Elementary, S1E24, “Heroine”

A solitary bee, Anthidium florentinum

A solitary bee, Anthidium florentinum (Picture by Alvesgaspar, Wikimedia commons)

The first season ends on a sentimental note. Sherlock invites Watson on the roof where he keeps his hives. He tells her that he had managed crossing the rare solitary bee he obtained as a payment in one of the cases (S1E17, “Possibility Two” ?) to the honey bee. The hybrid is a new species, which he is going to name after Watson – E. watsonii.

I get the metaphor: Sherlock = solitary bee, honey bee = humanity and Watson had helped Holmes to return from his heroin addiction. But the highly unlikely hybrid of two separate  genuses (a taxon higher than species) is not a new species . “E. watsonii” can be sterile, e.g. unable to reproduce as a cross-genuses horse x donkey hybrid – mule. And even if it is fertile, a species should be stable during tens of years and in a natural habitat.

So sorry, Watson, I don’t think you’ll have a species named after you.

Elementary, S1E21, “A Landmark Story”

Transmission electron micrograph of rubella virus.

Transmission electron micrograph of rubella virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The villain of the day said:

…I constructed an antibiotic resistant rubella strain in the lab.

Rubella of “mumps, measles and rubella vaccine” fame is a virus.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses, so it is impossible – and useless – to engineer a resistant strain.

Related articles:

Elementary, S1E17, “Possibility Two”

English: Very low mag. Image: Cerebral amyloid...

Cross-section of dye-stained CAA tissue. Blue blobs – cells, brown – insoluble protein deposits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wikipedia’s plot summary:

 Holmes investigates when a wealthy philanthropist believes he was intentionally infected with an incurable illness — cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA); Holmes sends Joan to a suspicious dry cleaners to teach her deductive skills.

CAA  is the result of an insoluble protein accumulating in the  brain cells. In the episode  this is caused by a drug-like molecule, which “specifically targets the gene”, which is impossible. If they’d only changed “gene” to the protein itself, it would have been much  more believable.

Secondly, the detective receives the drug formula as a picture to his mobile and spends a night “solving the formula, determining where carbon, oxygen and nitrogen atoms go “. The formula on the screen briefly, and looks complete – anybody with a bit of chemistry training,  for example his sidekick Joan Watson, would have told him the formula.

What I did like was the idea that blood test can be faked by mixing a “DNA-less” blood-like substance (for example, artificial plasma and anybody’s red blood cells – they don’t contain nucleus = DNA) with DNA synthesised to match a suspect 11 genetic markers (bits of his DNA). As nobody determines sequence of the whole length DNA, relying on the markers match, I cannot find a fault with the idea.