The science of Breaking Bad: Say My Name

August 31, 2012

Breaking Bad | Season 5 | Episode 7 | “Say My Name”

Walt and Mike part ways, forever.

Walt and Mike part ways, forever.

I’m going to stop watching Breaking Bad when it’s broadcast, as I can rarely get to sleep easily afterwards. This week’s showdown between Walt and Mike was only going to end one way when we saw the gun in Mike’s go-bag, and it’s doubtful that Skyler, Jesse and Hank are going to let things sit the way they are.

This episode is reviewed at Emilia Jordan and the A.V. Club, and you can read more about it at AMC and IMDb.

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The non-science of Fringe: Wallflower

April 3, 2012

Fringe | Season 4 | Episode 7 | “Wallflower”

Peter with schematics of The Machine.

Peter with schematics of The Machine.

A fairly procedural episode this week, with our team chasing down an invisible killer who just wants to be seen. Personally, I would have welcomed a little more backstory here – such as how Eugene broke out of his military lab and what his connection to Massive Dynamic was.

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

This week’s bioscience was just a little too convoluted to be pass the suspension-of-disbelief test. In the sci-fi universe, I could happily accept that Eugene has some kind of rare genetic abnormality that would kill him, and that a military experiment implanted chromatophores into him so that he might both live and be a super-spy. However, given that chromatophores contain pigment, I’m not quite clear on why Eugene absorbing more pigment would somehow reverse the benefits of the procedure.

Walter has managed to breed a mouse with the same genetic disorder as Eugene, in less than a day.

How exactly did Eugene keep people out of his sub-basement lair? Presumably the maintenance staff would have had access to it, and someone would have wandered down there eventually.


The science of Breaking Bad: Problem Dog

August 30, 2011

Breaking Bad | Season 4 | Episode 7 | “Problem Dog”

Walt and Jesse make plans - or do they?

Walt and Jesse make plans - or do they?

We start to get a better sense of where this season is going this week – or think we do, at any rate. Walt’s investment banker-level salary threatens to overwhelm the car wash, Jesse starts to crack a little and Hank is suddenly hot on the trail of Gus. Once again, science takes a back seat to well-crafted drama.

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

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The non-science of Fringe: The Abducted

December 1, 2010

Fringe : Season 3 : Episode 7 : “The Abducted”

Olivia and Christopher.

Olivia and Christopher.

Say his name three times, and he’ll be back. After chasing down a child abductor, Olivia manages to get a message through to Earth-1 and thus sets up some kind of confrontation-cum-rescue mission for the rest of the season.

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

Random thoughts

Seems like the Fringe Division portable fingerprint scanners are also gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers – how else could Agent Lee have identified sucrose so easily? Incidentally, the equivalent Earth-1 technology is considered “portable” when it fits into the back of a light truck.

The molecule spinning behind Walternate’s head when he’s on the phone to Broyles-2 may or may not be Cortexiphan (presumably they analysed what they found in Olivia’s head), but its structure must have been extremely awkward to solve (perhaps Earth-2 has more advanced NMR technology as well). It appears to be some kind of dimeric imidazolinepiperazine fused ring, similar to an unsaturated, dimeric version of purine with lots of functional groups. I’m not sure which colours on the diagram represent which atoms, but a tentative interpretation would be:

Cortexiphan?

Cortexiphan?


The science of Breaking Bad: One Minute

May 3, 2010

Breaking Bad : Season 3 : Episode 7 : “One Minute”

Walt and Gale in the Chemistrycave.

Walt and Gale in the Chemistrycave.

Tensions reach a climax in this episode, and then leave us almost back to square one: Walt and Jesse working together relatively unmolested, and no hitmen wandering around with axes. Events have conspired to make other characters and situations more important, so this episode contains little 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: Of Human Action

November 17, 2009

Fringe: Season 2: Episode 7: “Of Human Action”

Olivia and Walter in the aftermath of a typical action.

Olivia and Walter in the aftermath of a typical action.

Amazingly, an experiment at Massive Dynamic had some unforeseen (?) consequences and a psychopathic teenager with the ability control minds is let loose. The usual impossibilities aside, there isn’t very much physical science here so this episode contains nothing of note. Check back soon!

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.


The non-science of Fringe: In Which We Meet Mr. Jones

October 9, 2009

Fringe: Season 1: Episode 7: “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”

The crew get to work on yet another mysterious affliction.

The crew get to work on yet another mysterious affliction.

Communing with the dead aside, this episode was refreshingly easy to watch.

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

This episode stays largely within the realm of believability, right up to the point where Walter communicates with a dead guy. Presumably he’s refined his technique to the point where he doesn’t need brainwave synchronisation, an immersion tank and some LSD (Popular Mechanics didn’t even bother to mention it this time around), though Peter doesn’t seem to get as much information as Olivia did back in episode 1.

The prison in which Mr. Jones is incarcerated is called Wissenschaft Prison; “Wissenschaft” is German for “science”. Apparently Germany has such a problem with dangerous scientists they needed to construct a special prison just to hold them (though all those geniuses together could probably have come up with some way to break out).