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"The Hawking Excitation" is the twenty-first episode of the fifth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, April 5, 2012.[1]


When Howard is working with Professor Stephen Hawking, he takes advantage of Sheldon, who is desperate to meet his idol.

Extended Plot[]

Sheldon and Penny in the laundry room

Sheldon doing Howard's laundry.

The guys talking about Howard's latest news

Discussing Howard's new job.

Howard got an email that Dr. Stephen Hawking was coming to lecture at the university and needed Howard to maintain the equipment on his specialized wheelchair. Everybody thinks that is neat and Howard plans on introducing him to Sheldon. Sheldon comes over describing his work on the Higgs boson particle, which Howard doesn't need to pay attention to because he wouldn't understand it. Howard changes his mind very quickly.

Sheldon begs and pleads for Howard to introduce him to Stephen Hawking. That way Howard can go to Jewish heaven]] or stay out of Jewish hell, though he already lives with his mother which is Jewish hell, and heaven does not exist in Judaism. Sheldon unintentionally offends Howard even further when he states that meeting Hawking is like meeting another human being in a world full of dogs (he's basically saying that everyone else are all dogs).

Finally, Howard compromises, and agrees to give Hawking Sheldon's paper on the Higgs Boson Particle; however, Howard has a few tasks for him to perform. “Sheldon, are you familiar with the 12 Labors of Hercules? You should be so lucky,” explained Howard.

First task, polish Howard's entire collection of belt buckles. There are what looks like water marks on some of them, but that's not what it is. Sheldon does an immaculate job which included using turtle wax on them.

Next task, he had to wear the French Maid outfit Howard originally bought for Bernadette and walk through the university cafeteria. (What are you all staring at? You never saw a man trying to get a meeting with Stephen Hawking before?)

As Sheldon does Howard's laundry, Penny thinks that it was Amy’s having found some leopard-print underwear. She gets disgusted when she learns that it's Howard's.

Bernadette thinks that Howard is being mean. Sheldon doesn't know what he is doing because "the part of Sheldon's brain that should know he's being mean is getting a wedgie from the rest of Sheldon's brain." Bernadette wants Howard to stop until she remembers she had to take Howard's mother dress shopping. Sheldon gets the job.

At the dress shop Mrs. W called out, “SHELDON, I NEED YOUR HELP!! IT'S THIS DRESS. WHEN I PUT MY FRONT IN, MY BACK POPS OUT!! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO WORK AS A TEAM! GET IN HERE, GRAB A HANDFUL AND START STUFFING!” Sheldon is uncomfortable when she pulls him into the ladies' dressing room.

Sheldon finally comes home hoping that he has done his last task. Howard still wants him to compliment him about his job instead of his constant ribbing. Sheldon replies, “I have never said that you are not good at what you do. It's just what you do is not worth doing.” Leonard tells him to take it because that was nicer than anything he'd ever said to him. Howard has already given Hawking his paper three days before. And Hawking wants to meet him. Sheldon thanks Howard and tells him that he will be available at Hawking's convenience. Sheldon disappears into his room and everyone hears him shouting for joy.

Professor Hawking tells Sheldon that he made a math error on page 2. "It was quite the boner." Sheldon is aghast and faints which Hawking observes, "Great, another fainter."



  • The TV Critic: "The last seven episodes have been below par and I really hope this isn't the beginning of the decline and fall of The Big Bang Theory. Certainly in the short term the craft has gone from the stories and jokes in favor of the most basic stories and punch lines."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode a B-[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title is derived from the excitement that Sheldon feels when Howard gets to work with Stephen Hawking, opening up the opportunity for Sheldon to meet his idol.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 13.29 million people with a rating of 4.4 (adults 18–49).[4]
  • This episode aired in Canada on April 5, 2012, with 3.181 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In Australia, it aired on April 5, 2012. with million 1.867 viewers.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]
  • Sheldon corrected Howard's binary encode 'no' word to values from ANSI ASCII table. There are really mess with it. I will explain it to you, my Dear.

In fan's transcript: Howard: Binary coded Ascii, (0110111001101111)b = 'no'. Sheldon: It's actually (01100111)b = 'g'.

In original transcript: H: Binary coded ASCII, (0110111001101111)b = 'no'. Sheldon: It's actually (011011110)b ='o', looks like he want to patch this first byte and one bit, but it wasn't in said by Sheldon.

In episode voiceover: H: Binary coded ASCII, (0110111001100111)b = 'ng'. Sheldon: It's actually (01101111)b = 'o'.

This last one is only one proper. Mr Howard made mistake of this mechanical unusable, ugly, crappy, monkey thing characters to binary convertion and only I was right. The world is safe now. ~Sheldon Cooper, PhD

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon wears his Justice League Star Power shirt.
  • Sheldon wears a French Maid outfit that Howard originally bought for Bernadette.


  • Penny and Bernadette only have one scene each in this episode that they have appeared in:
  • This is the third episode of the fifth season that does not feature Mayim Bialik; the first was "The Good Guy Fluctuation" (S5E7) and Bialik was also absent from the previous episode.
    • Though Amy makes no appearance in this episode, she's briefly mentioned by Penny in her only scene.
  • First episode to feature Stephen Hawking as a guest star, though he was mentioned in the episodes "Pilot" (S1E1), "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" (S2E11), and "The Agreement Dissection" (S4E21). His subsequent appearances and by Skyping or on the phone.
  • On December 22, 2011, a new job listing was actually posted to Hawking's website, seeking an assistant (like Howard) to help develop and maintain his electronic speech system as well as help him operate his motorized wheelchair. According to the website's description, the ideal candidate must work well under pressure, and must be knowledgeable about computers and electronics. (See "Stephen Hawking is Hiring: Seeks Assistant to Help Him Speak" and "Stephen Hawking Advertises For Wheelchair Assistant".)
  • In "The Agreement Dissection" (S4E21), Howard recalls that he said to Sheldon (in Stephen Hawking's voice), "I wish to discuss your theories of black holes. Meet me at the Randy’s Donuts by the airport at 2:00 a.m." In the episode of this article, Hawking tells Sheldon, "Your thesis that the Higgs boson is a black hole accelerating backwards through time is fascinating."
  • Stephen Hawking's original singularity theorems from the 1960s and 1970s were written up on the whiteboards on-set.
  • Sheldon believes that Stephen Hawking is "perhaps [his] only intellectual equal."
  • Leonard believes Sheldon will receive a restraining order from Stephen Hawking, like the ones from Leonard Nimoy, Carl Sagan, and Stan Lee. In "The Excelsior Acquisition", Sheldon refers to the legal documents from Nimoy and Lee, while, in "The Vacation Solution" (S5E16), Sheldon reveals the one from Sagan.
  • Strangely, Leonard and Raj never ask to meet Hawking, but are excited to receive gears and springs from his wheelchair.
  • In "The Terminator Decoupling" (S2E17), Sheldon is similarly excited to present a paper of his to another famous cosmological physicist, George Smoot.
  • Sheldon tells Hawking, "it came to me one morning in the shower." There is a whiteboard in the apartment 4A bathroom for this reason, clearly seen in "The Staircase Implementation" (S3E22).
  • In the hallway outside the Cal Tech cafeteria, there is a poster for Lisa Randall's book Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.
  • Raj is the "group historian."
  • Sheldon states, "I have never said that you are not good at what you do;" however, he referred to him as a "minor league engineer" to Agent Page, in "The Apology Insufficiency" (S4E7), and directly told Howard he couldn't press enter when he typed "World's Greatest Engineer" into the label maker, in "The Bus Pants Utilization" (S4E12).
Princess Leia vs

'You're Going to Regret This' - Princess Leia vs Jabba the Hutt Polystone Diorama.

  • The Princess Leia vs Jabba the Hutt Polystone Diorama in Howard's room (see this image) was previously at the comic book store in "The Russian Rocket Reaction" (S5E5-see here). It is still in Howard's bedroom in "The Launch Acceleration" (S5E23-see here).
  • Howard also has a "Carbonite Is Forever" limited edition Star Wars Boba Fett print by Cliff Chiang on his wall.
  • Amy did not appear in this episode, making it the first time in season 5 that Amy did not appear for two episodes back-to-back; however she is mentioned by name once in the laundry room of this episode.
  • Mrs. Wolowitz speaks for the second time in a normal tone of voice, rather than her usual bellowing register.
  • Howard states in this episode that he owns only one belt; however, throughout the series he has been seen with a number of different belts, including piano keys, studs and various other designs, as well as simple belts of various colors.
  • Jim Parsons revealed that initially, he was asked to wear a bikini a la Princess Leia during the scene at the cafeteria. He refused and would only agree if he were given six months and a personal trainer. The writers agreed to replace the bikini for a French maid costume.
  • In one review, Stephen Hawking was complimented on his comic timing.
  • Raj says Sheldon has only begged three times, but he begs Leonard to go to Switzerland in "The Large Hadron Collision" (S3E15), which is not mentioned.
  • Second episode where Sheldon was humiliated in drag. The first was "The Wheaton Recurrence" (S3E19).
  • Sheldon's insults towards Howard derived from finding his field inferior. This fact has been foreshadowed in "The Jerusalem Duality" (S1E12) and "The Porkchop Indeterminacy" (S1E15).
  • Second episode where a character says they're in hell due to a woman problem, first was "The Gorilla Experiment" (S3E10).


Raj: (to Howard) You can make him do anything you want.

Raj: Oh boy, well, Sheldon's going to freak out!
Leonard: Yeah, he worships Hawking.
Howard: I was actually thinking of bringing him along when I go over there so he can meet the great man.
Raj: It's really nice of you, Howard.
Howard: It's no big deal.
Leonard: Boy, a restraining order from Stephen Hawking. It'll look so nice next to the ones he's already got from Leonard Nimoy, Carl Sagan, and Stan Lee.
(Sheldon comes over to the table)
Sheldon: Leonard, do you recall when I said that I was going to revolutionize humanity's understanding of the Higgs boson particle and you said "Sheldon, it's 2 a.m., get out of my bedroom"?
Leonard: Like it was 10 hours ago. What about it?
Sheldon: Well, I believe I've done it. And I'm only saying believe to sound modest, because Sweet-Sam-Houston, I did it.
Leonard: Really?
Raj: That's incredible! (Takes out a pen from his pocket) Oh, here! Breakout the math.
Sheldon: Oh, okay, let me see this. (Starts writing) Alright! So, this particle here, is the boson, moving forward in time. Now, I was thinking... (pauses) Howard, you go ahead and eat. This isn't going to make any sense to you.
Howard: Sheldon, I have a working understanding of physics.
Sheldon: Yeah, good for you! Don't stop working on it.
Raj: You still going to tell him about you-know-who?
Howard: Yep.
Leonard: Still going to introduce him?
Howard: Not on your life!

Sheldon: Alright! What would you like me to do first?
Howard: I thought I'd start you off by polishing my belt buckles.
Sheldon: Ooh, by all means. When I was a boy, I would polish my Meemaw's silver, then, she would entertain me with stories about growing up in Oklahoma. She's an interesting woman. You know, she once killed a prairie dog with a gravy boat.
Howard: That's nice. (Pours out all his belt buckles from inside a container)
Sheldon: That's a lot of belt buckles.
Howard: Funny thing is I only have one belt. Anyway, I'll let you get started. Oh, by the way, the little marks that look like waterspots... I tend to stand too close to the urinal so, what you're seeing there is splash back.
Sheldon: You make sissy on new belt buckles? Meemaw's forks never have that.
Howard: Here is a blacklight, to check them. And for your own peace of mind, you might not wanna shine that around the rest of the room.

(Sheldon is finished polishing Howard's belt buckles)
Howard: Sheldon, these look great! They're like magnificent little crowns that hang over my magnificent little jewels. How did you get them so shiny?
Sheldon: Oh, I, uh, buffed them with Turtle Wax. The man down at Pep Boys says that from now on, the urine should just bead up and roll right off.
Howard: Way to go the extra mile, your Meemaw would be proud.
Sheldon: My Meemaw must never know of this. Now, will you give Professor Hawking my paper?
Howard: Oh, my dear boy, no. OK. (Howard gives Sheldon a white box) Next, this is a sexy French maid costume I brought for Bernadette, I thought it might spice things up and get her to dust my room at the same time. I was wrong and really wrong.
Sheldon: And you want me to return it for you.
Howard: (In a cheesy French accent) No, no, no, mon petit cherie.
(The next day Sheldon walks through the cafeteria in the French maid costume and everyone predictably stares at him)
Sheldon: What are you all staring at? D'you never seen a man try to get a meeting with Stephen Hawking before?
(Sheldon storms out and the three guys burst into fits of laughter)

Howard: Sheldon, you're a condescending jerk why would I do anything nice for you?
Sheldon: Um, to go to Jewish heaven?
Howard: Jews don't have heaven.
Sheldon: Well, to avoid Jewish hell?
Howard: (irritated) Have you met my mother? I live in Jewish hell!

Penny: Hey.
Sheldon: Hello.
Penny: It’s not Saturday night. Why are you doing your laundry?
Sheldon: This is not my laundry.
Penny: Wow, (holds up leopard skin print underwear) are these Amy’s? Kind of trashy, good for her.
Sheldon: Those are Howard’s.
Penny: Ugh. (drops the underwear) Why are you washing Howard’s man panties?
Sheldon: Because if I don’t, he won’t give my paper to Stephen Hawking. He’s a famous physicist.
Penny: Yeah, yeah, I know, he’s the wheelchair dude who invented time.
Sheldon: That’s close enough.
Penny: I don’t understand, why doesn’t Howard just introduce you to the guy?
Sheldon: Because he’s punishing me for being a, quote, "condescending jerk". You don’t think I’m condescending, do you?
Penny: Well…
Sheldon: Oh, I’m sorry, condescending means…
Penny: I know what it means. And yes, you love correcting people and putting them down.
Sheldon: Au contraire. When I correct people I am raising them up. You should know, I do it for you more than anyone.
Penny: Come on, you do it to feel superior. I see that twinkle in your eye when someone says who instead of whom or thinks the moon is a planet.
Sheldon: Or Don Quixote is a book about a donkey named Hotay.
Penny: See, there it is, there’s that twinkle.
Sheldon: Well, I can’t help it. That’s an involuntary twinkle.
Penny: What do you want me to tell you, Sheldon?
Sheldon: I want you to tell me that Howard is being mean to me for no reason.
Penny: Fine, Howard is being mean to you for no reason.
Sheldon: I knew it.

[The scene at Howard's mom's house of an upset Bernadette entering Howard's bedroom groaning angrily to herself]
Howard: (he's being friendly for one second) What’s the matter?
Bernadette: (feels uncomfortable) Every time I spend the night, (she shuts the bedroom door) your mom slaps me on the behind and says, (she imitates Mrs. Wolowitz) "go get ‘im".
Howard: It’s not her fault. She’s getting hormone replacement therapy. Makes her crazy horny. Check this out, I got Sheldon to wear the French maid’s costume.
Bernadette: (she is very worried) Oh, my God, that’s terrible.
Howard: Hey, I gave you first crack at it.
Bernadette: Why are you doing that? You’re being mean to him.
Howard: He’s mean to me all the time. You’ve heard him tease me about not having a doctorate.
Bernadette: If you don’t want to get teased about that, get a doctorate.
[Howard has a quiet shock for three seconds]
Bernadette: (she grins to him happily) I have one, they’re great.
Howard: Oh, come on, the man torments me. I’m just letting him have a little taste of his own medicine.
Bernadette: (stops smiling) It’s not the same thing. Sheldon doesn’t know when he’s being mean because the part of his brain that should know is getting a wedgie from the rest of his brain.
Howard: Fine, I’ll just make him do a couple more things, then I’ll stop.
Bernadette: (softly and firmly) No, you have to stop now.
Mrs Wolowitz (off): Bernadette, I want to remind you, you promised to take me dress shopping tomorrow!
Bernadette: (sighs) Oh, damn. (yells to Mrs. Wolowitz softly) I’m sorry, I can’t make it, but Sheldon’s going to go with you! (scolds to Howard angrily) And that’s the last thing you do to him.

Sheldon: Professor Hawking, it's an honor and a privilege to meet you, sir.
Stephen Hawking: I know.
Sheldon: I want to thank you for taking time to see me.
Stephen: My pleasure. I enjoyed reading your paper very much. You clearly have a brilliant mind.
Sheldon: I know.
Stephen: Your thesis that the Higgs boson is a black hole accelerating backwards through time is fascinating.
Sheldon: Thank you. It just... it came to me one morning in the shower.
Stephen: That's nice. Too bad it's wrong.
Sheldon: (shocked) What do you mean wrong?
Stephen: You made an arithmetic mistake on page two. It was quite the boner.
Sheldon: No, no... that can't be right. I... I don't make arithmetic mistakes.
Stephen: Are you saying I do?
Sheldon: Oh, no, no, of course not. It just, I was thinking... (spots his mistake) Oh, gosh, golly. I made a boo-boo, and I gave it to Stephen Hawking!
(Sheldon faints)
Stephen: Great, another fainter.

Sheldon: Try to put yourself in my place. Imagine you’re the sole human being living on a planet populated with nothing but dogs. And then it turns out there’s another human being.
Howard: Hang on. Are you saying the rest of us are dogs?
Sheldon: Yeah, okay, I can see you’re going to take this the wrong way. Let me try again. Imagine you’re the sole human being living on a planet populated with nothing but chimps.
Howard: Get out of my lab.
Sheldon: Oh, now they’re so much smarter than dogs. Have you seen them on those little bicycles?
Howard: Get out.
Sheldon: What about dolphins?
Howard: OUT!!!