They’re cool, they’re hip, and they’re loved by 14 million for their quirky wit and intelligence. The cast of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory has been everywhere at ComicCon this week, from signing autographs to doing interviews and panels, these guys are kings among nerds here (the title of queen surely goes to Olivia Mund). In fact I was inspired to post this video after the 4-millionth person asked me if I was a fan of The Big Bang Theory show and then told me how much they loved it. I’ve only seen select episodes, as I have no TV, but I can tell you that I love the Barenaked Ladies’ theme song for the show, and they were on hand to play it for one of the panels.
It’s curious what a hit TV show can do for the reputation of any particular group in this country. Based on my experience it’s not at all true that physicists have less social skills than anyone else and it’s also not the case that they’re all geniuses either. But theatre is theatre and I’m willing to let those inaccuracies go for a television show that depicts physicists in a human light and shows them as sexy in their own weird way.
For three seasons, that’s just what The Big Bang Theory has done. And they do so with an eye to accurate science. The show’s science adviser is David Saltzberg, himself a professor of Physics and Astronomy from the University of California Los Angeles, who has received academic and career awards for his work in physics. His strange job at the show is to create props. That’s right, in addition to reviewing the scripts for errors and helping with dialog, Salzburg puts fancy (though accurate) equations up for the show.
So, the creators and producers are at least making an effort towards real science and in Hollywood that means a lot. I say we cut them a break, if for no other reason than people seem open to the idea of physics as a result.