Questions tagged [chemistry-in-fiction]

Chemistry-in-fiction covers all chemistry that can be seen in TV series, films and can be read in books, etc. which does not necessarily need to be based on proper scientific backgrounds.

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96
votes
7answers
271k views

Is it actually possible to dispose of a body with hydrofluoric acid?

In the TV show "Breaking Bad", Walter White frequently gets rid of people who get in his way by submerging them in a plastic container full of hydrofluoric acid. This, at least in the TV show, ...
65
votes
4answers
21k views

How does Walter White make pure crystal meth using a non-stereospecific reaction?

In the fantastic TV series Breaking Bad, Walter White, the dying chemistry teacher, takes to making crystal meth (d-methamphetamine) by several routes. Initially, he uses the common small-scale route ...
35
votes
3answers
103k views

Chemistry behind Gale's coffee maker in Breaking Bad

Is there a scientific basis for the coffee making equipment which Gale Boetticher describes in Breaking Bad? He talks about maintaining the right conditions for bringing out the coffee flavor without ...
34
votes
1answer
615 views

Single-molecule magnet with electrically-controlled permeability: How does the Titan Shield from Deus Ex work?

In a recent installment of Deus Ex game series there is an augmentation called "Titan Shield" (it has nothing to do with $\ce{Ti}$ element): A neodymium skin underlay matrix built of nano-...
33
votes
9answers
11k views

Would it be possible to destroy gold?

I'm a writer. I have a scenario in which a sizable amount of gold needs to be rendered unusable, preferably completely destroyed. I know an acid like aqua regia is able to dissolve gold, but would ...
33
votes
2answers
166k views

How do I extract cyanide from apple seeds?

I'm working on a crime story about cyanide poisoning from apple seeds. I just would like to have an idea of what processes and extraction techniques might be involved in getting cyanide from the seeds....
32
votes
9answers
9k views

Realistic chemical spill accident in high school chemistry class

In a story I'm writing, a teenager spills chemicals on herself in a high school chemistry class, causing her to be put under the safety shower. The spill destroys her clothes and causes minor burns. I ...
22
votes
2answers
50k views

HI/P reduction mechanism

I recently answered a question about Breaking Bad's initial methamphetamine production method (i.e. the reduction of (pseudo)ephedrine). The reaction is as follows: (Source) It is infamously known ...
16
votes
1answer
117k views

Can you make napalm out of gasoline and orange juice concentrate?

According to the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk: The three ways to make napalm: One, you can mix equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate. Two, you can mix equal parts ...
15
votes
3answers
13k views

Why are acids usually depicted in fiction as green?

In cartoons, etc., acid is generally shown as vividly green, as in this scene from the Simpsons: We even have the colour "acid green". But when I used to use acids in chemistry class, they weren't ...
15
votes
2answers
16k views

How could I cause metal to rust rapidly?

I'm writing a novel set in the mid-nineteenth century. One of my characters needs to cause an iron padlock to rust rapidly, ideally within a matter of hours. The lock doesn't need to rust away ...
14
votes
5answers
19k views

Can flames be colored black?

Most of us here would know that flames can be colored by adding an appropriate salt to the 'fuel' or by simply introducing it into a flame. Boron and Barium salts give the flame a green tinge, ...
13
votes
3answers
11k views

What does it mean for meth or any other compound to be 'pure'?

In Breaking Bad, Walter White can cook $99.1\%$ pure meth. In general what does it mean for a substance to be pure? In this case, what exactly does it mean for meth to be pure? Does higher purity mean ...
10
votes
3answers
358 views

What is the Italian ‘Acido Psammico’ (Psammic acid?)

I am reading an Italian detective novel — Lo stato delle anime by Giorgio Todde — in which someone is poisoned with ‘acido psammico’. Marini trova nello stomaco della vittima un ostia con all’...
10
votes
2answers
20k views

Is palladium really that poisonous?

In Iron man 2, the protagonist Tony Stark was anxious about his blood toxicity due to palladium core that was keeping him alive was slowly poisoning his blood. It is written here that: The ...
9
votes
1answer
211 views

What are AE Salts?

I saw this sentence as I was reading Agatha Christie's Five Little Pigs: Coniine and AE Salts comes under Schedule I of the Poisons Acts. So I've been wondering what are the mentioned "AE salts"? ...
9
votes
2answers
200 views

If I were to create a fictional way to obtain elements from Granite, what would be a good approach?

Notes: This question is in regard to my Minecraft mod. To those who don't know, Minecraft is a first person survival game by Mojang, where the players' objective is to become self sufficient and ...
8
votes
2answers
855 views

Could blue flames arise within the hull of a burning ship?

In Joseph Conrad's Youth: A Narrative, set in 1876, a 400-ton barque ship, the Judea, is sent to Java Head to transport 600 tons of coal. Although various delays occur during its journey, the coal it ...
8
votes
1answer
630 views

Macgyvering a Spectroscope

I am currently playing a dungeons and dragons campaign in which there are some new elements. My party, being the nerds that we are, is looking to experiment with them and attempt to discover new ones ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Does mercury fulminate really look like crystal methamphetamine?

In the AMC series Breaking Bad , Walter (aka Heisenberg) smuggles in a bag of mercury fulminate under the guise of crystal methamphetamine and threatens to blow the room up if he doesn't get his money....
8
votes
3answers
256 views

Constructing a grenade (for a novel I'm writing.)

Ok, before any eyebrows get raised, this is for a novel that I'm writing and inspired by this answer from worldbuilding and this reference answer. I just want to make sure the device I'm trying to use ...
8
votes
1answer
7k views

Is the Hollywood portrayal of the effects of ingesting HCN correct?

In the 2012 movie Skyfall, the antagonist Raoul Silva rues that the "hydrogen cyanide" he took ("Do you know what it does to you, hydrogen cyanide?") didn't kill him, leaving him horribly disfigured ...
7
votes
1answer
122 views

What physical/chemical reasons could have caused Dorian Gray's picture to degrade?

In the novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde, Gray locks away a portrait of his in the attic for 18 years and over that time the picture degrades to an almost unrecognisable version of its ...
6
votes
2answers
630 views

Freezing all the water on earth with a seed crystal

I was recently reading the satirical, fictional book Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. In this book, one of the major subplots is the invention of a mythical polymorph of ice called ice-9 in the book. In ...
6
votes
1answer
698 views

Can aniline be made with the method described in Dr Stone?

In Dr Stone, the main character makes aniline by rinsing coal tar with HCl, then mixing in ethyl acetate. See the image below. Is a method like this possible? What is occurring here?
5
votes
1answer
339 views

Can there be oxygen dissolved in water in a hydrogen atmosphere?

I'm trying to determine (for a science fiction story) whether a certain type of planet could have a significant amount of oxygen dissolved in water (e. g. produced continuously by some aquatic ...
5
votes
0answers
1k views

Why is gunpowder urinated on in Blood Meridian?

An interesting section of Blood Meridian (1985) by Cormac McCarthy has the gang of "Indian fighters" surrounded and out of powder, so one of them manages to make it from scratch, making charcoal from ...
4
votes
3answers
606 views

Is a compound composed out of gold, manganese, xenon, krypton, and oxalate possible?

Please keep in mind while reading this that I do not intend to create this, it is part of the backstory for a video game I am producing. I created a compound based on knowledge from my chemistry ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Crystal meth in Breaking Bad [closed]

Can good quality crystal meth really be made as in Breaking Bad? Can a pharmaceutical drug really be reverse-engineered?
4
votes
1answer
257 views

Non-carbon based life forms on hot planets

I am writing a story with people made of elements other than carbon. A couple of planets in this series are really hot, so I need compounds with high melting points. For example, there is a lone ...
4
votes
1answer
130 views

"4K-metal chelated" A chemical term used in Sagan's Cosmos

Maybe this question doesn't belong here. It's about a hypothetical xenobiology imagined by a prominent scientist in a seminal work of popular science. So I dunno. Tell me to go away and I'll see if ...
4
votes
1answer
112 views

Could a safe water ocean exist on a world with predominantly chlorine atmosphere?

I am researching for a Si-Fi book. Would a water ocean on a world with a predominantly chlorine ($\ce{Cl2}$) atmosphere be safe to touch? Would the chlorine over time saturate the water creating a "...
4
votes
0answers
676 views

Is it possible to make Spider-Man like web fluid? [closed]

Is it possible to make a substance which has similar properties to that of the web fluid e.g. High tensile strength, sticky (can attach to most of the surfaces), evaporates within few hours etc. If so ...
3
votes
1answer
646 views

Does selenium sulfate corrode or otherwise react with metals?

I was just watching a cartoon called Motorcity, and they featured a real compound called selenium sulfate. While I'm sure that the compound blowing up a detached steel [car part] on contact is just ...
3
votes
2answers
17k views

What are the effects of Lithium Dioxide on the body?

My question is about how much science-fiction and how much chemistry is involved in the the 'Randy's Donuts' scene of Iron Man 2: Agent Romanoff injects Lithium Dioxide into Tony Stark's neck to ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Producing soap from sodium carbonate and oil

Can we get soap by mixing $\ce{Na2CO3}$ from seaweeds with oil? I am not good at chemistry and saw this in the anime Dr. Stone. I just want to know if it is true or not.
3
votes
1answer
231 views

Extracting sulphur from hot springs with medieval technology?

For the sake of a dungeons and dragons game. Could sulphur be deposited on/extracted from hot springs water through evaporation or other proess?
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Name of toxic liquid product that can be cleared with flocking agent

I'm writing a paper rpg scenario, and even if we don't need to be 100% accurate about chemistry and physics in such games, one of my players has an advanced level in chemistry and I don't want him to ...
3
votes
1answer
48 views

Can an improvised torch be made to last for a prolonged period of time?

In the movie First Blood, there is a scene where Rambo is trapped in a cave after escaping a bazooka rocket that caused the mine he was hiding in to collapse. After realizing the entrance has been ...
3
votes
1answer
100 views

Reaction Penetrating Metal Sheet

I'm writing a novel set 28 years in the future in which the protagonist attempts to manipulate a communications satellite by directing a swarm of nanorobots (or possibly micro-robots, depending on ...
3
votes
1answer
155 views

Which acid to choose when designing a world with acid seas? [closed]

I'm currently writing a narrative and hoping to include a world which is home to a sea of some form of 'nasty' substance (doesn't have to be acid). The varieties of inhabitants of this world have ...
3
votes
1answer
604 views

Is so called "Polymerized LiNb (Lithium Niobocene)" a possible compound?

The so called "Polymerized LiNb (Lithium Niobocene)" is a fictional compound. I heard about this substance being used for an interesting purpose. It reacts to mechanical stress or pressure by ...
3
votes
1answer
123 views

Acid-Base Reaction in MacGyver Episode "Countdown"

This question is about the old MacGyver show, Season 1, Episode 14, "Countdown." Could someone please explain how/why MacGyver neutralizes the acid in the bomb? He claims it is an electrolyte switch, ...
3
votes
0answers
465 views

Best Radioactive Isotopes for Energy Generation [closed]

First off, this is research for a video game storyline, I like to be thorough. -- I am looking for the most efficient method of nuclear power generation which: Can survive for hundreds/thousands of ...
2
votes
3answers
342 views

Looking for a toxic substance that cannot exist at room temperature [closed]

I am writing a short story, and am trying to find a gas with the following properties: It must have a very distinctive odor It must be impossible for it to exist at room temperature under normal ...
2
votes
1answer
81 views

Looking for a compound that when mixed with sugar will burn when a drop of water is added

Years ago, I watched a Johnny Carson episode where a guest on the show mixed a compound with ordinary table sugar and added a drop of water and the mixture burst into flames. I went and bought the ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

How could I produce/rig this flame-colour lottery?

Not sure if this is the wrong SE for this, happy to move it if not... In the Netflix TV series Sabrina, there is a scene where people take part in an appropriately-gothic-and-ominous lottery, which ...
2
votes
1answer
203 views

Does Dean Kamen's Slingshot really filter virtually everything?

According to Dean Kamen (in the movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3242934/) and on the Net (http://www.popsci.com/article/science/pure-genius-how-dean-kamens-invention-could-bring-clean-water-millions)...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Diamonds into protective barrier

Theoretically, is it possible to make a large, transparent piece of armor or a shield from a diamond? Say, a piece of the said armor with a size $7^\prime \times 7^\prime \times 6^{\prime\prime}$? ...
2
votes
1answer
127 views

Calculating volume of gases in different conditions

Doctor Who has a secret laboratory on Venus where atmospheric pressure is $92$ times that of Earth and room temperature is $\pu{735 K}$. There, Doctor Who mixes $\pu{4.00 g}$ of $\ce{CaCO3}$ with $\pu{...