Futurama: 5 Things That Are Scientifically Accurate (And 5 That Make No Sense)

Some interesting background within Futurama is that the staff writers of the show held 3 Ph.D.s, seven masters degrees, and collectively had more than 50 years of learning at Harvard. Needless to say, they were some pretty intelligent people, and this is pretty helpful when you are writing a show involving science fiction concepts.

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Futurama is basically a parody of all thing’s science fiction. But science fiction tends to have different ranges in how much it attempts to be accurate. Some science fiction draws on concepts rooted in reality, while others stretch more into the imagination. Futurama tends to mirror this range, as they occasionally draw on accurate sources of science as well as more outlandish concepts. Regardless of how scientifically accurate the show is, it is always going to be hilarious and an enjoyment to watch.

10 Unrealistic: Cryogenic Freezing

The main character, Fry, was born in the 20th century, but ended getting frozen leaving him in the 31st century. Cryogenic freezing actually happens to more than just Fry, as his ex-girlfriend ends up also freezing herself, and there is even a emotional support group meeting for people who have been frozen.

Cryogenic freezing is common concept found in science fiction. Mainly it is used for characters to leap forward in time without aging, as was done with Fry. It is not so much freezing oneself in same way you would an ice cube, but more so suspending your body in animation. While there is some progress being made with embryos, there is not much feasibility in it working on people yet. While there are facilities where people can freeze themselves, there is no technology that can unfreeze them in a way that will make them alive again, and there certainly was no such thing when Fry froze himself in 1999.

9 Realistic: Futurama Theorem

In the episode “Prisoner of Benda,” several of the characters used a mind switching machine to swap bodies. They were left with a complication in how to switch back as they jumbled up their swapping’s so much. Eventually Professor Farnsworth, with the help of the Harlem Globetrotters, created a theorem to switch everyone back properly.

Not only does this theorem work accurately, but it was created by Futurama writer Ken Keeler. Keeler has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and created this theorem specifically for this episode. It is the first theorem to ever be created solely for the sake of TV entertainment. That is some grade A quality writing!

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8 Unrealistic: Travelling back in time

In the episode “Roswell That Ends Well,” the crew accidentally travels back in time to year 1947 after radiation of supernova collides with the radiation of a microwave. This does not make any sense based on what is known about time.

First off, the only way going backwards in time is possible is by going faster than the speed of light, which requires infinite energy. Secondly, radiation from a microwave and a supernova would not suddenly send you back in time, but likely just kill you or make you really sick. Third, time is a forwardly linear concept, which only moves in towards the future.

It is probably for the best that we cannot go back in time, as this would create paradoxes which would alter our present reality.

7 Realistic: Travelling Forward in Time

Going to the future is possible, although the way it is shown within the episode “The Late Philip J. Fry” is probably not.

While there is no way for us to travel forward through time with the technology we have, we do know it is mathematically possible. Time is essentially a relative concept, meaning that it differs based on the speed you go in space. Travelling at the speed of light would essentially slow down for you in comparison to those still on Earth, so while they age a certain rate, you would age a slower rate. The only issue is that there is no way to revert back in time, so you are essentially stuck in the future.

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6 Unrealistic: Smell-O-Scope

The smell-o-scope is a recurring invention used in the show. It was created by Professor Farnsworth, and essentially works as a telescope for your nose instead of your eyes. With it, you can smell things from across space.

While scents exist within space, there is no device that could enhance your ability to smell something, nor could this device specifically narrow down a scent the way the smell-o-scope does.

5 Realistic: Alien Life

Alien life is pretty common within Futurama. There are aliens like Zoidberg, Kiff, and Elzar who are greatly different from one another as well several less intelligent life forms.

While alien life has yet to be seen, it is certainly possible. All that is required are the right scenarios for life to grow, such as water, atmospheric composition, and location within a galaxy. While these conditions are not necessarily common, the universe is existentially huge, meaning that even if a small percentage of planets carry life, then that is still a large amount.

4 Unrealistic: Sound in Space

This is basically something that is done in a lot of science fiction works, but Futurama is also guilty of it. The show consistently makes sounds when in the vacuum of space, despite that not actually being possible.

Sound travels by making molecules vibrate. Sounds on Earth travel through air molecules, but in space there are large areas where there are no molecules. Therefore, in space, nobody can hear you scream. While sound can travel in scenarios

3 Realistic: Robotic Intelligence

Robots are also common within Futurama. Typically, they are pretty nuanced and different from each other, but they all generally seem to have amoral tendencies and a disregard for human life.

The technology is not developed enough yet, but progress is being made in robotic intelligence. Some robots are capable of learning in certain capacities, as well as interacting socially. It is still nowhere near a humans capabilities, but most people believe robots will eventually have a form of intelligence beyond our own. Combined with their ability to calculate data quickly, they would essentially ascend past human beings, and some believe they are the next form of evolution. Hopefully the robots in the future won't try to steal your wallet.

Related: Futurama: 10 Times The Show Predicted The Future

2 Unrealistic: Communication in Space

The crew tends to frequently use communication devices while in space or from different planets. While devices are capable of sending information at the speed of light, that does not mean a lot when it comes to the vastness of space.

Communication can work in space, but it is not really feasible for the most part. It would take 8 minutes for a message to reach the sun, so imagine how long it would take to reach a planet in another galaxy. The universe is just to big for information to travel in an efficient manner.

1 Realistic: “Nothing is impossible! Not if you can imagine it. That's what being a scientist is all about!”

Is this contradictory to half of this list? Sort of. This quote is said by Professor Farnsworth in the episode “A Clone of My Own.” Although, his son, Cubert, scoffed at the idea of there being endless possibilities, it is not as far off as may think it is.

Science is all about discovering what is not known, and there is a whole lot of unknown out there in the universe. It attempts to quantify the unquantifiable and map out universe in a way that makes it more understandable to us. The more we understand, the more possibilities we have. Science progresses and advances in ways that opens up more doors alluding to what we are capable of. So while some of these concepts within Futurama are far fetched and unlikely, they are still possible, just not scientifically proven. Perhaps we will never get far enough to make them possible, but science move forwards anyways.

Next: Futurama: 10 Times The Show Was Funnier Than The Simpsons

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