The Science of Breaking Bad
264 pp., 6 x 9 in, 8 b&w illus.
- Published: June 18, 2019
- Publisher: The MIT Press
- Published: May 31, 2019
- Publisher: The MIT Press
All the science in Breaking Bad—from explosive experiments to acid-based evidence destruction—explained and analyzed for authenticity.
Breaking Bad's (anti)hero Walter White (played by Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston) is a scientist, a high school chemistry teacher who displays a plaque that recognizes his “contributions to research awarded the Nobel Prize.” During the course of five seasons, Walt practices a lot of ad hoc chemistry—from experiments that explode to acid-based evidence destruction to an amazing repertoire of methodologies for illicit meth making. But how much of Walt's science is actually scientific? In The Science of “Breaking Bad,” Dave Trumbore and Donna Nelson explain, analyze, and evaluate the show's portrayal of science, from the pilot's opening credits to the final moments of the series finale. The intent is not, of course, to provide a how-to manual for wannabe meth moguls but to decode the show's most head-turning, jaw-dropping moments. Trumbore, a science and entertainment writer, and Nelson, a professor of chemistry and Breaking Bad's science advisor, are the perfect scientific tour guides.
Trumbore and Nelson cover the show's portrayal of chemistry, biology, physics, and subdivisions of each area including toxicology and electromagnetism. They explain, among other things, Walt's DIY battery making; the dangers of Mylar balloons; the feasibility of using hydrofluoric acid to dissolve bodies; and the chemistry of methamphetamine itself. Nelson adds interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes and describes her work with the show's creator and writers. Marius Stan, who played Bogdan on the show (and who is a PhD scientist himself) contributes a foreword. This is a book for every science buff who appreciated the show's scientific moments and every diehard Breaking Bad fan who wondered just how smart Walt really was.
This book made me watch several episodes of Breaking Bad over again! Science writer Dave Trumbore expertly takes us through a wide range of scientific topics, while chemistry professor Donna Nelson provides fascinating behind-the-scenes insight
author of over forty books, including The Atom: A Visual Tour
Scientist or non-scientist, there is something for nearly everyone in this intriguing book packed with incredible detail and 'behind the scenes' notes from Breaking Bad. It's so much more than a great guide to Walter White's exciting science. For example, I enjoyed the section on Gales coffee machine! If you love the science in the series I think you will love this book, too.
Dr. Jonathan Hare, British scientist, science communicator, and television presenter
An entertaining way to learn more about chemistry -- and an excuse to rewatch the show.
It's quite a good example of the 'science of...' genre.... It will be read by fans of the show - the kind of people who watch the DVD again with the commentary switched on.
Popular Science Books
Fans of Breaking Bad will especially enjoy reading this entertaining and informative book, as will students of chemistry -- and even those who teach chemistry -- because the book (and the series) makes this valuable scientific discipline so fun and accessible to the public.
Revealing and fascinating.
Engineering and Technology Magazine
Explains everything from Walt's DIY battery-making to the feasibility of using hydrofluoric acid to dissolve bodies and the chemistry of methamphetamine itself.
TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION