The chemistry of Breaking Bad, analyzed

Almost anyone who has seen the TV series Breaking Bad craves (or should crave) more knowledge of the chemistry presented there. This study helps supply some of that knowledge:

Falk_HarnishIN ENGLISH: “The Chemistry of Breaking Bad,” Falk Harnisch [pictured here], Tunga Salthammer, Chemie in unserer Zeit, vol. 47, December 3, 2013, pp. 214-21.

IN GERMAN: “Die Chemie bei Breaking Bad,” Falk Harnisch, Tunga Salthammer, Chemie in unserer Zeit, 2013, 47,214–221. The authors, at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig, Germany and TU Braunschweig, explain:

“The focus here is on the chemistry in [the TV series] Breaking Bad and its portrayal and plausibility…. N-methylamphetamine ((S)-N-methyl-1-phenyl-propane-2-amine), also known as meth, crystal, or pervitin, is the drug at the center of Breaking Bad. Scientific literature details many different means of synthesis [3], which are all to be found to varying extents in grey literature and blogs. As the authors do not have practical knowledge in synthesizing crystal meth, they can only rely on such sources. Throughout the story, two different methods of synthesis are used (Figure 3)….”


(Thanks to Largus Angenent for bringing this to our attention.)

Here’s a scene from Breaking Bad:

A Boing-Boing interview of Professor Donna Nelson, who advised the Breaking Bad producers about the chemistry in the show: