Breaking Bad Science Advisor Dr. Donna J. Nelson: the Boing Boing Video interview
Miles O'Brien and Xeni Jardin interview the brains behind Breaking Bad's portrayal of science. [Video Link] PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien and I interview Dr. Donna J. Nelson, science advisor to the television series "Breaking Bad." The show's final episode airs this coming Sunday night on AMC.
Dr. Nelson is a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma who specializes in organic chemistry, and she shared some fun insights on what it was like to provide accurate science information on which the writers, directors, and actors based the show. We taped the interview in August 2012, when she was at Comic-Con in San Diego with the cast and creators of the show.
She told us that some of the weirdest and funniest things that happened to her, in the course of working with Vince Gilligan and crew, was when they asked her "How much meth can you make from a 30 gallon drum, in pounds?"
As she explained, usually lab experiments involve the tiniest possible amounts of substances, fractions of teaspoons--not pounds, not *barrels*.
And Dr. Nelson surprised when she told us in this interview she has no idea why Walter White's meth is blue. "I didn't ask."
"Did you know how to cook meth," Miles asks?
Dr. Nelson: "No!"
"The DEA worked very closely with [Breaking Bad producers], they had done a lot of drug busts and seen illicit meth labs, so they helped Vince considerably," she says. "They told us what the labs should look like, and exactly what was used."
When we recorded this remote two-way, I had just finished cancer treatment, and was recovering at home, watching Breaking Bad on my iPad in bed, sleeping off the chemo and surgery drugs, with help from Miles.
We hope you enjoy the interview. I will really miss this show.
More videos, episode recaps, and related fun stuff for fans of the best show on television, in Boing Boing's Breaking Bad archives.
And in case you missed it, here's our "Top 11 Chemistry Moments in Breaking Bad" video, shot around the same time.
(Special thanks to Eric Mittleman and Joe Sabia, who edited the interview and the "top 11" video, respectively. There's a goof in the title card at the beginning of the episode that says we shot this in August 2011; that's wrong, it was August 2012, and that's my mistake entirely.)
[Video Link] My new book came out today. It’s called Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects. The books is focused on teaching girls lifelong skills — like computer programming, musicality, and how to use basic hand tools — as well as how to be creative problem […]
Hillary Clinton made her first extended public remarks about Edward Snowden late last week, and unfortunately she misstated some basic facts about the NSA whistleblower and how events have played out in the last year. Here’s a breakdown of what she said and where she went wrong: Clinton: “If he were concerned and wanted to […]
FCC planning new Internet rules that will gut Net Neutrality. Get ready to pay more for the stuff you love online.
The Wall Street Journal was first to report that The Federal Communications Commission will propose new open Internet rules this Thursday that will allow content companies to pay Internet service providers “for special access to consumers.” Under the new rules, service providers may not block or discriminate against specific websites, but they can charge certain […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]
Custom coffee vessels are the perfect piece of office flair, but it’s just a matter of time before your VOTE FOR PEDRO mug will start to lose its relevant wit. Why not have a new one every day, with whatever silly nonsense you want sticking off the sides? You can save big on your novelty […]