The science of Breaking Bad: Negro Y Azul

Breaking Bad : Season 2 : Episode 7: “Negro Y Azul”

Walt deals with a slacking student.

Walt deals with a slacking student.

As Hank heads south to deal with the steady flow of drugs from across the border, Walt and Jesse start to build their own empire right under his nose. These guys really need to start watching The Wire (wouldn’t it look great on Jesse’s TV?) – then they’d find out that the game ain’t about territory no more, it’s about product. In this post, I’ll be talking about chemical bonds.

You can read more about this episode at AMC, IMDb and the A.V. Club.

Chemical bonds

Methyl nitrite

Methyl nitrite

Walt describes chemical bonding as a “strong force of attraction” between atoms, and mentions both covalent and ionic bonding. Forming molecules from atoms (through chemical bonding) increases overall stability – for example, the nitrogen in the air is mostly present as molecular nitrogen (N2); atomic nitrogen (N) is not normally stable. Walt illustrates his explanation with a molecule of methyl nitrite, which contains both single and double bonds.

In simple terms, we can think of covalent bonding as the sharing of electrons between atoms and ionic bonding as the transfer of electrons between atoms. Both of these result in a net attractive force. In covalent bonds, if a negatively-charged electron is positioned between two positively-charged nuclei then both nuclei will be attracted to it and hence towards each other. In ionic bonds, the transfer of electrons results in positively-charged (loss of electron) and negatively-charged (gain of electron) ions, which are attracted to each other.

For background information on this topic, see the primer on atomic structure.

Elements in the credits

Breaking Bromine
Bad Barium
Created Chromium
Bryan Cranston Bromine
AnNa Gunn Sodium
AAron Paul Argon
DeaN Norris Nitrogen
Betsy Brandt Beryllium
RJ MitTe Tellurium
DannY Trejo Yttrium
Krysten Ritter Krypton
MAtt Jones Astatine
Christopher Cousins Cobalt
LynNe Willingham Neon
Robb Wilson King Tungsten
MiChael Slovis No such element
Dave Porter Polonium
Sharon Bialy Sulfur
SherrY Thomas Yttrium
Sam Catlin Calcium
StewArt A. Lyons Argon
Melissa Bernstein Beryllium
John ShiBan Barium
Mark JOhnson Oxygen
Karen Moore Molybdenum
FeLix Alcala Lithium
Vince Gilligan Vanadium

I’m not sure why Michael Slovis wasn’t assigned iodine (I), carbon (C), hydrogen (H), sulfur (S), oxygen (O) or vanadium (V).


2 Responses to The science of Breaking Bad: Negro Y Azul

  1. Totally agree about The Wire on Jesse’s TV!

  2. […] Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad: Negro Y Azul […]

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