Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: The Science of TV's the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand by Dave Zobel

Reveals the hard facts behind the laughter on TV’s most popular sitcom
The highest-rated scripted show on TV, The Big Bang Theory often features Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, and Raj wisecracking about scientific principles as if Penny and the rest of us should know exactly what they’re talking about.
The Science of TV’s The Big Bang Theory lets all of us in on the punchline by breaking down the show’s scientific conversations. From an explanation of why Sheldon would think 73 is the best number, to an experiment involving the physical stature of Wolowitz women, to an argument refuting Sheldon’s assertion that engineers are the Oompa-Loompas of science, author Dave Zobel maintains a humorous and informative approach and gives readers enough knowledge to make them welcome on Sheldon’s couch.

I love watching The Big Bang Theory, so I just knew that I had to get my hands on this book.

In The Science of TV's the Big Bang Theory: Explanations Even Penny Would Understand, readers learn the facts behind some of the scientific concepts mentioned in the show. The book also puts forth findings and observations that can help readers and viewers of the show to figure out where Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny's apartments are located in Pasadena.

There were also short interviews (one question only) with some scientists about the science on the show and their thoughts on it. I especially liked the last one, which was posed to Stephen Hawking. That question wasn't really specific to anything on the show, but his response was nice and not surprising since he's guested on the show before.

Caltech, where the guys work, also features prominently in the book, particularly their noteworthy alumni. Their achievements, and pretty much everything I've read here about Caltech, kinda makes me want to work there, specifically in their Social Science Experimental Laboratory.

The title of this book says that the explanations are easy enough for Penny to understand. After reading this, I'd have to say... yes and no. Yes, because the examples and analogies really do help make understanding the concepts easier. There are also some jokes and tongue-in-cheek statements that I found funny and kept me interested in what I was reading. However, I'd say that it can also be viewed as a "no," because the definitions and some of the explanations can only be simplified so much. Some of the stuff here are things I remember from high school and college, so for those, it was sort of like reviewing the material. However, with some of the math concepts, my attention wandered pretty quickly and I would occasionally find myself skimming the chapter until I found examples, analogies or The Big Bang Theory references.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book, though. I did learn a number of new things, and it was fun to read quotes from the series and then learn more about the science and the story behind the concept discussed. I think a lot of The Big Bang Theory fans will love this book, especially those who have an interest in math, physics and chemistry.

Thanks to NetGalley and ECW Press for the e-ARC.


  1. The examples and analogies help make understanding concepts easier.
  2. There are plenty of quotes and references to things the characters said and did, as well as which episode it occurred.
  3. You learn more about the things discussed in the show. 


  1. A number of the concepts still have complex definitions and discussions, which can cause the reader's attention to wander. 


  1. You are a fan of The Big Bang Theory.
  2. You want to know more about some of the things mentioned in the show.
  3. You love physics, chemistry, and mathematics. 



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