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In Big Bang Theory (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

  1. Jul 7, 2011 #1
    In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Seriously, they're clearly not post-docs and they're clearly not professors. What job is there for a physicist at a university beyond that?
     
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  3. Jul 7, 2011 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Sheldon, Leonard and Raj are all Doctors of physics. All of them do research of some sort or another though I'm not sure what (though Sheldon seems to be a theoretical physicist).

    Howard is an engineer and spends his day building things (as per the episode where Sheldon visits him at work and he's building a device to keep the samples on a space probe steady...AKA a shelf)
     
  4. Jul 7, 2011 #3
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    I mean what are their actual positions. Physicists in general don't just "do research" for a university. They'd either be post docs or professors but they're clearly neither.
     
  5. Jul 7, 2011 #4
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Sheldon taught a lecture class and had a grad student as an RA. I assume the three with Ph.Ds are professors who do teach classes, but that aspect of their lives just aren't shown on camera.
     
  6. Jul 7, 2011 #5
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    If they were professors they wouldn't quibble over being called "dr." and would insist they be called professor. That an 80% of the things that make up a prof's day to day life are never mentioned once in the show.
     
  7. Jul 7, 2011 #6
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    I've never once in my life ever heard somebody correct somebody with "please, call me professor." I HAVE, however, heard quite a few people, including professors, correct others with "it's doctor."

    So? The 80% of the things you're referring to are probably boring and won't make good television. About 80% of what a nuke worker does every day is never mentioned on The Simpsons, even though Homer works at the plant. Why don't you go start a thread about that?
     
  8. Jul 7, 2011 #7
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    From a quick scan of everything, none of the cast deal with science except Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah Fowle. Mayim has a Ph.D in neuroscience while the rest of the cast seems to be involved in the entertainment industry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Bang_Theory#Main_cast
     
  9. Jul 7, 2011 #8
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Doctor and Professor titles always confuse me. Aren't Professors mostly Doctors, and Professor is a titled conferred at the discretion of a University? So you could be a Doctor and do all the things a Professor does?....
     
  10. Jul 7, 2011 #9
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    This also really confuses me.

    I think what I have gathered is most if not all undergraduates in the USA call their lecturers "professors" regardless of their actual titles, whereas in the UK there is a clear distinction between the lecturer who is a doctor, and the lecturer who is a professor.

    I wouldn't dream of (knowingly) calling my professor a Dr. or vice versa.

    Any Americans care to correct me? I've just always heard the likes of "Well one of our professors told me..." on forums like this, so I assumed American Universities just do this unofficially.

    EDIT: I lurk way too much.
     
  11. Jul 7, 2011 #10

    brewnog

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Hmmm...

     
  12. Jul 7, 2011 #11
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    I call all of my professors "Dr. LastName." Or whatever their last name is. Sometimes, people will say professor instead. I took a speech 101 class at community college, and the professor would always correct people who called him Mr. Thompson by saying "it's Dr. Thompson."

    In the signature lines of emails, no professors have "Prof. LastName," but a few have "Dr. LastName."

    So at my university, I presume elsewhere in America, professors go by either professor or doctor.
     
  13. Jul 7, 2011 #12

    jtbell

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    In the USA, anyone who has a Ph.D can be called "Dr.".

    "Professor" is the title of an academic faculty position. More specifically, we have the following ranks of professors: assistant professor, associate professor, professor (sometimes called "full" professor to distinguish it more clearly from the others). Professors get promoted from one rank to the next depending on the quality of their work and how many years they've been in their current rank.

    In physics, at most US universities, one must generally be a "Dr." (i.e. have a Ph.D.) in order to be any kind of professor. But not all "Drs." are professors. In a university, there are often non-teaching positions that are filled by Ph.D.'s: post-docs (post-doctoral scholars), research scientists, etc.

    Whether a student calls his professors "Professor" or "Doctor" depends on the custom at a particular school. At the college where I first taught after finishing my Ph.D., students said "Prof. So-and-so", but where I am now, they say "Dr. So-and-so."
     
  14. Jul 7, 2011 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Why are they clearly not postdocs?
     
  15. Jul 7, 2011 #14
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    They never once mention having a supervisor nor display any level of pressure or anxiety over looking for professorships or in any way suggest that there is a next step in their career that they are pursuing. The show is also in its 3rd season or so and they never even hint that their work environment/situation has changed (most post docs are for one year). I would say that the people who make the show just don't know anything about academia and yet there's actually a surprising attention to detail in regards to a lot of aspects of physics and nerdom. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, people who work for a university and simply just do research without adviser or teaching classes or sitting on admissions committees or advising undergraduates, etc. don't exist. Which considering the whole concept is the "humerous life of a physicist" it's kind of ridiculous if the entire premise revolves around a "day in the life" of a position that doesn't exist.
     
  16. Jul 7, 2011 #15

    Vanadium 50

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    And we don't see them go grocery shopping, or putting gas in their cars, or paying their bills, but they presumably do all these things as well. It's equally unrealistic to imagine that an elevator can stay broken for 3 years.

    I was a postdoc for 3 years. I hardly ever talked about my boss, and I certainly wasn't stressed out about getting a job. But that's not my point - my point is that this is fiction.
     
  17. Jul 7, 2011 #16
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Dr. David Salzberg is a consultant for the show, and he's a professor for UCLA

    http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~saltzbrg/bio.html

    That's not the concept of the show. I think you're confusing "what I want the show to be" with "what the show is."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  18. Jul 8, 2011 #17
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    This is what I mean :biggrin:

    Do you mean professors as literally people who hold the position of professor within the university, or are all the lecturers (who hold various positions including professorships) referred to as professors (unofficially) by the undergrads.
     
  19. Jul 8, 2011 #18
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    All of my professors have Ph.Ds, which is why I call them Dr. LastName. If they didn't, I'd call them Mr. or Ms. LastName. Alternatively, I could see calling any of them "professor" with or without a Ph.D, even if they were just adjunct faculty.
     
  20. Jul 8, 2011 #19
    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    But having a Ph.D doesn't make you a Professor, it makes you a doctor and a Doctor =/= a Professor.

    You seem to call everyone in the university who has a Ph.D a professor, which is not the case in any university I know of in the UK. I think you've answered my query, although I don't quite understand the reasons why.
     
  21. Jul 8, 2011 #20

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: In "Big Bang Theory" (the show) what are their jobs?Serious

    Everyone in the universities I've been at was called Doctor if they had a PhD and Professor if they were awarded a Professor title. If you called the former the latter they tended to be amused and thank you for the promotion and if you called the latter the former they would correct you because clearly you don't understand how long they have worked in the field you've barely started.
     
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