Breaking Bad’s Sci-fi

The New York Times published an article about last night’s Breaking Bad premiere here. It’s interesting to see where Vince Gilligan gets the inspiration for the wacky science things that happen on the show, as he recalls here:

The idea for this hands-free heist, Mr. Gilligan said, came not from any real-life incident but from the collective deliberations of the “Breaking Bad” writing staff. It was also helped along by Mr. Gilligan’s memories of his film studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he used a tabletop magnetic device called a degausser to erase audio tracks.


“I remember being intrigued by this magnet and wondering if it was going to destroy my watch or sterilize me so that I could never have kids,” he said.

It’s a good read for writers who are afraid about writing sequences that include science. When I watched last night’s episode, I was severely upset because my Breaking Bad spec doesn’t have anything close to the marvel of the magnet sequence. I’ve been racking my brain to figure out scientific elements that could actually be employed in real life and nothing has been as overtly impressive as magnets. But the article shows that the writers took a huge artistic license with the science of magnetic forces. In real life, that heist could have never happened. But you don’t realize when you watch the show, because the episode is about the characters operating the science, not the science itself. Don’t be afraid if your sci’s a little fi. 


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