The non-science of Fringe: Welcome to Westfield

Fringe | Season 4 | Episode 12 | “Welcome to Westfield”

The team help a victim of the Doppelganger Apocalypse.

The team help a victim of the Doppelganger Apocalypse.

While investigating something seemingly unrelated, our team run into The Town That You Can’t Leave, a classic closed circle trope. Of course, they manage to escape and learn something valuable about their new nemesis.

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

Random thoughts

Waler’s breakfast cocktail-maker is (of course) hideously complicated and should definitely be confined within a fume hood. I can’t be completely certain of this given that we don’t get a good look at his apparatus, but looks like this is what’s going on:

  • Unnamed liquid in container A is heated to boiling point and distilled into container B.
  • Distillate in B is trapped, and the evaporated volatiles from A transferred to container C.
  • Another unnamed liquid is heated to boiling point in C, and combined with the uncondensed vapours from A.
  • An unnnamed gas (D) is bubbled through C, presumably to combine with A and C.
  • Gases A + C + D rise into a cold-finger, do not condense because it contains no coolant and end up combining with the vapour of yet another liquid in a heated container E with gas F bubbled through it.
  • Gases A + C + D + E + F flow into a separating funnel G, where they bubble through another liquid. The liquid in G can presumably be drawn off to taste.
  • A + C + D + E + F and some vapours from G flow into a conical flask H, filled with an unnamed liquid that is being heated.
  • All of these vapours move on to another stage in the setup that is obscured by actors and camera angles, presumably one that will allow more liquids to be drawn off and combined with G.

Ridiculous as this may sound, it’s a legitimate way of capturing gases and reacting them with liquids. There is almost certainly an easier way, though.

A complete electrical/hydraulic failure on a large aircraft would probably cause a crash (though some older and ultra-modern aircraft have “manual” modes whereby the pilots can control the flight surfaces mechanically), but if the electrics were off then why were the flight lights on? If the backup power was functioning to light the lights then why did the plane crash? So many questions.

While investigating the stalled cars, Walter manages to find an ancient steel hubcap to demonstrate the magnetisation of everything. Modern hubcaps are made of alloys or plastic and modern body panels are often made of aluminium or composites (even in trucks), so there was quite a good chance that his demonstration would have fallen flat. Peter’s metal suitcase wasn’t affected though (probably aluminium). Hopefully the effect didn’t wipe everyone’s credit cards.

Even assuming that the high school has a good microscope and staining apparatus, Walter would have to be pretty dedicated to reliably count 92 chromosomes.

The schoolkids were probably studying something to do with photosynthesis or metabolism, as the chemical formula for glucose (C6H12O6) is written on the blackboard.

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