The tale of Walter White, high-school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin, ended on Sunday, leaving us with only memories, an almost preposterously high body count, and
science. _Breaking Bad _wasn’t always flawlessly accurate (why would you use hydrofluoric acid to dissolve a body?), but even when it reached for the crutch of artistic license, it remained grounded in fact. Here we’ve put together six science lessons we learned from Professor White.
_Editor’s note: We do not endorse cooking meth, making explosives, or mixing poisons. Please do not attempt any of the things in this gallery. Seriously, never do these things. _
3. The Breaking Bad RV
The RV was where the characters of
Breaking Bad first honed their meth-cooking skills. They’ve since (SMALL SPOILER) moved on to nicer digs, but they just don’t feel as homey. Science cred: Probably the best on this list. The crew hired an actual chemist to make sure their drug-making was believable.
What’s In A Body
In a flashback, a younger, more hirsute Mr. White
deduces the chemicals in the human body: 63 percent hydrogen, 26 percent oxygen, 9 percent carbon, 1.25 percent nitrogen, .25 percent calcium, .00004 percent iron, .04 percent sodium, and .19 percent phosphorous. But that’s not quite 100 percent. What about the soul? Walt’s old flame suggests. Uh, well, spoiler, they melt a body in a bathtub not too long after this, so hopefully not?
The Health Effects Of Ricin
Like pretty much everything on this show, Ricin will kill you. We did
a more extensive explanatory post on the poison, but _Breaking Bad _taught us before it was in the news: Ricin is a poison that looks a lot like salt, and doesn’t have any antidote. Useful to know that exists so we can flip out any time we get the mildest cold.
More DIY death. White hatches a chemistry-based plan to take out some dealers, and the science behind it is mostly solid. He makes batch of mercury fulminate, a sensitive explosive that can be triggered by pressure. When he throws it on the ground, kaboom. The Mythbusters actually tackled this, and although they couldn’t trigger the stuff by throwing it on the ground, they did
demolish a house with it.
How Batteries Work
If you’re looking for something less lethal from your
Breaking Bad instruction, you can look at the episode “Four Days Out,” in which Walt constructs a home-made mercury battery out of meth chemicals, coins, and galvanized metal. This technique might not be enough to power a jump-start on RV, as they do on the show, but hey, good trick to learn.
How To Make Meth! (Kinda)
Some of the best moments of
Breaking Bad are the extended meth-cooking montages, and along the way we learn some chemistry facts while Walt and his partner Jesse do their jobs. The P2P method of making meth is a real thing, and to do it, you need a chemical reducing agent. In the show, it’s mercury-aluminum, because it was the easiest to pronounce. Unfortunately, the iconic blue color of the meth on the show is artistic license. Warning: Do not make meth.