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.
This is not a (totally) rhetorical question.
Your answer may be as serious or ridiculous as you’d like. Like really, anything.
This is Clarence Anglin, one of the three people to ever successfully escape from Alcatraz Prison. Sent to Alcatraz after robbing a bank with his brother, John, he remained there for 6 years before escaping with his brother and another inmate named Frank Morris. They were never heard of again. Many theories surround the breakout, with scholars disagreeing as to whether the three lived or drowned in the San Francisco Bay. I like to think Clarence escaped and is still alive today (he’d be 82). It’s too sad to think that piercing gaze met its end at the bottom of the bay.
Slough. Acrylic on panel.
New episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart! Let’s all do the “new video” dance:
My latest creation is an ode to space exploration, from its rather war-themed beginnings, to the pure adventure of Apollo, to the golden age of the shuttle era, to the curiosity of Curiosity.
Where do we go from here? Special thanks to the National Air and Space Museum for letting me hang out with a real-life space shuttle for a few hours.
This lovely lady is Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia (1895-1918.) She was the eldest child of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife, Alix of Hesse. From an early age she was considered compassionate yet moody.
During World War I she was a Red Cross nurse with her mother and sister, Grand Duchess Tatiana.
After her fathers abdication in March of 1917, she was imprisoned with her family, at Tsarskoye Selo, Tobolsk, and Yekaterinberg. It was in Yekaterinberg that she was killed by Bolsheviks along with her parents and siblings.
Her remains were found in the 1990s, but they weren’t confirmed to be hers until 2008. She was canonized as a passion bearer in the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.
Mark Suciu and Sebo Walker, sunrise skate in Delhi - [o] Mehring
If you weren’t able to join us live for our first PBS Digital Studios #PBSscience chat, featuring me, Coma Niddy and Craig Musburger, here’s the video of our hangout.
Thanks for all the great questions! I had a lot of fun chatting with my fellow PBS creators and the people who watch our shows and let us do this awesome job every day.
A ROGUES GALLERY
of UNTREATABLE ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT ORGANISMS
Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]
Microorganisms with names in bold are shown in illustrations above, in the order listed.
Microorganisms with a Threat Level of Urgent
- Clostridium difficile
- Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae
- Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae
Microorganisms with a Threat Level of Serious
- Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
- Drug-resistant Campylobacter
- Fluconazole-resistant Candida (a fungus)
- Extended spectrum β-lactamase producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBLs)
- Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
- Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Drug-resistant non-typhoidal Salmonella
- Drug-resistant SalmonellaTyphi
- Drug-resistant Shigella
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Drug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Drug-resistant tuberculosis
Microorganisms with a Threat Level of Concerning
- Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA)
- Erythromycin-resistant Group A Streptococcus
- Clindamycin-resistant Group B Streptococcus
So, kids, the next time someone says to you, “You might as well take an antibiotic, it can’t hurt,” just say no!
This is not the black widow that bit me.
The spider that bit me is now spinning webs in the sky. Or wherever dead spiders end up. Unlike dogs, I have a strong suspicion that they do not all go to heaven.
I killed her. I didn’t do it on purpose, but she’s dead. We had a miscommunication about the ownership of a sleeping bag, and it got ugly. First for her, when I rolled over and squished her, and later for me. Before she went, she made sure I wouldn’t enjoy my stay for long. In that last instant of spider life, she bit me. I wouldn’t know that any of this drama had taken place for a couple hours, of course. But I would definitely come to know it. I would come to know it so hard. (This is a long story, so I spared you dashboard readers. Click through to read the gory details)