Science on the Small Screen: The Librarians, S1 E7: The Rule of Three
Helllo Science Lovers,
This is the first installment of Science on the Small Screen, where I take an T.V episode that features science and talk about it. I highly doubt that there will be any debunking but then again you never know. Today’s episode is The Librarians, Season 1, Episode 7: The Rule of Three.
Before I go any futher, let me state this. The Librarians is a show about magic and lore. The characters are a group of “Librarians” that save people from Minotaurs, evil books, and witches. The fact that they are allowed to be called Librarians although none of them have a degree in Library Science but in fact their credentials were given by a Magic Secret Library means that I should already know to suspend belief. But! Since this episode was set at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Fair, more things should be slightly based in reality. Or at least I hope they will be.
Also SPOILER ALERT! IF you hate spoilers and are going to watch the show, don’t read on. Read after you watch!
In this episode, The Librarians are sent to a STEM Fair in Chicago where something “world-destroying” is bound to happen because nothing says “world-destroying” like a high school science fair.
When one goes to a science fair, there are rows of tables filled with what I like to call the “staples”:
A student give a presentation on what could be done to save the environment, or in this instance, the subfamily of Lutrinae (commonly known as Otters).
Another spoke about how they filtered water with “a multi-staged ultra-violet treatment with hybid silicon nitrate materials”. For those of who didn’t need to take Biology/Ecology, he used U.V light and specialized silicon strainers to make unsanitary water clean.
A student talked about about the ins-and-outs of cloning.
This one talked about how he found a way to use one high level math, the Ergodic theory, which studies dynamical systems -which in turn studies where a fixed rule describes where a point in a geometrical space depends on time – and another high level “math”, Statistical Physics, the study of physics that uses probability and statistics, by using a third, even more involved type of math, Extremal combinatorics, the study of how large or how small a collection of finite objects can be if it has to satisfy certain restrictions. For anyone extremely into mathematics, this would be heaven. For me, I’m getting a slight heart palpitation by just looking at the equations behind him.
And finally, a student with a papier-mâché volcano. This is pretty self-explanatory. Anyone who has seen a “science fair” on television, would recgonize this as a staple. Well, this and potato-batteries.
The only thing I felt was missing was a Robotics stand but thankfully a robot rolls across the screen when they enter.
The antagonist, or “Big bad”, of this episode was Morgan le Fay, King Arthur’s evil witch sister. She is attempting to destroy the world by allowing the students of the STEM Fair, cutthroat, science-minded teenagers, to make wishes that will crush their competition. By doing so, they bring more magic into the world for her and more harm to themselves through what the show calls, “the rule of three”. The “rule of three” states that any ill will one wishes upon another, will be repaid onto the wisher times three. So if I were to wish for a person to stub their toe, by the “rule of three”, I should stub my toe and break it. I know. It sounds intense.
The way le Fay has gotten all of these students to accrue all of this magic power/magical punishment is by using an app with magic coded inside of if it that gets its users to play a game while making wishes. Sort of like Temple Run 2, but to gain better free-mium swag, a wish must be included.
The increase in magic at the fair made some of the science projects become less research-based and more applied as the papier-mâché volcano erupted with actual lava and the student, whose presentation was about U.V light and clean drinking water, had flies swarm out of his mouth. While this has never happened at any science fair, especially none I have ever been to, I would lying if I said I wouldn’t love to see a small homemade volcano erupt in such a fashion. True, I would need to be at least 30 feet away but it would be a great to witness.
In the end, the Librarians figure out what is going on and save the day. But to do this they create a Faraday Cage which conducts all of the electrical energy, that would have been punishment for the students that wished horrible things onto their situation, into the ground. A Faraday cage is an enclosed area of conductive material, but since they didn’t have that at their disposal, they just used the metallic legs of a table as the rods in which to absorb the energy electricity.
This leads me to something that perplexed me about the episode. Yes, in a show about magic and lava, this one thing perplexed me. The legs on the table they are using aren’t connected to poles, that will conduct all of the electricity into the ground. They are the makeshift poles. And so, if they are the poles, then why aren’t they dead?
Sure, while they might not have (all) died, the Librarians wouldn’t have been able to all walk away as if all they had done were a few bicep excercises. There would have been actual damage done to their bodies and since they nor the people inside of their makeshift pentagram weren’t covered by a conductive material, many of them should also be in the same predicament. Again, a lightning rod doesn’t always attract lightning, it just gives it another place to go. Many times lightning, hits the ground or an object. Truly, a Faraday Cage is a good plan, but in this instance people would have still gotten hurt. But I guess since magic was involved, science was trumped in this instance.
With all of that said, I enjoyed the episode, even after having to watch selective parts of it over and over and over again. I, of course, will continue to watch the show since one of the main characters always uses math to figure things out. Her name is Cassandra and she is a mathematician who has both Palinopsia and Phantosmia tied to memory retrival. So as she is working out complex math problems that she sees in the air before her, her mind is forced to relate that to a memory in her life and that memory becomes a smell familiar to her. She is quite an interesting character, especially if you are into the human brain…like I am. And also I find the show fun and silly, so there is that.
Tell me what you thought of the episode below and I hope you enjoyed. I’ll see you again on the next installment of…
1. Guyot. P. & Rorick. K. (Writers), Roskin, M. (Director). (2015) The Rule of Three [Television series episode]. In P.K. Bernard (Producer), The Librarians. Portland, OR: TNT.
2.Hill, K. (2011, April 28). The Science and Myths Behind Lightning Strikes. Retrieved January 19, 2015, from https://sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/the-science-and-myths-behind-lightning-strikes/
3. Faraday Cage. (2015, January 19). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 19, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage
4.Ergodic Theory. (2015, January 2). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 12, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergodic_theory
5.Statistical Physics. (2015, January 16). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 12, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_physics
6.Extremal Combinatorics. (2014, September 26). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 12, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremal_combinatorics