The science of Breaking Bad: Blood Money

August 13, 2013

Breaking Bad | Season 5 | Episode 9 | “Blood Money”

Walt surveys his life that was.

Walt surveys his life that was.

After an agonising wait, Breaking Bad returned to our screens last weekend to wrap up season five and remind us why we started watching it in the first place. As Hank pieces together the true picture behind the Heisenberg meth empire and Walt brazenly confronts him about it, Jesse starts to break down over the things he’s been party to.

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: Enemy Of My Enemy

May 20, 2012

Fringe | Season 4 | Episode 9 | “Enemy Of My Enemy”

The Fringe-4 team (plus Peter) make plans.

Earths 3 and 4 form a shaky alliance around the new threat of Mr. Jones and his new-and-improved shapeshifters, with some help from Earth-1 and 2’s Peter. Last time, Mr. Jones was motivated by his hatred of William Bell; it remains to be seen exactly what he wants this time.

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

DNA grafts, molecular disintegration etc. are probably forms of applied phlebotinum. Peter might at least have gone with gene therapy, which has good scientific footing.

Are push-swing hospital doors gas-tight? I wouldn’t bet my life on it if I’d just activated a cannister.

Amphilicite (amphilocite?) is not a real mineral. Astrid mentions that it’s usually found beneath large limestone deposits, which means that it was on or near the bottom of a shallow sea at some point. I’m not sure how it could end up under limestone and not, say, another sedimentary rock, so am going to assume that it’s the fossilised power sources for the First Peoples’ immense tropical aquaria.

Mohonk is a real place, around the Catskill Mountains in eastern New York state. Limestone deposits are present in the western regions, so Mr. Jones is at least digging in the right place.


The science of Breaking Bad: Bug

September 16, 2011

Breaking Bad | Season 4 | Episode 9 | “Bug”

Walt and Hank on a highly ill-advised stakeout.

Walt and Hank on a highly ill-advised stakeout.

Walt’s paranoia finally leads to an irreconcilable blow-up with Jesse, while peripheral events start to close in on both him and Gus’s operations. It’s becoming increasingly uncertain who’s actually going to survive until the end of the season.

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

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The non-science of Fringe: Marionette

December 10, 2010

Fringe : Season 3 : Episode 9 : “Marionette”

The Fringe team searches for clues.

The Fringe team searches for clues.

With the next installment due sometime in January, Fringe gives us a gripping episode to see out 2010. Overtones of Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein and Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands abound as the team tracks an organ-stealing reanimator and deals with the stresses of Olivia’s return from Earth-2.

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

Random thoughts

As other posters have pointed out, the use of an umbrella as a delivery system is a reference to the murder of Georgi Markov by Bulgarian and Russian agents in 1978. Barrett did a good job estimating exactly how much drug would be required to knock his victim out just after he entered his house and not before.

Once Barrett had removed his victim’s heart, how did he expect the injection of preservation serum (for want of a better term) to work? Even if he had tied off the arteries leading to and from the heart, surely the serum would have just setteld near the injection site.

Walter’s idea is typical of him (he’s tried to alter Jean’s milk before), but I think that milk spoils through bacterial growth rather than “cell decay”.

One piece of equipment we see Barrett using is a rotary peristaltic pump, commonly used in the laboratory to deliver fluids at a controlled rate.


The science of Breaking Bad: Kafkaesque

May 24, 2010

Breaking Bad : Season 3 : Episode 9 : “Kafkaesque”

Walt's product about to hit the streets.

Walt's product about to hit the streets.

As Hank’s condition gradually improves, Walt is able to train Jesse and start cranking out a veritable flood of blue meth. There are no new insights into the cooking process, 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: Snakehead

December 7, 2009

Fringe: Season 2: Episode 9: “Snakehead”

Walter finally gets his solo mission.

Walter finally gets his solo mission.

Without getting too much into the allegory of our comfortable First World lives being possible only by the exploitation of the poor, this week’s investigation does skirt around a few uncomfortable truths. The usual impossibilities to do with rapid growth 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 name of the Triad gang, Sun Hung (孙空; correctly Romanised from the Cantonese as syun1 hung1; the Fringe cast pronounce it as “Sun Hong”) approximates to “Grandchild/Empty”.


The science of Breaking Bad: 4 Days Out

October 26, 2009

Breaking Bad : Season 2 : Episode 9: “4 Days Out”

Walt prepares his biggest batch yet.

Walt prepares his biggest batch yet.

Walt’s latest prognosis does not look good, and he decides to accelerate his plans to provide for his family by cooking as much as he can in as short a time as possible. In this post, I’ll be talking about batteries.

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

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