Bubbly U of Oklahoma prof is brains behind Walter White meth empire

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Looks like a University of Oklahoma organic chemistry prof was the brains behind Walter White’s meth empire.

The American Chemical Society Tuesday revealed that UO’s Donna Wilson served as a scientific consultant for Breaking Bad.

Wilson won her way into the role after reading an interview with the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, in the American Chemical Society’s “Chemical & Engineering News.” In the interview, Gilligan said he was in search of “constructive comments from a chemically-inclined audience.”

Nelson wound up providing, among other things, some of the formulas on Walt’s blackboard, as well as calculations on how to produce meth by the barrel.

American Chemical Society press release about Nelson’s role is below, but don’t miss the Breaking Bad clips and fun, bubbly stuff from Nelson at this link to an episode of BytesizeScience:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAmerican Chemical Society video reveals how Breaking Bad keeps its chemistry true to life

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 — This Sunday, millions will watch the hotly anticipated conclusion of Breaking Bad, which tells the story of chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-overlord Walter White. The American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) Bytesize Science series celebrates the chemistry behind this acclaimed drama with a new episode featuring Donna Nelson, Ph.D., a scientific consultant for the series. The episode is available now on www.BytesizeScience.com.

Donna Nelson, Ph.D., chemistry consultant onBreaking Bad, discusses how the series’ scientific content stays true to life.Credit: Elaine Seward, American Chemical Society

Click here for a high-resolution image.“For those of us who are educated in science, whenever we see science presented inaccurately, it’s like fingernails on the blackboard! It just drives us crazy, and we can’t stay immersed in the show,” says Nelson, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson became a scientific advisor on the series after reading an interview with the show’s creator Vince Gilligan in ACS’ Chemical & Engineering News. In the interview, Gilligan stated that he was in search of “constructive comments from a chemically inclined audience,” explains Nelson.

In the video, Nelson details how she works with Gilligan and the show’s writers to keep the scientific content accurate. This includes providing the chemical structures Walter White draws on his blackboard and calculating exactly how much methamphetamine could be produced from a 30-gallon drum of methylamine.

For more entertaining, informative science videos and podcasts from the ACS Office of Public Affairs, view Prized ScienceSpellboundScience Elementsand Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contactnewsroom@acs.org

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American Chemical Society

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