Let’s MacGyver it!


(edit 21-04) other entries for the #ChemMovieCarnival: http://justlikecooking.blogspot.se/2013/04/chemmoviecarnival-aaaand-action.html and http://justlikecooking.blogspot.se/2013/04/chemmoviecarnival-take-two.html

This post is a quasi-entry for #ChemMovieCarnival hosted by See Arr Oh (more information about this movie carnival on his blog here). It’s a quasi-stuff, because I will not talk about a movie and this post will not be very outreach. Moreover since a quasi-stuff won a Nobel prize I started using quasi-words whenever I have the possibility. Actually I would like to win a quasi-Nobel.

If this is not my first post that you are reading, you should know that I’m from the fabulous ’80s, and I’m very nostalgic (I’m getting older). It was a great period, excellent movies, good music, weird clothes, no internet and so on. It was a time where the kids chemical kits were actually dangerous. And when the instruction explicitly warn you to NOT mix A and B, you knew that the first thing to do would be to instantaneously MIX A and B (naturally followed by a lot of smoke and screams). Unfortunately the absence of internet meant that amazing shows and characters didn’t get the proper diffusion (and billions of memes). 

At that time, one of my best tv series was Mac Gyver (on the podium together with Quantum Leap). Now, If you don’t know who is MacGyver you are missing a piece of history. Every single episode was a piece of art. And the haircut. Oh God, that haircut was one of the emblems of the ’80s. Anyway, we should talk about science….


MacGyver was the quintessence of science. I’m not saying that it was scientifically correct (because now I know that mixing sugar and salt will not produce a bomb), what I’m saying it’s that the feeling of science impregnate all the MacGyver series. The idea that you can solve not most, but all your problems with intellect and few things you have around. The great message of using scientific/engineering knowledge for solving problems, not just brute force. And, keep in mind that we are talking about ’80s…. Movies like Rambo or the Schwarzenegger’s one were only about brute force. Overpowering the enemy with muscles and a shitload of weapons.

But no, MacGyver was different. A quick look in the room where he was locked, check the available household chemicals, mix them in a precise ratio and sequence et voila’ the bomb/smoke/weapon/distraction/whatever was done. Unfortunately, as I said before, it was (mainly) scientifically incorrect. And the worst part was that the lack of internet was equivalent to lack of information (especially for a kid). This also meant that the only way to check if the experiment shown was true or not was to “repeat” the experiment in your house. I don’t want to lie to you. Most of the times (I mean always) it was a disaster: crap everywhere, stinky and sticky stuff, screaming parents and so on. 

Anyway, just for sake of the good show/bad chemistry, check this video on how to destroy a wall using sodium, water and some candies. Also check how sodium was stored….

If you want to check all the amazing things he did (and how) you can read this amazing wiki: List of problems solved by MacGyver.



There is only one thing I really would like to see: MacGyver + Parafilm. This would be the MacGyver holy grail.
80% of lab stuff can be fixed with parafilm (15% with duct tape, and well if you broke the other 5% you are screwed).
I love parafilm.

So, did you usually watch MacGyver? Did you MacGyver something in the Lab? Let me know.


  1. nicholastesla

    Now, a little fertilizer…oh! A tractor! Perfect. Now if only we had a container to put it in!

    Also, I deeply suspect that an explosion of that size would cause EXTREME hearing damage.

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