too long and them needing to split up was entirely contrived to separate her on her own; it made no practical sense.

What’s the hurry?  Isn’t a slow, methodical search better?  Why not at least break up into teams of two?  Isn’t it good to have someone backing you up?  If I ran the Fringe division, I’d have a rule:   Always have a partner, and never leave your wingman under any circumstances.  No teams smaller than two people.

Olivia Dunham, Elite Government Agent

Is anybody keeping count of how many times Olivia has lost or carelessly discharged her firearm over the years?

Quote #2


“Your life is an experiment.  You have to find out where you belong, find your own place in the world.”

Things We have Learned In This Episode

Massive Dynamic used to be called Kelvin Genetics, and it had an insurance subsidiary called Cypronic Inc.

Nina Sharp in this continuity appears to be evil, though there is good reason to believe she may have been evil in the other continuity as well.

Olivia appears to have a pain killer problem, and she has antibiotics (Ampicillin) in her medicine cabinet.

Olivia and NerdLee may be hooking up at some point.  Obviously there’s a mutual interest there, and Peter seems OK with it, believing that this is not his Olivia.

U-Gene was Experiment 69545

I Will Not Be Pushed, Filed, Stamped, Indexed, Briefed, Debriefed or Numbered. My Life is My Own.

Did anybody else get a little “The Prisoner” vibe at the end there for a moment?  (Skip to the 1 min 50 sec mark if you don’t want to watch the whole video.)

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 6 Season 4, All Those We’ve Left Behind

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 11, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

 What’s Old is New Again, Again/ A Self Referential Plot Point

I really liked the plot to this episode the first time I saw it, when it was the Window Of Opportunity episode of Stargate SG1.  Sure you can say that story’s plot was derived from and inspired by the movie Groundhog Day, but this episode’s plot was a virtual copy of the plot of Window of Opportunity.  An elite, secret government team comes across a series of time loops/ bubbles that are eventually determined to be caused by a scientist/engineer seeking to reunite himself with his wife who has been lost to him through illness.

But Does it Go to Eleven?

I guess in the new timeline, perhaps Drexler MCD21 Handheld Molecular Cohesion Detectors are widely available.  Even if it isn’t well written, it’s nice that it comes with a real, substantial manual rather than a CD-ROM or just a hyperlink to the website for instructions.

Alpha Radiation 101


“If I’m the causing some sort of cosmic disruption, then there’s going to be heightened levels of alpha radiation, but I’m going to need the full spectrum of EM waves, not just the…”

First of all, Alpha radiation is particle radiation (specifically Helium-4 nuclei emitted from atomic nuclei via alpha decay), not electromagnetic radiation or EM waves.  Second of all, based on what science is Peter so sure that his “cosmic disruption” would be causing alpha radiation rather than any other form of radiation, particle or EM?

Peter Bishop Came Unstuck in Time

Peter has a few Billy Pilgrim moments in this episode.

Neutron Radiation 101

Neutron radiation is very penetrating and very hazardous.  It is considered to be the most hazardous form of radiation.  If there was strong enough neutron radiation to cause embrittlement of the metal bumper, it would have been strong enough to kill the passengers and also induce radioactivity in the exposed materials.   Also, Peter is wrong that neutron radiation has to be produced by “human technology”.

-Neutrons are produced from cosmic radiation interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere.

-Neutrons are produced when low Z materials like Beryllium are exposed to alpha particle sources like Radium through α,n nuclear reactions.

-Neutrons can also be produced if a gamma ray photon has an energy exceeding the binding energy of an atomic nucleus and strikes it.

-Neutrons are produced through natural fission.  Sustained natural fission occurred about 1.7 billion years ago in the Oklo natural reactor.

-Very high neutron fluxes are produced in supernova explosions.

Honestly, I didn’t Know this Until I Looked it Up, but…

A Fibonacci spiral is not a perfect golden spiral, though it is an approximation of one and is often confused for one.

Quote of the Show


“You can’t just walk from the present into the past, shattering the laws of physics.”

No, of course not..  I mean, it’s perfectly reasonable that you can create a time bubble, shattering the laws of physics, but walk through the time bubble, no that would be laughably ridiculous.

Faraday 101

That was not anything remotely approaching a Faraday cage.  Peter would have to have been nearly fully enclosed in a metal mesh, shell, or foil wrap.  That harness seemed more like some soft of counter field generator rather than a Faraday cage.  Faraday cages protect against electric fields and certain wavelengths of electromagnetic fields.  Are the time bubbles created by EM fields?

How Important is that Right Hand, Peter? (It’s like a Whole ‘Nother Person)

I might have tested my “Faraday Harness” with something other than my right hand.  Maybe my left hand, my left foot, or perhaps a small stick would have been my choice.

Did Walter Invent the Flat Panel TV in 1991?

Why was there a flat panel TV in a house that supposedly hadn’t been occupied for 20 years?

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 5 Season 4, Novation

Posted by Karl Withakay on November 4, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

NüFringe Retrocontinuity Clarifications

-Olivia’s mother died when she was young, and she and her sister were raised by Nina Sharp.

-William Bell is still dead.

Cancer 101

I don’t think the writers understand what cancer is.  Cancer is basically a condition of uncontrolled cellular replication.  Malcolm’s research into encouraging cellular replication would be unlikely to have any direct application to cancer treatment except possibly to replace tissue or organs removed by surgery to remove the cancer, but it would not be able to cure malignancies or metastases (kill or eliminate cancer cells).   The problem in cancer is not primarily with replacing tissue; it is with removing the cancerous cells.  The research would be useless in curing cancer.

Mad Scientists Have Ethics?

William Bell, the man who collaborated with Walter in experimenting on children with an experimental, mind altering drug  (Cortexiphan), shut down a project into cellular replication for the purpose of tissue replacement due to ethical concerns?  WTF?

I’m Gonna Need Some Pliers and, uh, a Set of 30-Weight Ball Bearings

That sure was a neat trick where Peter hacked into a Cisco digital phone system just by crossing a few wires.  You can’t hot wire VOIP.

Did Gas Pumps Get Faster and Gas Get Cheaper?

Malcolm spent about 10 seconds pumping gas and the final reading on the pump was $11.16 and 14 gallons (though he paid $20), which puts gas at 79 cents a gallon and the flow rate at 1.4 gallons/ second.  If I’m ever driving in Rutland Vermont, I’ll make sure to fill up at Newhart Gas, where the fuel flows fast and cheap!

Genetics 101

It would take more than a complete copy of a persons’ genome to create an identical copy of that person.  It is often said the genes are the blueprints of an organism, but that’s not quite accurate.  Genes are more like a cross between a blueprint and a building code.  Many factors affect the final product.  In the analogy, available materials, contractors, worker skill & motivation, weather, etc all affect the form of the final product.  For a human being there are likewise numerous environmental factors and inputs that all affect the final product.  Even identical twins do not have identical fingerprints.

When Is a Copy Not a Copy?

Let’s say that the shape shifters used more than just DNA to copy their victims.  Peter stated that they replicate their victims down to the molecular level.  If that were the case, then they would have brains identical to their victims and think, feel, and act just like their victims, unless the data drive over rode the brain to some extent.  Of course, if they were identical down to the molecular level, they would have no interface to the tech.

Cylon Problem

Peter in regards to the enhanced shape shifters assuming the form of anyone they wanted to:

“Short of performing surgery to find those memory disks, you would have no way of knowing”

Really, there are partially metallic, electronic objects located inside these bodies and they can’t be detected by:



-Metal Detector

-EMF Meter?

Further more, they should be able to confirm identity by EEG.  (Fringe has established the ability to identify a persons’ unique brainwave signature)

Think Fast

Seeing as how at the end, Malcolm seemed convinced that Bell was right about his work, why didn’t Malcolm just throw the vial to the ground instead of trying to run away with it?

Shape Shifter 101/ Fool Me Once, Shame on You…

How stupid is Olivia?  I mean, she’s encountered shape shifters before, and she fell for the same trick again!  Did anyone watching not know the wounded agent was likely the shifter right away?  Anytime a hostile shape shifter leaves your sight, assume the next person you encounter is that same shape shifter!  I weep for the safety of our universe.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

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