With the recent discussions for a possible revival of The Big Bang Theory, fans have been going through the past seasons to relive their favorite moments. For 12 seasons, The Big Bang Theory continuously entertained the viewers with the perfect mix of nerdiness, science, and pop culture references. However, one thing that stood out the most was when the group of geniuses conducted experiments for both work and fun.
While some of the experiments were purely fantastical, some were quite scientifically accurate. The show made science ‘cool’ for young audiences which is also one of the show’s most under-appreciated legacies.
“The Luminous Fish Effect” From Season 1
The Luminous Fish Effect was one of the ideas that Sheldon played around with when he was fired from his job at Caltech. It was his so-called “Billion dollar idea”. The concept was quite simple, if the DNA from bioluminescent jellyfish is combined with the DNA of a normal fish, the result could be glow-in-the-dark fish.
While this may seem fantastical, a similar product does exist in the USA. GloFish was launched in 2003 and is a real product that offers different colored fish for domestic aquariums.
“Schrödinger’s Cat” From Season 1
A lot of viewers first heard of the “Schrödinger’s Cat” thought experiment through The Big Bang Theory. While the concept has been featured in multiple seasons and episodes, it was first mentioned in the episode “The Tangerine Factor” where Sheldon used the experiment to help Penny decide whether she should go on a date with Leonard or not.
Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment was suggested by Edwin Schrödinger, which suggested that if a cat is kept inside a box with a radioactive atom and a vial of poison that can break at any point, the cat can be considered both dead and alive until the box is opened (via newscientist.com). This is also one of the coolest concepts that fans learned from the show.
“Magnetic Monopoles” From Season 2
In the episode, “The Monopolar Expedition”, Sheldon takes Leonard, Raj, and Howard along with him to the North Pole to try to detect the presence of magnetic monopoles. If found, it could be the ticket for Sheldon to finally win the Nobel Prize.
The discovery of magnetic monopoles, which basically means magnets with one pole could finally solve the string theory. Although the gang could not detect them, there are multiple real-life experiments that are also looking for the same.
“Model Rocket” From Season 3
Leonard, being an experimental physicist, should be able to make a model rocket without anything going horribly wrong. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case when he was trying to impress Raj and Howard while playing around with rocket fuel in his apartment.
He made some wrong calculations which could have led to their entire apartment blowing up if it was not for Sheldon’s quick thinking who kept the container in the elevator. This might remind some people of the failed rocket fuel experiment conducted by students at MIT.
“Shelbot” From Season 4
Sheldon goes through an existential crisis upon realizing that he might just miss out on ‘the singularity when man will be able to transfer his consciousness into machines and achieve immortality. He starts eating healthy and working out in a bid to increase his lifespan. Thinking that this would last for a long time is one of those things that make no sense about Sheldon.
But when it doesn’t work, Sheldon develops a robot that can replace him being present in physical situations. A similar robot is actually manufactured by a company called Willow Garage. The device is named Beam and people can buy it for $2,140.
“Super Fluid Guidance System” From Seasons 9 and 10
Howard started looking for money-making ideas when he found out about Bernadette being pregnant. When the boys were trying to come up with the idea, Howard realized that Sheldon and Leonard’s ongoing experiments with superfluids could be used on a gyroscopic guidance system.
The military was also so impressed by the idea that they were ready to give a contract to the gang for reducing the size of the system. The experiment was also Leonard and Sheldon’s first foray into the scientific black market. Scientists at UC Berkeley have been working on a super sensitive guidance system based on superfluids.
“The Gorilla Experiment” From Season 3
When Penny approached Sheldon to ask him to teach her about Leonard’s job so she could make conversation with him, Sheldon was apprehensive at first, but he later agrees to help her. In a joking manner, Sheldon quotes Koko the gorilla experiment, stating if a primate can be taught over 2000 words, even Penny should be able to understand rudimentary physics.
Although Penny is not very thrilled with this comparison, she agrees to be Koko. There have been numerous experiments where primates have learned not only sign language but also to solve puzzles and other cognitive tasks.
“The Einstein Approximation” From Season 3
When Sheldon was trying to figure out why electrons have no mass when traveling through graphene, he became annoying after he began pestering his other TBBT friends about the problem he had, using everyday objects to represent protons, electrons, and neutrons.
He later decided to use Einstein’s theory that working a menial job can help him to see things that he otherwise might miss. Although Einstein did work in the patent office, he didn’t do so with Sheldon’s logic in mind. It isn’t clear what the final results of this experiment were, although similar studies and experiments have been conducted in real life as well.
“Super-asymmetry” From Season 11
Sheldon and Amy were working on their theory relating to super-asymmetry which also led them to win the Nobel Prize at the end. Although their first attempt was disproven, it was during their wedding day that they decided to look at the problem through a different lens.
Although the duo successfully proved super-asymmetry in one of the most confusing plotlines on The Big Bang Theory, winning the Nobel Prize as a result, there is no such thing in real life; however, it’s possible that the experiment was based on the concept of super-asymmetry.
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