The science of Breaking Bad: Live Free or Die

July 17, 2012

Breaking Bad | Season 5 | Episode 1 | “Live Free or Die”

Walt embarks upon another sure-to-work-with-no-consequences scheme.

Walt embarks upon another sure-to-work-with-no-consequences scheme.

The most hotly-anticipated show since season four of Breaking Bad returned to our screens this week, with a classic flash-forward cold open. Things pick up right where they left off, with Walt scrambling to deal with the aftermath of his victory over Gus and Hank unwilling to drop the bone he’s been chewing on. What scientific escapades await? In this post, I’ll be talking about magnetism.

You can read more about this episode at AMC, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

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The non-science of Fringe: Neither Here Nor There

September 29, 2011

Fringe | Season 4 | Episode 1 | “Neither Here Nor There”

Olivia and Lincoln, on the case together at last.

Olivia and Lincoln, on the case together at last.

Fringe slips back onto our screens for a fourth season, jumping right into weekly casework and dropping hints about what has happened in the short time (days?) since the Universes were joined and Peter sort-of-vanished.

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

An electron gun is an essential component of most visual display equipment made before the advent of LCD, LED and plasma technology. An electric current heats up a metal filament or rod, causing it to emit electrons. These electrons are accelerated towards a screen using an electric field, and special coatings on the screen cause it to fluoresce (emit light) when the electrons strike it. Images are built up by moving the electron beam across the screen very rapidly, and colour images by using different beams for red, green and blue light (it looks like the Observer got hold of a red one).

Thirty-odd people were killed in a highly unusual fashion, and nobody thought to place the kill sites on a map? Really? It took Agent Lee’s insight to realise that the killings were grouped around transit stations? Current score for this season – Baddies: 1 | Fringe Division: -1000.


The science of Breaking Bad: Box Cutter

July 20, 2011

Breaking Bad | Season 4 | Episode 1 | “Box Cutter”

Gus sets Walt and Jesse straight. Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Gus sets Walt and Jesse straight. Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Breaking Bad returns after what feels like several years, bludgeoning aside any speculation about a slow, gentle opening to season four. Walt and Jesse get to go back to work, but not until Gus makes it clear just what kind of business they are in. In this post, I’ll be talking about gas chromatography and Walt’s pop quiz.

You can read more about this episode at AMC, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

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The non-science of Fringe: Olivia

September 24, 2010

Fringe : Season 3 : Episode 1 : “Olivia”

Olivia and Henry in Earth-2.

Olivia and Henry in Earth-2.

Season three of Fringe begins strongly, with a Terminator 2-esque opening and Olivia on the run from the Earth-2 authorities. We get to see a few more differences and similarities between the two universes, which have been spotted and remarked upon elsewhere.

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

Random thoughts

If Olivia is valuable to Earth-2’s Department of Defense, they might want to do a better job of infection control – aside from resting uncapped needles on a (possibly dirty) tray, they didn’t bother to swab Olivia’s arm before injecting her.

And given that it’s the Department of Defense, they might also want to reconsider their security procedures given that a single, unarmed person was able to break out. Only one guard was sent to fetch Olivia, there were no restraints, there were no security cameras, the prisoner was allowed to see the elevator keycode, the way out was presumably labelled on the elevator, the outer doors weren’t locked or guarded and there was no fence.

I’m no marksman, but I would assume that marksmanship would be more about hand-eye coordination and muscle conditioning than remembering how to shoot.


The science of Breaking Bad: No Mas

March 22, 2010

Breaking Bad : Season 3 : Episode 1 : “No Mas”

Heisenberg's dead, he just doesn't know it yet.

Heisenberg's dead, he just doesn't know it yet.

The long-awaited season three of Breaking Bad picks up exactly where season two left off, amid the wreckage of the aeroplanes and our characters’ former lives. Events have conspired to keep Walt out of the lab and classroom, so this episode contains nothing of note. Check back soon!

You can read more about this episode at AMC, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

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The non-science of Fringe: A New Day in the Old Town

November 3, 2009

Fringe: Season 2: Episode 1: “A New Day in the Old Town”

Peter and Walter in a typical cross-purposed conversation.

Peter and Walter in a typical cross-purposed conversation.

Olivia is back, and apparently has interdimensional amnesia (couldn’t Nina have just reminded here where she went?). 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

Ordinarily, I might comment that people can’t change their bone structure like that – but now that we have the catch-all explanation, “it’s another dimension, stupid!” I can’t.


The non-science of Fringe: Pilot

September 7, 2009

Fringe: Season 1: Episode 1: “Pilot”

Walter and Peter pull Olivia out.

Walter and Peter pull Olivia out.

Season one of Fringe opens on an aeroplane, and when a woman mentions that it’s her first flight we know something horrible must be about to happen (it’s almost as bad as letting slip that you’re two days away from retirement). 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.

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