|The Vacation Solution|
Season 5, Episode 16
February 9, 2012
"The Friendship Contraction"
"The Rothman Disintegration"
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Extended PlotEditSheldon is forced to take a vacation by the university president. After a failed attempt at sneaking into work with Leonard, Sheldon takes a cue from Richard Feynman and dabbles in biology at Amy's lab. She has him clean laboratory glassware and count growth cultures in Petri dishes. He fails at both tasks, yet insists that he can do more meaningful work. When Amy lets him try to dissect a brain she is working on, he is unable to and faints after cutting his thumb with the scalpel.
Meanwhile, Howard hears through the grapevine that Bernadette's father wants him to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. He's reluctant and tells her that he'll talk to her father himself. When Bernadette explains her father still carries his police revolver, he decides to put off the discussion until after he's up on the International Space Station.
At The Cheesecake Factory, Penny sets both Howard and Sheldon straight. She tells Howard how lucky he is to have Bernadette and he should sign anything put in front of him because he will never find anyone as good as her. Sheldon gets scolded for fainting at the sight of a little blood, and he eventually goes back to apologize to Amy.
"In terms of story I didn't think much was done to flesh out Sheldon's arrogance. We know that he thinks he is a genius but he should have enough logic to know some basic facts. Of course he wouldn't be able to dissect a brain without first studying what each tiny part of it was called or practicing with easier tasks first...This was a flat episode which continued themes we've seen many times before." - The TV Critic's Review
- Title Reference: The title is derived from the solution to Sheldon's dilemma of where to have his forced vacation, and his solution is working with Amy at her laboratory.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card 
- This episode was watched by 16.21 million people with a rating of 5.6 (adults 18-49).
- This episode aired in Canada on February 20, 2012 with 3.216 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #2. In England, this episode aired on February 20, 2012 with 2.28 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #2. In Australia, it aired on February 20, 2012 with 1.344 million viewers.
Sheldon: They tried to make Richard Feynman take a vacation, but he chose instead to expand his mind and learn something new. He went to work in his friend's biology lab. (aside to Howard) Richard Feynman was a famous American physicist — part of the Manhattan Project.
Howard: Everyone in the world of science knows who Richard Feynman was.
Sheldon: Now you do, too.
Howard: Isn't that just Feynman's idea?
Sheldon: Ten seconds ago you never heard of him - now you're an expert.
Raj: Mr. Roper is dead? You can't just spring that on a guy!
Sheldon: (Carrying a tray of beakers) Here you go! This is now the only lab with glassware washed by a man with two doctorates and a restraining order signed by Carl Sagan.
Amy: (Inspects a beaker) Soap spots! Wash 'em again.
Sheldon: You're being ridiculous! Those are perfectly clean.
Amy: (Picks up a large beaker) Sheldon, this beaker used to contain cerebral spinal fluid from an elephant that died of syphilis. If it's, in fact, perfectly clean, (holds it out to him) drink from it.
Sheldon: (Long pause, then picks up the tray of beakers again) Biologists are mean.
Penny: Ha ha, you cut your thumb and fainted!
Sheldon: What do we start with? Slicing some genes? Clone a sheep? Perhaps grow a human ear on a mouse's back? Haha, I'm a freak! (laughs)
Amy: I'm excited to work with my boyfriend, it's gonna be romantic.
Sheldon: Way to kill the mood.
Amy: Are we nervous, Dr. Cooper?
Sheldon: No. What you see is a man trembling with confidence... Does the locus coeruleus usually bleed that much?
Amy: No, but your thumb does.
Sheldon: Oh dear! (faints)
Amy: Yeah, YOU'RE a biologist. (goes for first-aid kit on the wall)
Sheldon: I have plenty of experience in biology. I bought a Tamagotchi in 1998... And.... it's still alive.
Sheldon: Excuse me, but you have Doctor Cooper in your lab! Are you gonna make him do the dishes? That's like asking The Incredible Hulk to open a pickle jar.
Raj: No 'Hi, Raj!', no 'How are you, Raj?', just straight to 'Where's the other white guy?'?
Penny: I’m so glad you talked Howard out of having your wedding invitations in Klingon. Bernadette: Turn it over. I’m hoping my relatives think it’s Hebrew.
- Joshua Malina, who plays President Siebert, last appeared during Season 4's "The Benefactor Factor". This is his second appearance on the show.
- Sheldon sees no practical need for taking vacations.
- In "The Peanut Reaction", Howard gets Leonard an autographed copy of The Feynman Lectures on Physics as Sheldon partly complains about gift giving on hearing this, so Sheldon's assertion of Howard's complete ignorance regarding Feynman in "The Vacation Solution" is inconsistent. Yet, the matter can be attributed to "Sheldon’s patented blend of condescension" (as Howard mused in "The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition"), for Sheldon ignores Howard's claim that every scientist in the world knows of Feynman.
- In "The Luminous Fish Effect", based on the work of Japanese scientists, Sheldon inserts DNA from luminous jellyfish into a goldfish, successfully creating a fish nightlight. He also reveals his idea of what DNA would look like in a silicon-based life form (see silicon-based lifeforms in Star Trek). In "The Bad Fish Paradigm", Sheldon refers to the folding of an energy-based de novo protein in conformational space. In "The Griffin Equivalency", Sheldon references his childhood studies in recombinant DNA technology. In "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis", he participates in a differential diagnosis. Hence, it isn't the field of biology in general that he lacks skill in, but it is the physical practice of biology in a lab that seems to give him difficulty.
- Sheldon visited Amy's lab previously in "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis".
- Sheldon says, "Maybe, that's because I'm not being challenged. It's the same reason Albert Einstein failed math." Einstein actually obtained exceptional grades in mathematics.
- Bernadette's father still has his gun, as a fashion statement, even though he is retired as a police officer. She also says that he is racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and hates Jimmy Carter, gardeners, Sean Penn, the Second Vatican Council, gun control, organic food, the designated hitter rule, and recycling.
- The Wolowitzs have adjoining plots in the Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery, next to the grave of Norman Fell (who is actually buried above ground in a vault).
- Sheldon won't go to Hawaii, as it was the place of the finale of Lost, has active volcanoes, and is a former leper colony. He also won't go to Florida because he went there on a family vacation and a seagull took his hot dog (see "The Ornithophobia Diffusion" for other bird incidents) though at the end of the episode he must have changed his mind because says that he may go to Epcot next year.
- Penny sees sex as a valuable tool for manipulation.
- This is the first time we hear Sheldon laugh properly, which is over a game of Physics Mad Libs. The only other time he has laughed like that is when Leonard made a multiplication error. Leonard says that isn't funny as it was published.
- Amy is one of the few characters in the show who has shown little toleration for Sheldon's narcissism and condescension, seeing how she makes him apologize for his rude behavior.
- The locus coeruleus, which Amy is working on removing from a brain in her lab, is found in the pons, which is located in the brainstem, and is involved physiological responses to stress and panic. Amy compares the width of the locus coeruleus to that of a single human hair, the diameter of which ranges from 17 to 181 µm (millionths of a meter).
- Howard explains that he has an Aunt Ida who lives in Florida.
- After all of Sheldon's troubles in Amy's lab, he tells himself next year he will go to EPCOT in Disney World, Florida, which has exhibits honoring various branches of the sciences.