Sheldon Cooper is a fictional character from The Big Bang Theory, but it seems his scientific work is actually coming to life in the real world.

Scientists from Iowa State University credit Sheldon with inspiring their latest research.


Bazinga moleculephoto by A researcher at Iowa State University named Paul Canfield took his love for The Big Bang Theory a step further than most, when he decided to use Sheldon Cooper’s catchphrase as inspiration for his latest research. 

Paul was watching TBBT at home, when he noticed Sheldon’s catchphrase “Bazinga!” can be broken down to “BaZnGa” which makes the chemical compound of barium zinc and gallium. The writers of Big Bang Theory were privy to the joke, and had even flashed the chemicals on the screen, but no one in real life had ever actually created this specific compound. However, that’s exactly what Paul Canfield set out to do.

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Paul stated, “They showed the elements barium, zinc and gallium. So I thought: “Wow, I think no one has ever tried to grow this material,” and ‘maybe this could be a new discovery of a high temperature superconductor or some kind of a quasicrystal”’ or something like that…”

It turns out the chemical compound didn’t have any truly unique properties, but it was still very exciting to research. Paul explained, “What we try to do is study the properties of either poorly categorised or unknown materials,’ he explains. ‘A reason for trying to make something is exploring for unknowns. These can be known unknowns or unknown unknowns.”

Sheldon Would Be Proud

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We think Sheldon would be proud of the scientists’ creativity when it came to finding new things to research. He would certainly be flattered, and would DEFINITELY brag about the study to his friends. Paul takes his fandom very seriously, saying, “‘I respect Dr Cooper and all of his work, and take any pronouncement of his seriously!’ says Canfield. ‘Therefore, when a pronouncement was made that a BaZnGa compound may exist, it was our obligation to check it as part of the scientific method.”

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