|The Higgs Boson Observation|
Season 6, Episode 3
October 11, 2012
"The Decoupling Fluctuation"
"The Re-Entry Minimization"
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Sheldon hires a graduate student as an assistant who first worries Amy until it appears that she is interested in Leonard. Also Howard is having trouble with his crewmates on the International Space Station.
Extended PlotEditPenny brings in a box for Sheldon from his mother and he tips her a dollar. Sheldon had his journals and research he wrote as a child sent to him. Since the verification of the existence of the Higgs boson particle, the scientist that postulated its existence a half a century ago, Peter Higgs, could be heading to a Nobel Prize. Sheldon wants to check his earlier work to see if he already hit upon an idea to get his Nobel Prize. He needs someone to read through these notebooks since he thinks his time is too important to do the task himself. First he asks Leonard, who declines. Penny volunteers, however she couldn't even understand the title of a paper he wrote at the age of five: "A Proof That Algebraic Topology Can Never Have a Non-Self-Contradictory Set of Abelian Groups". At Leonard's suggestion, he hires a grad student, an attractive student named Alex Jensen. She does flatter him during the interview and thinks it's an honor to work for him. Sheldon makes sure that she doesn't do drugs including coffee, has no hearing loss due an ear infection she experienced years ago, and that she has paid all her parking tickets. She is willing to do everything he asks her to do. Leonard felt that she seemed nice and tells her, "May God have mercy on your soul" for working with Sheldon. Raj is attracted to her, but since Raj wouldn't speak to Sheldon and Leonard in front of Alex, Alex wondered what was the matter with Raj. Penny is giving Amy a makeover which she wants to show Sheldon. Amy tells Penny that if it leads to phone sex, Penny will have to leave the room. When Alex answers Amy's video call to Sheldon, Amy is shocked when she learns that Alex is a girl. Alex tells Amy that Sheldon left a message not to be disturbed unless it's Stephen Hawking, his mother or himself from the future. Alex did take a message. Amy is upset and confides to Penny that while Sheldon told her that he had a new assistant named Alex, he did not tell Amy that Alex was a girl, to which Penny wondered if he even noticed. Amy replies that she is more worried about Alex than she is about Sheldon, especially when a woman hangs around that wonderful face of his (Sheldon's) for eight hours a day, how could she not fall in love with it. Amy gets Penny to go to Caltech to meet Sheldon's new assistant. Amy bursts into Sheldon's office, but doesn't find him there. Amy leaves her scent to keep Sheldon interested and admits that she's done the same thing in Penny's apartment before they became best friends. In the cafeteria, Alex brings Sheldon his yogurt to his usual exact specifications, but she can't remember if she had taken the stem off the cherry on the bottom. Leonard invites her to sit with them, but Sheldon doesn't want her to, after seeing how servants are treated on a PBS British series (referring to the show Downton Abbey). Leonard still tells her to sit down and impishly tries to get her to talk to Raj about her dissertation about asteroids. Leonard continues to kid Raj and Sheldon and she starts getting flirty (though Leonard ignores it). Amy observes this and tells Penny that she doesn't have to worry about Sheldon, though Penny has to deal with Alex. Penny seems surprised. In her car on the way home, Amy tells Penny that Alex was definitely courting Leonard. Penny says that she isn't worried about her flirting. Amy explains that that is her prefrontal cortex of her brain talking while her limbic system is telling her that the flirting is happening because he is desirable. Penny again confesses to Amy that she isn't sure how she feels about Leonard. She denies that Alex bothers her, until Amy finally gets her to admit it. That night while having wine and hors d'oeuvres, Penny keeps asking about his day, however Leonard never mentions Sheldon's new female assistant. Sheldon shows up with Alex, announcing that she may have found what he was looking for in a grade school science project report, A Rederivation of Maxwell's Equations Regarding Electromagnetism, that contains a possible new approach for calculating ferromagnetic hysteresis and could be his ticket to a Nobel Prize. Penny introduces herself. Alex mistakes Penny for his assistant. Penny replies that they were working on a five-year project which confuses Leonard and Sheldon. Alex replies that she is sure that a lot of people would want to work with someone as talented as Leonard. Penny quips that a lot of people can't, and then she takes Leonard to her apartment because her limbic system wants to take his pants off. As Penny is leaving with Leonard, Alex remarks that she seems nice sounding like she has no ulterior motives outside of working with Sheldon.
Meanwhile, Howard tells Bernadette that being cooped up in "this old tin can" for weeks on end is getting to him. He asks her to drop something so he can watch it fall. In another video chat, Howard tells her that due to the delay of the capsule that is supposed to pick up the astronauts, he will have to stay in space for an additional 7-10 days. He is suffering bad anxiety attacks, starts sounding paranoid, and gives her crazy ideas on how she can rescue him. He also starts talking to her in code. Eventually, he is given a sedative by the other astronauts, which makes him feel better, though he begins acting strangely afterwards, such as taking off his pants and wind milling in the capsule. Bernadette then tells him to put his pants back on.
"As I always maintain, the show is at its best when new characters interact with the established eccentricities of the cast. Sure enough Alex's arrival prompts several fun moments...The writers are certainly committed to Howard's space travel and I guess you won’t see anything like it on another sit com. His misery at being kept up there for a long period of time makes perfect sense and I did laugh at his fearful statement that the Russians “left dogs up here in the 60s!”...This was pretty good. Not funny throughout but by far the best of the season so far." The TV Critic's Review
- Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon noticing how the discovery of the Higgs boson particle was postulated fifty years ago and how his earlier work might help him winning the Nobel Prize.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card
- This episode was watched by 14.23 million people with a rating of 4.5 (adults 18-49).
- Total viewers including DVR users 18.66 million.
- This episode aired in Canada on October 11, 2012 with 4.286 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1. In England, this episode aired on November 29, 2012 with 2.694 million total viewers.
- Sheldon's source of inspiration for this episode stems from the announcement that physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider had discovered a particle matching the description of the Higgs boson and possibly confirmed the theory of Higgs, et. al. on how subatomic particles acquire mass – a central part of the Standard Model of particle physics. (Refer to Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe.) Previously, in "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst" (S5:E04), Sheldon came close to figuring out why the Large Hadron Collider had yet to isolate the Higgs boson. In this later episode, Sheldon explains: "Now, in 1964, Dr. Peter Higgs -- accomplished self-promoter and physicist -- he wrote a paper postulating the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. Now, initially, the paper was rejected. But, recently, he was proven right, and now he’s on the fast track to win a Nobel Prize...The point is Higgs is being celebrated for work he did 50 years ago. So, that got me thinking...Perhaps, I’ve already hit upon the idea that will win me my Nobel Prize." Indeed, the prize had been expected and Peter W. Higgs (jointly with François Englert) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.” (See also Update: Physicists say they have found a Higgs boson and For Nobel, They Can Thank the ‘God Particle’.)
- Sheldon hires an assistant, Alex Jensen, in this episode. Previously, in "The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem", Ramona Nowitzki served as Sheldon's assistant, albeit voluntarily with ulterior motives though she still seemed to adore him.
- Like Dennis Kim, Alex Jensen has a degree in physics from Stanford University.
- Alex Jensen's father is a SETI astronomer.
- This episode extends Raj's expertise in the field of planetary astronomy to include looking for Trojan asteroids at the Earth-Sun L5 Lagrange point.
- Alex Jensen informed Amy of Sheldon's request, "He’s asked me to hold all calls unless you’re Stephen Hawking, his mother, or himself from the future." Stephen Hawking was also mentioned in the pilot, "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis", and "The Agreement Dissection", and seen in "The Hawking Excitation".
- The office Sheldon acquired following Professor Rothman's retirement in "The Rothman Disintegration" is featured in this episode. Herein, the issue of the The Journal of Physical Chemistry A with a picture of Sheldon on the cover, first appearing in "The Beta Test Initiation", can be observed framed on a wall. Sheldon also has an Albert Einstein Bobblehead on his desk.
- Sheldon gives Penny $1 for her labor to bring him the box of journals, quite like what he did in "The Gothowitz Deviation" except with chocolate.
- Bernadette's working place is shown for the first time. Also, a blue sign with word ZANGEN in an ellipse can be seen on her uniform, presumably the name of the company where she works.
Sheldon: Do you know about Higgs boson?
Penny: Of course. It's, it's been in the news, and it's a very famous boson.
Sheldon: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Alex : It's not flattery if it's true.
Amy: You're right, I don't have to worry, that skank is your problem, not mine.
Amy: (to Penny) If my new look leads to phone sex, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the room.
Penny: I'm just a blonde monkey to you, aren't I?
Sheldon: You said it, not me.
- Taping report by Kyzzx