Most of the time, I am a Senior Computational Energy Scientist at Argonne Nat'l Lab ( - which is one of the national laboratories under the U.S. Dept. of Energy - and a Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago, the Computation Institute. A few times a year, I travel to Albuquerque, NM, to shoot my scenes as "Bogdan" for AMC's hit TV show "Breaking Bad." VERIFICATION:; I’ll be answering your questions live, starting at 1 pm CST. UPDATE: It's been a lot of fun. Thank you for the questions and comments. I need to run now. I'm giving a seminar in 15 minutes, and I need to comb my eyebrows. :)
UPDATE: I was back to answer some of the questions posted after the AMA session. Just sort by "new". Best wishes to you all!

Comments: 395 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

rconnelly20326 karma

Eyebrows reddit a lot and this has to be my favorite AMA. What got you into acting?

TheRealBogdan226 karma

"Eyebrows a lot"...well done. Thank you. I got into acting by chance.

SandPocket167 karma

I couldn't resist D=

TheRealBogdan217 karma

That was not in the initial script. We kind of improvised. Good thing they don't show all the takes they shot that day. :)

FlipBoy23131 karma

Do your eyebrows really never quit??

TheRealBogdan191 karma

Not that I'm aware of...Several barber shops have offered to trim them, and I always refuse.

juliandelphinki88 karma

how long before it would be possible to make a new sail for my sailboat using flexible solar panels? been dreaming of doing that

TheRealBogdan122 karma

Five years at least, but I do think it's possible. Keep dreaming... :)

OftenInappropriate63 karma

hi thanks for doing this! so...what was it do you ....ugh.

i got nothing.


TheRealBogdan127 karma're right.

biqqie59 karma

How long have you been in the US?

Im assuming you're Romanian, do you still go back to visit?

Iti place mamaliga cu branza si smantana*?

TheRealBogdan95 karma

Yes, I was born in Romania and moved to the US 15 years ago. I go back to Romania every 2-3 years, mainly to have mamaliga cu branza (polenta with feta cheese, for the non-Romanians) and to see my family. :)

2FishInATank57 karma

It seems like an unusual crossover - how did you come to be involved in Breaking Bad after making your career as a computational energy scientist?

Or at least I'm assuming it was that way around!

TheRealBogdan167 karma

Scientists and actors are both creative people driven by curiosity.

slashVictorWard55 karma

Badass double threat - acting AND science.

TheRealBogdan51 karma


gheyfesh53 karma

Will you be my Valentines?

TheRealBogdan92 karma

Happy Valentine's Day to all the people in love! :)

diogenes72144 karma

You have the most impressive eyebrows I have ever seen.

TheRealBogdan85 karma

Thanks to my father, grandfather and great grandfather!

poky2343 karma

How is it with working with Bryan Cranston?

What was your favorite scene from Breaking Bad?

Would you ever do Meth? :o

Do you plan on opening a car wash anytime soon?

You're awesome! :D

TheRealBogdan78 karma

I most like the "Can you be the boss?" and "20 million dollars!" scenes.

No, meth is not my choice.

Yes, I might open a car wash. :)

beef_creature37 karma

Was it difficult for you to be such a jerk sometimes on the show? Or does that sort of come naturally?

TheRealBogdan190 karma

Not difficult at all. Walter White is easy to hate.

beef_creature50 karma

But, but...even when he was just a science teacher?

TheRealBogdan404 karma

Yes, he did a poor job washing my cars!

Jebusg36 karma

Do you see yourself acting more in the future?

TheRealBogdan164 karma

Yes, I hope to get on the "Big Bang Theory." :)

diogenes72136 karma

How did you get into acting?

TheRealBogdan73 karma

My kids convinced me to go to an audition. We are all in the pilot of "Breaking Bad." For more info., check out the Chicago Tribune article: (visible to everyone by signing up for free DigitalLite subscription) or here:

NinjaDiscoJesus34 karma

What does your job actually entail - in laymans terms?

TheRealBogdan94 karma

I develop and run computer programs to design better materials for energy applications.

NinjaDiscoJesus22 karma

sounds heavy duty

TheRealBogdan69 karma

It is. Acting is a nice change of pace.

davidmpickett26 karma

Where do you get your car washed?

TheRealBogdan127 karma

Not in Albuquerque anymore, because I sold that one, unfortunately...

onetruepurple26 karma

Have you considered breaking bad and cooking meth yourself?

TheRealBogdan97 karma

Yes I did, with a PhD in chemistry, I should be able to make it. (joke, of course)

However, I decided there are better ways of breaking bad. I'm writing poetry now. :)

santalamos30 karma

Are we going to see a book by Marius Stan at Barnes and Noble?

TheRealBogdan40 karma

Yes. Stay tuned...

d3l3t325 karma

If you had to choose between your job and a full time acting career, which one would you choose?

TheRealBogdan84 karma

I don't want to decide now. Life is short, I want to make the most out of it.

Agaac122 karma

In your opinion should researchers discover ways of making current technologies (such as solar and wind) more efficient or should they focus on emerging tech such as fusion power?

Also how long do you think it will take for the world to switch to a mostly renewable energy source?

TheRealBogdan64 karma

Solar, wind and fusion serve different purposes. All important. Solar can heat a house. Wind a town. Fusion an entire state. I favor pursuing these in parallel and great things will emerge when the time is right. We shouldn't decide up front; we should let them compete and evolve.

irefusetochooseone21 karma

dr. stan, i'm currently at northwestern, and i'm finishing my ph.d. in collaboration with argonne through a guest appointment. i've been a student for a while; and every time i see the light at the end of the tunnel, some new research hurdle always pops up that is very disappointing. (i'm in my 11th year.) i study experimental areas in mechanical engineering and materials science. any words of encouragement for a student in my position who honestly wants to finish strong and with good results?

TheRealBogdan63 karma

I told my children that life is like a sine function: It goes up and down, but generally upwards. That's the kind of advice you get from a nerd. :)

roguepublichealth20 karma


TheRealBogdan29 karma

I think the US should maintain a balanced portfolio of energy options. From renewables, such as solar and wind, to high-density energy sources such as oil, coal and nuclear. Storing the energy is also critical (

TheRealBogdan22 karma

I see the energy grid getting smarter. All options included.

polluxuk18 karma

Did you get on well with the rest of the cast on Breaking Bad? Great to have you here!

TheRealBogdan40 karma

Yes, especially Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn.

polluxuk9 karma

I'm glad for that it seems to be a great show, now if only a UK network would show the bloody series!

TheRealBogdan37 karma

We should do that to you as revenge for the X-Factor. :)

pepperstuck17 karma

What's your next scientific project?

TheRealBogdan48 karma

I'm building a "computational microscope" that allows scientists to zoom in on the microstructure of a material all the way to atoms, much like a traditional microscope, but in a virtual, computational space. That would allow us to "play" with atoms and create materials with spectacular properties.

Janitor-Hank9 karma

for science newbees: what exactly are you doing you research on and what are you hoping to find ?

TheRealBogdan17 karma

What I hope to find is what exactly determines the properties of a material. Kind of like a materials genome.

Janitor-Hank8 karma

and how is that going ?

anywhere near a breakthrough already ?

also thanks for answering, you are the first famous person that ever answered one of my questions

TheRealBogdan14 karma

We made some good progress with the help of powerful computers ( and some unique characterization tools ( What excites me the most is making predictions about how certain materials behave in extreme conditions (high-temperature irradiation).

Janitor-Hank6 karma

the morris daily article says that young people recognizing you makes you happy

has there ever been a situation where you would have liked not be recognized ?

also as far as i understand all that science stuff (i'm not very talented in natural sciences) you develop mathematical formulas to predict how materials behave and then test those formulas through expiriments or computer simulations ?! how often is such a prediction 100% correct ?

TheRealBogdan12 karma

So far, I have enjoyed every encounter with fans. So far.

The predictions are never 100% correct. What I've learned is that we only need to know a few critical things to make a good prediction. Often, knowing too much makes predictions worse.

Janitor-Hank4 karma

alright, thanks for answering

i wish you the best of luck for your research (and for your acting)

TheRealBogdan8 karma

Thank you. Best of luck to you.

ImBearded9 karma

Hi Marius! I'm currently getting my PhD in Nuclear Engineering at some school somewhere. I can't believe YOU are the guy in Breaking Bad. I think I read one of your papers which had a component of DFT in it....

Anyways, I'm finishing up my PhD here in about a year. My research has been a combination of experimentation and calculation in some semi-advanced material for nuclear detection-related stuff. I think that Argonne is my #1 choice for employment right now. Do you have any advice for someone applying for a job?

TheRealBogdan3 karma

I suggest getting involved in research at your university and publishing your work in peer-reviewed journals. Nothing beats a few good publications. That demonstrates your ability to do scientific work AND analyze the results and can double your chances of getting hired.

NikolaiZaitsev9 karma

Whenever I see a framed dollar, paystub, or cheque, I regret not having done so. Did you frame your first dollar earned as a scientist like you did at the Carwash?

TheRealBogdan41 karma

No, but I did put my first scientific paper in a special place as a memento.

Trappets9 karma


TheRealBogdan17 karma

I didn't think Bogdan would return in such a big way in Season 4. It came as a nice surprise.

okkkristian9 karma

Who is your favorite character on the show? Not including Bogdan

TheRealBogdan23 karma

Hard to narrow it to one. The City of Albuquerque is actually a character in its own right. And of course, Walter and Skylar. And so many others.

DancesWithSpoons8 karma

Marius, give me the stone, and all is forgiven.

TheRealBogdan19 karma

You already have my heart and my eyebrows. :)

matthwatson8 karma

Any interesting stories about those impressive brows?

TheRealBogdan36 karma

Here is how I select my barber: If they ask me more than twice about trimming my eyebrows, I never go back to them.

Chajado8 karma

How did you get the BB job?

TheRealBogdan14 karma

BogdansDaughter7 karma

Would you consider acting your favorite hobby? If not, what is your favorite hobby?

TheRealBogdan16 karma

I'm a writer at heart.

BogdansDaughter7 karma

Any new books we should be looking forward to??

TheRealBogdan9 karma

Stay tuned...

misterhastedt7 karma

Is there a possible Bogdan cameo in the 2nd part of Season 5?

TheRealBogdan14 karma

No idea.

santalamos6 karma

Scientists are usually perceived as people with their noses in books or spending all their time in the lab. Is this is a wrong image or is common for scientists to have hobbies? Is it important for a scientist to have a cool hobby?

TheRealBogdan17 karma

Anything that improves your mind and body is good. Some of my colleagues bike, some play Frisbee, others collect coins. I consider that cool.

Se7enUnicorns6 karma

So, what does being a Senior Computational Energy Scientist actually entail? What kind of degree and field work did you have to do to get such a title?

TheRealBogdan15 karma

I have a BS in physics and and PhD in chemistry, but my main field of interest is computational materials science.

pepperstuck6 karma

Will computers become smarter than people?

TheRealBogdan31 karma

Computers are already smarter than people in some respects, but they cannot make decisions. That's why I think that computers will never replace us. We will always be partners.

rconnelly206 karma

What did you do while in ABQ?

TheRealBogdan19 karma

I was working at Los Alamos National Lab (90 miles away).

[deleted]5 karma

How do you feel about Bogdan? I mean he was kind of an asshole to Walter, but he got extremely screwed over in the end. Did you find it easy to empathize with him?

Is Thorium the future for nuclear energy?

TheRealBogdan5 karma

I root for Bogdan. He is to me a Romanian immigrant who kind of made it, not very bright, not really mean but not very nice either, who is trying to make a living and occasionally makes uninformed, bad decisions. Walter is obviously far more intelligent and easily won the battle, not sure about the war.

Thorium is an option, not necessarily the future.

moldy_fingers5 karma

for the most part, is all the science that takes place on the set accurate?

TheRealBogdan11 karma

No, is not. I guess the goal of the show is not to give instructions for manufacturing high purity meth but rather to create and artistic representation of how greed and power transforms people.

XxYOLOSWAG69xX5 karma

Hi Marius. How far away would you estimate we are from seeing the first implementation of a smart grid in the US? Also, how drastically would we need to change our current methods of energy storage for this to even be an option?

TheRealBogdan16 karma

I would say the national energy grid is getting smarter every year, but at some point, we will need to replace existing structures. I hope that will be a decision driven by reason and not by a national blackout. My estimation is that in 10 years or so, we will see drastic changes for the better.

Regarding energy storage, in 10 years, I can see a car going from Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles) on battery only, in one charge.

matthwatson4 karma

I have to know... Are the eyebrows real?

TheRealBogdan29 karma

Yes they are real. And I'm thinking of insuring them for $1 million.

KpdexSmith4 karma

Is Bryan as funny as he seems....I love this show!! And yes your eyebrows are awesome!!

TheRealBogdan9 karma

Bryan is funny and very me.

ItsBail4 karma

I like your character in the show. Did they (Produces) ever go to you for advice to make the show look more authentic? Do people out in the street notice you from BB?

TheRealBogdan9 karma

In general, actors do not advise the producers on anything. However, to make the show more authentic, in the pilot, they asked me to improvise on the phone in Romanian. And yes, people do recognize me on the street. I gladly take pictures with them.

YoBillGates4 karma

Did you have any acting experience prior to your role on Breaking Bad? What is your ethnicity?

TheRealBogdan13 karma

No prior experience. Romanian.

[deleted]3 karma

What was the hardest part of getting into acting? Did it take a lot of work or as it fairly natural to you?

TheRealBogdan6 karma

I mentioned my method: Learn your lines and get into the right state of mind. The second part is the most difficult, with all the equipment around your and various instructions from the director, cinematographer, etc. Something like: “Look to the right, lift your chin a bit and move your left hip forward an inch. Now be natural and tell her you love her”. I would say that many people would make good actors should they be able to keep their composure under pressure. But isn’t that true for any profession?

greenmask3 karma

How's the food while you are at the set?

TheRealBogdan8 karma

There was plenty of food - New Mexico style. Some very spicy stuff. After living for 13 years in New Mexico, I still can't eat spicy food. I go for medium. I prefer green chili.

ellecon3 karma

Is there a God?

TheRealBogdan35 karma

Yes for some; no for others. We may never know.

heytherealex3 karma


TheRealBogdan21 karma

To me, acting is not about pretending. On the contrary, it's about keeping your cool when surrounded by a large crowd, microphones, lights, etc. Giving presentations at scientific meetings helped me learn to maintain my composure - and occasionally face hostile crowds!! :)

Lembas_Bread3 karma

Hey i work at Argonne too! Would it be ok if i saw you in the cafeteria and asked for an autograph ir picture?

TheRealBogdan3 karma


Foonsaki3 karma

Dr. Stan, I just recently read this article in The Economist and I find the part at the end most interesting.

But it is worth bearing in mind that it was the ability to control convective heat, via the steam engine, which powered the industrial revolution. Controlling conductive heat might have equally unforeseen consequences.

In what ways, in your opinion, could this change the world? Could this lead to 100% efficient and green vehicles?

TheRealBogdan3 karma

Funny you should ask! An important component of the research in our group at ANL is dedicated to improving thermal transport in materials for energy applications. Overheating is a major problem for conventional engines and improving the conductive heat transport may be the key for increasing efficiency. Here I see an important role for studies of heterogeneous (non-uniform) nano-structured materials Some cool scientific publications (I can’t believe I just wrote “cool” in front of “scientific publications”) are on their way.

theinterpolate3 karma

What was it like working with Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan?

What was your favorite moment of shooting and/or favorite moment of the show if you've following it yourself?

Will you be returning for an appearance in the last 8 episodes, or is that something you're not allowed to disclose?

I had no idea you were a scientist, that is awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

TheRealBogdan7 karma

I absolutely love Vince Gilligan. It's Valentine's Day, but I don't love him in that way. :) He is an outstanding creator, director, writer, producer, etc., and a very nice guy.

I don't know if Bogdan will return for one of the last eight episodes, but I kind of hope he does.

apnonsat3 karma

What is your view on nuclear energy as a clean energy source, given that there is radioactivity in the uranium mine tailings and chemical processes at the beginning of the nuclear energy production life cycle - besides the spent fuel waste from reactors that we hear about?

TheRealBogdan3 karma

Nuclear energy is neither perfectly clean nor perfectly safe. No energy source is. As a physicist and a chemist I favor a fundamental approach to understanding the complex physical and chemical phenomena associated with nuclear energy, such as the ones you mentioned. As a method, I favor using computer simulations and experimental validation. That allows us to monitor the existing reactors and evaluate the consequences of extending reactor operating lifetime, building new ones or closing some of them, as necessary. Furthermore, I can see a front stage role for computational sciences in evaluating options for waste management. If only this was a science and engineering problem. But it is not. Socio-economic and political factors also play a very important, often determinant role.

head2falcon3 karma

Did you act growing up/before you were an Argonne scientist?

TheRealBogdan9 karma

I had never acted before. First time.

long_wang_big_balls1 karma

Those look like high maintenance eyebrows. You're an awesome dude! Keep up the good work!

TheRealBogdan13 karma

Actually, no-maintenance eyebrows. That's why they look the way they do. I never trim them. :)