The brains behind the science of Breaking Bad

BY newsdesk  September 27, 2013 at 3:45 PM EDT

How much meth can you synthesize from a 30 gallon drum of methylamine, in pounds? This was among the questions posed to organic chemist and professor Donna Nelson by Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan. And that particular question made her laugh, she told Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin and NewsHour’s science correspondent Miles O’Brien in this recent video interview.

“We usually work in quantities at the millileter scale,” she said, adding. “I don’t think I’ve ever run a reaction using 30 gallons of anything.”

With the Breaking Bad series finale looming large, Jardin and O’Brien talked to Nelson about her volunteer work advising the writers on the show, providing them with calculations and helping to write Walter White’s chemistry lectures. And then she tackled the question, why is the meth blue?

Also see Boing Boing’s Top 11 Chemistry Moments in Breaking Bad, and the NewsHour’s post on the subject.