Salem methamphetamine manufacturer Clyde Barlow, a man long plagued by feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing, operates in the criminal underworld under the alias “Uhlenbeck”.
The pseudonym is an homage to George Uhlenbeck (1900-1988), an academic and theoretical physicist who was jointly responsible for the discovery of electron spin, a fundamental concept in the field of quantum mechanics.
While Uhlenbeck was well-respected as both a researcher and teacher, he is generally not regarded as a superstar in the discipline, which is dominated by such luminaries as Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, and Wolfgang Pauli, among others.
Barlow’s chosen moniker was patterned after the meth-dealing protagonist of the seminal television program Breaking Bad. The character, whose professional expertise was in the field of X-ray crystallography, adopted the “Heisenberg” sobriquet in honor of his professional idol, the legendary physicist Werner Heisenberg.
“There’s no doubt that Walter White (the name of the Breaking Bad character) inspired me”, Barlow admitted. “But let’s face it, I’m no Walter White. He was a brilliant but troubled man, but frankly, I’m just troubled.
“Walter’s early work directly resulted in the creation of a high-flying tech startup, but I barely graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry (in 1999) and have been laid-off within a year from all three jobs I’ve had in the field.
“I realize he’s just a fictional character, but honestly, I know my place. Moreover, it’s actually an affront to the Uhlenbeck legacy that I’m so presumptuous as to usurp his good name”, he added.
At press time, a demoralized Barlow was contemplating abandoning the illicit drug trade entirely following the accidental destruction of his latest batch of product after carelessly forgetting to monitor the pH of the chemical slurry prior to catalysis.