Post Tagged with: "Breaking Bad"

#ChemMovieCarnival: Testing Breaking Bad

I can’t believe  no one else has grabbed Breaking Bad for the Chemmoviecarnival.

In case you don’t know its a show about a high school chemistry teacher, called Walter White, who turns his talents to the production of  methamphetamine in an attempt to subliment his measly teacher’s income. In the course of the show Walt deploys his encyclopaedic chemistry knowledge to get him and his dopey (in more ways than one) sidekick out of a few sticky scrapes. They make a battery to jump start a RV, dissolve bodies with HF, prepare ricin to dispose of his enemies and so on.

There’s plenty of neat, and reasonably  accurate, chemistry in the show. But do Walt’s various solutions (pun intended) really hold up to scrutiny? I thought I’d have a go at putting some of them to the test . Fear not, I haven’t started a meth lab in my garage. Instead I tested the scene where our (anti) heros use thermite to melt through a lock.

Here’s my set up. A nice tube of thermite sitting on top of a locked padlock.


Fire in the hole!

And its not looking good for the padlock. All that molten iron can’t have done it much good.

But after everything has cooled down….

One intact padlock! It won’t open, because I think the locking mechanism  has melted, but it would certainly keep a door locked.

So I guess that’s a chemistry fail for Walt and Breaking Bad. 

p.s. I think you folks over at Reddit might have taken me a whole lot more seriously than was my intent.


By April 21, 2013 4 comments entertainment, fun, general chemistry

The Return of Breaking Bad

breaking-badGood news (nerds alike)!  In an attempt to combat early-morning insomnia, I was flipping through the channels and saw a commercial for the new season of Breaking Bad.  Having fallen victim to last years writer strike, the show was cut at 7 episodes with no indication whether it would get picked up.  Fortunately, the second season of Breaking Bad premieres March 8 (10 EST/9 CST) on AMC.  For what it’s worth, Comcast is running the whole first season in its On-Demand package. 

For those not familiar with the show, Walt White (portrayed by Bryan Cranston) is a high school chemistry teacher in his 50’s recently diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  In what appears to be a mid-life crisis, White partners up with a former student to launch a fairly lucrative methamphetamine business.  The show twists and turns through a maze of fundamentally accurate synthetic chemistry (chem-geeks no doubt rejoiced in terms such as “chirality,” “reductive amination” and “titration”) and the street drug business.  While most pilots are pretty rough around the edges, Breaking Bad’s was reasonably tolerable and starts the show off fairly well. 

I’ll caution you (should you need it) that the show is quite graphic in some scenes and largely presents an overall sense of dread.  

By February 22, 2009 7 comments fun, general chemistry