Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Big Bang Theory

I took a deep breath and made a comment in: "Cosmic Variance", a science blog with plenty of big shots (like profs from Caltech). I felt peeved that someone was saying that the sitcom "Big Bang Theory" will humanize science and make young people take it up. Here's my comment:

"Shows like this humanize science, and who knows what ten-year-old kid will see an episode and start thinking that physics is a career to which real people can actually aspire."

I am so sorry but I feel this is a silly opinion. Big Bang Theory has resulted in making normal people stop talking science without being labelled as boring. I mean, we friends used to visit pubs, and make grand discussions, etc, not in the boring way BBT makes it out to be, but in a really cool way. But it aint cool any more. The way Sheldon rolls out "boring" facts has made making a casual, yet an interesting observation about something scientific (simple things like why we have seasons), "uncool". Only Penny is cool; others are so boring. Yes, I agree that the characters in BBT are boring, but Science is not! But BBT has resulted in making people feel that Science is boring, only talks of "sexiest man alive" and discussions about characters in sitcoms are cool and fit for "conversation". But in fact everything is cool, and its all up to different people decide what is cool for them. "People love these characters" - oh yea, somebody love science and yearns to be a Raj or Sheldon after watching BBT? And Sheldon, he is an aspy, its not his fault, but the show makes out as though its his character fault, he is selfish, impolite etc. Laughing at him is actually impolite. And there are so many brilliant scientists and engineers in India who dont do frequent dates (thanks to the culture), yet is cool in their own way. There is not a single cool scientist in BBT. In my opinion BBT gives a view that - ok you can do science in the labs, but the moment you come out of it, talk like Penny and be cool.

To paraphrase Feynman's response to a lady who thought that he's a cool physicist due to his "extra curricular" activities (like Samba, or drumming, or so many other things), unlike the usual, boring scientists - "I take offence at his complement of yours. I consider scientific pursuit as the highest form of human intelligence, and is not boring by any means".

I love BBT, but I differ on the impact it causes to Science. I also feel bad that people like Sean, who are at the top of research hierarchy, being at Caltech and working in theoretical physics, can make such silly observations.

Sorry about the harsh opinion.


No comments: