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“Breaking Bad” gets meth wrong

Since 1983, Donna J. Nelson has taught some 10,000 students as a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Her research extends to characterizing carbon nanotubes and examining carbon–carbon double bonds every which way and even promoting chemistry education as a means to increase the number of chemists and chemical engineers in the workforce.

On her 31-page, single-spaced CV, one item that leaps out is the notation of her role as a science consultant to the smashingly popular cable TV show Breaking Bad.  Nelson decided to help the show’s writers when she read in Chemical & Engineering News that they were looking for expertise to ensure accuracy of the dialogue and plot devices related to chemistry. Since then she has gone on to suss out answers to questions such as how much meth you could synthesize with 30 gallons of methylamine using the P2P meth recipe.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

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