The Science in ‘Fringe’ 2nd Season

WASHINGTON -- Injecting the same dye used to make M&Ms and Gatorade blue into injured people to repair spinal injuries sounds more like something from a tale of science fiction than an idea coming straight out of a scientific journal. Yet this and other seemingly unlikely ideas from scientific journals are source material for the writers of FOX's TV show FRINGE, in its second season starting Thursday.

"Everyone on staff finds articles that provide kernels [of information] for episodes," says Robert Chiappetta, staff writer and one of the "science guys" behind the show. "All the writers find new crazy stuff to work with. Sometimes it helps just being familiar with a topic and having a pool of material to draw from."

The show is part adrenalin adventure, part cerebral crime show, and part science fiction fantasy. So the more the science guys learn about science, the more interesting the story lines get.

"As science evolves, so do our story lines," says Glen Whitman, staff writer and the other science guy on the show. "Many of our ideas are ripped from the science headlines while other television dramas like Law & Order and CSI rip their ideas from crime headlines."

The second season of FRINGE will explore some familiar and some foreign realms.

"Memory will play a big role this season, but it’s won’t just be Agent Olivia Dunham’s [played by Anna Torv] memories that are tapped into," says Chiappetta. "As we learn more about how the brain works as a computer and as a storage device, we are able to play with new directions in this field."

New directions that reveal there are two sides to every story. "Science is neutral, with positive benefits and negative outcomes, and you’ll see the same technological advances used for good and for evil." says Chiappetta.

"We are also delving more into the science of parallel universes, seeing how the alternate reality is different and how it is the same; some things are better and some are worse," adds Whitman.

"We hope the show really promotes discovery and an interest in the real world of science and technology," says Chiappetta.

On September 17, FRINGE’s season two begins with Olivia Dunham, Walter Bishop (John Noble) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) continuing to push the boundaries of science as entertainment, while paying close attention to real scientists who are pushing the boundaries of research that sometimes can seem stranger than fiction.

Inside Science News Service is supported by the American Institute of Physics.