The non-science of Fringe: The Transformation

Fringe: Season 1: Episode 13: “The Transformation”

The team investigate another air disaster.

The team investigate another air disaster.

Ah, another way to weaponise people. The usual conservation-of-mass problems aside, this episode was refreshingly easy to watch.

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

Random thoughts

It’s a shame that this flight didn’t have the (actually non-existent) auto-landing feature, as then we would have been able to see the Incredible Porcupine go on the rampage in an airport. Just like in Same Old Story, there is a large increase in body mass without any apparent energy intake (unless our passenger had really taken advantage of the in-flight snacks).

I’m not an expert on marsupials, but I think that possums normally have thirteen nipples, not fifteen.

Fringe makes one of its larger slip-ups in laboratory science just as Olivia calls Peter from Massive Dynamic. We can see him filling up a vessel with some unidentified blue-green liquid, but he’s doing it all wrong (though it is nice to see him wearing safety glasses). The machine he’s operating is a rotary evaporator, which is designed to quickly remove excess solvent from a solution under reduced pressure (which lowers the boiling point). We can see that there’s a cloudy green solution in the flask in the water bath (which is having the solvent removed from it), and a clear blue solution in the receiving flask (which should be collecting fairly clean solvent). However, Peter is filling up the condensation cold finger, which should contain a coolant (usually water or ice). It’s possible that they’re using some kind of blue-green coolant, but I doubt it.

I’m glad to see the back of the sensory deprivation tank – it was starting to take on a rather lazy deus ex machina aspect, providing the vital clues when all other avenues had been exhausted.

“Hmm, you know what? These flasks of incredibly-dangerous chemical weapons just don’t look dangerous enough.”
“You’re right. Better make them glow.”


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