If you’re planning on tuning into “The Big Bang Theory” for a few laughs this Thursday evening, you may also get to see how a team of UCI physicists proposes to detect dark matter and forces in the universe. Based on a quirky group of Caltech researchers, the hit CBS TV comedy often features in its sets whiteboards festooned with scientific equations and figures. The panels on this week’s episode will display notes from two research papers written by Jonathan Feng, UCI professor of physics & astronomy, and UCI post-doctoral scholars, Iftah Galon, Felix Kling, and Sebastian Trojanowski. If you could read the intricate notation, you would see that the team is pitching a new detector to be placed at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland. The relatively small and inexpensive instrument called FASER has been shown to have remarkable prospects for discovering certain kinds of new particles, according to Feng, who hopes it will be used to provide evidence for a new force to help the science world determine the nature of dark matter. “’The Big Bang Theory’ is one of the most popular shows on television, averaging about 10 million viewers per week,” Feng said. “What is less known is that, among experts, it’s famous for getting the science right and being on top of the latest trends, so we thought it was great when they decided to use excerpts from our papers.” In addition to having his team’s work on display, Feng was invited to be “geek of the week” by the show’s science consultant, David Saltzberg, a professor of physics at UCLA. The honors included a chance for Feng to attend a taping of the show and to talk with the writers, cast and crew. “The Big Bang Theory” airs Thursday at 8 p.m., PST, on CBS.
UCI physics debuts in prime time