Visualizations > TV > The Expanse | The Big Bang Theory | BBC | PBS/NOVA

The Expanse

• Caltech magazine (Spring/Summer 2017): The Expanse Visits Caltech 1-25-2017 – YouTube full event video here (published on Feb 3, 2017). Wiki: The Expanse TV series.

The event highlighted the intersection of art and science, and how one can inform the other. Many of the panelists discussed how science fiction had inspired them in their own careers, and how they hope that the medium will serve as an inspiration for generations of scientists and actors to come.

“I think it’s an important opportunity to bring the people who make shows like this together with scientists who are actually pushing the frontiers of knowledge,” said Robert Hurt, who moderated the panel and serves as an astronomer and visualization scientist at IPAC, a science and data center for astronomy at Caltech. “It’s hard to underestimate the impact the creative team behind a show can have by portraying science effectively in their narratives. So many current scientists today were in part inspired into their current careers by the shows they watched in their youth.”

• Fizzy Beer and Exploding Heads: Actors Tell How ‘The Expanse’ Keeps It Real [ May 30, 2018]

… an example of the sort of care that the actors and producers of “The Expanse” take in trying to make their futuristic space drama — set in a time when millions of people are living and working in space colonies — as realistic as possible.

• Wired > “Could Bobbie Really Hold 2 Spaceships Together in The Expanse?” by Rhett Allain (January 25, 2021)

The Big Bang Theory

Now in its tenth season, CBS’s top-rated sitcom The Big Bang Theory features a group of brilliant young scientists and engineers living in Pasadena and (ostensibly) working at Caltech. Amazingly, even though the characters are 100 percent fictional, their techno-talk is 100 percent real. Find out what the show gets right as author Dave Zobel (BS ’84) speaks about his book The Science of TV’s “The Big Bang Theory” and answers questions. — Caltech | Alumni Reunion Weekend 2017 (80th Annual Seminar Day) Program

Not that every episode of this TV series is about science or physics per se, the show does contain conversations about science (and even some diagrams and cameo appearances by Stephen Hawking), as indicated in the Amazon listing for Zobel’s book (below).

Reveals the hard facts behind the laughter on TV’s most popular sitcom

The highest-rated scripted show on TV, The Big Bang Theory often features Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, and Raj wisecracking about scientific principles as if Penny and the rest of us should know exactly what they’re talking about.

The Science of TV’s The Big Bang Theory lets all of us in on the punchline by breaking down the show’s scientific conversations. From an explanation of why Sheldon would think 73 is the best number, to an experiment involving the physical stature of Wolowitz women, to an argument refuting Sheldon’s assertion that engineers are the Oompa-Loompas of science, author Dave Zobel maintains a humorous and informative approach and gives readers enough knowledge to make them welcome on Sheldon’s couch.


Everything and Nothing, two linked TV documentaries on Cosmology (Everything about astrophysics and the big bang, and Nothing about quantum physics and the vacuum) for BBC4, 2011.

The Secrets of Quantum Physics, two-part TV documentary for BBC in 2014 (Episode 1: quantum entanglement; Episode 2: quantum biology — quantum bird, quantum nose, quantum frog, quantum tree).


NOVA Season 13, Episode 1 “Big Bang Machine” (PBS1 January 14, 2015) – Watch as CERN scientists prepare to restart the history-making LHC. Sean Carroll and Don Lincoln are featured. Compare this episode with the movie Particle Fever.

Online: YouTube NOVA channel teaser2

[1] Originally produced for NOVA by the NOVA Science Unit for WGBH Boston, with Copyright 2012 BBC for Hunt for the Higgs, Big Bang Machine Additional Material Copyright 2015 WGBH.

[2] Full-length episode at your local PBS station with PBS membership and Passport benefit. As an example, PBS SoCal. Also available via Amazon Prime Video membership.

NOVA Season 13, Episode 10 “Chasing Pluto” (PBS3 July 15, 2015) – NOVA captures New Horizon’s historic flyby of Pluto.

Online: YouTube PBS/NOVA channel teaser (below) and full-episode on here or here

[3] A NOVA  production by Terri Randall Productions for WGBH Boston, Copyright 2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.

Nova Wonders: What’s the Universe Made Of [ May 30, 2018]

“What’s the Universe Made Of” digs deep into two cosmic mysteries — dark matter and dark energy — showing how researchers know those entities exist, but also revealing that they are still trying to learn what they’re made of and how they work.