The non-science of Fringe: The Arrival

Fringe: Season 1: Episode 4: “The Arrival”

Walter examines the beacon.

Walter examines the beacon.

The (re)appearance of a Mysterious Object has the team puzzled, but mind-readers are on hand. In this post, I’ll be making the usual comments about how much suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy the show.

This episode is debunked at Popular Mechanics, and you can read more about it at Fox, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

That subterranean torpedoes are a little impractical goes without saying (though this is presumably future/alien/other-dimensional technology) – but you can’t have mysterious objects without rotating lights!

I can read your mind

Telepathy seems to be a recurring theme on Fringe, with some kind of mind-reading making an appearance in every episode so far. This week we’re treated to two different displays, from a Hired Goon (Massive Dynamic prefers that personal touch) and The Observer (as he pulled a young Walter and Peter out of a submerged car, does that make him some kind of reverse Lex Luthor?). Anyway, while telepathy itself is a cute sci-fi staple, the transfer of thoughts by simple proximity is not. The mere suggestion that your thoughts, electrical impulses in your brain, can be absorbed by somebody else (through osmosis, no less) is enough to stun the intellect. I’m a little surprised that Walter didn’t mention quantum entanglement by way of pseudoexplanation.


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