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21 Jump Street- Chemistry Errors

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Emily Honeywell

on 23 May 2013

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Transcript of 21 Jump Street- Chemistry Errors

21 Jump Street Chemistry Errors Emily Honeywell, Sam Routh, and Hailey Hollingsworth About 21 Jump Street In the action-comedy 21 Jump Street, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are more than ready to leave their adolescent problems behind. Joining the police force and the secret Jump Street unit, they use their youthful appearances to go undercover in a local high school. As they trade in their guns and badges for backpacks, Schmidt and Jenko risk their lives to investigate a violent and dangerous drug ring. But they find that high school is nothing like they left it just a few years earlier - and neither expects that they will have to confront the terror and anxiety of being a teenager again and all the issues they thought they had left behind Error #1: Identification of KNO3 as a Covalent Bond Jenko: Pop Quiznos. What do you get when lithium batteries react to potassium nitrate? That would be a covalent bond, brother. That's when two atoms, they share electrons. You see, they both need what the other one has. That makes them stick together. This piece of dialogue contains one chemistry error that we will be observing. The first is the identification of potassium nitrate (KNO3) as a covalent bond. The second is the size of the reaction that occurs. Jenko says that KNO3 is a covalent bond, which is the chemical bond that involves the sharing of pairs of electrons between atoms. Although his definition is correct, KNO3 is NOT a covalent bond, but it is actually an ionic bond. Let's look at the properties of ionic bonds and covalent bonds in order to tell the difference. Potassium (K) is an alkali metal (located in Group 1 on the periodic table).
Nitrate (NO3) is a non-metal.
Potassium nitrate has a crystallized, solid structure at room temperature.
KNO3 is moderately soluble at room temperature and has a high melting/boiling point.
Therefore, potassium nitrate is classified as an ionic bond. For the information to be correctly stated, all that would needed to be said is that potassium nitrate is an ionic bond, as it has all of the properties that would classify it as that type of bond. Error #2: The enormity of the reaction Jenko puts the potassium nitrate in a tequila bottle with the lithium batteries and then throws it into the other limo. The reaction is very large, causing the car to set on fire and explode, as well as an even larger reaction to occur. Here's an example of what the reaction really should've looked like... The director of 21 Jump Street described his reasoning behind the reaction and what he had personally learned in AP Chemistry when he was in high school: "[Jenko] scores lithium batteries from a camera with a knife to get past the safety layer," Miller says. "He drops the scored lithium batteries and gunpowder from shotgun shells into a half-empty bottle of Schnapps, which contains water and sugar, and he seals the top and shakes it. Both KNO3 (potassium nitrate) and lithium are oxidizers, and lithium when it touches water will react violently and cause a reaction, creating hydrogen gas. Alcohol is highly flammable, and if it gets hot enough, the H2 will combust in a big way. The KNO3 in gunpowder accelerates the combustion. Being sealed creates pressure to add to the combustion."
Miller acknowledges that "it probably would have been good to talk to an actual chemist about it instead of relying on my fading AP chemistry memories, but hey, it's the magic of the movies." The director himself states that in order to make the reaction more realistic, he should've done more research into what elements could create a reaction that is as big as he has hoped it would be. He relied on things he had recalled from years earlier. To make the explosion as big as it was, other elements could've been used to depict the wanted reaction. *NOTICE: There was extreme pressure in the reaction because of the small test tube, and the temperatures were very high because of the direct heat. The temperature and pressure weren't as extreme in the movie clip. Also, as soon as the lithium was placed into the heated and high pressurized potassium nitrate, the reaction was instant. In the movie, the reaction is not instant but takes about 25-30 seconds which is not realistic. Lastly, as this clip shows the reaction is pretty small. Comparing this clip once again to the 21 Jump Street scene, you can see realistically the reaction isn't as big as portrayed in the movie. *NOTE: When Jenko and Schmidt go back to high school for the drug bust, they are given secret identities. On the first day, Jenko accidentally takes Schmidt's schedule, giving the guy who was the jock and cool kid in high school the upper level classes. Through the course of Jenko's second try at high school, he becomes friends with the nerds and good at chemistry. In his chemistry class is where he learns of the elements that can be used for the reaction and that the reaction could possibly occur. Sources "Potassium Nitrate." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 03 May 2013. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_nitrate>."Lithium Battery."

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 May 2013. Web. 16 May 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_battery>.

"21 Jump Street Movie Quotes(Page 3)." 21 Jump Street Movie Quotes (Page 3). MovieQuotesandMore.com, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.

"21 Jump Street (2012)." Rotten Tomatoes by Flixster. Flixster, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.

"Covalent Bonds vs Ionic Bonds." - Difference and Comparison. Diffen, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013.

"Potassium." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 18 May 2013. Web. 21 May 2013.
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