In an episode of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ last season, Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, tries to talk his friend Leonard out of having surgery by demonstrating his probability of dying if things go wrong. PHOTO: MICHAEL YARISH/WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC.
“The Big Bang Theory,” the CBS sitcom about a pair of socially awkward physicists from the California Institute of Technology, their egghead friends, and the one normal person they socialize with, has serious geek cred.
But what casual viewers may not realize is the lengths to which producers have gone to ensure that the whiteboard equations and physics jokes that make up the witty banter between nerdy roommates Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter are scientifically accurate.
A lot of the humor is over the heads of the general audience. But there are jokes inside of jokes, and for those who recognize the science, they’re hilarious. The show takes this stuff so seriously that it employs a UCLA physics professor to make sure it gets it right.
Case in point: In a 2009 episode, “The Jiminy Conjecture,” Sheldon and Howard heard a chirp and then argued over which variety of cricket made the sound.
On the whiteboard in the background is Dolbear’s law, which states the relationship between the air temperature and the rate at which crickets chirp.
“I went to a Dolbear presentation at Tufts, and they talked about this, in like 1989,” says one high-profile fan of the show, Seamus Blackley, one of the creators of Microsoft’s original Xbox game console. “I remembered it!”
“Once I realized what was going on, it was awesome,” added Mr. Blackley, who is also trained in physics. “It’s the No. 1 show, and it has actual physics in it.”