The non-science of Fringe: Fracture

Fringe: Season 2: Episode 3: “Fracture”

Walter and Peter contemplate the case.

Walter and Peter contemplate the case.

The Shadowy OrganisationTM just won’t quit with the weaponised people – it’s radio-triggered crystal bombs this week. The usual impossibilities 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

The first scene in Walter’s laboratory, about five minutes in, was one of my favourite introductions to Fringe Division. Walter is heating a test tube over an open flame, which is quite unusual (due to the flammable chemicals that are generally found in a lab), and then proceeds to pour the contents into a Büchner funnel. It’s obvious from the speed at which the liquid runs through that there’s no filter paper in it, which renders it largely useless – until we see that Walter is actually making a cup of coffee.

Although Walter is only speculating, silica (SiO2, probably quartz in this case) doesn’t taste salty and it’s a little presumptuous to proclaim something “as hard as diamond” after merely tapping it with a pair of tweezers.

Apparently, the chemical reaction that crystallised our human bomb “solidifies the water in the cells” – or, put another way, freezes them. Some other effect must also be at work, because otherwise the ice would just have melted (this may have made for a less-traceable weapon, though).

Cyanogen chloride

Cyanogen chloride

Cyanogen chloride is certainly dangerous enough to be a chemical weapon, but it’s not a neurotoxin. It prevents oxygen exchange between blood and cells, resulting in rapid cell suffocation and death from respiratory failure.

As everyone else in the blogosphere has pointed out, 331.6 MHz is not considered part of the VHF spectrum.

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