Breaking Bad #3 – the most dangerous people on earth!

In previous posts I’ve discussed the ethical journey of Walter White, and also the science behind the show. My understanding is that they employed a consultant who went to some effort to get the Chemistry right, and to a large extent, they did a good job.

But for me, one of the most interesting parts of the show was how Walter White disposed of enemies. In the final episode he poisons  Lydia with ricin, for example, extracted from the husks of beans.

And so the real lesson of Breaking Bad is this – the most dangerous people on earth aren’t bikies, or mafia hitmen. They are chemists. There are plenty of things way worse than ricin, which had to be ingested, or at least delivered by an umbrella.

There are, for example, chemicals so toxic that a single drop on your skin would be lethal. These chemicals are not the type of thing you’d find on a Google search. Many of them are state secrets, developed in KGB or CIA laboratories, but those of us with a background in research chemistry know enough about the chemistry of the human body to know of other chemicals, which, if not readily obtainable, are ready synthesisable in a lab with relatively commonplace chemicals and equipment.

I am not, of course, going to tell you what they are, but they exist. And I’m sure they are used. You’d never hear about it, however, simply because of the mechanism of their operation. One class of chemical I know about could be placed as a single drop on the door of your car or house. From the moment you touched it, you are a dead man walking.

But you wouldn’t drop dead straight away. You’d gradually get sick over several months, as your organs shut down. Medical staff would run test after test and find nothing. The reason is that these chemical are so toxic in such tiny doses that it’d be unmeasurable in your body.

And then you’d die, with “cause of death unknown” on your medical certificate..

But back to Breaking Bad. I am assuming that the scientific advisors knew about these chemicals, but stuck with ricin as the poison of choice because it’s common knowledge, and didn’t want to give anyone bad ideas.

36440cookie-checkBreaking Bad #3 – the most dangerous people on earth!

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