With the season-one finale of Fringe airing tonight on Fox, we though we'd take a look at some of the more memorable instances of "fringe science" and how they relate to the real world.. and to the world created by one of its clear influences--The X-Files.
Science-y thing: Walking Through Solid MatterEpisode: "Safe"
Air date: December 2, 2008
Definition: The ability to pass through solid objects by disassembling and reassembling one's atomic structure (or electromagnetic forces) or the atomic structure of something else. In layman terms, holy s*** he's walking through walls!
Fringe reality: Bank robbers used the technique to rob banks by using a special device that messed with the walls' molecular structure. While the walls were all bendy, one just passes through. However, walk through when the wall was solidifying, and one ends up like the guy in the picture--a real wallflower.
Reality: Absolutely zero. Well, maybe Calista Flockhart can.
The X-Files did it: In the season six episode "Trevor," a man--who possesses the ability to walk through walls and other solid objects through throwing off the balance of their electromagnetism--kills others (and seriously invades their personal space) by walking through them. Ick!
Science-y thing: Spontaneous Human CombustionEpisode: "The Road Not Taken"
Air date: May 5, 2009
Definition: Spontaneous Human Combustion is "the alleged process of a human body catching fire as a result of heat generated buy internal chemical or nuclear action," according to Robert T. Carroll, author of The Skeptic's Dictionary. In layman's terms, it's the idea that anyone can simply burst into flames--or if you're lucky, explode!--for no apparent reason.
Fringe reality: A woman boards a bus, gets all hot under the collar, then proceeds to get REALLY hot under the collar and everywhere else. *Poof* She's charcoal.
Reality: There are reportedly more than 200 cases of SHC, but good luck finding any hard evidence of it from someone not wearing a tinfoil hat. The more likely cause of these "cases" comes from another killer: cigarettes.
The X-Files did it: Well, they sort of did it. In the season two episode "Soft Light," a man (played by Monk's Tony Shalhoub) discovers his shadow can incinerate people, leading Mulder to liken the situation to SHC.
Science-y thing: ProgeriaEpisode: "The Same Old Story"
Air date: September 16, 2008
Definition: A genetic condition, formally known as Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, that causes its young victims to age rapidly.
Fringe reality: A woman has sex, gives birth within an hour, and the bouncing baby boy becomes eligible to join the AARP and dies in another four hours.
Reality: We all go through relative progeria in our mid-30s, but real progeria can't be cured by buying a sports car. The fatal disease is legitimate, affecting about one in 4-8 million children, according to The Progeria Research Foundation.
The X-Files did it: Season two's "Død Kalm" saw Scully and Mulder investigate a ship in which the crew were all aging rapidly. The two agents also succumbed to the old-ification, forcing several hormonally-charged nerds to immediately switch channels at the site of an elderly Gillian Anderson.
Science-y thing: TherianthropyEpisode: "The Transformation"
Air date: February 3, 2009
Definition: The metamorphosis of a human into that of an animal. Lycanthropy, the ability werewolves possess, is the most popular form. Aphidanthropy, a word I just made up meaning the ability to turn into half-man half-aphid, is the least popular form.
Fringe reality: With the aid of a virus, a man is able to turn into some weird porcupine abomination and kill everyone on a passenger plane. Plane crashes, porcupine man dies, Walter Bishop plays with his intestines. What is it with J.J. Abrams and planes?
Reality: Popularized in folklore, movies starring Abbott, Costello, and Michael J. Fox, and campy 50s songs about various monstrosities mashing, just about everyone is familiar with the concept of werewolves and thus, therianthropy. However, regardless of what you may have seen at your local Furry convention, Therianthropy is totally bogus. But don't tell that to The Lizardman.
The X-Files did it: The X-Files did this like a billion times in some form or another. Werewolves were a topic of "Shapes," some other dude turned reptilian in "Alone," and another baddie shape-shifted into Mulder to get into Scully's pants in "Small Potatoes."
Science-y thing: Giant slimy slug parasitesEpisode: "Bound"
Air date: January 20, 2009
Definition: A huge disgusting mucus-covered shell-less snail that feeds on humans. Did I really need to paint a picture for you?
Fringe reality: A cold virus mutates into a slippery annelid and becomes the biggest (and squirmiest) loogie you've ever coughed up.
Reality: There are giant slugs out there (just ask anyone from UC Santa Cruz), but none that will call your body home. OR IS THERE!?
The X-Files did it: In the eighth season's "Roadrunners," a weird cult worshipped a slug-like animal that sucked on people's spines.
Have more eerie similarities between Fringe and The X-Files? Let's see 'em in the comments section below!