You all tune in to The Big Bang Theory to laugh at your favorite nerds. But what if you take a look back and can actually laugh with them?
The herd of nerds you have all grown to love are often too smart for their own good, their booksmarts having earned them the occasional restraining order and Peeping-Tom status. They’ve fought over the feasibility of Superman’s ability to catch Lois Lane two feet from the ground after she fell from a helicopter, yet Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard are willing to stipulate for argument’s sake that a man can fly. They are so full of themselves that they claim to be decedents of Archimedes, yet they have accepted the fact that getting pantsed and having your hair washed upside down in the toilet is a fact of life for their kind (miraculously, they’ve managed to get themselves girlfriends, wives and a dog).
Then, there’s Penny. Poor average IQed Penny. How has she managed to keep up with the group’s conversation…or should we be asking why does she do it? Same reason we have tuned in every week for nearly nine glorious years! Even though we often smile and nod as the geeky ramblings fly right over our heads, here’s a few jokes that you don’t want to miss even if you didn’t pass ninth grade science.
10. Cylon Toast aka Toaster Toast.
As is common in the show, other shows are often referenced in The Big Bang Theory. In Season 3, Episode 6 “The Cornhusker Vortex”, Sheldon is making Cylon Toast with his awesome nerd-toaster that burns an image of a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica into the toast. To answer Sheldon’s question to Leonard of “What’s funny about Cylon toast?” – the general audience laughs at them because eating toast with some sort of action figure’s face burnt into it would be like grown-up normal-IQed people ordering Mickey Mouse pancakes (and not ironically). But the real joke is that in the Battlestar series, the old-school cavemen of the Cylons are often referred to as “toasters” due to their resemblance of an old-fashioned metal toaster.
Such a toaster actually exists.
9. Hey, Baby, Nice Hadron Colliders!
In Season 8, Episode 5 “The Focus Attentuation” when the Amy, Bernadette and Penny took a girls trip to Vegas, it seemed more like a trip to an alternate universe in that Penny stayed in to study while Amy and Bernie went out for margarita buckets. Before hittin’ the town, Amy and Bernie give themselves a pep talk:
Amy: But enough about Penny, let’s talk about us. We’re looking good.
Bernadette: We are.
Amy: Better than good. I mean look at you, you’re body’s bangin’.
Amy: Don’t Amy me. We’re always talking about how hot Penny is. Come on, scientist to scientist, how big are those hadron colliders?
To the non-nerd, a “hadron collider” sounds like some sort of rocket ship from that “Battlestar Trek Wars” show the geeks always talk about. In fact, hadron colliders are something quite complex and a sort of particle accelerator (please, geeks, feel free to explain, however, unimportant to the joke). What’s funny is that one of Feynman’s diagrams for the LHC Large Hadron Collider, looks just like a pair of boobies.
8. A Ring is Round and Has No End…
In the “Friendship Algorithm” (Season 2, Episode 13), for some ungodly reason, Sheldon wants to become friends with Barry Kripke (aka Bawwy Kwipke). After Leonard tells Penny he only became friends with Sheldon because (unfortunate for him) he answered a flier posted in the university cafeteria for a roommate, she wonders how and why Howard and Raj became friends with Sheldon. Leonard responded with, “I dunno. How do carbon atoms form a benzene ring? Proximity and valence electrons.” To which Penny responded with “Sure, when you put it like that.”
To explain, the valence electrons (VE) are nearby and the proximity electrons, while they try to escape, inevitably bounce back (known as back scattered electrons). Within all this, at times, like Sheldon, the carbon atom is put in an “excited state” helpful in bonding. Basically, because they work closely with Sheldon, Howard and Raj can run, but they can’t escape.
Another excited electron joke told by Sheldon in another episode goes: “Why are you so excited this morning? Got some electrons in F-orbital?”
7. Sheldon is the Doppler Effect
Season 1 episode 6. Sheldon dresses as the Doppler Effect for Halloween. On Halloween, you can dress like anything or anyone you want in the entire world. You would think the man who has a superhero shirt for every day of the week and costumes galore for comic-con, whose idol is Dr. Spock, dresses as an idea.
He goes as the Doppler Effect, which, to simplify is the increase or decrease of sound as it moves toward or away from you. Think of a siren as it approaches then passes. But it is the perfect costume for him because Sheldon’s frequency increases as he approaches as well with all that annoying noise that comes from his mouth.
6. Define: “Little” Misunderstanding.
In “The Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization” Season 1, Episode 9, Penny and Sheldon are stuck walking up the stairs together and in an effort to make the small talk Sheldon desperately doesn’t want to engage in, Penny casually mentions Leonard and Sheldon’s “little misunderstanding.” To which Sheldon replies, “A little misunderstanding?! Galileo and the Pope had a little misunderstanding!”
In the Pope versus Galileo, Galileo was threatened with being burned at the stake if he didn’t renounce his scientific work which the Catholic Church at the time found to be a heresy. Whereas, Sheldon merely tossed a piece of mail into the garbage (albeit, Leonard had every right to be upset). For someone who doesn’t understand sarcasm, Sheldon sure hit the mark with this analogy.
5. Amy is a Pun Girl.
When you meet Amy in the last episode of Season 3 she seems as dry and robotic as Sheldon. But into the first episode of Season 4 the audience is privy to seeing her whimsical side. Sheldon is texting her (as he communicates with her on a daily basis by this point) and is amused by Amy’s dry-cleaning related pun while picking up her clothes: “I don’t care for perchloroethylene, and I don’t like glycol ether.” To which Sheldon responded with a genuine “LOL.”
Perchloroethylene and glycol ether are both used in the martinizing industry. Luckily, Sheldon explained that one to us….ether sounds like either.
4. Pass the Manganese, Please.
Hanging out with the #TBBT gang, Penny has received nothing short of an ivy league education. In “The Luminous Fish Effect” (Season 1, Episode 4), when Sheldon tags along with poor Penny to the supermarket, she gets quite the education. After fun facts about bacteria on refrigerated foods and being reminded that tomatoes are actually fruits, Sheldon is onto the next lesson when he sees Penny selecting multi-vitamins. Sheldon tells her, “There’s some value to taking a multi-vitamin, but, the human body can only absorb so much. What you’re buying here are the ingredients of a very expensive urine.” To which she replies, “Well, maybe that’s what I was going for.” So Sheldon offers her his advice, “Well, then, you’ll want some Manganese!”
Manganese is used in vitamins but also used in wartime American nickels and since the 2000’s the dollar coin. It is also used to harden metals and in batteries. It is also an additive to unleaded gasoline. Due to the high-price of gas, her urine would be very expensive!
Not to mention the vitamin usage of manganese supports brain function – which in Sheldon’s opinion, Penny (and everyone who isn’t Dr. Sheldon Cooper) could use a dose of.
3. The Whiteboards.
The ever-changing white-board you see in the background of the apartment and office scenes contain real problems, oftentimes a shout out to new developments in science (mainly physics and chemistry). Sometimes the formulas are totally outdated concepts for laughs (well-earned if you are able to recognize that). Others contain problems that relate to the episode’s topic.
If you have a working knowledge of physics, these Easter eggs can provide hours of fun much
like finding the Boby Dylan lyrics hidden in the Polish scientists’ commentary on research (not in the actual research, they’re not hippies after all).
2. Schrodinger’s Cat
Schrodinger’s Cat is a mysterious cat. The concept is introduced in Season 1 by Sheldon to Penny as her first physics lesson that stuck. Sheldon explained it to her (over-explained, really) when she wasn’t sure if going on her first date with Leonard was a good idea. He used the analogy to explain to her that she’ll never know if dating Leonard is a positive or negative unless she tries. When he kisses her she exclaims “The cat’s alive!” and they decide to go through with the date. Subsequently, Penny has explained the concept to one of her dates (who wasn’t Leonard – the cat wasn’t alive anymore at that point) in Season 2. Later in Season 5, Sheldon brings it back up when expressing the status of his and Leonard’s friendship, pending Leonard’s actions of either going or not going to Wil Wheaton’s party.
The Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment that is best described as a live cat put in a box with a spontaneously radioactive poison that will emit the radiation at an unknown time. So until the box is opened, the cat is presumed both dead and alive.
Between, Sheldon and Leonard and Leonard and Penny, Schrodinger’s Cat has significantly more than nine lives.
1. The Spherical Chicken in a Vacuum Must Exist.
In the Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization, Leonard gets ready to present his (and Sheldon’s) work at a conference. Raj suggests that he should open with a joke. The joke he proposes:
“There’s this farmer, and he has these chickens, but they won’t lay any eggs. So, he calls a physicist to help. The physicist then does some calculations, and he says, um, I have a solution, but it only works with spherical chickens in a vacuum.”
It’s silly because a farmer wouldn’t call a physicist to help with his Farming 101 problem. But it’s hilarious to anyone with a working knowledge in physics because in physics, an idea has to start somewhere and if an object is spherical it has equal distribution of forces. The same concept is assuming these objects exist in the vacuum because there is no resistance there. They start their solutions in this way to come to the more complicated equations. So the only way a physicist could solve the farmer’s problem is with a complicated solution which uses a non-existent spherical chicken in a vacuum when in reality he just needs to try some different feed or make sure another hen isn’t stressing her out.