×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Authenticity apparent in scientific scenarios

'The Big Bang Theory' 100th Episode

Creatives behind “The Big Bang Theory” have always adhered to one theory: Don’t fudge on the science.

“How silly would it have been to do a show about physicists and make this stuff up?” says co-creator and exec producer Chuck Lorre. “We have this wonderful opportunity to get to make a show about quantum physicists, astrophysicists, guys who deal with the fabric of the universe in their heads. Why not try and get it right?

“And if it’s a language no one understands, that’s OK because we understand the intent. We understand jealousy, fear, loneliness and loss.”

Beyond their own expertise, which in itself is impressively extensive, “Big Bang” writers rely on David Saltzberg, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy, as their science consultant. He ensures that what comes out of the mouths of experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and their geeky friends is accurate. Mayim Bialik, who has a doctorate in neuroscience, often writes her own scientific dialogue.

“We’ll sit there and try and write the science, but there’s always that moment when you go, ‘Who are we kidding?’?” says Lorre.

It’s at that point that Saltzberg receives a draft of the script.

“The first batch might only be six pages, and then it slowly grows to a full script, which is about 45 pages,” Saltzberg says. “It will say, ‘Leonard is working on Science to Come’ and I’ll have to think about what that might be. You would think you would run out of topics, but there’s always something in the context that just triggers something in my brain right away.”

Not only does Saltzberg add dialogue about topical matters in the world of physics, but also the whiteboards inside the guys’ shared apartment provide the scientist, literally, carte blanche to explore topics he’s interested in, including mathematical jokes, current conundrums such as finding a particle called the axion, and, if you’re really in tune with the language, even the occasional spoiler.

“For example, there was an episode about how the boys all first met and they’re experimenting with rocket fuel and it blows up,” recalls Saltzberg. “If you read the whiteboards you might have figured out what was going to happen.”

It’s an effort that has not gone unnoticed. “The Big Bang Theory” has been embraced by scientists around the world, with Russo-British Nobel laureate Konstantin Novoselov even mentioning the show in his acceptance speech in 2010.

“For an episode where Sheldon wound up working at the Cheesecake Factory, we asked David for a problem that he could express,” says co-creator and exec producer Bill Prady. “David had to do a lot of work to figure out what it could be and it wound being graphene, which that year was what the Nobel Prize was awarded for.”

“It’s really great,” says Lorre about being embraced by the science community. “These are not people that are watching a lot of TV, and the fact that they’ve embraced the show is really rewarding. When we get a phone call that a Nobel laureate wants to be on the show, that’s the greatest stunt cast of all.”

‘THE BIG BANG THEORY’ 100TH EPISODE
Gals grow new ground | Authenticity apparent in scientific scenarios | Timeslot shuffles don’t slow ascent | Syndie ratings strong for ‘Big Bang’ | Cast confessions

More TV

  • Catch-22 Episode 101

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Releases Trailer for George Clooney's 'Catch-22' (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu releases the official trailer for George Clooney’s “Catch-22,” and Disney Channel announces its “Andi Mack” series will end after season 3. DATES Gabriel Iglesias will star as a high school history teacher in the Netflix multicam comedy “Mr. Iglesias,” launching on June 21. The comedian teaches gifted, but misfit students and helps them [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Scandal: 'Empire' Cast Inks Letter Supporting Actor

    “Empire” stars Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard are appealing to Fox for their embattled co-star Jussie Smollett to return for the show’s sixth season. Henson, Howard, and the rest of the drama series’ top cast, penned an April 19 letter to Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chair Dana [...]

  • Sheryl Underwood and Mario LopezDaytime Emmy

    Daytime Emmys: New Procedures Aim to Avoid Repeat of Last Year's Winner Scandal

    A year after an awards debacle rocked the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) and nearly took down the Daytime Emmys, the organization has instituted new rules that officials hope have made this year’s proceedings fairer. One major one was to stop the practice of posting acting reel submissions from some key categories [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones': Bryan Cogman Confirms His Spinoff Isn't Happening

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not keep reading unless you’ve seen “Game of Thrones” Season 8 Episode 2, titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” Veteran “Game of Thrones” writer Bryan Cogman has confirmed that his potential spinoff series from the HBO epic will not be going ahead. “This is it for me in terms of Westeros,” Cogman told Variety. [...]

  • Alex Gansa Howard Gordon

    'Homeland' Creators Ink Multi-Year Overall Deal at Sony

    Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have signed a multi-year overall deal at Sony Pictures Television, Variety has confirmed. The new deal means the duo will depart their longtime home at 20th Century Fox Television. In addition to Gordon and Gansa, Sony’s current roster of creators under overall deals includes Norman Lear, Anthony Hemingway, Gloria Calderon Kellett, [...]

  • Mel Robbins - Season 1 -

    'The Mel Robbins Show' Picked Up for Fall Debut in Syndication

    Sony Pictures Television announced Tuesday that “The Mel Robbins Show,” its new one-hour syndicated talk show, has been picked up by Nexstar Media Group. The show will be hosted by author and speaker Mel Robbins. It will debut in syndication on Sept. 16 and clear 90% of U.S. television households. The list of station groups [...]

  • Ken Kercheval dead

    Ken Kercheval, Cliff Barnes on 'Dallas,' Dies at 83

    Ken Kercheval, who played oil tycoon Cliff Barnes, the rival of Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing on “Dallas,” has died. He was 83. A spokeswoman at Frist Funeral Home in Kercheval’s hometown of Clinton, Ind., confirmed his death on Wednesday to Variety, but did not provide additional information. Kercheval and Hagman were the only two stars who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content