When you think of opossums, what do you think of?
The Big Bang Theory is a comedy that finds humor in the lives and work of physicists, engineers, and astrophysicists, and the show has had a fair share of real geniuses as guest stars, including astronauts and theoretical physicists. Read on for 9 real-life geniuses who have appeared on The Big Bang Theory.
Stephen Hawking – Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist and author of A Brief History of Time, appears in the fifth season in episode 21, “The Hawking Excitation.” In the episode, Hawking is giving a lecture, and Sheldon agrees to do a bunch of ridiculous favors for Howard in exchange for Howard introducing him to Hawking.
Ira Flatow – “Newton’s Apple” host Ira Flatow lends his voice to “The Vengeance Formulation,” season 3, episode 9, and he appears in “The Discovery Dissipation,” season 7, episode 10. In “The Discovery Dissipation,” Flatow interviews Sheldon on NPR about his recent scientific discovery.
Brian Greene – Brian Greene, physicist and string theorist, appears in “The Herb Garden Germination,” season 4, episode 20. In the episode, he is promoting his new book The Hidden Reality, and Sheldon makes fun of him for trying to make scientific ideas understandable to the general populace.
Neil deGrasse Tyson – Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of Cosmos, appears in “The Apology Insufficiency,” season 4, episode 7. Sheldon holds a grudge against Tyson because he blames him for Pluto not being a planet anymore.
Mike Massimino – Dr. Michael Massimino, a NASA astronaut who has been a part of two Space Shuttle Missions, appears in 6 episodes. He is part of Howard’s storyline with the International Space Station and gives Howard the nickname “Froot Loops.”
George Smoot – George Smoot, a Nobel Prize winner and experimental astrophysicist, appears in “The Terminator Decoupling,” season 2, episode 17. In the episode, Sheldon wants to collaborate with Smoot on his research, and Smoot calls Sheldon crazy.
Steve Wozniak – Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak appears in “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification,” season 4, episode 2. Wozniak, who is called the “Great and Powerful Woz,” is eating at the Cheesecake Factory when he is spotted by Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, and Penny. Sheldon tells him that he still has an Apple II, and Wozniak jokes that if Sheldon had the Apple II with him, he would autograph it. Naturally, Sheldon takes him up on the offer.
Bill Nye – Bill Nye the Science Guy appears in “The Proton Displacement,” season 7, episode 7. Sheldon befriends Bill Nye to get revenge on Professor Proton, played by Arthur Jeffries, for working with Leonard on a paper instead of Sheldon.
Buzz Aldrin – Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to ever walk on the moon, appears in “The Holographic Excitation,” season 6, episode 5. In one of the funniest cameos on the show, Aldrin hands out candy to trick-or-treaters for Halloween, specifically Milky Ways, Mars Bars, and moonpies.
BONUS: Show regular Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowler, is an actress and a scientist. She earned her PhD in Neuroscience at UCLA, focusing on the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome. On Conan, she admitted that her degree was helpful with her role, since her character on the show is a neurobiologist.