Getting the Chemistry Right on Breaking Bad
BytesizeScience, a project of the American Chemical Society, put together this great feature on how they get the chemistry right (or just right enough, more on that in a sec) on AMC’s Breaking Bad.
Vince Gilligan and crew really wanted to get the details in the show right. As someone born in Albuquerque, I can tell you that they do a pretty great job of capturing the essence of “The Q”. But none of the writers are scientists, how could they capture the knowledge of Walter White, the chemistry teacher, so that he could evolve into the evil genius Heisenberg?
Enter Donna Nelson, a chemist and scientific consultant for the series. Nelson and Gilligan (and the DEA) are careful to leave just enough detail out of the meth chemistry so that you can’t write your own recipe for El Azul. But from Gale’s notebooks to the chemical structures on the board in Walt’s classroom to the aluminum/mercury metal amalgam used as a reducing agent (that actually works!), the chemistry is on point. You’re probably wondering about the blue color? You’ll have to watch the video for that.
If you’re interested, r/AskScience has an interesting thread about the accuracy of Breaking Bad's chemistry.