NUI Galway students "cook" crystal meth in Breaking Bad experiment

Two chemistry students from NUI Galway explore the science behind “blue rock candy” featured in the cult TV show

NUIG Drs Róisín Doohan and Michael Gurry have researched the chemistry behind crystal meth synthesis used in Breaking Bad. The experiment is part of the university’s Science Fair which takes place today and also includes a recreation of the layout of the crystal meth lab featured in the hit show.

Dr Doohan explained the reasoning behind their chosen subject was on the basis of Breaking Bad’s immense popularity on campus. “We were eager to explore the science behind the show that has generated a renewed interest in chemistry.”

Attendees at the event will be given tours of the lab which displays the equipment used by the main characters Walt and Jesse in each step of the synthetic process.

Die-hard fans will know that the crystal meth made famous in Breaking Bad is known as “blue rock candy”. The two students have synthesised some of this mimic for their audience and will reveal the accuracy of the synthetic process portrayed in the show.

However, Dr Doohan is eager to stress that their presentation is not intended to further promote meth production.“If anything, it firmly cements you in the opposite path! One of the main focuses of our presentation is the serious, life-threatening implications involved in dealing with the various chemicals. Additionally, the show portrays the typical lives of both 'meth heads' and meth producers, aka ‘cooks' as being mostly unappealing and seriously dangerous.”

There will be a discussion on molecules of importance (such as crystal methamphetamine, hydrofluoric acid, fulminated mercury, thermite and ricin) along with the dangers involved in using or handling them.

The exhibition is called The Chemistry Behind Breaking Bad and is part of Explore, the Undergraduate Science Fair at NUI Galway.

More about Explore:

The Undergraduate Science Fair is a project run by Joanne Duffy in conjunction with the Explore project in NUIG. Dr Louise Allcock and Dr Sarah Knight from the Ryan Institute are the staff partners on the project, which aims to engage students across the campus with all manners of science.

The event is on today in The View, Áras na Mac Léinn on the NUIG campus.