For the annual Physics Bowl, the gang forms a team, but ends up throwing the obnoxious controlling Sheldon off the team. They recruit Leslie Winkle because she is good at physics and Sheldon takes them all on with his team of stand-ins.
The boys are having dinner at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment and are discussing the new Star Trek movie, which is supposed to show Spock's birth. They ponder about Spock's conception and, generally, about alien to human copulation and impregnation. Penny shows up, having spilled diet Coke, yogurt, and nail polish on her laptop, causing the 'A' key to stick. Howard discovers that one of the regular teams in the annual physics competition will not be participating in this year's Physics Bowl, because they have formed a barbershop quartet and are performing at Knotts Berry Farm. Joy ensues as the boys contemplate victory in the contest, but Sheldon feels participating is beneath him. He compares his participation to asking Picasso to play Pictionary, or Noah Webster to play Boggle], or asking Jacques Cousteau to play "Go Fish". In Sheldon's view this would be inviting these famous people to trivialize their area of expertise, suggesting that he feels participating in the quiz would be 'beneath his station'. When Leonard reminds Sheldon of Spock's dying words, that the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few or the one, he reluctantly relents.
At lunch at the university sometime after, Howard suggests they should name their team the "Perpetual Motion Squad" (PMS), although Sheldon, citing teams using predatory animals for their names as intimidation, suggests the "Army Ants", as it is the most powerful animal gram for gram. Leonard tries to point out to Sheldon that some people might misinterpret AA for something else (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous), but he ignores Leonard. Because Sheldon threatens to quit if he doesn't get his way, the team is named Army Ants (AA). Later, during team practice back at his apartment on Saturday afternoon, Sheldon takes it upon himself to answer every question, regardless of who buzzes in first. Eventually, he even promotes himself to team captain by adhering their dress code to Star Trek: The Original Series uniforms - the only color and rank that everyone will wear is support red and rank of Commander, bar Sheldon, who will wear command gold and rank of Captain. Sheldon's self-righteous and insufferably sanctimonious attitude is becoming too much for the team to handle, and as a result, they kick him off the team with a consolation Batman cookie jar. Devastated, Sheldon decides to form his own team. Meanwhile, Leonard, Howard and Raj now need a fourth member for their team in Sheldon's absence, and decide to recruit Leslie Winkle, who initially refuses. However, after hearing they will be competing against Sheldon, she agrees, as she bears a grudge against him for his bad attitude.
On the day of the Physics Bowl, Sheldon arrives with his team, which is comprised of poorly educated people (presumably) who only serve to qualify him, as the rules state that each team must consist of four people. Penny is there to support them, but soon falls asleep. Both teams rapidly increase their points and, when the final question arrives, the score stands at 1150 for AA (Sheldon's team) and 1175 for PMS (Leonard's team). The last question proves too difficult for PMS, and, in the end, Leonard panics and incorrectly guesses "8.4". They soon notice that Sheldon, who has answered every question for his team, doesn't have an answer either, when suddenly, the third floor janitor (one of his teammates) turns out to be a former Soviet physicist (credited as Dimitri and portrayed by Adam Gregor) from Saint Petersburg - Leningrad Polytechnika and states the correct answer of "minus eight pi alpha". In disbelief, Sheldon's pride gets in the way and denies that answer to be AA's official answer, and declines to provide one after his childish demand for a different question is denied. Before the winner is announced, Leonard offers Sheldon a chance at redemption, asking if he'd rather lose by himself or win as part of a team. Sheldon simply replies that he doesn't understand the question. PMS is declared the winner, and the team celebrates (Howard tearing off his T-shirt in the process) to Queen's "We are the Champions". Penny is still asleep in the audience.
In the final scene, Penny quizzes both Leonard and Sheldon about Pop Culture, in which neither of them can answer a single question unless the incorrect answer is from Star Trek.
- Guest starring:
- Teleplay: Bill Prady & Robert Cohen
- Story: Stephen Engel & Jennifer Glickman
- Title Reference: The reason why Leonard gave Sheldon a Batman cookie jar, which was to soften the blow of kicking him off the team.
- Chuck Lorre's vanity card 
- This episode was watched by 7.51 million people with a rating of 2.9 (adults 18–49).
- Episode transcript .
- "A straightforward sit com plot without the straightforward sitcom jokes. The show is losing its way but hopefully it is not terminal." - The TV Critic's Review
- IMDb user reviews.
|Sheldon starts with a Muted Earth plaid tee (discontinued from Kirra). The next day he's in a green on green Green Lantern logo t-shirt. Back at the university, he sports the Robot Evolution shirt. During the Physics Bowl contest, Sheldon wears a Star Trek replica style of uniform, featuring his "AA" logo for "Army Ants". Sheldon wears command gold, while the rest of Sheldon's motley crew wears support red. After losing the Physics Bowl, he mopes at the apartment in a tee matching his mood; blue with dark red stripes (aka "Toxic Stripes" by BDG).|
|Leonard starts the episode in a "mole" t-shirt. The next day he's in a red "cassette tapes" tee - sometimes available at RedBubble.com (search for term "Leonard's cassette"). At the cafeteria, he wears the "Out of This World" green galaxy shirt; in the Physics Bowl, Leonard's team sports blue t-shirts bearing the abbreviation P.M.S. (for Perpetual Motion Squad) and in the final scene at the apartment, he's sporting a geeky Walking Dead shirt, stating "Will Fix Computer For Brains" from Jinx Clothing (discontinued).|
|Detail of Leonard's "Will Fix Computer For Brains" tee:|
|Howard's theme this episode is checkerboards. He wears a black and white checkerboard belt withmatching buckle, as well as Vans shoes in blue and white checks and in rainbow checks. This episode also features the first appearance of his tar belt buckle.|
- The key item for this episode is obviously the "Bat Jar". This jar was manufactured in a limited run on 3,600 - so finding one can be tough. Years ago, they were plentiful enough that Overstock.com had them for about $80, but now they can only be found in a local comic shop, collectibles dealer, or use eBay to find these.
- In the cafeteria, Sheldon is seen studying up for the Physics Bowl by reading Heavy Quark Physics, by Aneesh Manohar and Mark Wise.
- The scene from Star Trek that Howard describes depicting Spock's birth was cut from the final movie, although it's included as a deleted scene.
- Spock's dying words ("The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."), which inspires Sheldon to join the team are from the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- Sheldon suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome, which he refers to as an "old Nintendo injury" during a rehearsal for the competition. He is later seen wearing a wrist brace during the competition proper.
- The Batman cookie jar that Leonard buys Sheldon is seen frequently in future episodes.
- Raj speaks to Penny sober, though inadvertently, by agreeing with Howard that the story of Zod is a good one.
- Although Raj does not speak to (or in front of) Penny, he laughs his "Cruella de Vil" laugh at Sheldon when he, Leonard and Howard confront Sheldon just before the start of the Physics Bowl.
- Sheldon designs uniforms that are emblazoned with the initials "AA", which he designed to mean "Army Ants", though Leonard points out it could imply something else (likely implying "Alcoholics Anonymous"), though Sheldon misses the point and guesses "Anodized Aluminum" as the next most likely acronym expansion. Though, the other team's name isn't much better; 'Perpetual Motion Squad', a double entendre reference to a violation of the laws of thermodynamics and being able to go all night, abbreviates to PMS, more commonly associated with "Premenstrual syndrome". Later, when Leonard gives Leslie Winkle the team's t-shirt, she replies "PMS? A few days early!".
- Raj suggests "the actress who played TV's "Blossom" for their physics bowl team to replace Sheldon. That actress would be Mayim Bialik, and she does have a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Coincidentally, Mayim Bialik joins the show in the Season 3 finale and becomes a regular cast member in Season 4 as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler. Raj also says, "How about the girl from The Wonder Years?" He is referring to Danica McKellar, who has a degree in mathematics, coauthored a physics theorem, and appears in the Season 3 episode "The Psychic Vortex" as Abby.
- Sheldon's Spanish is very bad. Apparently, he could not differentiate the Spanish words hijo and carnicero to ascertain if his third teammate was the son or butcher of his second.
- Sheldon's long-winded insult of "I'm a polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you." is a much longer (and detailed) version of "I'm rubber and you're glue; whatever you say bounces off me and sticks onto you."
- "Leningrad Polytechnika" most likely refers to the Saint Petersburg State Polytechnical University in St. Peterburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad, U.S.S.R.).
- It's surprising that Leonard (and P.M.S.) won a trophy for a non-championship match. When Dr. Gablehauser first introduces the teams, he states that it is "today's preliminary match." Unless there were only a few teams in the tournament, it is unlikely that they would get a trophy for an early-round victory.
- The first question of Penny's popular culture quiz is about the TV series "The Brady Bunch". In 2000, actress Kaley Cuoco played Maureen McCormick (i.e. Marcia Brady) in the movie "Growing Up Brady" about the behind the scenes story of the TV series.
- Sheldon also makes a categorical error in this episode. When Howard says he should answer the engineering questions since he is an engineer, Sheldon compares this to him answering all the anthropology questions because he is a mammal. Anthropology is the study of humans, not mammals; all humans are mammals, but not all mammals are humans. He ought to have said 'mammalogy', or claimed he was a human.
- When Sheldon was kicked out of the team, Sheldon got very angry and was determined to take revenge. This reaction is strange as he did not even want to take place in the Physics Bowl competition as shown at the beginning of the episode.
- More information about the questions asked during the Physics Bowl and during the practice round with Penny (The questions or answers written inside "()" indicate that both are not mentioned in the episode, or are somewhat to be true, or are generated by viewers):
- What is the shortest light pulse ever produced? 130 attoseconds  (An attosecond [as] is a billionth of a billionth of a second. 130 as was the record as of 2007. In 2008 the record was again lowered to 80 as . As of 2012, the record is 67 as )
- What is the quantum mechanical effect used to encode data on hard disk drives? Giant magneto resistance
- What artificial satellite has seen Albert Einstein's predicted frame-dragging? Gravity Probe B
- What is the isospin singlet partner of the pi-zero meson? Eta meson
- What is the lightest element on earth, with no stable isotopes? Technetium
- What is the force between two uncharged plates due to quantum vacuum fluctuation? The Casimir Effect
- How does a quantum computer factor large numbers? Shor's Algorithm
- (What is the mechanical work necessary to produce 1 cal of heat?) 4.1855×107 ergs/cal
- (What theory proposed that the temperatures of two adjacent bodies will equalize due to the transfer of heat energy by radiation and absorption?) Radiative_equilibrium#Prevost.27s_definitions|Prèvost's theory of exchanges
- (At what temperature does an iron magnet lose its magnetic fiel?) 770 degrees Celsius (Howard's answer of 760 (the temperature of the young lady in the front row) was incorrect)
The final question asks to solve what looks to be the following equation:
PMS guesses 8.4, which is incorrect, while AA has no official answer, one of Sheldon's teammates suggests
, which turns out to be the correct answer. Actually
is not really the correct solution of the equation shown above, but it would take some effort to get the right answer, which surely won't be as simple as given in the show. Additionally, there's an error in this equation; if it should correspond to the Feynman-Diagram standing above it and if the answers should not have an open index
isn't contracted, then the second gammamatrix needs to have the index
. Even if one corrects that, one has to square this Matrix element (expression) and sum over the Spins
to get a better result than just the whole expression. Even then, the answer depends on some kinematic variables. If interested in calculating that, look in Michael Peskin and Daniel V. Schroeder’s "An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory" pages 131ff.
Penny brings in what looks to be cards from a Trivial Pursuit game, to settle once and for all, who's smarter between Sheldon and Leonard. She asks them:
- Marsha, Jan, and Cindy were the three daughters in what TV family? (The Brady Bunch)
- Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth as the lead singer in what group? (Van Halen)
- Madonna was married to this Ridgemont High alum? (Sean Penn)
- What actor holds the record for being named "People" magazine's Sexiest Man Alive? (Penny doesn't give the answer, but the answer would be between either Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, or Richard Gere. Brad Pitt was given the award in 1995 and 2000, while George Clooney was given the award in 1997 and 2006. They have all been named sexiest man alive at least twice.)
- Singer who sang "Oops!... I Did It Again"? (Britney Spears)
- Tweety Bird t'awt he t'aw a what? ('Puddy tat')
After her questions, it turns out that Leonard and Sheldon have trouble understanding pop culture and seem to be mainly smart in their comfort zone of science and other general knowledge. Like, when Penny asks the Tweety Bird question, Sheldon struggles to know the answer and comes up with Romulan, which Penny with her attitude of sarcasm says "yes". However, when Leonard hooks up with Penny in the third season, he has a much better understanding of it.
- [After the Physics Bowl, Penny is making Leonard and Sheldon answer Trivial Pursuit questions]
- Penny: Tweety Bird tawt he taw a what?
- Sheldon: [thinks for a second] Romulan?
- Penny: Yes.... he tawt he taw a Romulan.
- Leslie: Hello, Sheldon.
- Sheldon: [looking terrified] Leslie Winkle!
- Leslie: Yeah, Leslie Winkle! The answer to the question, "Who made Sheldon Cooper cry like a little girl?".
- Sheldon: Yes, well, I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an inorganic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns on its original trajectory and adheres to you.
- Leslie: [sarcastically] Ooooh... ouch.
- Penny: Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s physics bowl practice round. I’m Penny, and I’ll be your host, because apparently I didn't have anything else to do on a Saturday afternoon, and isn't that just a little sad? Gentlemen, are you ready?
- Howard: Okay, we’re going to need a strong fourth for our team.
- Raj: You know who’s apparently very smart, is the girl who played TV's "Blossom". She got a PhD in neuroscience or something.
- Leonard: Raj, we’re not getting TV's Blossom to join our physics bowl team.
- Raj: How about the girl from "The Wonder Years"?
- Howard: Gentlemen, I believe I've found the solution to all our problems.
- Leonard: We can’t ask Leslie Winkle.
- Raj: Why? Because you slept together and when she was done with you she discarded you like last night’s chutney?
- Leonard: Yes.
- Dimitri: The answer is minus eight pi alpha.
- Sheldon: Hang on, hang on a second, that's not our answer. What are you doing?
- Dimitri: Answering question. Winning physics bowl.
- Sheldon: How do you know anything about physics?
- Dimitri: Here, I am janitor. In former Soviet Union, I am physicist. Leningrad Politechnika. Go, polar bears.
- Sheldon: Well, that's a delightful little story, but our arrangement was that you sit here and not say anything, I answer the questions.
- Dimitri: You didn't answer question.
- Sheldon: Hey, look, now maybe you have democracy now in your beloved Russia, but on this physics bowl team, I rule with an iron fist. (makes fist in the air) Ow!
- Sheldon: Gentlemen.
- Leonard: Sheldon.
- Howard: Sheldon.
- Raj: Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee.
- Penny: Sheldon.
- Leonard: This is our year! With those guys out, the entire physics bowl will kneel before Zod.
- Penny: Zod?
- Howard: Kryptonian villain. Long story.
- Raj: Good story. (clasps hands to mouth in shock that he spoke in front of Penny)
- Leonard: Do I need to quote Spock's dying words to you?
- Sheldon: No, don't.
- Leonard: The needs of the many...
- Howard: Outweigh the needs of the few...
- Sheldon: Or the one. Damn it, I'll do it. (does a Vulcan salute)
- Leonard: This is our year! With those guys out, the entire physics bowl will kneel before Zod.
- Penny: Zod?
- Howard: Kryptonian villain. Long story.
- Raj: Good story. (clasps his hands over his mouth in shock, from talking around Penny while sober)
- Leslie: Wait, you're going up against Sheldon Cooper?
- Howard: Yes.
- Leslie: That arrogant, misogynistic, East-Texas doorknob that told me I should abandon my work with high energy particles for laundry, and child bearing?
- Leonard: She's in.
|Episodes | Season 1|