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Dexter should say “The foot was severed through the distal end of the tibia and fibula”.
October 22, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Informed critiques of the science behind TV shows, by scientists: The Big Blog Theory (The Big Bang Theory), Polite Dissent (Fringe, House MD - with an excellent sideline of medicine in comics (previously)), Barone Rocks (Dexter).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (30 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
The pilot of Fringe has some described as "working in the field of science known as fringe science" - that's pretty much all you need to know.
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bone Girl has started doing this for Bones. I'm pretty sure someone here posted that in a comment, but I can't remember who, so credit to that presently anonymous Mefite.
posted by jedicus at 12:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think my new DJ name is Psychic Nosebleed Zen.
posted by poe at 12:44 PM on October 22, 2010


You mock, but Tesla theorized that you could make fringe out of certain materials, that it would develop huge static charges and when the people wearing it touched a door know IT WOULD BE FUNNIER THAN HELL!

Tesla was way ahead of his time.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, hey, here's one for Battlestar Galactica! (spoilers)
posted by vorfeed at 12:56 PM on October 22, 2010


Sucking the fun out of things.
posted by smackfu at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2010


Am I going to click one of these links and find out that it actually is lupus?
posted by dry white toast at 12:58 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm pleased to see conservation of mass comes up a lot.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on October 22, 2010


If, upon being confronted with pretty much any of the science presented in Fringe - not even the plot-related stuff but the way they handle existing scientific knowledge, I were the kind of person to offer detailed critiques, I'm not sure what would happen first: Wearing my hands down to nubs writing (or typing) them down, or giving myself a heart attack.

But! Everyone needs a hobby.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:03 PM on October 22, 2010


I'm not up to date on Fringe, so don't spoil it, but I'm kind of hoping that at some point they offer an explanation that it's set in a parallel universe where the laws of physics are different and goofy garbage science works.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on October 22, 2010


I don't see any mention on the Big Blog Theory about how The Big Bang Theory is shit-awful and should not exist. Huh. Maybe he's saving that entry for sweeps week.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:22 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not up to date on Fringe, so don't spoil it, but I'm kind of hoping that at some point they offer an explanation that it's set in a parallel universe where the laws of physics are different and goofy garbage science works.

Oh, dude. You have no idea.
posted by Shepherd at 1:26 PM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, not up to date on Fringe covers a whole lot of ground.
posted by smackfu at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


How come no one ever talks about the math and science in Futurama? Some episodes are mathematically intense.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:18 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


half the fun of these shows (shows with computer-y, science-y, medical-y, lawyer-y) is laughing at the stuff you know to be wrong. i mean, don't you have fun with your partner on the couch, being all like "why the fuck is he using the dreamcast controller?" and "um, there's no start button on a mac" and "there is no way dna results came back that fast".
posted by nadawi at 3:35 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there's been quite a bit of discussion of math in Futurama. There's an excellent lecture included as an extra on the Bender's Big Score DVD and some other materials are collected here.
posted by Lorin at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2010


All I know is that the face-reading on Lie To Me is bunk, and I'm not a scientist.
posted by ovvl at 4:41 PM on October 22, 2010


Am I going to click one of these links and find out that it actually is lupus?

Well, firstly, spoiler alert: in s04e08 it was actually lupus. Secondly, they boxed themselves into a corner in the first season by starting that meme, so now when House or one of his fellows wants to actually suggest lupus in a differential diagnosis without being funny or cute they refer to it as SLE instead, and if you listen carefully there are a number of times when that's happened.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:42 PM on October 22, 2010


Oh, hey, here's one for Battlestar Galactica! (spoilers)

You know, I just wanna say. I loved this show. But. It was like maybe seven, eight episodes in when Starbuck used her jacket to patch a hole in her Viper and then proceeded to fly her Viper through the cold black void of outer motherfucking space. Yes. This was never exactly hard science fiction.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:59 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never worry about the science in science-y shows if the characters and the writing carry me along. Although maybe I should; a lot of people get their medical knowledge from Grey's Anatomy and the like.
posted by rtha at 5:40 PM on October 22, 2010


You know, I just wanna say. I loved this show. But. It was like maybe seven, eight episodes in when Starbuck used her jacket to patch a hole in her Viper and then proceeded to fly her Viper through the cold black void of outer motherfucking space. Yes. This was never exactly hard science fiction.

Yeah, well, you notice how a fucking angel didn't show up and do it for her?
posted by vorfeed at 6:01 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never worry about the science in science-y shows if the characters and the writing carry me along. Although maybe I should; a lot of people get their medical knowledge from Grey's Anatomy and the like.

Indeed. For example, the show ER was fairly accurate when it came to the medicine, but wildly inaccurate when it came to mortality rates. People watching the show could easily come away thinking that doctors routinely save people who have had severe heart attacks or cardiac arrest.

In reality, "the rate of success of resuscitation in patients with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest has been poor, averaging 2 to 5 percent in major urban centers" (source). In-hospital survival rates are better but still low: 34.1% survive to discharge. And those that are resuscitated often come away with significant problems, such as neurological damage. By contrast, the show presents a wildly optimistic picture of survival rates. Understandably so, since a truly accurate show about an ER would be alternately depressing and boring, but nonetheless...
posted by jedicus at 6:08 PM on October 22, 2010


I've always heard Scrubs was actually the most medically accurate show out there, at least in the early seasons. They did kill off patients left and right on that show.
posted by kmz at 9:15 PM on October 22, 2010


Understandably so, since a truly accurate show about an ER would be alternately depressing and boring, but nonetheless...

That's the thing, I suppose. The "science" in these shows is there to serve the story, and if what you need is for Starbuck to make it back to Galactica and not die in the void, well, okay - the jacket will totally work! If they did the science correctly in any of these, the shows would either be kind of boring/take a long time or not exist in the first place. And where's the fun in that?
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on October 23, 2010


Some of the stuff seperating actual real life astronauts from vaccum is pretty damn flimsy, TBH.
posted by Artw at 8:39 AM on October 23, 2010


Mmmm... criticizing the science of Fringe or BSG really does seem like criticizing the accuracy of how human relationships are portrayed in Moanin' For Bonin': I Do Your Mom 13.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:40 PM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Starbuck used her jacket to patch a hole in her Viper and then proceeded to fly her Viper through the cold black void of outer motherfucking space
I think this is actually one of those things that's more plausible than you think. I haven't seen the episode, but depending on the size of the hole and the amount of air a Viper carries, that sounds totally reasonable. A vacuum isn't infinitely powerful: 15 PSI, that's all it can do. It'll leak, but she can lose a bit of cabin pressure and the entirety of any stored air without conking out.
posted by hattifattener at 1:56 AM on October 24, 2010


Starbuck used her jacket to patch a hole in her Viper and then proceeded to fly her Viper through the cold black void of outer motherfucking space

I think this is actually one of those things that's more plausible than you think. I haven't seen the episode, but depending on the size of the hole and the amount of air a Viper carries, that sounds totally reasonable. A vacuum isn't infinitely powerful: 15 PSI, that's all it can do. It'll leak, but she can lose a bit of cabin pressure and the entirety of any stored air without conking out


Plus, (I think) the jacket was part of her flight suit which is also a functional space suit, as that episode where Apollo ejects from his fighter and floats around in space for a while demonstrates. So, it's not completely out of the question that the jacket could be a decent patching material.

Also, the ship in question was not a Viper - it was a hole in Cylon raider which she shot down, then opened, and then somehow learned to fly by hauling on the tendons and other biological components, before her air (somehow supplied by the DEAD raider) ran out. You want to talk about improbable and unrealistic?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2010


'A' Cylon raider. Sorry.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2010


Mmmm... criticizing the science of Fringe or BSG really does seem like criticizing the accuracy of how human relationships are portrayed in Moanin' For Bonin': I Do Your Mom 13.

A valid point. Forrest Humps, however is a nuanced and subtle portayal of complex relationships.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:00 PM on October 24, 2010


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