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Television Shows for Physicists


Physicists watch television, just like everyone else. Some shows over the years have particularly catered to this demographic, highlighting characters or elements that speak particularly to the scientific mind of the scientist.

1. The Big Bang Theory

Mark Mainz/Getty

Possibly no other show has so captured the zeitgeist of the information age's geek culture as CBS's The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom focusing on a pair of physicist roommates, Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, and the hot blonde who moves in down the hall. Together with Howard (a mechanical engineer) and Raj (an astrophysicist), the geeks try to maneuver the intricacies of the normal world and find love.

In its fourth season as of this writing, the show has been rightly acclaimed for clever writing and brillian performances, including an Emmy for the show''s lead Jim Parsons, who plays the role of the arrogant and dysfunctional string theorist Sheldon Cooper.

Available on DVD:

2. Numb3rs

CBS / Numb3rs

This CBS crime drama ran for 6 years, featuring brilliant mathematician Charlie Eppes, who assisted his FBI agent brother as a consultant who analyzed criminal cases with advanced mathematics algorithms. The episodes used real mathematical concepts, along with graphics that translated the mathematical concepts into physical demonstrations that could be understood by even the non-mathematical viewers.

This show had the merits of making mathematics cool in a way that no other show on television, including Sesame Street, has been able to.

Available on DVD:

3. MythBusters

Discovery Channel / MythBusters

In this Discovery Channel show, special effect experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman explore various types of myths to find out whether or not there's any truth to them. Aided by a trio of assistants, a crash test dummie that has suffered more continual abuse than any other single object in the history of mankind, and a lot of chutzpah, they help promote scientific inquiry in real world situations.

Available on DVD:

4. Quantum Leap

NBC / Quantum Leap

My favorite show. Ever. I'll let the episode intro speak for itself:

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished.

He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al; an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap, will be the leap home.

Available on DVD:

5. MacGyver


This action-adventure series was based around the activities of a guy named MacGyver (his first name was not revealed until one of the last episodes of the series), who is a secret agent/troubleshooter for a fictional organization, The Phoenix Foundation, which often sent him on international missions, frequently involving rescuing someone from a country that has a skewed definition of freedom. The main gimmick of the show was that MacGyver would perpetually find himself in situations where he would use materials at hand to create a clever contraption to get him out of his predicament. (Ran from 1985-1992.)

Available on DVD:

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