The Mad Science of Fringe: Time-Traveling Secrets Exposed!


In last night's Fringe, Walter's angst over pulling Peter out of the parallel universe compounded when he met a MIT time-travel researcher (Peter Weller of RoboCop), who, in an effort to change his dead fiance's past, sucked the biological energy out of a train car of people. Despite Walter's appeals ("It's not our place to adjust the universe"), the time traveler reunites with his fiance and apparently dies, eliminating any future contact with Walter and Co. and basically rendering the entire episode useless. But did the throw-away plot lend itself to equivalently disposable science? Read on for a look at the relative plausibility of Walter's ramblings in White Tulip.

Scenario: Dr. Alistair Peck metamorphosed into Mohinder from season two of Heroes (created a "temporal pocket" by covering himself in some weird circuit board/exoskeleton situation) so he could move faster than the speed of light to travel back in time.

Plausibility: 3 of 10. "If something could propel an object faster than the speed of light, then time would bend," says Walter, trying to explain Dr. Peck's feat. OK, Walter, fine. But how does Peck shoving some kind of gyroscope in his torso help him do that? And why does that circuitry make him look like a beetle?

Scenario: Peck is able to travel through time by absorbing both biological and electrical energy from everything in his vicinity when he lands.

Plausibility: 7 of 10. This one's a pretty original explanation, despite the lack of correlation to the aforementioned circuit-board skin, which takes it down a few notches. If you're not powering your time machine DeLorean-style with plutonium, might as well put everyone's mitochondria to work.

Scenario: Another week goes by in which Walter doesn't tell Peter the truth about his past.

Plausibility: 10 of 10. Sure, this one isn't really science, but it's only the most perfectly plausible point of the episode. What else do you expect from a guilt-ridden, LSD-addled mad scientist? Walter's withholding is a consequence of the only meaningful point in the episode: He tells Peck he expects a white tulip as a sign of forgiveness from God, and Peck sends him an unsolicited letter (from the past) containing a drawing of the flower.

Did I miss anything? And seriously: Didn't Peck look a little like Mohinder? Or at least close to whatever you imagined Gregor to look like in The Metamorphosis?