Why Breaking Bad can help make good chemists The story of a high school chemistry teacher who turns to making illegal drugs to support his family after being diagnosed with terminal cancer is certainly good for Hollywood.
Breaking Bad has won the hearts of critics and audience alike, but an academic is hailing it good for science. Dr Mark Lynch is a lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba. A self confessed Breaking Bad fan, he says it's rare to see the world of science depicted in popular culture in a credible way. "It's not so much that you can learn how to make meth, or anything like that. But it's the approach to science, and the attitude of the power of science. A lot of the key developments in the plot is [the main character] Walter White using science, and the scientific approach, to solve problems." While he says the popular TV show helps "de nerdify" his field, Lynch says another benefit is the bigger themes the show touches on a valuable springboard from for discussion in his own classroom. Science does have to have a moral centre. We don't want to be letting the gold pandora beads genie out of the bottle all the time. It's something we teach. We try and instil into students this sense of morality in whatever you do. We've often treated science as a pursuit of knowledge, but in any human activity there's a morality that needs to be considered. "Clearly, making illicit drugs falls very much into a clear area," Lynch says. "But there are other decisions. My PHD was in anti cancer drugs. And there are moral decisions associated with it. You are making drugs, and hoping they are to be of benefit. But who knows, someone else might take what you discover and pervert it in some other ways. Take Alfred Nobel, who started with very high ambitions to solve certain problems, but ended up pandora usa having his invention dynamite perverted into something warlike. You don't know where it's going to lead. Often, you don't consider it so much because you're more focused on the research, rather than the outcomes of what the research will be." Solution and dissolution Lynch says it's surprising to some to discover he's fielded more questions about the chemistry of the explosives on the show, "rather than 'how do we make illegal drugs?'" But not all science based TV is created equal."I often have to de CSI students because they www pandora charms think science is magic; where you press a button on a machine and out come all the results. It undervalues the depth of work that's required in a forensic investigation." "How do we approach problems? How do we develop skills to problem cheap pandora charm bracelets solve? That's what we don't get a lot of on those procedural forensic shows." While he doesn't relate to the character of Walter White completely, Dr Lynch says as a chemist, he can empathise with the character. You're looking at a person confronted with a very difficult situation, turning to an option not alien to most chemists. Most chemists know how to do what he does." Making good? Lynch says "there are a lot of areas Walt could have used his expertise to develop drugs that were actually useful for society.
It might have been a much more short lived show," he laughs, "because I don't think there's a lot of conflict there!" "I think science will have one last hurrah," Lynch says, without veering too far into spoiler territory. "I don't think Walk can solve his issues without relying on some science." The TV series is about to finish, but Lynch believes teachers and lecturers will continue to draw inspiration from it to help the next generation of scientists steer clear of breaking bad.
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