The Cool Connection Oppenheimer Actually Shares With The Big Bang Theory


What do Sheldon Cooper and J. Robert Oppenheimer have in common? At least one thing! Yes, really and actually. This connection has everything to do with Kip Thorne, a Nobel prize-winning theoretical physicist, who has met them both in his lifetime and been a part of the making of The Big Bang Theory and Oppenheimer. So, let’s break down the immensely cool link! 

Meet The Expert That Connects The Big Bang Theory With Christopher Nolan

Kip Thorne is a great mind who has made some stunning contributions in the fields of gravitational physics and astrophysics. Most notably, he earned the Nobel Prize in Physics for making the first direct observation of gravitational waves as a part of his work on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detector. 

In terms of The Big Bang Theory, Thorne had a cameo in Season 12, Episode 18 — “The Laureate Accumulation” — where he played himself. In the episode, Sheldon and Amy attempted to bring a few Nobel laureates to their side to get credit for a theory they discovered, but it was hijacked by Pemberton and Campbell. They were not successful in convincing Thorne, but it made for some fun comedy moments for the physicist to get involved in.

Thorne connects with Christopher Nolan because he served as a key consultant on Interstellar, with the director even once telling haters of the film to read Thorne’s work. Both Thorne and David Saltzberg, the latter of whom is a physics professor at UCLA, worked on the movie. Saltzburg additionally worked on The Big Bang Theory as a consultant for the sitcom’s science, even drawing up “complex formulae on whiteboards in the backgrounds of shots”, per Slash Film

Then the physicists went on to consult Tenet and most recently Oppenheimer as well! 

How The Big Bang Theory’s Expert Assisted Oppenheimer 

When Christopher Nolan spoke to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists amidst the smash summer box office success of the biopic last year, he explained how Thorne specifically added to the production of Oppenheimer. In his words: 

Kip [Thorne] attended Princeton, among other institutions, and while at Princeton went to seminars at the [Institute for Advanced Studies] under Oppenheimer and actually met him; he actually watched him teach. And so I was able to put Kip on the phone with Cillian—and then he visited the set—to talk about what it was like to watch Oppenheimer manage a group of minds in a seminar, how he would organize a debate, how he would apparently listen to all these different points of view and summarize them very, very efficiently and eloquently, and move the dialogue forward.

Thorne had some rare firsthand experience having been beside the real Oppenheimer, which Nolan implemented by allowing him to share his knowledge with Cillian Murphy, who went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for portraying the historical figure. Nolan also said that Thorne was able to help him when it came to what should be written on the boards in Oppenheimer based on his expertise, which is another little commonality between the movie and the sitcom.

Both Thorne and Saltzberg are the unsung heroes of The Big Bang Theory and numerous Christopher Nolan movies that have made it more accurate! You can watch Oppenheimer now with a Peacock subscription and stream Big Bang with a Max subscription

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