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Continuity, Nitpicks, and Science FAILs

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This is the place to note things that don't add up. I'm not talking about the obvious fantasy elements of the show (Barry's 4-second mile), but stuff like:

"Stem cells only come from babies."

 

Comics-related nitpicks should go in the Comics thread.

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In general, Barry being Central City's only CSI.

 

But from "Going Rogue": the robbers just opening the doors to the armored truck-- because the guards don't lock their doors...?

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Yes, the back doors to get to the diamond. When the other robbers pulled the guards out of the truck, they just simply opened the passenger and driver doors.

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Why was Trivia *NIGHT* happening at what appeared to be midday? It was really sunny when Barry whooshed away from Felicity, and then we see Capt. Cold running from Joe, and the sun was at about noon-height.

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Nice of Cisco to build a gun that shoots particles (?) at absolute zero when that temperature has never yet been experimentally achieved...

 

That didn't really bother me. And I thought it was quite the coincidence that this episode aired the same week scientists announced that they had created the coldest place in the universe (six thousandths of a degree above absolute zero).

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Why was Trivia *NIGHT* happening at what appeared to be midday? It was really sunny when Barry whooshed away from Felicity, and then we see Capt. Cold running from Joe, and the sun was at about noon-height.

Worst day-for-night shooting ever. Or else they totally forgot midway through making this.

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Have then ever shown The Flash eating? they say he needs like 500 tacos or so but maybe he eats them so fast we couldn't see

 

Another nitpick, when he saves people, how he managed not to break their necks by moving them so fast? (maybe the equivalent of a head on car collision)

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"500 proof" alcohol means the liquid is 250% alcohol by volume.  The maximum proof would be 200 (a liquid that is 100% alcohol), though in practice it is a pain to distill to that purity.

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Also why does Barry need to know how fast he needs to run? I understand the physics but it's not like he can turn a dial and set himself at 600mph. The answer is always as fast as possible.

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"500 proof" alcohol means the liquid is 250% alcohol by volume.  The maximum proof would be 200 (a liquid that is 100% alcohol), though in practice it is a pain to distill to that purity.

I can forgive a lot of science fails.  For example, even if you COULD run up the side of a glass exterior building, you'd probably smash all those windows.  Forgiven!  It looks neat to see him do it (although massive breaking glass maybe would have looked even neater--but its no doubt more expensive to shoot).

 

But something that EVERY bartender in the world knows, muchless scientists?   Feh.  It didn't even work as hyperbole.  Hyperbole would have been "200 Proof".  "500 Proof" was just a writer being an idiot.

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But something that EVERY bartender in the world knows, muchless scientists?   Feh.  It didn't even work as hyperbole.  Hyperbole would have been "200 Proof".  "500 Proof" was just a writer being an idiot.

Agreed, but didn't Caitlin say it was "like 500 proof?" Maybe she was trying to dumb it down for Barry? Ah Heck, maybe I'm giving the show too much credit.

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Her exact words were "It's basically 500 proof", which I guess could be argued as either the character's hyperbole or a writer mistake.

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My inner twelve-year-old has been doing some wondering.

If Barry needs to eat mass quantities to keep up his energy level, that is going to create a lot of through-put even if his digestion is superhumanly efficient. Do his intestinal flora work at super speed as well? Are we going to see some jet propulsion any time soon?

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In the most recent episode, Barry flies through the doors of the school like a rocket, so I'm going to say that your wish has been granted. Funnily enough, on No Ordinary Family there was a speedster who also had to eat a lot more, and they didn't address that there either. :P

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I get why the show does this. But am I really supposed to believe that Iris is such a good writer that she submits first drafts to her blog and they come out top quality.  I'm onto you Iris.

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So all the food he eats gets absorbed by the body? or else he'll have to go to the toilet very often... LOL

Maybe he's like Jack Bauer, doesn't go to even pee in 24 hours..

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Have then ever shown The Flash eating? they say he needs like 500 tacos or so but maybe he eats them so fast we couldn't see

And his metabolism is sped up in convenient ways, but not in inconvenient ones, e.g., his hair doesn't grow faster than normal, he isn't a prematurely old man, etc.

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If the key plot point to defeating the metal guy is to hit him with a supersonic punch, where the Flash is literally travelling faster than the speed of sound...

 

Then the metal guy is not going to hear Allen coming, because Allen will be there before the sound gets there. But he does! He actually turns his head because he hears something! Come on!

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But the sound of those doors opening would also arrive after the Flash did.

Nothing the Flash does to cause sound while moving past Mach 1 will make a sound that arrives at Tony' location before him.

Edited by arc
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So friction from superspeed travel can light things on fire!  Just, y'know, Felicity's blouse and not her skirt or hair or skin...  (BTW, Barry's move in that situation was to ineffectually try to pat it out?  You'd think a guy with super speed could have super-sped to the nearest fire extinguisher or gotten a glass of water or something.)  And how did he get out the farmland in his regular clothes and those didn't catch on fire?????????

 

Bigger fail: America's been watching crime procedurals for decades. I mean, at least the Flash had his suit's gloves on, but Cisco just grabbed that murder weapon with his bare hands.

 

And BTW, even if I buy that red under Bivolo's control induces rage, how would that make his victims' eyes glow red? 

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This may not be a fail, perse, but why does Cisco keep naming the villains Captain ______________? Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, and Captain Clone (although it seems they did eventually settle on the much cooler Multiplex.) 

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So friction from superspeed travel can light things on fire!  Just, y'know, Felicity's blouse and not her skirt or hair or skin

 

 

Or iris, or Felicity the second time, or Caitlin, or Cisco, or that Robin dude from Arrow.

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This may not be a fail, perse, but why does Cisco keep naming the villains Captain ______________? Captain Boomerang, Captain Cold, and Captain Clone (although it seems they did eventually settle on the much cooler Multiplex.) 

Since it's not really spoilery... I'll simply say "because that's what they're actually called in the comics" (other than "Captain Clone").

 

But the rationale for the character I think is a kind of metatextual one.  Because these very characters (as well as others not in Flash comics) have had these "Captain" names, it's become something of a comic book cliche. So the meta joke here is a character inside a representation where these characters are real, making a joke that in part depends on the people hearing it responding to the known cliche.  It's like he (and to a degree Caitlin, since she seems to groan at them) knows the cliche outside the context of how (in our world) it BECAME a cliche (because in our world it kind of depends in part on the subject matter they are actually a piece of).

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Barry zooms Joe around. Random people on the train. Iris. In the crossover he zooms Felicity again, Cisco, Caitlin and Roy. Nothing. All their clothes are intact. The only other time in the show so far, beyond the pilot at least, where they have actually shown damage to clothes caused by his speed is when Barry's shoes light up as he is showing off for Felicity. So why in that one and only time did Felicity's shirt burn off, remarkably none of her other clothes, or her skin, or her hair, just her blouse? Did the director really just want to see EBR in her underwear?

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I am fanwanking that the Felicity scene was a product placement for anti-flammable bras.

 

This fanwank would work a lot better if it had included an actual product placement or at least some name for the bra manufacturer.

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I chalk it up to certain materials being more combustible than others.  It's unknown what her shirt was made of.  Also unknown what chemicals were used on that particular shirt.  Perhaps it was sent out for dry cleaning at a place that doesn't use natural products.  Or perhaps the lotion she used that day found itself on the front of her shirt making it particularly more flammable.  I mean, the short answer for why a hot woman needs to take off her shirt on network tv is always going to be "yay, boobies", but there are plenty of easy sciency answers to come up with.  

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Agreed, but didn't Caitlin say it was "like 500 proof?" Maybe she was trying to dumb it down for Barry? Ah Heck, maybe I'm giving the show too much credit.

 

My fanwank on this was that the cocktail contained other neurotoxic psychotropics other than ethanol. Caitlin was actually attempting to create a potent potable that has similar pharmacological effects for Barry as drinking alcohol does for the average non-speedster. Even though she failed, she will now go back to the drawing board and use psychotropics with slower absorption rates.

 

Caitlin left it at the colloquial "like 500 proof" because the Devil's brew is in the details.  She knows that Barry is enough of a square that, if he was aware that the shot contained a wicked combo of Schedule II and Schedule III restricted substances, his mind's eye would conjure Joe's famous disapproval face and he would put the drink down.

Edited by 90 Day Pinochet
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I can imagine that Cisco could have whipped up some spray-on fire retardant for Barry's clothes in Offscreensville; thus solving the "how come his regular clothes don't burn" problem.

 

However, one nitpick I have is that not everything can work at super speed. It just isn't physically possible. I can accept that Barry has powers, but then with the way they show him interacting with/using objects, etc. it seems to assume that those objects have powers also. This really bugged me a scene (I forgot which episode) where the Flash manages to pull some bad guy out of his car and place him inside a police car -- like, in under 4 seconds. The actual mechanisms of the car doors wouldn't work at super-sonic speeds --gah!

 

Anyway, physics students versus the Flash. Guess who wins?  ;-)

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I can imagine that Cisco could have whipped up some spray-on fire retardant for Barry's clothes in Offscreensville; thus solving the "how come his regular clothes don't burn" problem.

But then Barry wouldn't need the costume at all. The only reason he wears it is to avoid fires. He moves too fast to be seen, and even when standing still he can blur his face and alter his voice, so the costume adds very little to protect his secret identity, unlike, say, Green Arrow.

Ultimately, he only wears it because the comic book version did, but as long as the show's gonna pretend that there's some other reason, I'm gonna nitpick.

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However, one nitpick I have is that not everything can work at super speed. It just isn't physically possible. I can accept that Barry has powers, but then with the way they show him interacting with/using objects, etc. it seems to assume that those objects have powers also. This really bugged me a scene (I forgot which episode) where the Flash manages to pull some bad guy out of his car and place him inside a police car -- like, in under 4 seconds. The actual mechanisms of the car doors wouldn't work at super-sonic speeds --gah!

This bugs me too. I think the first time I had that "wait a minute..." reaction was in the Felicity crossover, when he supersped around to take that photo. I was like, look, your phone doesn't work that fast.
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Are you talking about the first time Felicity came to Central City? When he ran up to the top of the tower and took a picture of her? That wouldn't have to be at super speed. He ran up to the top of the building, stopped, took the picture, then ran back down. And while you're right that a lot of the stuff he does at super speed wouldn't work at speed for various reasons, it comes with the accepting his powers package. As a comic book show, which by definition is going to be several steps away from reality, if you're willing to go along with the fact a guy can run at the speed of sound you also have to allow for him to do other stuff at super speed too or else the whole premise falls apart. To put it another way, when watching some set in a comic book universe and people say physics/technology/etc. doesn't work that way I usually say "It does there." 

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Yeah, that's the scene I'm talking about--he's gone and back in a second. And my point is that if you, even with superspeed, try to get your phone to work as quickly as that, it won't. As a non-comics reader, it led me to ask questions like: is he manipulating time? Is that how his speed really works? And normally, I'm totally cool with handwaving stuff in sci-fi, especially fictional science/technological advances, or weapons, etc. But if you're using real-world devices that I know and understand, it's harder for me to put my blinders on and pretend I don't know how things work.

 

I have let it go at this point, but I actually think it'd be more interesting if they dealt with the limitations of being super fast sometimes. Like, right now, Barry seems pretty invincible, but the fact that he can move this fast but nothing and no one else can should cause problems. It seems like if this type of thing was established--that he is limited by how the rest of the world works--it would make things feel more grounded and allow for natural roadblocks. 

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In the comics, they have this as an ultimate handwavey deus ex machina to brush aside all the "stuff that doesn't work at superspeed" questions.  Whether they ever introduce it in the show remains to be seen; the characters may not have asked the right questions yet, or they may just decide that it's a comic-book show in the 21st Century and they only have 48 minutes to tell the actual story anyway.  If Barry's powers approach those Barry had in the pre-Crisis continuity they seem to be aiming for, where Barry could

not only break lightspeed but travel between dimensions - alternate Earths - under his own power

(Comics spoilers), then they'll have to come up with something.

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In the comics, they have this as an ultimate handwavey deus ex machina to brush aside all the "stuff that doesn't work at superspeed" questions.

 

I hope they use it on the show. But even without the speed force I'd think when he is moving at superspeed our experience of time is faster than the time he is physically experiencing. And since his phone is moving as fast as he is it would also experience time more slowly. 

 

But then I don't remember much about relativity so I could be dead wrong. :) 

Edited by driedfruit

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Out of all the things to nitpick from "Revenge of the Rogues", the one that threw me out of the show the most was the completely unrealistic, inept handling of the supposedly expensive painting. I yelled at the TV when the dude just walked off the plane with it in his hand. They didn't try to pretend it wasn't a TV prop. /Art major

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Out of all the things to nitpick from "Revenge of the Rogues", the one that threw me out of the show the most was the completely unrealistic, inept handling of the supposedly expensive painting. I yelled at the TV when the dude just walked off the plane with it in his hand. They didn't try to pretend it wasn't a TV prop. /Art major

I agree. It would've at least been in some type of wooden crate. No way would it have been packaged for travel in a plastic cover like it was dry cleaning.

Other nit picks, Caitlyn trying to open a frozen door. I know she was scared and all but come on.

Should Iris have really been able to get that close to the action when Flash/Heatwave/Captain Cold were fighting?

Though awesome, how was it that Joe was able to save Caitlyn before she and he got blown to smithereens? Wasn't the trip wire rigged to set off the bomb as soon as it was crossed? Yet Joe had time to run to Caitlyn and get her to safety.

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Other nit picks, Caitlyn trying to open a frozen door. I know she was scared and all but come on.

 

Or for that matter, the door still staying frozen the next morning when the cops investigated the scene.  Plastic freeze anyone?

 

I had numerous eyeroll moments last night, especially about 'absolute zero' and 'the hottest temperature possible.'

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I would have liked it more if Barry had been living at home at the start of the series. So what, Joe was paying the rent on his apartment while Barry was in a coma and now he's just gonna move back in? That seems like a waste of money.

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Or for that matter, the door still staying frozen the next morning when the cops investigated the scene.  Plastic freeze anyone?

 

I had numerous eyeroll moments last night, especially about 'absolute zero' and 'the hottest temperature possible.'

 

Absolute zero may be ludicrous if you actually understand it, but since relatively few of the audience do it makes a convenient shorthand for "really, really, really cold".  I was, however, joining in the eyerolling at "absolute hot" (for those who don't know, there's no "maximum possible temperature" equivalent to the "absolute zero" concept), until Cisco equivocated/backpedaled by saying that he meant that the maximum possible temperature for a given thing is that at which it bursts into flame.  So the two weapons are capable of causing anything to freeze or burst into flame, respectively.

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Absolute zero may be ludicrous if you actually understand it, but since relatively few of the audience do it makes a convenient shorthand for "really, really, really cold".  I was, however, joining in the eyerolling at "absolute hot" (for those who don't know, there's no "maximum possible temperature" equivalent to the "absolute zero" concept), until Cisco equivocated/backpedaled by saying that he meant that the maximum possible temperature for a given thing is that at which it bursts into flame.  So the two weapons are capable of causing anything to freeze or burst into flame, respectively.

 

The problem I had with absolute zero is that 1) it's theoretical, not (yet) absolutely experimentally reached (which in a taking-scientific-liberties world like The Flash apparently lives in, could probably be overlooked) and 2) a gun that would blast absolute-zero temperature something-in-some-undefined-physical state would, by the kinetic properties of projecting and directing it, transfer energy in the form of heat to that substance, defeating the point of absolute zero.   Not to mention that the gun itself, which would not be at absolute zero, would transfer energy in the form of heat to the substance (or, at the very least, if the gun generates this absolute zero gunk as it's being shot, there would probably be some sort of endothermic process going on where the gun-wielder would need pretty advanced insulation to prevent a nasty case of frostbite).

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I was, however, joining in the eyerolling at "absolute hot" (for those who don't know, there's no "maximum possible temperature" equivalent to the "absolute zero" concept),

There actually is such a thing as "absolute hot", and it is exactly what Barry said: "Planck temperature". That said, absolute hot is literally the hottest that matter can get... Wikipedia says that'd be 1.42×10^32 K. A welding torch is approximately 1500 C or ~1800 K. The surface of our sun is around 5700 K and its core gets up to 15 million K, aka 1.5 X 10^7 K... or in other words absolute hot is 10^25 times hotter than the sun's core, 10^30 times hotter than a welding torch.

 

Without doing any physics calculations myself -- because it's beyond me -- I would assume even a tiny piece of that heat gun's mechanisms even approaching Planck temperature would absolutely incinerate the rest of the gun, the wielder, and probably most of the planet the wielder was standing on. It also raises questions of energy generation, because no regular fuel in that little fuel tank shown on screen could provide that much energy.

 

Edit: OK, I couldn't let this go. The sun masses 1.989 x 10^30 kg, or I guess 1.989 x 10^33 g.  If the heat gun had even one gram heated to Planck temperature, that would be equivalent to the energy of something approximately in the ballpark of the entire earth heated to the sun's core temperature (if you can ignore for a while that different materials have different heat capacities and also the earth is not currently undergoing fusion.)

Edited by arc
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All right, loved the episode, but I've got some non-sciencey complaints:

 

1) Really, Joe, you couldn't call your daughter to tell her that the newspaper left a message at the house? For a few days? C'mon.

2) Barry didn't take a foreign language in high school? I thought it was generally required for college track, or heck, in college.

3) No way that picture could have taken. It would be blurred from Barry moving too quickly or the camera falling.

Edited by bettername2come
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3) No way that picture could have taken. It would be blurred from Barry moving too quickly or the camera falling.

 

I can buy that Barry would be fast enough to get in the picture, but yes, the camera wouldn't just stay in mid-air!

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