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9 Times "The Simpsons" Couldn't Science

This is a serious scientific investigation.

Posted on June 17, 2015, at 11:25 a.m. ET

1. Springfield's periodic table is literally out of this world.

FOX / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Springfield Elementary is so underfunded that their periodic table only has 16 elements, sadly. But their elite rival β€” Springfield Preparatory β€” has 250 elements. (And they don't serve horse testicles for lunch either. Looking at you, Lunchlady Doris).

IRL: There's ONLY 118 known elements on the current periodic table. You'd need something like a nuclear reactor to get to 250.

Since it's unlikely CERN scientists are moonlighting at Springfield Prep for some extra cash, it's only logical to conclude that Springfield is located in a parallel universe where elements can easily be created.

2. Skinner has superhuman powers.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Let's face it: Skinner is a stressed, out-of-shape, middle-aged man who miraculously is able to turn that giant crate all by himself. Lisa's buff true love Nelson doesn't even help him out. Neither does Otto. (But that's because he's too stoned.)

IRL: "[Skinner's] weight and speed are probably not large enough to produce that much motion in the container ... It would take about five persons running that fast," Alejandro Garcia, an animation physicist at San Jose State University and Dreamworks, told BuzzFeed over email.

Apparently, Skinner doesn't even need an extra four people to help him out. Because he's obviously a superhuman.

3. Is Springfield even in the United States?

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Skinner forces Bart to meet him at 4:30 a.m. for an astronomy "lesson." What the hell was Skinner thinking overstepping the boundaries of a student-teacher relationship?

IRL: Orion and the Charioteer (aka the Chariot Race) are constellations that you mostly see in the winter. But the Swan is summer constellation. The ONLY time you can see all three constellations around 4 a.m. is in September, Michael Kaufman, professor of physics and astronomy at San Jose State University, told BuzzFeed over email.

β€œAnd this would be roughly accurate throughout the continental U.S., regardless of which Springfield the Simpsons live in,” said Kaufman. Since the scene supposedly takes place in February (when it aired), then all the constellations wouldn't be visible. UNLESS, they live outside of the United States. Like in another dimension or something.

4. Bart and Homer can survive the vacuum of space.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: The Simpsons are forced on a rocket to the sun after Homer accidentally causes the Y2K computer virus to spread. Luckily, Homer and Bart eject themselves just in time and blissfully float away toward mother Earth.

IRL: "You might think that you'd freeze in outer space, but since you're in a vacuum, it's difficult for heat energy to leave your body. On the other hand, being close to the sun you'd warm up very quickly. You know how quickly this occurs just lying on the beach, so imagine how much fast it is when you're close to the sun," said Alejandro Garcia.

"But the most dramatic effect, I believe, is the fact that liquids spontaneously boil at low pressure. So the water in a human body would start to boil. Mercifully, your brain would almost immediately shut down due to these effects so you probably wouldn't suffer for too long," he added.

In Springfield's universe, Sideshow Bob is clearly a much bigger threat than the vacuum of space.

5. Bart is able to bypass Newton's Third Law.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Homer wins the lottery and spends all his money on a Coldplay concert (worst idea ever) and a reduced gravity flight (best idea ever).

IRL: "As Bart is walking on Homer, he has to push against Homer and the reaction force would push him away from Homer. After about one or two steps, they'd lose contact with Bart, drifting up and forward, while Homer would drift in the opposite direction," said Garcia.

Since the laws of physics are different in a parallel universe, Bart is thankfully still able to kick Homer's ass in microgravity.

6. Springfield's water always drains counterclockwise.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Lisa claims water drains counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. Poor Bart racks up an enormous phone bill when he calls Australia to find out if this is true. THANKS LISA.

IRL: "The Coriolis effect causes the rotation of hurricanes to always be counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, but the effect is negligible in a bathroom sink or toilet," Garcia said.

The rotation of water in a sink or toilet is caused by the shape of the bowl, random water currents produced by the faucet, the fixture not being level, and other factors. "So Bart is correct," he said.

Lisa is always correct in this universe. ALWAYS.

7. Bart has nine lives.

lghs.net / Via Fox

In Springfield: Bart accidentally falls to the ground in five seconds, and he has to wear a leg cast the entire summer. Don't worry β€” we're not going to talk about that whole epidermis thing, because we're not THAT pedantic.

IRL: According to Garcia's calculations, a fall from a height of 400 feet takes about five seconds. "This would indicate that the tree is taller than the world's tallest redwood," he said.

"Bart would hit the ground going a little over 100 miles per hour, which is usually a fatal impact. This is roughly the maximum falling speed for humans, once you account for air resistance, and we know that skydivers rarely survive such a fall when their equipment fails," Garcia added.

Bart seems to be immortal in this universe, but Maude and Edna Krabappel unfortunately do not have the same luxury.

8. In Springfield, dinosaurs existed earlier than we think they did.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Homer goes through all the stages of evolution, and that annoying Agnes Skinner even finds a way to bother him in prehistoric times. (At least Seymour is safe.)

IRL: Homer starts off as a lungfish (the immediate ancestors of land-living vertebrates), according to Steve Brusatte, paleontologist at University of Edinburgh.

Next, Homer transforms into a "fishopod," which were mostly aquatic but evolved fingers, toes, and other features, he said. This is around 390 million years ago.

Finally, Homer transforms into Dimetroden. "Dimetrodon looks like a dinosaur β€” a big, bulky, reptilian beast from long ago. But it's not a dinosaur. It's actually more closely related to mammals than it is to dinosaurs," said Brusatte.

Here's the thing: Dimetroden lived tens of millions of years before dinosaurs even existed. Homer β€” as Dimetroden β€” wouldn't be able to observe dinosaurs on the cliff. Pterosaurs didn't exist at the same time either, so Agnes Skinner wouldn't be flying overhead. Unless time and space bend to allow all these creatures to exist at the same time.

9. Americans use the metric system like it's a totally normal thing.

Fox / Via lghs.net

In Springfield: Like a revolutionary, Mr. Burns dares to use the metric system in the United States.

IRL: Let's be real. There's no way an American would casually use the metric system. ~Cue drama.~ Unless the Simpsons don't actually live in the United States as we know it. Or maybe Mr. Burns secretly has a scientific background.

"Nature obviously intended us to use the decimal-based metric system. Otherwise we would have 16 fingers and toes. Wouldn’t we? The metric system is used in science because…see above," said University of California, Irvine biologist Bradford Hawkins.

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