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Television Science

What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory 253

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-a-tough-gig dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Science sits down with David Saltzberg, who's been The Big Bang Theory's one and only science consultant since it premiered. Saltzberg is an astrophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles. He chats about how the portrayal of science on the show has changed over the years, whether it turns kids away from science, and how you can get your own job as a scientific consultant in Hollywood."
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What It's Like To Be the Scientific Consultant For The Big Bang Theory

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  • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @09:32PM (#46886229)
    Someone else posted it's for people that want to laugh at autism spectrum. Sheldon is mentally ill. He posesses no empathy at all. So we are laughing at the mentally ill. What's the difference between crazy and eccentric? How successful you are. Dr. Sheldon Cooper is sufficiently successful that we can laugh at him for being crazy. I know plenty who like it because they know people like that. You aren't laughing at Sheldon directly, but you are laughing at your coworker/friend who does the same things sometimes.
  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @10:08PM (#46886353)

    You got it. Having worked at Goddard Space Flight Center and Zenimax Online Studios - The Big Bang Theory is really a show for geeks to laugh at themselves. It works on two levels. One group of people identify with Penny, and laugh at the nerds. The other group identifies with Leonard and laughs at all the silly things we geeks do.

    If you think the show portrays over the top and unrealistically crazy nerds, you are the one who is not a real nerd. I'm sorry. I've seen every single one of the crazies while working at NASA. From the guy with an Elmer Fudd voice, to the ladies-man with no game whatsoever, to the impossibly shy guy who can't talk to anyone - not just women, anyone.

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @10:29PM (#46886463)

    That must make Dr. Mayim Bialik some sort of Aunt Thomasina?

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ignavus (213578) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @10:40PM (#46886511)

    The show is popular with quite a few Aspies because it is one of the few almost reasonable attempts at portraying an Aspie-like character. Sheldon also displays signs of OCD and maybe Narcissistic personality disorder, but an Aspie without those other conditions can still recognise or even identify with many of his actions.

  • by tjb6 (3421769) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @11:01PM (#46886593)

    I laugh at it because it reminds me of some (even many) of the people I went to university with.
    Yes, many of the characters are stereotypes, somewhat exaggerated for comedic license, but it's scary how many of them resemble people I knew back then (1980 - 1983)
    I studied with students of physics, computer science, mathematics, chemistry, theoretical physics, biology, biochemistry, and they are all there.
    We had no engineers then (can't have everything, sorry Howard), but I work with lots of them now.
    Still think the earlier seasons were better, plots are becoming more contrived lately, not as funny, but it is still one of the few shows that makes me watch tv.

    Never watch 'reality' TV, soap operas. Rarely watch crime drama.

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Wednesday April 30, 2014 @11:58PM (#46886789)

    One group of people identify with Penny, and laugh at the nerds. The other group identifies with Leonard and laughs at all the silly things we geeks do.

    I dunno, I identify with Howard as being the hero of the show.

    Bad haircuts and dress sense, neurotic Jew, lack of a strong male role model, domineering mother (cue basement jokes), awkward socially leading to making lewd comments to women to compensate fear of rejection, belittled by his colleagues for not having the right degree.

    Yet despite all this he's been into space and he's the only one of the four to tie the knot. I'd call that success.

    Leonard, by contrast, is darn normal aside from completely lacking self-confidence.

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @01:39AM (#46887105) Journal

    I agree. The way I put it to friends was that the show went through a period where it was was in danger of becoming "the sheldon show", and that's where I'd find something else to watch. But fortunately, they pulled a little way back from that particular abyss about the time they introduced Amy. Sheldon went back to being mostly clueless, but in a more relate-able way.

    The strength of the show I think is that the geeks do grow over time, albeit slowly. Just as geeks do in real life, albeit slowly.

  • Re:it's true (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @03:57AM (#46887397)

    They have a real audience.

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:23AM (#46887643) Homepage

    In real life I've met very few geeks who were genuinely mean. Most seem to believe in fair play, following the rules, good citizenship, do unto others.., etc.. However at first glance their poor social skills can make them seem uncaring.

    Characters on a TV show aren't sampled from the average because the viewers would be bored to death. Sheldon was a rather over the top character right from the very beginning, even among the four of them he was the odd one. Throwing in a little superiority complex where he doesn't feel like he's getting enough recognition for his genius and making ploys to show how much smarter he is than everybody else seemed a not too unlikely phase that gave them a lot of stories to write. In fact, they needed to shake up the other characters a bit or it would be "The Sheldon Show", once they three other characters to play with in their own right Sheldon could step back a little again. He's not representative but are there Sheldons out there.... I think yes.

  • Re:Not for Nerds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sique (173459) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:06AM (#46887759) Homepage
    I would rather say that it is intentional that Penny doesn't fit there. In a world of geeks and nerds, Penny is the strange misfit.
  • Re:it's true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sh00z (206503) <sh00z&yahoo,com> on Thursday May 01, 2014 @07:53AM (#46888155) Journal

    And it seems like the more scientific / theoretical the character's field is, the more antisocial they are. The closer they are to engineering, the more socially redeeming qualities and access to romantic partners they have. I mean, they made Sheldon downright asexual.

    You're kidding, right? In what universe does asexual==antisocial? On that show, Howard (the engineer) is by far the creepiest character, mostly due to his (early season) sexually deviant behavior. In the circle of geeks where I live, his morality would make him FAR more antisocial than someone who is asexual. The show's writers really took creative liberties in making it that somehow he is the most "marriageable" of the main characters. By they way, that circle is at the NASA Johnson Space Center. I have four very close male friends who are heterosexual, but confirmed bachelors at ages ranging from 40-55, and they are all quite sociable. Howard is by far the character that requires the most suspension of disbelief. If in the real world, you got to visit the ISS to participate in the installation of a piece of equipment you designed, most of us would have gone multiple times by now...

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:06PM (#46893777)

    Wow, you just described 99% of all silicon valley workers, 99% of all lawyers, and 2% of all janitors.

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