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Breaking Bad's Scientific Consultant On Making Meth and More

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the not-a-howto dept.

Television 118

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sat down with Breaking Bad science consultant Donna Nelson, an organic chemist at the University of Oklahoma. Nelson was one of several expert advisers for the show who began consulting several episodes in on multiple topics, including how to make Walt a realistic chemist. She discusses the accuracy of the show, whether making meth is as straightforward as it seems on the series, and her favorite scene."

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Making meth is even easier (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910231)

AKA shake n bake.

Re:Making meth is even easier (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910337)

HIJACKING THE FIRST POST =========> EXPECT SPOILERS BELOW

Obviously. But better safe than sorry.

Re:Making meth is even easier (5, Funny)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 7 months ago | (#46910341)

Joffrey is poisoned.

Re:Making meth is even easier (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46910415)

Keyser Soze killed Dumbledore.

Re:Making meth is even easier (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 7 months ago | (#46910461)

Soylent Green is Hannibal's dinner!

Re:Making meth is even easier (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910477)

Hey bigmouth: You're being called out http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:Making meth is even easier (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912209)

Hey bigmouth: You're being called out http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:Making meth is even easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913081)

He's not being called out. You're a goddamn spammer.

Re: Making meth is even easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910571)

Or just blow the local pimp

Re:Making meth is even easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911727)

Like this!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kq7zj8Kd_Q

Brings back memories (5, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 7 months ago | (#46910251)

Years and years ago, I worked for an environmental lab and some local law enforcement agency (Sheriff's department, I think) asked us to help determine whether they'd found the dump from a meth lab. Step one was to figure out how meth is made. So I found every recipe I could (using Steve's computer, of course) and ran them by the chemists. "Poison, poison, poison, death, that could work, poison, poison, that could work." Then they took the potentially valid recipes and worked out what the byproducts would be created at each phase and gave the cops a list of chemicals to test for.

Oh, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to [legally] obtain a meth standard. Had to put in a lock box and access protocol to store an amount that was too small to give a rat a buzz.

Re:Brings back memories (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#46910491)

My regards to Steve. How is gitmo treating him these days?

Re:Brings back memories (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 7 months ago | (#46910903)

My regards to Steve. How is gitmo treating him these days?

depending on how many years ago this was, maybe the NSA wasn't logging everyone's internet activity.

Re:Brings back memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910875)

Why have that ceremonial when you could just ask to be prescribed Desoxyn and buy it at the drug store?

Re:Brings back memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913279)

Because Desoxyn is only FDA approved for people with ADD and/or as a second line of defense against obesity...

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088582.pdf

Re:Brings back memories (4, Interesting)

chihowa (366380) | about 7 months ago | (#46910915)

Oh, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to [legally] obtain a meth standard.

Actually, it's a piece of cake. Here's one that you don't even need a DEA license to receive. You can get standards for analysis for most any drug easily. Of course, you're only getting g to mg, so there's no real avenue for abuse. [sigmaaldrich.com]

Re:Brings back memories (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 7 months ago | (#46910925)

Wow. Forgot to close a link tag and forgot that /. still doesn't support unicode... all in a short four sentence post. Screw this, I need more beer.

Re:Brings back memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912409)

Or you could just do to a doctor and get a script for desoxyn (D-Methamphetamine)...

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088582.pdf

15mg 3x a day is considered a reasonably high dosage which is perfectly attainable through a doctor for treatment for ADD and also approved by the FDA for weight loss treatments. It doesn't smoke well or snort well but I think if you stick it in your ass the bioavailablity really high compared to oral administration. Enjoy.

Re:Brings back memories (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 7 months ago | (#46913037)

Well, he did say "legally". Seeking a prescription for medication under false pretenses or using your prescribed medication in ways other than proscribed is not legal and not the way a legitimate lab operates (for long, anyway).

Re:Brings back memories (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 7 months ago | (#46911261)

Damn, I recall being in middle school in the 70s and any kid with the attention span of a cat could make stove top peanut butter.

But, then, this is the state where the super-smack that killed the junkies in the 80s and the missle silo LSD lab that served the U.S. acid in the 80s & 90s, happened.

Kinda funny to hear about the silly rituals official people go through ,when graduate students with a budget and lab equipment go wild, then every other Billy Bob in the county, steals copper to buy enough ephedrine and various flammable Hazmat to keep his family in meth for the week.

Its a bitch when you jump through hoops and they hula-hoop.

Re:Brings back memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911873)

... the silly rituals official people go through ...

Yes, many laws simply prove how honest one is. It doesn't stop the dark web of criminal activities. To use a quote, "Outlaw guns and only outlaws will have guns".

Re:Brings back memories (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 7 months ago | (#46912149)

Youre talking to a guy who lives in a town where the newspapers carry stories of 2 different jail officers who male rape inmates, where Ive caught cruisers smoking pot, where rural cops rape/trade tickets for sex. One local cop just murdered his wife, and he was a police trainer @ school. Ive heard enough about the illusion/delusion of proved honesty in any official system. No more reliable than television ads. Money,power and greed trump law anyday. Honest cops are T.V. fiction. To make your quote scarier; outlaw guns and only cops will have guns....

Re:Brings back memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911563)

I read the article and for the show to be given a 99 out of 100 was laughable, I'm not a critic but the show had numerous flaws in the plot, HOWEVER because of the science involved I think that's the only reason it was ranked high. If it would have been a atypical TV show with all the BS bells and whistles with flawed science, it would've been ranked far lower. The show did exaggerate, but it was somewhat realistic, the best part was seeing half of Gus's face missing without over exaggeration
of blood gushing everywhere. From a visual and scientific side of it, it was done up very nicely.

I did watch the show but whenever I could, but I already knew Walt's fate, and the direction of the show after the first season. So I would rank it very low, the plot had flaws but the director did a great job of not killing it with over the top unnecessary effects.The show is a copycat/ripoff of a couple other ones, its not original by any stretch of the imagination.

Re:Brings back memories (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 7 months ago | (#46912641)

A dramatic, fictional show is not given a high rating for being realistically accurate. We're not watching a reality show after all, are we? It earned its high score from delivering an incredible dramatic experience, realistic enough in parts to allow you to suspend disbelief at others.

My baby blue (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 7 months ago | (#46910259)

One time I was out on a set visit and Vince said, "What do you think about making the meth blue?" I advised him not to do it. He said, "Is there not some way it could be blue?" And I said again, "No, don't do it."

So apparently, there is no actual chemistry basis for making Walt's meth blue... even the P2P/methylamine process does not yield a blue color. Vince Gilligan just really wanted the meth blue so he can use these cool 60's songs:

Crystal Blue Persuasion - from Gliding Over All, music playing over montage showing Walt's new meth operation with Todd and Lydia and DeClan. Parodied by the Simpsons.

My Baby Blue - from the last episode, final scene, when Walt gets what he deserved. The special love I had for you.

Re:My baby blue (3, Interesting)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 7 months ago | (#46910309)

I always assumed its possible it could be nanoparticulate aluminium contamination. Metals are a pretty good way to give things odd colors.

Re:My baby blue (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | about 7 months ago | (#46910905)

It's a testament to the writing of Vince - he totally made it believable that the meth COULD have came out blue.

Re:My baby blue (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#46911451)

It's a testament to the writing of Vince - he totally made it believable that the meth COULD have came out blue.

I read somewhere that meth labs are actually adding blue food coloring to their product to match the show. Now THAT'S a testament to the believability.

Re:My baby blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910319)

So apparently, there is no actual chemistry basis for making Walt's meth blue

Except that the quote merely has her telling him not to do it. She doesn't say why.

Personally, I think it's because going back to the source chemical instead of using ground up cold medicine really will make the meth blue. But in order to keep the cookheads from learning the truth, she told him not to do it.

Re:My baby blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911381)

Except that the quote merely has her telling him not to do it. She doesn't say why.

Maybe because it's a stupid idea? Just a hunch.

Personally, I think it's because going back to the source chemical instead of using ground up cold medicine really will make the meth blue. But in order to keep the cookheads from learning the truth, she told him not to do it.

Really? You have anything to back that up? Are you a chemist, or did you pull that out of your ass?

And it's not like Walt didn't say "we're going to use pure methylamine instead of pseudo." I'm sure that'll throw the "cookheads" right off the track.

Re:My baby blue (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#46912787)

"Except that the quote merely has her telling him not to do it. She doesn't say why."

FTA:

"He said, “Is there not some way it could be blue?” And I said again, “No, don’t do it.”"

It seems pretty clear from te article that she told him he should not do it because there is no way it could be blue, no?

Re:My baby blue (1)

InsectOverlord (1758006) | about 7 months ago | (#46910361)

Pure meth is white/clear. But you could explain the blue color as the result of some additive they put into it, as a "trademark" of sorts.
Not entirely different from how some whisky makers add substances [blogspot.com] to make their product darker.

Re:My baby blue (5, Insightful)

abhi_beckert (785219) | about 7 months ago | (#46910393)

Pure meth is white/clear. But you could explain the blue color as the result of some additive they put into it, as a "trademark" of sorts.

Yes but a key part of the show was nobody else could cook blue meth. Walt had power over the drug dealers because he could give them something unique.

If all it took was an additive, the story would not have worked.

Re:My baby blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911251)

Wasn't there already others who were making blue meth, but people could tell because their purities were low compared to Walt's extremely high 99.1%?

Re:My baby blue (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 months ago | (#46911297)

My recollection of the first episode where he showed someone the blue meth was a dismissive comment about "biker meth", until the guy sampled it.

Re:My baby blue (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 7 months ago | (#46912651)

Technically they were dismissive of P2P-cooked meth as being "biker meth," not necessarily blue meth.

Re:My baby blue (2)

Cl1mh4224rd (265427) | about 7 months ago | (#46911719)

Yes but a key part of the show was nobody else could cook blue meth. Walt had power over the drug dealers because he could give them something unique.

If all it took was an additive, the story would not have worked.

The hook wasn't the color; it was the purity. Walt and Jessie already had a hit product before they started using methylamine and turned it blue.

Re:My baby blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910407)

True, except that the script makes it clear that the blue color comes from the P2P process that Walt turns to after he and Jesse steal their first tank of methylamine. Walt feels he needs to excuse the blue color when he sells a batch to Tuco Salamanca, rather than use it as a selling point.

Dramatic licence, but very effective.

Blue color was a plot device.... (5, Interesting)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 7 months ago | (#46910439)

It was necessary to have Walt's product be immediately distinguishable from everything else on the street. Otherwise, the DEA would need to run samples of every batch seized through the lab to check purity etc. to determine if a given product was cooked by "Heisenberg". While this might have been interesting to the science geeks here on /., it would have been boring to the average viewer.

I have a feeling that pinning the blue color on the P2P cook process was done by the writers before they had a scientific adviser onboard. By then, it was too late, and they were stuck with it.

The big scientific screwup on the show is exactly how Walt was managing to get nearly 100% purity from a process that in real life would result in 50% purity at best. Unlike starting from pseudoephedrine, the P2P process results in a racemic mixture of 2 different stereoisomers of methamphetamine, only one of which has any recreational value.

This bit of chemical magic could have been passed off as Walt's "secret process", but on the show both Gale and Declan's crew were also shown creating meth at significantly better than 50% purity using the P2P route, without benefit of Walt's knowledge.

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (4, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 7 months ago | (#46910563)

You can turn anything you like blue by reversing the polarities and fine tuning the sub-space frequencies. I think it's fantastic that popular shows such as BB/Simpsons/Futurama/BBT are not only doing a good job of getting the science right but are also making it a feature of the show. Fiction writers have poetic license and have always researched their work to some degree, particularly the historical and geographic bits. What the author is trying to do in a drama is make the characters real and for that to happen his audience must be willing to suspend disbelief.

The ability/willingness of the audience to suspend disbelief depends on their own experience and worldview. For example the infinitely zoom-able pictures on a detectives computer, most people groan when they see it today but 20yrs ago it was an acceptable plot device because the punters simply did not know what a "pixel" was..

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911569)

The ability/willingness of the audience to suspend disbelief depends on their own experience and worldview. For example the infinitely zoom-able pictures on a detectives computer, most people groan when they see it today but 20yrs ago it was an acceptable plot device because the punters simply did not know what a "pixel" was..

I always felt that the confusion/misconception they had was the difference between the real life capability of doing a very remarkable zoom using the (then new) math of combining frames of video to add up all the possible detail available, with trying to enhance a static image. Aside from zooming in a bit too far, or doing it with still pictures rather than video, most of them actually got it pretty right believe it or not.

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 7 months ago | (#46910569)

I have a feeling that pinning the blue color on the P2P cook process was done by the writers before they had a scientific adviser onboard.

So you're not buying what the article said about that?

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 7 months ago | (#46910623)

The first season was written and filmed before Dr. Nelson came on board, I think.

The blue meth was introduced in the last episode or second to last episode of the first season, which was only 7 episodes long due to the writer's strike that year.

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 7 months ago | (#46911829)

The big scientific screwup on the show is exactly how Walt was managing to get nearly 100% purity from a process that in real life would result in 50% purity at best. Unlike starting from pseudoephedrine, the P2P process results in a racemic mixture of 2 different stereoisomers of methamphetamine, only one of which has any recreational value.

Off-topic, but hydrogenation of fats results in a similar thing (it's a process used to saturate fats with hydrogen).

Hydrogenation can create two forms - "cis" and "trans" - or chirals.

The "trans" form is what is really bad for your heart - hence the bans on trans-fats. But it isn't trans-fats that makes food "taste good" - since you can fry food in oils that are naturally low in trans-fat, and avoid using hydrogenated oils.

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 7 months ago | (#46912673)

But it isn't trans-fats that makes food "taste good"

So all those FOX [wikia.com] cartoons [wikia.com] lied to me?!

Does this mean... the content of a commercial network may be influenced by its advertisers? Oh my..

Re:Blue color was a plot device.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46914335)

The writers knew about this.

Walt referenced the enantiomeric purity in Season 4, Episode 1. So it was not an oversight on the part of the writers; it was something that he (and select others, it seems) had apparently found a way around.

For the record, there ~are~ ways to get near-purity of one enantiomer out of a racemic mixture.

Re:My baby blue (4, Interesting)

Hortense Yaya (954830) | about 7 months ago | (#46910897)

The real cooks are trying to make it blue now and making their customers sick http://www.washingtontimes.com... [washingtontimes.com]

Re:My baby blue (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 7 months ago | (#46911037)

Couldn't they use ordinary food coloring without making people sick?

Re:My baby blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911579)

Without deeper knowledge, I imagine that production cost issues may be involved here...

Scientific Consultant On Making Meth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910263)

Now, I have to say I didn’t help Vince with that part. He had Drug Enforcement Administration agents advise him.

Hide the Knowledge (3, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | about 7 months ago | (#46910387)

They helped so that we wouldn’t be presenting a cookbook on how to make meth and told him what steps to leave out so that anyone mimicking the procedures would fail.

Yup. A TV show giving inaccurate information is going to prevent people from making meth.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (4, Interesting)

Shados (741919) | about 7 months ago | (#46910497)

No, but a TV show giving accurate information certainly encourages people to try that would not normally. That happens all the time, with everything you see on TV.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 7 months ago | (#46910819)

i wonder how the show "Moon Shiners" gets away with this -- they even have diagrams on how the stills work. (Granted, alcohol isn't as hard or illegal to make, but moonshine AFIAK is illegal to produce, even for personal use)

Re:Hide the Knowledge (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 7 months ago | (#46911043)

Well exactly, it's not fundamentally illegal to make alcohol, and in that case it's probably more important to give accurate information so people who might try it don't in advertently poison themselves with methanol.

Whereas conversely, the way it's presented in Breaking Bad you'd go right down the wrong path trying to obtain precursor compounds (and set off a bunch of red flags at chemical companies) anyway.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (1)

Synonymous Homonym (1901660) | about 7 months ago | (#46914051)

it's probably more important to give accurate information so people who might try it don't in advertently poison themselves

the way it's presented in Breaking Bad you'd go right down the wrong path

Basically the producers of the show want people to poison themselves when they try something illegal. Technically it is not captial punishment.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46911067)

So-called "reality TV" is just entertainment. It's all BS. There's no moonshine, no "revenooers", and nothing illegal being done. Anything that looks that way is staged.

Like the Talking Heads sang back in the 80s:
"I don't know what you expect, staring into the TV set..."

Re:Hide the Knowledge (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46911421)

It seems to me that if those moonshiners were really making illegal moonshine and outrunning the law, the film crew would be considered conspirators and subject to criminal charges as well. People have been sent to prison for longer terms in conspiring to commit a felony than the actual offense tendered. People have also been sent to prison for conspiring to commit a felony without the felony actually taking place. and failing to report a felony is misprison of a felony which itself is a felony under US code.

So I think you are probably correct. It's all fake.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46912779)

As a teenager, I remember listening to a rap song of how to turn cocaine into crack and repeating the steps on my friend's stove. It was pretty dumb, but so was a lot of the stuff we did in those days.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 7 months ago | (#46910509)

Worked for the X-Files. No one suspect a thing, except for the conspiracy theorist nut-jobs (who are thus obviously alien fugitives).

Re:Hide the Knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910677)

Great point about X-Files. The Republicans certainly loved that show.

Re:Hide the Knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911499)

The NSA paranoia theme of the show turn out be true. You are not allowed to call them 'nut-jobs' any more. In fact if you do not believe them you are the nut-jobs, or a shill...

You have to remember a lot of criminals are dumb (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 7 months ago | (#46910691)

You see evidence all the time on the news and if you want to see a ton more, read police reports. Most criminals are morons.

So, if a TV show shows them how to make meth, you'll get some dummies that'll say "Hey let's do that!" Thus, best if it doesn't actually work.

Of course people can just go and look it up, if they are really interested, but this helps weed some people out.

Stereospecificity (5, Funny)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 7 months ago | (#46910409)

“Now is catalytic hydrogenation, I forget, is that protic or aprotic?"

Man, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that...

The Tweeking Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910417)

BB: A show about tweekers
TWD: zombies (same thing as tweekers)

Re:The Tweeking Dead (1)

supremebob (574732) | about 7 months ago | (#46910565)

There was even an episode in The Walking Dead where Walt's signature blue meth made an appearance in Merle's drug stash.

More important questions (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46910425)

Never mind all that. How did it feel to travel thirty years into the future from 1984 after winning first place in the Mary-Beth Lacey look-a-like contest? And how much meth were you on at the time?

Re:More important questions (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 months ago | (#46910929)

She's either been heavily photoshopped or she's an alien from V wearing a rubber mask.

The Winds Of Fate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910479)

Sterling will walk.

V. Stiviano looses the 'Money".

Adam Silver will resign.

Barak Saddam Hussein Obama will not be re-elected and his library will go unfunded by the USA.

Sweet Dreams

too bad all the other science was crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910481)

like the acid eating through the bathtub

or the mercury fulminate explosion.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46911115)

Don't know about mercury fulminate, but they were supposed to be using hydrofluoric acid which will dissolve glass (which is why it came/comes in plastic jugs and why WW told Jesse to put the body in a plastic barrel) and porcelain and iron/steel. I don't know if it would dissolve a body very well.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#46911463)

Don't know about mercury fulminate, but they were supposed to be using hydrofluoric acid which will dissolve glass (which is why it came/comes in plastic jugs and why WW told Jesse to put the body in a plastic barrel) and porcelain and iron/steel. I don't know if it would dissolve a body very well.

Mythbusters say no.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 7 months ago | (#46912165)

um... you're using an entertaining TV show to tell you whether the science portrayed on another entertaining TV show is real?

I think your reality meter is in need of recalibration.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46913459)

um... you're using an entertaining TV show to tell you whether the science portrayed on another entertaining TV show is real?

Since Mythbusters is an entertaining TV show about testing whether the science is real, that's not unreasonable. They do make mistakes but they're honest.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#46914495)

Why not? Just because something is entertaining, doesn't mean that the science is wrong. Due to the dangerous chemicals involved, the Mythbusters had scientists and experts working on this episode. Jamie and Adam were essentially just presenting.

Re:too bad all the other science was crap (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 7 months ago | (#46911691)

Mercury fulminate used to be used in primers - it's a very sensitive explosive.

It won't work like in the show(as mythbusters showed).

I'll note that in firearms you're hitting the cap with a small pointed hammer or a spring propelled pin, and the spring is fairly stiff. It's all about taking enough force to make your thumb hurt at most, and concentrating it into a small enough area to cause the detonation, which will spread from there.

Of course, I always assume science is wrong in TV shows, from exploding cars to drug production. They just need to make it realistic enough to not break my suspension of disbelief.

How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (2)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 7 months ago | (#46910625)

How do people even make meth in this country? Anything with Pseudoephedrine in it requires them to scan your drivers license.

That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (3, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 7 months ago | (#46910661)

Once Walt and Jesse moved beyond making a few ounces at a time, they couldn't get enough OTC pseudoephedrine pills through their small network of "smurfs".

They had already committed to providing 4 pounds of product to a rather psychotic distributor, so Walt decided to use a different synthetic route (P2P from phenylacetic acid via high temperature catalyst, then reductive amination with methylamine and aluminum amalgam), rather than the standard pseudoephedrine reduction using red phosphorus and iodine that they started out with.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910851)

Once Walt and Jesse moved beyond making a few ounces at a time, they couldn't get enough OTC pseudoephedrine pills through their small network of "smurfs".

Which is unfortunately historically accurate.

The War on Drugs fighting the smurfs means that the large-scale operations can bring it in by the 40-gallon barrel. Meth supply to the street is unaffected, and the only change in my quality of life is that I have to "voluntarily" enter myself into a DEA tracking database for pseudoephedrine if I get a cold and want a decongestant more than the (indistinguishable-from-fucking placebo) phenylephrine.

I hate meth cooks more than I hate meth heads, but neither of them has inconvenienced me in the way that the DEA does every fucking cold season. Legalize it and let the meth heads kill themselves off. Then the cooks will have no customers. At least I'll be able to limit the symptoms of my fucking cold without feeling like a criminal.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911081)

You guys often have a go at us in the UK for our CCTV surveillance (although you're getting it now too) and you DO have a point... ...however we don't have this bullshit. We can buy all kinds of pseudoephedrine preparations over the counter of any pharmacy without having to sign anything, although the quantity is limited to one box containing no more than 720 mg in total per transaction.

Hell, an ex-g/f of mine even got a bottle of it in liquid form as recently as four years ago, which really freaked me out - I thought you could only get it in combination with paracetamol (acetaminophen) to stop you overdoing it, but no...

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911093)

Same AC here:

And yeah, it works brilliantly as a decongestant, in a way that that phenylephrine crap just doesn't. I really hope they never ban it.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911589)

We can buy all kinds of pseudoephedrine preparations over the counter of any pharmacy

Same in the US, we require ID so that you can't make multiple visits and go to different stores to get around the quantity limits. Without that in place there's no point in having it at the pharmacy, because it's trivial to circumvent.
And yes, you can still even buy the pills which are 100% straight pseudoephedrine with nothing else mixed in. As for liquid vs. pill form, the liquid form is actually more difficult to turn into meth since you have to separate it out of the liquid first, and there's less actual pseudoephedrine in the same effective dosage.

You used to be able to simply walk into any grocery store and buy it off the shelf, in as much quantity as you wanted. The purpose of the regulations is not to make it harder to obtain, but rather harder to obtain any significant quantity without being noticed.

As for the show, that guy was actually "making" pure crystal meth. Most street labs are actually making a variety of impure knock-offs which are more commonly referred to as 'crank', and turning out small batches in very limited quantities, with widely varying quality. The larger operations turning out pure crystal aren't usually getting their source from pills. Rather, they find ways to obtain pure ephedrine, usually targeting the supply chains used by companies which manufacture medicines and supplements in bulk. It's pretty easy to make a couple kilos of the pure base compounds disappear from a batch at a manufacturing plant which buys the stuff in 100 pound barrels. A lot of it comes across the border from Mexico, where you can just grease a few palms and have an entire truckload of raw ingredients delivered to your lab.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46911341)

I wish I had mod points now. The DEA should have no say whatsoever over a highly useful and perfectly legal over the counter medication. I have never cooked meth and have never been found guilty of cooking meth. Therefor, as I am innocent until proven guilty, the proper assumption is that I am not going to cook meth with a box of decongestant.

Law enforcement is supposed to cause less harm than criminals.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 months ago | (#46912593)

Law enforcement is supposed to cause less harm than criminals.

as we've come to LEARN, LE is not about protecting or serving anyone other than the rich and powerful.

you and I don't enter into this.

not. one. bit.

the sooner folks 'cop' to this fact, the sooner we might be able to actually fix this age-old problem.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (2)

sudon't (580652) | about 7 months ago | (#46912689)

I wish I had mod points now. The DEA should have no say whatsoever over a highly useful and perfectly legal over the counter medication. I have never cooked meth and have never been found guilty of cooking meth. Therefor, as I am innocent until proven guilty, the proper assumption is that I am not going to cook meth with a box of decongestant.

Law enforcement is supposed to cause less harm than criminals.

The DEA shouldn't exist, period. How adult people choose to spend their free time should be no concern of government. Prohibition always creates crime where none existed.

Re:That was a key plot point of the 1st season... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911087)

The reduction via amination in real life produces a vast majority of mostly uselesss isometric decongestant, not methamphetamine. The hypothetical Walter has a solution to pushing the reduction toward production of the correct isomer, which in real life maybe doesn't exist. That is the "magic" of the path that Walter chose.

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910753)

I'm still using expired stocks from before the 2005 Combat Meth act for my allergies. That, and some that I had shipped back home that I bought while I was abroad (it's legal under a certain amount).

This wouldn't really be an effective way to make meth; it's more about the human right of treating my health condition without government authorization.

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910935)

pseudoepherine is to ephedrine what phenylephrine is to pseudoephedrine; Better at jacking up your blood pressure, worst as a decongestant.

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911001)

That's nice you believe that. Pseudoephedrine actually works as a decongestant for me, unlike the phenylephrine substitute they forced on the market because they were freaked out about meth. I also don't really want the broader sympathetic stimulation of ephedrine. Besides, where can you get ephedrine anymore?

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911229)

http://www.naturesnutrition.com/SKU/50192.htm

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911255)

Thanks.

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911241)

I did not said that pseudo-ephedrine was useless as a decongestant, I just stated that it is remarkably less potent than ephedrine for an equivalent effect on the blood pressure. But I will choose pseudo-ephedrine past 17hr as I love to sleep...

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911607)

Besides, where can you get ephedrine anymore?

Pretty much any wholesale supplement manufacturer/supplier. They buy truckloads of it in 100 pound barrels for use in their dietary supplements and weight loss pills. It's pretty easy to have a little extra 'spillage' by the poorly paid workers who actually work the production line. But you only need to do that if you're planning on making a serious quantity. In which case it's less risky and more profitable to just setup shop down in Mexico where you can buy your base ingredients by the metric ton, and then pay some mules to haul it over the border.
For your average low-level street cook, sending a couple of buyers around to a few local stores to pick up a pack of Pseudo-Fed will provide enough, since you're going to end up cutting it heavily with Baby Laxatives and selling it to desperate junkies.

I'm looking for a recipe... (4, Funny)

Nova Express (100383) | about 7 months ago | (#46911369)

...of how to cook hard-to-obtain Sudafed by starting with readily available methamphetamine...

Straight from J. Apocryphal Chem..... (2)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 7 months ago | (#46912109)

heterodoxy.cc/meowdocs/pseudo/pseudosynth.pdf

Re:How do you even get the ingredients anymore? (2)

sudon't (580652) | about 7 months ago | (#46912675)

How do people even make meth in this country? Anything with Pseudoephedrine in it requires them to scan your drivers license.

Clearly you've never heard of "smurfing." The large-scale operations have mostly been taken over by Mexico, where this pesky law doesn't exist. As always, where there's a will, there's a way.

Science WANTS Meth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46910845)

The way for Science, i.e. the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS, to capture money is to become the worlds biggest Meth producer and distributor to circumvent USA, EU and South American laws and national law enforcement agencies.

With billions of dollars to spend, the AAAS will buy the next US Presidential election and the mid-term Congress elections in 2018.

Victory will be achieved in 2020 with the enslavement of all USA citizens within the USA Federal Penitentiary System Contiguous USA.

"Escape From New York" ?

NO.

Escape from USA !

"Thats it ! Now. Complete the devise. DO IT !"

Ha ha

why does the link go to #disqus_thread (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 7 months ago | (#46911163)

Fuq disqus.

Impressive, but still flawed (barely!) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911245)

I was always impressed by the accuracy of the show, but there are a few small flaws. They're so small that I'm not even really disappointed though.

1. Methylamine isn't *that* difficult to make
2. After switching to a "P2P" cook, they are showed sourcing phosphorus, a material no longer required since aluminum amalgam was the reduction agent used instead.
3. They show a graham condenser in the wrong orientation
4. Even if methylamine *was* that difficult to make, theres a method that generates it in-situ using nitro methane instead, which is easily obtainable and legal.
5. When cooking the P2P method, the resulting meth would've been racemic, they would've needed a stereoselective solvent or something similar to make something as potent as the HI-P reduction method (which is stereoselective).

Thats only 5 errors that stood out to me, which for a show with that many seasons, is damn impressive!

Re:Impressive, but still flawed (barely!) (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 months ago | (#46911485)

2. After switching to a "P2P" cook, they are showed sourcing phosphorus, a material no longer required since aluminum amalgam was the reduction agent used instead.

I don't remember them sourcing phosphorus, but I do remember Walt dressing down a wannabe for buying the wrong kind of matches, before kicking them out of his territory.

enantiomerically pure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46911705)

When they changed to the fully synthetic process and said it was super-pure I wondered how they'd selected the correct stereoisomer— earlier in the show I'd looked up the Wikipedia article on methamphetamine and learned that only one of them was active in humans. I spent most of the show wondering about that and that line was a total tease and also quite hilarious to me. "Yes, Walt, indeed! How?" That line was so epic because it wasn't just techno-babble.

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