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Topic: Crap Science on TV (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic

draythomp

It's rainy, overcast, cold and generally nasty outside so I'm stuck in the house.  I'm still missing parts for my next electronic project, so I'm repainting the white lines on the face of my Simpson 260 that I'm restoring to its (near) original glory.  Well, I got tired of the silence and turned on the TV and there was a rerun of CSI on.  I half listened and played with the meter and heard something that I've heard other people talk about over the years: the toxicity of nicotine. 

I don't smoke (anymore), but the darn show ticked me off.  The premise was that a hairdresser washed the hair of a victim with nicotine laced shampoo and committed murder.  WTF??  It was supposedly absorbed through the skin and caused a fatal over dose.  I grabbed the laptop and looked; LD50 of .05 g/kg (rats of course).  Supposing it was me she was after that would be around 4.25 grams of the stuff orally to have half a chance of killing me (at 185 pounds).  4.25 grams, based on the density is around 4 milliliters of the stuff absorbed through the skin.  Since the skin can absorb a little from outside sources, the hairdresser would have had to use a massive amount of nicotine to get enough on the victim (me in this case), probably hundreds of ml.  This stuff is a strong alkali and would have caused burning at that concentration and has an acrid smell that would have surely been noticed.

Yet, people base their knowledge of this kind of thing on television.  Again, WTF??

When the writers were doing this show, did they even think about this?  Didn't they notice that sodium fluoride has an LD50 of .052, only a tiny bit less than nicotine and they drink this stuff from the water supply and brush their teeth with it?  They could have used simple sodium fluoride as the culprit's tool as easily.

I need a 'stupid' filter for my television.
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AWOL

CSI and the like are a real problem for the courts, where jurors have unrealistic expectations of forensic science.
"Pete, it's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart." Ulysses Everett McGill.
Do not send technical questions via personal messaging - they will be ignored.

Udo Klein

Even worse with CSI is that it transports messages like "surveillance helps to deter crime", "bending or breaking the law if OK if the good guys do it", ...
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cyclegadget


  CSI will spend about a million dollars to find the killer of a person found in a dumpster, but in real life the cops would probably say natural causes and move on.
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dannable

I think some of my senior managers watch this programme and hence expect the same from me. Just a few quick keystrokes and - hey, we can work out how far a car could travel with a hole this far up the petrol / gas tank... Sadly I work in education...
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westfw

No offense, and in general the science on TV sucks (especially in crime shows), but in this case you should have read further into your MSDS info.
Nicotine LD50 is 50mg/kg for rats, but falls to less than 5mg/kg in mice, and 0.5mg/kg in humans  ("30 to 60mg mean lethal dose") (wikipedia and their references. http://www.inchem.org/documents/pims/chemical/nicotine.htm#PartTitle:7.%20TOXICOLOGY )  Also "readily absorbed through the skin"; other MSDS says 50mg/kg DERMAL for rabbits.  That's applied to the skin, without additional calculations as to how much actually gets absorbed.

Si

CSI is all about coolness not science.

But, if and the much better 'Big Bang Theory' gets kids onto science courses then I'm all for it!

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AWOL

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CSI is all about coolness not science.

But, if and the much better 'Big Bang Theory' gets kids onto science courses then I'm all for it!

A few months ago, I was chatting to a lecturer in forensic science.
She said she'd seen a spike in admissions and interest in the course because of CSI and NCIS, but even among her students, there seemed to be a unrealistic expectation of high clearup rates and the hope that you'd spend your day flouncing around in Armani, rather than getting soaked in a noddy-suit in muddy fields or high-rise stairwell.
"Pete, it's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart." Ulysses Everett McGill.
Do not send technical questions via personal messaging - they will be ignored.

samsara

the students just wanna be cool as horacio  8)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X903Tk8v6TM

liudr

I do have a former student working in a state forensics lab. It is pretty cool. He came back for a visit and brought back a sample of show prints they took on snow, something hard to do compared with show prints on other stuff since snow won't support much stuff.

Grumpy_Mike

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I need a 'stupid' filter for my television.

You tend not to see too much with one of those.

My wife is a home tutor, and one of her 15 year old students announced that she wanted to do forensic science. My wife said she was surprised as she knew that this girl didn't like the sight of blood. My wife was confidently informed by this student "oh there is no blood involved I have seen it on the TV"

Graynomad

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'stupid' filter for my television.

The there'd be almost nothing left to watch :)

Our lifestyle dictates that we often go without TV for weeks or even months, when we finally get coverage we look at the program guide and more often than not don't even turn the thing on.

We do like to watch the news but as a friend of mine says, it's all the same, just the nouns change. I swear I could come up with maybe 2 dozen boiler-plate news items that just need a few place and people's names inserted, the stations could use these, sack all the writers and have the stringers in the field just text the nouns

Story#:12 Object:A man Location:a house near Perth

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A man was found murdered in a house near Perth today. Police are not ruling out foul play at this time...yada yada yada


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Rob

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Coding Badly


The alternative (accurate science on cop shows) would turn the laughingly stupid criminal into someone very dangerous. 

DA:      So, you thought putting crushed cigarettes in your wife's shampoo would kill her?
Suspect: Yeah.  I saw it on TV.
DA:      Did she get mad at you?
Suspect: Yeah she was mad!  I've never seen her that pissed-off!
Suspect: Hey, can we wrap this up?  There's a Cowboy's game on tonight.
DA:      I don't think so.

Bad science on fictional cop shows is probably a good thing.

liudr

That big bang show? What a total fake. I know no physicists including myself is that self-centered, self-promoting, calculating and full of crap. Distancing scientists especially physicists from general population and misrepresenting what they think and do has always been the cheap cliche of mass media and entertainment in the US. All scientists are ridiculous with the way they talk and behave and they are either socially awkward or evil or both.

AWOL

#14
Dec 09, 2011, 08:37 am Last Edit: Dec 09, 2011, 08:54 am by AWOL Reason: 1
Quote
I swear I could come up with maybe 2 dozen boiler-plate news items that just need a few place and people's names inserted, the stations could use these, sack all the writers and have the stringers in the field just text the nouns


(May contain strong language)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHun58mz3vI
"Pete, it's a fool looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart." Ulysses Everett McGill.
Do not send technical questions via personal messaging - they will be ignored.

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