TV

'MythBusters' proves 'Breaking Bad's' Walt needs some more schooling

Aug. 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM ET

Image: Aaron Paul, Adam Savage
Don Feria / Discovery Channel
"Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul, right, shares some "crystal myth" with "MythBusters" star Adam Savage.

"MythBusters" took on two of "Breaking Bad's" biggest science talkers from season one on Monday night: Whether hydrofluoric acid can dissolve "organic matter" and the bathroom it's in, and if mercury fulminate can cause the type of explosion as seen in drug dealer Tuco's office.

The verdict on both? Chemistry teacher Walter White needs to go back to school, because the gang at "MythBusters" easily busted both "crystal myths."

Discovery's hit show first tested the hydrofluoric acid to see just how much the toxic substance can do. Using small samples of each item found commonly in bathrooms (as seen in our exclusive clip), the busters — with some help from UC Berkley's chemists — learned that the HF acid didn't do much of anything. The steel, linoleum and wood were pretty much unaffected, while the drywall was turned into a "soupy mush." The little piece of pork that substituted as the dead criminal was a bit softer, but nothing like the bloody glob that crashed through Jesse Pinkman's hallway ceiling.

But then the busters wanted to go big ... really big. Not satisfied with the very small scale experiment, they built a bathroom in the middle of a desert and put a pig carcass (minus the head) into a cast-iron tub. On "Breaking Bad," Pinkman used two gallons of the HF, but "MythBusters" used something even stronger: 6 gallons total of sulfuric acid and what they called "special sauce." (As the show noted, they're not in the business of teaching criminals how to dispose of bodies.) 

The results? Pig goo that "MythBusters" star Jamie Hyneman called "one of the ugliest things I've ever seen." But even the stronger stuff (which Walt and Jesse didn't use on the show) wasn't able to make a dent in the tub or the flooring. 

To test the mercury fulminate, the gang first put 5 grams of the stuff (wired to a squib) inside a pumpkin to see whether it would even explode. To say that it did would be a bit of an understatement. The gourd was blown to smithereens. 

The busters then went big by building a replica of Tuco's office, complete with windows, desk and dummies. To prevent anyone from getting blown up in the name of mythbusting, star Grant Imahara created a robot with a throwing arm to play Walt, and programmed it to toss 50 grams of mercury fulminate (the same amount used by Walt) at a speed of 60 MPH so it would hit the floor at about the same speed the average human can throw. But there was no explosion. 

Imahara then tweaked his robot to throw with "superhuman speed," and still, nothing. The gang then seriously jacked up the power and used 250 grams of mercury fulminate, and finally, the whole room came down. Unfortunately, all the mannequins perished in the explosion, leaving robot Walt, plastic Tuco and the minions dead.

"We should get these guys to build us a writing robot and get this right next time," "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan joked.

"MythBusters: The Breaking Bad Special" airs again Thursday at 2 p.m. on Discovery.

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