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"The Higgs Boson Observation" is the third episode of the sixth season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory. This episode first aired on Thursday, October 11, 2012.[1]


Sheldon hires a graduate student as an assistant who first worries Amy until it appears that she is more interested in Leonard, making her Penny's concern. Also, Howard is having trouble with his crew mates and anxieties on the International Space Station.

Extended Plot[]

Penny brings in a box for Sheldon from his mother and he tips her a dollar. Sheldon had his journals and research he wrote as a child sent to him. Since the verification of the existence of the Higgs-boson particle, the scientist that postulated its existence a half a century ago, Peter Higgs, could be heading to a Nobel Prize. Sheldon wants to check his earlier work to see if he already hit upon an idea to get his Nobel Prize. He needs someone to read through these notebooks since he thinks his time is too important to do the task himself. First he asks Leonard, who declines.

TBBT 6x03 Sheldon and Penny

Here's a dollar.

Penny volunteers; however, she couldn't even understand the title of a paper Sheldon wrote at the age of five: "A Proof That Algebraic Topology Can Never Have a Non-Self-Contradictory Set of Abelian Groups".

At Leonard's suggestion, he hires a graduate student, an attractive student named Alex Jensen. She does flatter him during the interview and thinks it's an honor to work for him. Sheldon makes sure that she doesn't do drugs including coffee, has no hearing loss due an ear infection she experienced years ago, and that she has paid all her parking tickets. She is willing to do everything he asks her to do. Leonard felt that she seemed nice and tells her, "May God have mercy on your soul" for working with Sheldon. Raj is attracted to her, but since Raj wouldn't speak to Sheldon and Leonard in front of Alex, Alex wondered what the matter with Raj was.

TBBT 6x03 Penny and Amy 2

How can you not fall in love with this face?

Penny is giving Amy a makeover which she wants to show Sheldon. Amy tells Penny that if it leads to phone sex, Penny will have to leave the room. When Alex answers Amy's video call to Sheldon, Amy is shocked when she learns that Alex is a girl. Alex tells Amy that Sheldon left a message not to be disturbed unless it's Stephen Hawking, his mother or himself from the future. Alex did take a message. Amy is upset and confides to Penny that while Sheldon told her that he had a new assistant named Alex, he did not tell Amy that Alex was a girl, to which Penny wondered if he even noticed. Amy replies that she is more worried about Alex than she is about Sheldon, especially when a woman hangs around that wonderful face of his (Sheldon's) for eight hours a day, how could she not fall in love with it.

Amy gets Penny to go to Caltech to meet Sheldon's new assistant. Amy bursts into Sheldon's office, but doesn't find him there though does leave her scent by grabbing various items and licking them or rubbing them into her armpits. Amy leaves her scent to keep Sheldon interested and admits that she's done the same thing in Penny's apartment before they became best friends.

TBBT 6x03 The gang and Alex

I'm just disappointed.

In the cafeteria, Alex brings Sheldon his yogurt to his usual exact specifications with the exception of leaving one cherry stem on the bottom, leaving Sheldon "disappointed." Leonard invites her to join them, but Sheldon doesn't want her to after seeing how servants are treated on a PBS British series (referring to the show Downton Abbey). Leonard urges her to sit down anyway and impishly suggests that she talk to Raj about her dissertation about asteroids. Predictably, Raj silently gets up and moves over to the next table, prompting a smug look from Leonard and a silent head shake from Sheldon. Leonard continues speaking gregariously to Alex and she starts getting flirty, laughing at Leonard's jokes and complimenting him on his sense of humor. Amy and Penny secretly observe her actions from the doorway, and it becomes clear to Amy that she doesn't have to worry about Sheldon since his assistant appears interested in Leonard. She relays this fact to Penny, who continues to watch Alex with narrow eyes ("That skank's YOUR problem, not mine").

During their car ride on the way home, Amy tells Penny that Alex was definitely courting Leonard. Penny downplays these actions by insisting that everything is fine and that she remains uncertain of where her relationship with Leonard is right now. Amy explains that although the prefrontal cortex of Penny's brain is telling her there's nothing to worry about, the limbic system is telling her that Alex's attraction to Leonard must mean that he's desirable. While Penny admits that Leonard is definitely desirable, she waffles back and forth on whether it bothered her to see another woman flirting with him, eventually admitting to herself: "OK it bothers me!" 

TBBT 6x03 Penny and Amy

That skank's your problem.

That night while having beer and hors d'oeuvres, Penny keeps asking Leonard about his day, but he never mentions Sheldon's new female assistant. Sheldon then shows up with Alex, announcing that she may have found something in his grade school science project report that could be his ticket to a Nobel Prize. Penny introduces herself to Alex, who mistakes her for Leonard's assistant. Penny replies that they were working on a five-year experiment (an on-off relationship), which confuses both Leonard and Sheldon. Alex replies that she is sure that a lot of people would want to work with someone as talented as Leonard. Penny quips that a lot of people can't, and then she takes Leonard to her apartment because her limbic system wants to take his pants off (i.e. have sex). As Penny is leaving with Leonard, Alex remarks that she seems nice, showing she has no ulterior motives outside of working with Sheldon. Sheldon simply tells Alex to notice people on her own time as they get to work.


Penny meets Alex. "Everybody can't."

Meanwhile, Howard tells Bernadette that being cooped up in "this old tin can" for weeks on end is getting to him. He asks her to drop something so he can watch it fall. In another video chat, Howard tells her that due to the delay of the Soyuz capsule that is supposed to pick up the astronauts, he will have to stay in space for an additional 7-10 days. He is suffering bad anxiety attacks, starts sounding paranoid, and gives her crazy ideas on how she can rescue him. He also starts talking to her in code. Eventually, he is captured by the other astronauts, held down and given a sedative. It makes him feel better though he begins acting strangely afterwards, such as taking off his pants and wind milling in the capsule. Bernadette then tells him to put his pants back on.



  • The TV Critic: "As I always maintain, the show is at its best when new characters interact with the established eccentricities of the cast. Sure enough Alex's arrival prompts several fun moments...The writers are certainly committed to Howard's space travel and I guess you won’t see anything like it on another sit com. His misery at being kept up there for a long period of time makes perfect sense and I did laugh at his fearful statement that Russians “left dogs up here in the 60s!”...This was pretty good. Not funny throughout but by far the best of the season so far."[2]
  • The A.V. Club gave this episode an A-.[3]
  • IMDb user reviews


  • Title Reference: The title refers to Sheldon noticing how the discovery of the Higgs boson particle was postulated fifty years ago and how his earlier work might help him winning the Nobel Prize. The Higgs Boson was discovered by Peter Higgs of Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh. Higgs' paper was initially rejected but he was later proved right.
  • Chuck Lorre's vanity card.
  • This episode was watched by 14.23 million people with a rating of 4.5 (adults 18-49).[4]
  • Total viewers including DVR users 18.66 million.
  • This episode aired in Canada on October 11, 2012 with 4.286 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.[5]
  • In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on November 29, 2012 with 2.694 million total viewers.[6]
  • Episode transcript [1]

Costume Notes[]

  • Sheldon wears a blue Superman Vitruvian man t-shirt by Fat-Tee , the AV Club green t-shirt by Heavy Rotation, and a red Flash- Crimson Comet shirt.

AV Club shirt


Vetrivian Superman shirt


  • First appearance of Alex Jensen.
  • When Amy is applying make up in Penny's apartment she doesn't have glasses on, the camera angle changes and she does have them on, when the angle changes again she doesn't have them on
  • Sheldon's source of inspiration for this episode stems from the announcement that physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider had discovered a particle matching the description of the Higgs boson and possibly confirmed the theory of Higgs, et. al. on how subatomic particles acquire mass – a central part of the Standard Model|Standard Model of particle physics. (Refer to Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe.) Previously, in "The Wiggly Finger Catalyst" (S5:E04), Sheldon came close to figuring out why the Large Hadron Collider had yet to isolate the Higgs boson. In this later episode, Sheldon explains: "Now, in 1964, Dr. Peter Higgs -- accomplished self-promoter and physicist -- he wrote a paper postulating the existence of a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson. Now, initially, the paper was rejected.
  • Recently, he was proven right, and now he’s on the fast track to win a Nobel Prize...The point is i Higgs is being celebrated for work he did 50 years ago. So, that got me thinking...Perhaps, I’ve already hit upon the idea that will win me my Nobel Prize." Indeed, the prize had been expected and Peter W. Higgs of Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh (jointly with François Englert) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.” (See also Update: Physicists say they have found a Higgs boson and For Nobel, They Can Thank the ‘God Particle’.)
  • The Higgs Boson was initially theorised mainly by Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London, UK.
  • Higgs and Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013 for their work on the Higgs mechanism.
  • Near the end of the episode the whiteboard behind Sheldon is a reference to one of the scientific papers announcing the discovery of the Higgs Boson: arxiv:1207.7235. The graph below the reference is a sketch of Figure 3 of the paper.
  • Sheldon hires an assistant, Alex Jensen, in this episode. Previously, in "The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem", Ramona Nowitzki served as Sheldon's assistant, albeit voluntarily with ulterior motives though she still seemed to adore him. Two other episodes where a main character gets an assistant include "The Griffin Equivalency" and "The Vacation Solution" .
  • Like Dennis Kim, Alex Jensen has a degree in physics from Stanford University.
  • Alex Jensen's father is a SETI astronomer.
  • Raj's expertise in the field of planetary astronomy is extended to include looking for Trojan asteroids at the Earth-Sun L5 Lagrange point. In October 2010 the first Earth trojan 2010 TK7 was discovered. It currently oscillates around Earth's L4 Lagrange point, although it may have been oscillating about L5 prior to 500 A.D. - perhaps The Big Bang Theory was just 1500 years late. (NASA press release, National Geographic article)
  • Alex Jensen informed Amy of Sheldon's request, "He’s asked me to hold all calls unless you’re Stephen Hawking, his mother, or himself from the future." Stephen Hawking was also mentioned in the pilot, "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis", and "The Agreement Dissection", and seen in "The Hawking Excitation" and is heard in subsequent seasons.
  • The office Sheldon acquired following Professor Rothman's retirement in "The Rothman Disintegration" is featured in this episode. Herein, the issue of the The Journal of Physical Chemistry A with a picture of Sheldon on the cover, first appearing in "The Beta Test Initiation", can be observed framed on a wall. Sheldon also has an Albert Einstein Bobblehead on his desk.

    Einstein bobblehead

  • Sheldon gives Penny a dollar for her labor to bring him the box of journals, quite like what he did in "The Gothowitz Deviation" except with chocolate.
  • First appearance of Penny at Caltech since "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis".
  • Bernadette's office is shown for the first time. Also, a blue sign with word ZANGEN in an ellipse can be seen on her uniform, presumably the name of the company where she works.
  • Syndication in this episode does not show a laboratory at Zangen that Bernadette works for. There are no episodes in the entire The Big Bang Theory show where Bernadette is seen doing experiments in one or two of the labs of Zangen either (as of only three separate labs being shown at Caltech [Leonard's lab, Howard's lab and Amy's lab] where Leonard, Howard and Amy work at in some of the entire episodes of The Big Bang Theory so far).
    • As of this episode both the blonde female members (Bernadette and Penny) are the only ones in the gang who don't work in any the labs or the offices at Caltech. One of them (Penny) hasn't even been a scientist to work on experiments. It also happens in "The Santa Simulation" (S6E11).
  • Bernadette is only seen in her office scenes of this episode where she is seen chatting to Howard in space on Skype and she shares no scenes with the five other gang members (the 'Lenny' duo, Raj and the 'Shamy' duo) in this episode.
  • Second episode where a TBBT character under the influence delivers a moon joke and removes their pants in front of a camera. The first was Sheldon in "The Pants Alternative".
  • Alex tries to make a connection with Leonard who completely misses it.
  • The title of Sheldon's preschool paper (A Proof That Algebraic Topology Can Never Have a Non-Self-Contradictory Set of Abelian Groups) makes no sense as stated. As is explained here, algebraic topology is a field of study (in particular, the application of algebraic methods to the field of topology), not a type of topology. Therefore, it cannot "have a set" of anything. By comparison, the statement would be meaningful (though not necessarily truemathematician please verify) if it said "trivial" instead of "algebraic", as the trivial topology is a type of topology.
    • Skipping over the nonsensical title and assuming instead a similar proof for a valid, even if simple, topology type, the subject of the paper is fairly advanced; such a proof would require a working knowledge of graduate-level mathematical theory.
  • Penny asks Sheldon whether she's "just a blonde monkey" to him upon seeing Sheldon's childhood paper. While Sheldon remarks that "[she] said it, not [him]", incidentally, Penny does become a blonde monkey in Season 7 when she stars in Serial Ape-ist 2: Monkey See, Monkey Kill. On the other hand, she gets fired before most of the scenes of her wearing the gorilla mask with a blonde mop of hair are made.


Sheldon: Do you know about the Higgs boson?
Penny: Of course. It's, it's been in the news, and it's a very famous boson.

Sheldon: Flattery will get you nowhere.
Alex: It's not flattery if it's true.

Amy: (To Penny about Alex) You were right, I had nothing to worry about. That skank's your problem, not mine.

Amy: (to Penny) If my new look leads to phone sex, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the room.

Penny: I'm just a blonde monkey to you, aren't I?
Sheldon: You said it, not me.

Leonard: So, Alex, what’s the topic of your dissertation?
Alex: I’m looking for Trojan asteroids at Earth’s L-Five Lagrange point.
Leonard: Oh, that happens to be Dr. Koothrappali’s field of expertise. You two have a lot to talk about.
Alex: Is that true? (Raj moves to another table without saying a word, Alex asks Leonard) Is he all right?
Leonard: No. But compared to your boss, he’s the poster boy for sanity.

Bernadette: Hey, I wasn’t expecting to hear from you today. Everything okay?
Howard: Uh, no, not really.
Bernadette: (sounding rather worried) What’s wrong?
Howard: Well, remember the Soyuz capsule they were sending to bring us home?
Bernadette: Uh-huh.
Howard: It’s delayed. We’re gonna be here at least another week. Maybe ten days. It’s the Russians, so you don’t know. (crazed whisper) They left dogs up here in the sixties.
Bernadette: Come on, Howard. No one’s leaving you up there.
Howard: I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I can’t sleep, and zero gravity is giving me crazy acid reflux. I’m down to my last three Tums.
Bernadette: You’re going to be fine. You survived that Weight Watchers cruise with your mom. And they ran out of low-fat ice cream on day two. Just calm down and take a few deep breaths.
Howard: Okay, okay. What am I doing? I’m using up all the oxygen. If I die, promise you’ll never have sex with another man.


See also[]