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Mathematical And Scientific Inaccuracies Of The Big Bang Theory

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In terms of scientific inaccuracies the real question is does eidetic memory even exist in the manner shown in so much tv and movies. It appears that this interesting plot device is essentially fiction.

 

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/7381

 

 

Eidetic images usually fade away involuntarily after a few minutes, and the image is lost upon blinking.  Once an eidetic image has faded away, it can rarely – arguably never – be retrieved.
However, an eidetic image is not unflawed.  As with all forms of memory, eidetic images are a construction of reality.  People with eidetic memory may alter physical features of an image or invent details during recall.  Searleman (2007) describes that eidetic images can be influenced by cognitive biases and expectations.  Therefore, eidetic images are not literally “photographic” representations of images, as implied by the popular term photographic memory.
Eidetic memory is extremely rare in the adult population.  However, research indicates that 2-15% of children possess eidetic memory.  A study by Ralph Haber in 1964 screened 500 elementary school-age children and found that as many as 50% of children possess eidetic memory (la Brecque, 1972).  Additionally, geriatric populations also demonstrate a higher frequency of eidetic imagery.  The tendency of eidetic memory to manifest in young and old populations is particularly interesting in light of research indicating that verbalization during the time that a person studies the original image interferes with eidetic image formation.  Therefore, it is plausible that the variation in frequency of eidetic imagery is due to dependence on linguistic ability.  While adults utilize abstract linguistic thought – and often have a hard time repressing this – children depend on visual stimuli while interacting with their surroundings.  Geriatric populations may also revert back to a similar approach as children, as the language centers in their brains begin to deteriorate.  Therefore, young and old populations are probably more likely to concentrate on visual details and less likely to verbalize while studying an image.  This is consistent with evidence suggesting that eidetic memory is more frequent in people with mental disabilities, such as autism.  One of the major characteristics of autism is delayed language and communication development.  Therefore, people with autism may depend on visual stimuli for much longer than other populations.

Edited by djsurrey

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This is something a friend of mine brought up but it made me realize it too that every time they get Chinese food they send Leonard to the shop to get a soy-sauce and various other ingredients but assuming they eat out every night of every week those ingredients should last a few months but Leonard is sent to repurchase them nearly every time they order Chinese. Now while this is probably showing Sheldon's obsessive tendency's it does not make sense given how long these materials would actually last. Even a small bottle should last a couple of weeks at least before it runs out and a medium size should last a few months a bigger one might last up to a year or so but there is no way he goes through an entire bottle of low sodium bottle of soy sauce in less than a week. I myself put soy sauce on everything not just Chinese food and a small bottle usually lasts me 4-6 weeks and that is using it often. I also buy low sodium. If they have an assigned day for each type of food that means they are eating Chinese once a week. Meaning Sheldon must use all those ingredients in one sitting which is ridiculous. Also the constant Leonard does and doesn't have a girlfriend. They say in some episodes that Leonard could never get a girl and how unlikely that is but in various episodes show how good he is with women. So why would they say hes bad with women and in another say hes great with women? Than say "Oh he has had no girlfriend" and than show flashbacks of him always having chicks over? 

 

We don't know that Sheldon has Leonard buy a new bottle each time he picks up Chinese food.  We don't see them eating Chinese every week--sometimes we see pizza night or thai or whatever--so if we see an episode where Leonard has picked up the soy sauce or mustard, we don't know how long it's been since the last time he bought it.

Also, the primary reason for showing Sheldon grilling Leonard about the soy sauce and mustard is simply to underscore his nitpicking peculiarity about getting everything right (chicken diced instead of shredded or whatever), even though he makes someone else go and pick up the food.  It's there to underscore the way Sheldon is about such things.

And they've used it to just make a scene funny--whether or not Leonard gets everything right, or Penny or Amy or whoever picks up the order.

 

As for Leonard and women, although he has had a few girlfriends on the show, they've always been short term and things never really go well with them.  Even as long as Priya lasted, she never seemed to be all that into Leonard except as a piece of forbidden fruit, and Leonard was still pretty hung up on Penny.

 

I don't consider either of these things to be inconsistencies or flaws.

Edited by phantagrae
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As none of you has mentioned here, Sheldon also said Howard doesn't know Fourier Analysis (The Bus Pants Utilization). As an engineer myself, I thoroughly studied Fourier Analysis in my sophomore year.

Also Sheldon saying engineers don't understand differential equations, that's as far as removed from the truth as it can be. Anyone, in any of the sciences, studies DE to some extent. For Howard, being an aerospace engineer, I can't stress enough how integral is DE. For example, to simply know the orbit of planets Newton's 2nd law has to be written in DE before we can know that the orbits are elliptical (that is what Kepler said but didn't prove it).

Sheldon always claims Howard does not understand much Physics. I don't think that's accurate at all. Before making generalizations, I'll talk about myself. I studied classical physics (even some aspects of Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics), Electromagnetics, Wave theory, Thermodynamics and some aspects of modern physics such as special relativity, quantum mechanics and particle physics. I believe the subjects just delineated are part of any decent engineering university let alone MIT (best in the world). What Howard might not understand are general relativity or string theory concepts which I believe Physics students only study these in graduate school as they are considered advanced.

Edited by hamorabi
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We don't know that Sheldon has Leonard buy a new bottle each time he picks up Chinese food.  We don't see them eating Chinese every week--sometimes we see pizza night or thai or whatever--so if we see an episode where Leonard has picked up the soy sauce or mustard, we don't know how long it's been since the last time he bought it.

Also, the primary reason for showing Sheldon grilling Leonard about the soy sauce and mustard is simply to underscore his nitpicking peculiarity about getting everything right (chicken diced instead of shredded or whatever), even though he makes someone else go and pick up the food.  It's there to underscore the way Sheldon is about such things.

And they've used it to just make a scene funny--whether or not Leonard gets everything right, or Penny or Amy or whoever picks up the order.

 

As for Leonard and women, although he has had a few girlfriends on the show, they've always been short term and things never really go well with them.  Even as long as Priya lasted, she never seemed to be all that into Leonard except as a piece of forbidden fruit, and Leonard was still pretty hung up on Penny.

 

I don't consider either of these things to be inconsistencies or flaws.

They already established that they have a different day for different types of food. Like examples "Its friday and friday is pizza night" which he has pointed out in other episodes as well. Which if we are assuming that they are having food where they are using soy sauce than that means he would be eating that type of food once a week and we all know he has a schedule. So given his time schedule that means he needs a new bottle once a week since every-time he gets that food he wants a new bottle with new ingredients. Also I already mentioned I believe this is an attempt to point out those tendency's and I was never disagreeing with that. (Quote:Now while this is probably showing Sheldon's obsessive tendency's it does not make sense given how long these materials would actually last. Even a small bottle should last a couple of weeks at least before it runs out and a medium size should last a few months a bigger one might last up to a year or so but there is no way he goes through an entire bottle of low sodium bottle of soy sauce in less than a week.<==Which I wrote) Its inconstant if you follow the schedule. Even if we agree he does it every two weeks he is not going to run out in 2 weeks and if he only uses it once a week that would be 2 days and you still do not run out of a bottle of soy sauce that quickly even a small bottle.  Also add that to all the other ingredients he makes Leonard get. That still does not add up. If you are doing the math which according to Sheldon food schedule simply doesn't add up.  

Edited by SheldonCooperFan

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As none of you has mentioned here, Sheldon also said Howard doesn't know Fourier Analysis (The Bus Pants Utilization). As an engineer myself, I thoroughly studied Fourier Analysis in my sophomore year.

Also Sheldon saying engineers don't understand differential equations, that's as far as removed from the truth as it can be. Anyone, in any of the sciences, studies DE to some extent. For Howard, being an aerospace engineer, I can't stress enough how integral is DE. For example, to simply know the orbit of planets Newton's 2nd law has to be written in DE before we can know that the orbits are elliptical (that is what Kepler said but didn't prove it).

Sheldon always claims Howard does not understand much Physics. I don't think that's accurate at all. Before making generalizations, I'll talk about myself. I studied classical physics (even some aspects of Hamiltonian/Lagrangian mechanics), Electromagnetics, Wave theory, Thermodynamics and some aspects of modern physics such as special relativity, quantum mechanics and particle physics. I believe the subjects just delineated are part of any decent engineering university let alone MIT (best in the world). What Howard might not understand are general relativity or string theory concepts which I believe Physics students only study these in graduate school as they are considered advanced.

 

Did you not get the point of those conversations?  Sheldon is saying those things because he looks down his nose at Howard for being "just" an engineer and not having a PhD, and so Sheldon simply assumes that Howard doesn't know these things, which Howard points out that he does indeed know, though Sheldon discounts his claims, etc.

The POINT of Sheldon's claiming Howard doesn't know is to underscore Sheldon's condescension and arrogance.

 

It's not a mistake or an inaccuracy. 

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They already established that they have a different day for different types of food. Like examples "Its friday and friday is pizza night" which he has pointed out in other episodes as well. Which if we are assuming that they are having food where they are using soy sauce than that means he would be eating that type of food once a week and we all know he has a schedule. So given his time schedule that means he needs a new bottle once a week since every-time he gets that food he wants a new bottle with new ingredients.

Two things. For this to be true, they would have to show them getting a new bottle every week. they don't. There were at least three to four weeks before they show them getting anther bottle. You know, he could be asking for a new bottle, simply because they are out after three to four weeks. Also, why are you assuming that Sheldon is the only one using that type of soy sauce or mustard?

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They already established that they have a different day for different types of food. Like examples "Its friday and friday is pizza night" which he has pointed out in other episodes as well. Which if we are assuming that they are having food where they are using soy sauce than that means he would be eating that type of food once a week and we all know he has a schedule. So given his time schedule that means he needs a new bottle once a week since every-time he gets that food he wants a new bottle with new ingredients. Also I already mentioned I believe this is an attempt to point out those tendency's and I was never disagreeing with that. (Quote:Now while this is probably showing Sheldon's obsessive tendency's it does not make sense given how long these materials would actually last. Even a small bottle should last a couple of weeks at least before it runs out and a medium size should last a few months a bigger one might last up to a year or so but there is no way he goes through an entire bottle of low sodium bottle of soy sauce in less than a week.<==Which I wrote) Its inconstant if you follow the schedule. Even if we agree he does it every two weeks he is not going to run out in 2 weeks and if he only uses it once a week that would be 2 days and you still do not run out of a bottle of soy sauce that quickly even a small bottle.  Also add that to all the other ingredients he makes Leonard get. That still does not add up. If you are doing the math which according to Sheldon food schedule simply doesn't add up.  

 

What I am saying--if you actually read what I wrote--is that we don't see EVERY SINGLE CHINESE FOOD NIGHT.  On one episode, we may see them eating pizza and the next week we might see them eating at the Cheesecake Factory, because we don't see every meal of the Sheldonian calendar, any given episode can take place on any or several weeknights, which means they could be eating any kind of food in any given moment that we see them.

 

So even though they have a strict meal schedule, we aren't shown every day of that schedule in any given week.

So if in episode 3 they have Chinese food and we see the whole soy sauce ritual, that doesn't mean that one week later he makes Leonard buy more soy sauce because in episode 4, which can take place any number of days or weeks later, we might see them eating dinner on a different night of the week.  So it may be pizza night in ep 4.

So, do we know whether or not Sheldon made Leonard buy more soy sauce on the very next Chinese food night?  No, we don't know that.  If ep 3 takes place on a Thursday (or whatever day is Chinese Food day) and ep 4 takes place on a Friday (pizza night), but the dates of the episodes are 2 weeks apart, and then we don't see another Chinese food night until ep 10, we don't know how much soy sauce has been used in the meantime--and Sheldon isn't the only one using it.

AND, we don't always see the soy sauce ritual every time they eat Chinese food.  In Herb Garden, for example, when the gang is at the apartment, just before Howard proposes to Bernie, Sheldon is in the kitchen pouring soy sauce on his food.  I believe he took that bottle out of the fridge in that scene, or at any rate, there's no soy sauce ritual and nothing to indicate that that was a new bottle of soy sauce.

 

I think this is simply fixating on something that is used for humor, but doesn't happen as often as every time they have Chinese food.

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There's a variety, I usually yell at the TV at least once every few episodes. But just to start off,

the theme song: "the autotrophs began to drool"

-autotrophs don't have salivary glands (since by definition they create their own "food") and therefore do not drool

"Neanderthals developed tools"

- Homo neanderthalensis didn't develop tools, that was Homo habilis (long before the evolution of Homo neanderthalensis)

Also, I'm just now catching up on season eight, and when Sheldon and Howard write a paper together and Scientific American ignores Howard, Sheldon claims that his name is first because he ordered their names alphabetically. Authors names are never listed alphabetically in scientific papers, the first author is always the author who makes the largest contribution to the paper.

There's many more, but I'm so focused on the one I noticed most recently that I can't remember the ones that bugged me in the past.

Having said that, I agree that the show doesn't need to be flawlessly accurate. TBBT isn't entirely accurate in it's portrayal of scientists or science, but if the general public learns to be more accepting of the idiosyncrasies of scientists as a result of this show (not that most of us are quite as idiosyncratic as Sheldon) the show is doing a service to science even without perfect accuracy.

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I read somewhere, i can't remember where, that the line "autotrophs began to drool" was a sort of scientific joke, just for the fact the autotrophs create their own food.

As for the names of authors of a paper, i know that for applied science their order is never alphabetical, but in theoretocal sciences, for example mathematics, most of the times it is, unless one of the authors is far far more "famous" of the others, but in general even when a student publishes with his/her pH.d advisor the order is alphabetical.

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There's a variety, I usually yell at the TV at least once every few episodes. But just to start off,

the theme song: "the autotrophs began to drool"

-autotrophs don't have salivary glands (since by definition they create their own "food") and therefore do not drool

"Neanderthals developed tools"

- Homo neanderthalensis didn't develop tools, that was Homo habilis (long before the evolution of Homo neanderthalensis)

Also, I'm just now catching up on season eight, and when Sheldon and Howard write a paper together and Scientific American ignores Howard, Sheldon claims that his name is first because he ordered their names alphabetically. Authors names are never listed alphabetically in scientific papers, the first author is always the author who makes the largest contribution to the paper.

There's many more, but I'm so focused on the one I noticed most recently that I can't remember the ones that bugged me in the past.

Having said that, I agree that the show doesn't need to be flawlessly accurate. TBBT isn't entirely accurate in it's portrayal of scientists or science, but if the general public learns to be more accepting of the idiosyncrasies of scientists as a result of this show (not that most of us are quite as idiosyncratic as Sheldon) the show is doing a service to science even without perfect accuracy.

 

Um...it was Sheldon and LEONARD who wrote the paper together.

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Um...it was Sheldon and LEONARD who wrote the paper together.

 To be even more accurate: Sheldon wrote the paper alone after he pulled an all nighter. 

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the theme song: "the autotrophs began to drool"

-autotrophs don't have salivary glands (since by definition they create their own "food") and therefore do not drool

"Neanderthals developed tools"

- Homo neanderthalensis didn't develop tools, that was Homo habilis (long before the evolution of Homo neanderthalensis)

 

To be fair, it was Barenaked Ladies, not the producers, who wrote the theme song. I do recall one of the band members saying that the "autotrophs" line was intended as a joke.

 

As for the second... c'mon, man, it's just a theme song. Say the word "Neanderthal" to Joe Average Viewer, and it's a pretty good bet he's going to have some idea what you're talking about. Mention "Homo habilis" and they're gonna go, "Dafuq?" ;) Gotta keep it accessible to the viewer, 99.999999999999999999999999% of whom aren't obsessed with details and scientific accuracy like the hardcore fans.

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To be fair, it was Barenaked Ladies, not the producers, who wrote the theme song. I do recall one of the band members saying that the "autotrophs" line was intended as a joke.

 

As for the second... c'mon, man, it's just a theme song. Say the word "Neanderthal" to Joe Average Viewer, and it's a pretty good bet he's going to have some idea what you're talking about. Mention "Homo habilis" and they're gonna go, "Dafuq?" ;) Gotta keep it accessible to the viewer, 99.999999999999999999999999% of whom aren't obsessed with details and scientific accuracy like the hardcore fans.

 

Not only that, but Neanderthal probably fits into the lyrics and rhythm of the song better than Homo habilis would...

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...Not only that homo sapiens are still developing tools. This is never ending.

 

It is not wrong to say "Neanderthals developed tools".

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/science/28obneanderthal.html?_r=0

 

 

 

 Dr. Riel-Salvatore said his paper in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory“counters the persistent idea about Neanderthals and shows that they were really able to innovate.” Dr. Riel-Salvatore spent several years studying artifacts from Neanderthal communities in southern and central Italy as well as human artifacts from the same time period in northern Italy.

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Let's use it and not just categorize them as "girlfriends of" and restrict their activities in "girl's night with girly stuff"..

 

A big problem with the girls talking science is, because Penny is with them a lot of the time, they have to keep the discussion down to her level.

 

As for inaccuracies, one of the biggest would probably be, Dr. Green's explanation of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

Edited by Stephen Hawking
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Hell, Howard has a heart condition and obviously some psychological problems, such as claustrophobia. Both of which would have been caught and prevented Howard from even getting to the training portion.

 

Not to mention, his allergies.

 

Also, isn't trapping and fishing part of NASA survival training?

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Not to mention, his allergies.

 

Also, isn't trapping and fishing part of NASA survival training?

Well, he trap a butterfly. And I suppose he could eat the worms he caught for fishing.

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Did you see how he reacted, to just touching a worm?

Well if he got hungry enough he might, (see butterfly, I ate), unless of course he names it.

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Yeah...I haven't read al comments yet...

But if nobody's said already.

Sheldons Biology knowledge ist quite poor.

For example he uses the word mimeses when Leonard tries to fit in with penny's friends. Correct would be mimicry.

Or the bird which flies in his apartment isn't determined correctly, also some bug they are talking about in another episode.

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Well he is incredibly arrogant for his "genius" and mocks Amy for not beeing a "real scientist"

So no it's not understandable to me.

Plus I don't think that these mistakes are on purpose.

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Not mathematical or scientific but The Tangerine Factor and The Bad Fish Paradigm have just been on E4 and the continuity and editing are shocking. Penny walks out for her date with Leonard barefoot in the first and, in the laundry scene in the latter, Sheldon's blue T-shirt is folded twice and suddenly turns into a pair of socks on his folding board halfway through.

However, it did occur to me that, in both these episodes, Penny seeks out Sheldon's advice, so not sure why some posters are complaining about this happening in Season 8, she's always run things past him, it's nothing new or out of the ordinary.

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Well he is incredibly arrogant for his "genius" and mocks Amy for not beeing a "real scientist"

So no it's not understandable to me.

Plus I don't think that these mistakes are on purpose.

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The simple explanation is that Sheldon is overly self confident and overly dismissive of others. Sheldon takes it to an extreme and is dismissive of most feedback and correction.

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But the point is that it's never covered up that he made this mistakes.

So I think it's a failure of the creator.

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