The Big Bang Theory

The Gorilla Experiment

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The Gorilla Experiment
Penny trying to learn physics from Sheldon.
The Big Bang Theory episode
Season 3, Episode 10
December 7, 2009
Guest star(s)
Episode guide

"The Vengeance Formulation"

"The Maternal Congruence"
Season guide

Season 2

Season 4

"The Gorilla Experiment" is the tenth episode of the third season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Monday, December 7, 2009.


Sheldon attempts to help Penny understand physics to impress Leonard, and Howard becomes jealous when his girlfriend Bernadette takes an interest in Leonard's research.

Extended PlotEdit

Gorilla Experiment

Howard introducing his new girlfriend, Bernadette.

Bernadette Rostenkowski is joining the gang for around the coffee table making Sheldon unhappy. First there is only enough food for five people and not six and Bernadette tries to sit in Sheldon's Spot. After Bernadette, asks what is so special about that spot on the couch, Penny goes through Sheldon's standard explanation about temperature, air currents and the position of the television. Sheldon is impressed and tells Penny that there is hope for her yet which pleases her. Penny likes the addition of Bernadette since she can have girl talk about things like shoes which is the definition of for Sheldon. Bernadette is always laughing at Howard's jokes because his face lights up when she laughs. (Penny: "Howard, don't ever let her go."). She is also interested in Leonard's experiments though Sheldon finds them as ground-breaking as 3rd graders growing on wet paper towels. Penny feels lost as Bernadette shows a huge interest in .

Raj and Sheldon are playing until Penny comes over asks him for a favor and Sheldon tells Raj to leave. She wants him to teach her a little physics so that she can understand Leonard’s work and surprise him. ("If you really want to surprise him, why don't you do something like clean your apartment?") Penny suggests that it would make for a fascinating experiment. Sheldon compares it to teaching .

Howard brings Bernadette in to show her his work and to show everyone that he has a girlfriend. Leonard invites her to his lab to look at some of his experiments. After she leaves, Howard accuses Leonard of moving in on his girl. (It's not enough you got the , now you want the Chair of the Decorating Committee?)

Sheldon shows up for her lessons on time, well-rested, and eager to learn as Sheldon notes. ("Apparently, ignorance IS bliss.") After giving her a notebook, he begins his lecture back in , where people would look up at the stars and see some of them move in the night sky. They are going to embark on a 2600 year journey from the Greeks to to to to the researchers Leonard is currently ripping off. Penny leaves for the bathroom first and Sheldon notes: Project Gorilla - Entry 2. I'm exhausted!

Howard has Bernadette are fooling around up in his room and are interrupted by his mother. He sends her off to the after asking for her to cook lamb stew for dinner. Leonard texts Bernadette to tell her that Howard might not like it if she went to his experiment tomorrow. Howard doesn't and Bernadette is not happy that Howard wants to control who she is friends with.

Sheldon is trying to teach Penny physics, but she doesn't understand anything and starts to cry because she thinks she is stupid. Sheldon doesn't think that that's no reason to cry. One cries when one is sad. He cries because others are stupid and that makes him sad. Penny just wants to know what Leonard does. He works with . Penny then asks what they are. Sheldon considers that a good questions and to answer that he starts his whole lecture over again. Penny reacts with “Oh balls!”

Howard goes to Leonard's lab angry that Leonard text-blocked him with his message to Bernadette. He doesn't want to look like a petty, douche though he admits that he is. When Bernadette arrives, he says that he was interested in Leonard's experiment as well though he told Bernadette that he thought it was stupid. He apologizes to Bernadette for what he did, though Leonard gets back at him by putting her named for him, Tushy-face, on .

At the next dinner, Penny comments on Leonard’s work using a complicated analysis that surprises everyone reiterating Sheldon’s usual condescending remarks about Leonard’s work. Sheldon nods approvingly. Then she also wants everybody to know that were named after a town in and not the scientist which has everyone know that Penny hadn’t changed.


  • "Another typical episode. All the pieces are on the board yet the producers refuse to deploy them correctly. The focus of this episode as ever is Sheldon. And he is, but that isn't the point of this story. Penny feels insecure because she can’t talk to Leonard about his work and Howard is insecure about losing his girlfriend. That should be the focus. It’s not that complicated...But once more the issue of Leonard and Penny’s relationship was ignored. Her insecurity and desire to learn some physics is a nice idea. It points to her affection for him but we don’t see it often enough...In the end she actually learned some physics talk which put down Leonard’s work. She actually insulted him which was completely counterproductive as it made her look either foolish or mean." - The TV Critic's Review


  • Title Reference: Penny's suggestion that Sheldon should treat teaching her physics as an experiment. Sheldon subsequently names the experiment "The Gorilla Project," after the gorilla who learned sign language.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card [1]
  • This episode was watched by 14.38 million people with a rating of 5.6 (adults 18-49).
  • This episode aired in Canada on December 7, 2009.
  • Episode transcript [2]

Costume NotesEdit






Bat Buckle


Atmospheric CO2




TV Test


Phone buckle


Brown Sound Fly Lower


Violet Lantern


Set NotesEdit

New in Howard's bedroom:


Robot Clock


  • Sheldon objects to the saying 'the more the merrier' in this episode; however, in "The Codpiece Topology" (S2E02), he is using this saying.
  • The Technical Consultant David Saltzberg appears in this episode. He was the first person on the left that Howard passed when he entered the dining room introducing Bernadette as his girlfriend to everyone. (Look for the guy in the brown sweater vest at the first table).

David Saltzberg, Technical Consultant, sits at the table (in the brown sweater vest).

  • There are no cows or penguins in Mario Circuit in , although they may have been in reference to other circuits (namely Sherbet Land and Moo Moo Meadows). This fact is referenced when referring to Sheldon's lack of skill in Mario Kart (and any other driving for that matter), in which he blames being stuck behind a tree, cow and penguin.
  • Penny's (apparently fed by Sheldon and then memorized) monologue at the end of the episode is highly technical, but essentially means that "your experiment is unnecessary, as the important results were already known (discovered by a Dutch team)".
  • This may refer to the paper "Magneto-electric Aharonov-Bohm effect in metal rings", published in 1998 and indeed performed by Dutch researchers (Alexander van Oudenaarden, Michel H. Devoret, Yu. V. Nazarov, and J. E. Mooij; Nature, February 1998, doi:10.1038/35808).
  • Since "The Lizard-Spock Expansion", Sheldon now understands the phrase "oh snap."
  • Howard says he practically invented using fancy lab equipment to seduce women. An example of Howard using this technique is letting Stephanie Barnett drive with the Mars rover in "The Lizard-Spock Expansion" (into a ditch, no less).
  • After the text message from Leonard one can see a picture of "".
  • In "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" Leonard also mentions the gorilla that learned sign language described by Sheldon in this episode.
  • Sheldon compares Penny to a sign language gorilla. In the seventh season, Penny plays a gorilla/girl clone in her movie Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill.
  • In this episode Sheldon sarcastically quips about an eating contest with his hands behind his back, which he later had in "The Re-Entry Minimization".
  • First time Bernadette is in Leonard and Sheldon's apartment.



Howard: I didn't say anything like that, I said to Leonard to ask my permission! Come on! I don't wanna eat lamb stew with my mother! Damn it! I was this close on your bra!

Sheldon Cooper: Why are you crying?

Penny: Because I'm stupid!

Sheldon Cooper: That's no reason to cry. One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid, and it makes me sad.

Leonard Hofstadter: Relax, it'll be fine. Sit down, you guys.

[Everyone says no as Bernadette goes for Sheldon's spot]

Bernadette: What? no

Penny: Oh, yeah. You can't sit there.

Bernadette: Why not?

Leonard Hofstadter: That's where Sheldon sits.

Bernadette: He can't sit somewhere else?

Penny: Oh, no, no. You see, in the winter that seat is close enough to the radiator so that he's warm yet not so close that he sweats. In the summer, it's directly in the path of the cross breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television on an angle that isn't direct so that he can still talk to everybody, yet not so wide that the picture looks distorted.

Sheldon Cooper: Perhaps there's hope for you after all.

Bernadette: You must forgive him, but most of what he says is intended to be humorous.

Howard Wolowitz: I thought you liked my jokes.

Bernadette: Well, I laugh anyway because his face light up when I laugh.

Penny: Howard, never let her go.

Sheldon Cooper: This is just the beginning of a 2600 year journey, from the ancient Greeks, to Isaac Newton, to Niels Bohr, to Erwin Schroedinger, to the Dutch researchers Leonard is currently ripping off.

Sheldon Cooper: And all of that tells us that...?

Penny: That Newton was a really smart cookie? Is that why they call them Fig Newtons?

Sheldon Cooper: No, Fig Newtons are named after a small town in Massachusetts - No, don't write that down!

Leonard Hofstadter: Most people aren't that interested in what I do.

[Penny and Sheldon look at each other knowingly]

Penny: Actually, that's not true, Leonard. Recently, I've been thinking that, given the parameters of your experiment, the transport of electrons through the aperture of the nano-fabricated metal rings is qualitatively no different than the experiment already conducted in the Netherlands.

[Everyone stares at Penny in disbelief]

Penny: Their observed phase shift in the diffusing electrons inside the metal ring already conclusively demonstrated the electric analogue of the Aharonov-Bohm quantum-interference effect.


Best BAZINGA ever!!00:18

Best BAZINGA ever!!

A funny clip from this episode


  • Bernadette introducing his girlfriend at work.
  • Sheldon teaching Penny "a little physics".
  • Howard in the cafeteria. David Saltzberg, the TBBT science consultant, is sitting at the table.
  • Penny showing Sheldon her full mouth.
  • Howard and Penny.
  • Penny has a question.
  • Penny playing with her food.
  • Eating dinner at apartment 4A.
  • Sheldon.
  • Chuck Lorre Productions, #270.
  • Discussing whether Bernie can be Leonard's friend.

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