Cordial Deconstruction

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

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Posts Tagged ‘magnetism’

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 12 Season 4, Welcome to Westfield

Posted by Karl Withakay on February 11, 2012

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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

It’s Probably Safe and Not at All Laced with Drugs

Peter and Olivia are either brave or stupid.  I don’t think I’d ever drink anything Walter prepared in his lab, even if I watched him prepare it.

The Machine

I still can’t believe anyone would let Peter and Walter play around with the destroyer of universes machine.

Steel Frames?

Just a note:  I checked every pair of glasses I’ve had in the last 25 years (which I still have for spare parts purposes), and none of them have frames that are attracted by a magnet.

Electromagnetism, Where to Start?

Wow, I don’t really fell like writing a primer textbook on electromagnetism, electromagnetic fields, magnetic fields, magnetism, electromagnetic force, and electromagnetic interference, but holy cow, the writers need to understand that these terms are not synonymous and the concepts are not interchangeable.

Only in Bizarro Wolrd (or Fringe Land)


“Approximately three hours ago, every vehicle on this stretch of highway inexplicably lost power”


“Could be some sort of interference.  Are there any high frequency towers around?”

What is Olivia smoking?  If all it took to shut down vehicles and electronics was a high frequency tower, any future wars would have to be fought steam punk style.

It Must Have Been a Rental or a Cab

Luckily Walter just happened to find a car that still used steel hubcaps, and didn’t have aluminum wheels or aluminum or plastic hubcaps like most vehicles these days.

May the Force Be With You #1


“On the contrary, it seems that the electromagnetic force in this area was increased dramatically.”

I think Walter meant to say either the magnetic field strength or the electromagnetic field strength increased dramatically.

This is Heavy, Man (Or Not)


“I didn’t think that those levitating effects that the witnesses described were the result of a change in gravity”

Well, that fact that only ferromagnetic materials (and only fairly light ones at that) levitated might have been a clue to that as well.

May the Force Be With You #2


“It was strong enough to leave a residual magnetic force in all metal objects in the vicinity.”

As a scientist with expert knowledge in this field, Walter would never speak those words.  What he should have said was that the magnetic field was strong enough to permanently magnetize all ferromagnetic materials in the area.  It’s absurd and nonsensical to say a residual magnetic force was left behind, and it wouldn’t have magnetized non-ferromagnetic materials.

Olivia Dunham: Keen Instincts Finely Tuned by 4 Years on the Fringe Team

After finding the payphone out of order, having no cell phone signal, and having just left the scene of a strange electromagnetic phenomenon that lead to a plane crash, it should have occurred to Olivia that the area might be dangerous, and that it might be a good idea to run back to Peter and Walter and get the heck out of town ASAP.

Turn Around, Bright Eyes/ You Spin Me Right Round


“You must have gotten turned around some place.”

Um, how do you get turned around without making a turn?  No turn was shown, and you can tell from the sound inside the card that the car never slowed to make any turn.

I Need More Power!

Peter should be smart enough to know that you can’t just hook up a generator to a radio and boost the signal.  All he would have ended up doing is frying the circuitry of the radio.  Even if he tried to re-wire the radio, the components likely wouldn’t have been able to handle the extra power.

Apocalypse 101

I wouldn’t have given Walter a gun either, but I wouldn’t have left those two shotguns behind either.  You can always use a few extra guns in the apocalypse.  It’s always good to have a spare or two in case one breaks, or you lose one.  Also there’s the important concept of the hand out gun- a spare gun you can give to any new found survivors so they can help defend the group.

Guns for Beginners

If the teacher really had never used a gun before, one of the worst guns Peter could give him would be a hand gun.  It’s actually fairly difficult to be effective with a handgun, even at close ranges.  I don’t have a source handy, so take this with a  grain of salt, but most handgun fights take place at about 7 yards distance, and most shots miss. (think about that for a few seconds)  While a shotgun does not have the spray radius shown in the moves and video games (figure about a 1” diameter pattern for every yard from the muzzle for buckshot from 18” un-choked barrel), it’s still far easier to hit something with a (stocked) shotgun (or any long gun) than with a pistol, especially for a beginner.

But it Sounds Cool…

Of course, when possible danger approaches, Peter cycles the action of his shotgun.  Knowing he was headed into a dangerous situation, Peter should have already had a round in the chamber to allow a faster reaction time in case of surprise.  Either we wasn’t ready, or he just wasted a shell by ejecting it when he cycled the action.

Division Error

Walter’s hypothesis/speculation about rapid mitosis being responsible for the duplicate body parts was barely superficially sensible.  If it was accelerated mitosis:

-I wouldn’t expect new, duplicate parts so much as growth/ enlargement of existing parts.

-I really wouldn’t expect new tooth growth and especially not a complete duplicate set of teeth.

-I would think that the accelerated cell metabolism required for the rapid cell reproduction would require extra energy (food) intake to fuel it.

-If new teeth had grown in so rapidly, I would have expected severe pain from the teeth forcing their way through existing tissue to the open.

-I would also expect the possibility of quickly developing cancers from the extremely rapid cell division.

Was Causality Broken Too?

Peter to Olivia:

“Let Walter test your blood too.  It’s the only way you’re going to know for sure.”

Art this point, Walter has not yet established if there is anything special in the victim’s blood, so he doesn’t yet know of a way to determine if someone is or will be affected or not.

Biology 101


“I found 92 chromosomes in her DNA.”

Again, as a scientist with expert knowledge of human biology, Walter would not speak this sentence.  Chromosomes are made up of DNA, they are not found in DNA   Walter should have said he found 92 chromosomes in (each of) her cell nuclei.

It’s Easy if you Try

I don’t know how powerful amphilocite is supposed to be, but we can peg an extreme upper limit on it.  Amphilocite is likely a chemical energy source, which has a far lower energy density than a nuclear power source.  Antimatter-matter reactions are the highest energy to mass yields that are possible to get, and using Einstein’s E=mc^2, we can figure out how much energy would be released from 1 kg (~2.2 lbs) of antimatter reacting with 1 kg of matter, and that number is 43 megatons.

If amphilocite’s energy is chemical in nature (or even nuclear), we can expect it has an energy density several orders of magnitude less than antimatter, but even if it was antimatter, although 43 megatons is a huge amount of energy, it is still 7 megatons less than the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated.  Considering Jones collected about 100 pounds of ore, we can expect that 100 pounds yielded significantly lass pure material, so I can’t believe he could produce an amount of energy from it so large that Walter couldn’t have imagined such an energy source, even outside of amphilocite.

What’s Your Vector, Victor?


“The sum of opposite and equal vectors is zero.”

Actually, you can’t have two vectors that are simultaneously opposite and equal, as a vector has properties of both magnitude and direction.  If they are in opposite directions, than two vectors are not equal, though they can be of equal magnitude.  Again, Walter should know this and not speak this way.  The sum of two vectors of equal magnitude and opposite direction is zero.

Automobiles 101

First of all, is possible to have fuel injection without electronics.  The 1957 Corvette was available with a mechanical fuel injection system, and the WWII Messschmitt bf109 fighter plane was available with a mechanically fuel injected engine as well.  There were other even earlier instances of mechanical fuel injection

Secondly, though few cars in the 1970s featured electronic fuel injection, electronic ignition was standardized by Chrysler in 1973 and by Ford and GM in 1975, and so most cars from the 1970s would not function, contrary to what Olivia said.

Pepper Spray 101/ It’s Not aPhaser

At that distance, Peter would have undoubtedly gotten some pepper spray in his eyes and lungs, and, the rest of the people in the enclosed bus probably would have been somewhat affected by the spray as well.

Abandon Bus!

It looked to me like there was plenty of room on either side walk for that bus to drive on one of them and that it wasn’t necessary to continue on foot when road was blocked.

Blind Peter

Peter is still completely oblivious as to how his leaving might affect Walter, in spite of the fact that they are clearly growing closer to each other.


Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , | 19 Comments »

Deconstruction Review of Fringe, Episode 4 Season 4, Subject 9

Posted by Karl Withakay on October 14, 2011

A Gold/Yellow Episode

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


Why did Walter’s super multi-angle photo setup consist pretty much entirely of various models of Polaroid instant cameras, apparently somehow converted to digital?

Magnetic Personality

Walter to Astrid:

“Find anything metal, so they can test whether those objects have become magnetized.”

For any of those objects not made out of ferromagnetic materials, that would indeed be extra Fringe worthy, as only ferromagnetic materials can be magnetized.  Not all metals are capable of being magnetized or attracted to magnets.  Dental amalgam does not contain ferromagnetic materials and is not attracted to magnets.

Bug Out

Mysophobia is the fear of germs and contamination.  Not that it would have eased Walter’s mind at all, but he should have known that urine is generally sterile, and poses little risk of germs.

Wild Wild West

Did the retcon eliminate all the other questionable firearms discharges by Olivia?  Because if not, you’d think they just revoke he firearms privileges by now and take her gun away.

First she blindly shoots out a window with no concern for what’s on the other side of the window, or where the bullet might ricochet to in an urban environment with many hard (ricochet prone) surfaces.  (I watched the scene in slow motion, and though she turns he head towards the window, she covers her eyes with her arms and does not see what’s on the other side of the window, and even if she did see the other side was clear, the ricochet problem still exists.).

Later, in the same episode, she fires her gun at an angle in the air without any concern for where the bullet might land.  (Although the Mythbusters proved you can fire a gun directly vertical with little fear of harm when the bullet lands, any angle will result in a ballistic trajectory and a potentially lethal landing.)  I’m surprised she doesn’t just shoot the bottle caps off of beer bottles and use her gun to turn off the lights like Homer Simpson.

Super Special Magnetic Powers

Not only is Peter’s energy capable of attracting non ferromagnetic metals, it is also capable of unlocking mailboxes in an apartment complex.

Violating Causality


“I witnessed effect before cause.”

Effect proceeding cause would appear to violate causality, and would imply faster than light phenomenon/ time travel or retrocausality.  If a particle travels faster than light, it would travel back in time and appear to flow from effect to cause.

Posted in Fringe, Gold/Yellow Episode, Science, Television | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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 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 »

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