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A "Big Bang" Experience in Burbank

Pat and Doug Kreitz, Susan Pimental and Chris Michael on the set of the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. (Photo courtesy Jessica Ambrosetti.)

SLAC Information Services Manager Pat Kreitz and I joined our friends Susan Pimental (of Stanford University) and Chris Michael for a recent live-audience taping of the popular TV situation comedy show The Big Bang Theory at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California.

The Big Bang Theory is set in Pasadena, California, and concerns two male Caltech prodigies in their twenties—an experimental physicist (Leonard) and a theoretical physicist (Sheldon), who live across the hall from an attractive blonde waitress (Penny) with show-biz aspirations. Leonard and Sheldon's geekiness and intellect are contrasted with Penny's social skills and common sense for comedic effect.

During the evening's taping, my SLAC sweatshirt caught the eye of the show's science consultant, UCLA Professor David Salzberg, who stopped to talk enthusiastically about the work he did at SLAC with Dieter Walz of the Advanced Accelerator Research Department, as they collaborated on achieving experimental evidence of the Askaryan Effect. This experiment detected high-energy cosmic rays and neutrinos via coherent radio emission from their cascades using silica sand, rock salt and ice as the various dielectric media.

As science consultant for the show, Saltzberg is one of the rare experimental particle physicists whose work gets attention from millions of people each week.

After the taping was completed, Pat, Susan, Chris and I had the pleasure of being given a personal tour of the sets, and the opportunity to chat informally with members of the show's cast and crew.

When its third season premiered on September 21, 2009, The Big Bang Theory was ranked as CBS's highest-rated show on Monday evenings with well over 12 million viewers. The Big Bang Theory can be seen Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on CBS, local channel 5.

The episode that was taped the night of our visit will air tonight, and is entitled "The Adhesive Duck Deficiency."

Salzberg posted an entry about the episode in his blog, The Big Blog Theory.

—Doug Kreitz
SLAC Today, November 16, 2009