Breaking Bad : Season 2 : Episode 6: “Peekaboo”
Walt is finally back at school, having had his position in the Albuquerque premium drug trade made clear, and Jesse is attempting to cement his own position. Both are dealing with some potentially ruinous family issues. In this post, I’ll be talking about carbon.
Walt’s class, or at least the part of it we get to see, is all about carbon (you may remember it from such videos as Carbon, which Carmen showed to Walt’s students back in season one). Carbon is the chemical basis for all life as we know it, due to its unparalleled ability to form large, complicated molecules that combine and interact in biological systems. Before focusing on a pure form of carbon (diamond), Walt mentions some general classes of unsaturated hydrocarbons:
|Monoalkenes||Also called monoenes, these are hydrocarbons containing one carbon-carbon double bond|
|Diolefins||More properly called dienes, these are hydrocarbons containing two carbon-carbon double bonds|
|Trienes||As the name implies, these are hydrocarbons containing three carbon-carbon double bonds|
|Polyenes||As the name implies, these are hydrocarbons containing multiple carbon-carbon double bonds (technically, di- and trienes are also polyenes)|
The diagrams on the blackboard support the first case in Walt’s sequence. H2C=CH2 (ethene), H2C=CH-CH2-CH3 (but-1-ene) and H3C-CH2-CH=CH-CH2-CH3 (hex-3-ene) are all examples of monoenes. The cyclic structure at the bottom does not appear to make sense, and it may be incomplete (three of the carbon atoms do not have enough bonds made for the molecule to be stable).
Walt has also managed to misspell “alkene” – the title on the blackboard is “mono-alkelenes” (see photo).
Moving on to pure carbon, Walt starts talking about synthetic diamonds and a key figure in their development, H. Tracy Hall. Hall’s research team managed to refine the process of creating artificial diamonds using high temperatures and pressures, but (as Walt points out) General Electric were initially not too thrilled and Hall took his marbles and went back to Utah, later inventing an even better procedure. Diamond is one of carbon’s several allotropes – forms of the element that have the same composition (in this case, carbon) but different structures. The most common allotropes of carbon are amorphous (no crystal structure), diamond and graphite.
Elements in the credits
|Robb Wilson King||Tungsten|
|MiChael Slovis||No such element|
|StewArt A. Lyons||Argon|
I’m not sure why Michael Slovis wasn’t assigned iodine (I), carbon (C), hydrogen (H), sulfur (S), oxygen (O) or vanadium (V).