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Having a ball in Hollywood…

In lieu of our usual weekly link round-up, we thought we’d share some photos from our visit to the set of The Big Bang Theory last week! During our visit, we were really impressed by the level of detail in the sets – they really nailed everything! It felt just like home to these three NASA geeks! These photos focus on the things (besides our WMAP beach ball) that really caught our eye as we took our tour.


The show is shot on a sound stage at the Warner Brothers studios that’s been home to many famous productions – from Casablanca to Gremlins 2. Just like the turnover and flexibility in the testing facilities and giant cleanroom at Goddard, they can reuse the stages for production after production – no matter how different they may be. That’s the magic of Hollywood!


We walked into the building and immediately saw the line-up of sets that make up The Big Bang Theory. Some are static (like the apartments), but they also have some that they change regularly to meet the needs of an episode’s script. We ran up and down the apartment building stairs and knocked (three times!) on Penny’s door. When we got to Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, we immediately saw our beach ball and made a beeline for it. I think they’d put it in a special place of honor, just for us.


I think it’s safe to say that the apartment set was our favorite, and it definitely had the most geeky stuff in it! We’re used to seeing whiteboards covered in scribbled equations and diagrams at Goddard – they line our offices, hallways, and conference rooms for wherever genius may strike. If you read The Big Blog Theory, the blog by the show’s science advisor, David Saltzberg, you’ll see that they put a lot of effort into the equations that go on the whiteboards. Though only a portion of fans would scrutinize the equations, it’s nice to know that they want to get their science right.


Big Bang Theory

I spent an especially long time perusing the bookshelves in the apartment – I’m definitely a bibliophile! I was excited to see some books that I own, as well as scientific classics that are on plenty of bookshelves around work. Hey, that’s my intro Physics textbook! Bill Prady speculated that the biology and genetics books are Sheldon’s.


I know a few people who pause the show on their DVRs to look at the books and other goodies around the set – and I know they’ll pore over these photos. The apartment was just so richly decorated with books, comics, toys, etc. We all saw things that we wished we could take back to our offices at Goddard.  We left a few NASA goodies with the production folks, so perhaps we’ll see something familiar on a future episode!


There are also a lot of old scientific instruments as decoration. Bill told us that he envisioned Leonard buying things for their apartment at the Pasadena Flea Market.

Big Bang Theory set

Big Bang Theory set

Is that the Eagle Nebula that I spy? We spotted some iconic images from the Hubble Space Telescope hanging in the window.


Note the Rubik’s Cube tissue box holder – and Burham’s Celestial Handbook!

Big Bang Theory set

Before we left, we couldn’t resist getting one more photo – with the beach ball, of course! (Maggie is sitting in Sheldon’s spot. That’s strike one…)

Big Bang Theory

Stay tuned today for details on our week of contests – we’ve got some exciting things in store!


  • Valente Espinosa says:

    Nice behind the scenes tour! Lucky you!

    One question, do they have just one set for the stairs? each time they climb the stairs we see 3 different floors.

    • Sara Mitchell says:

      Valente – Yes, one set of stairs! They re-dress it to look like different floors between takes.

  • Rochelle says:

    Very Cool , I managed to find a replica of that Rubiks cube Tissue box cover here – very cool.

  • Heather says:

    I am so jealous of your visit. I hope you don’t mind but I linked to your blog post since you have an awesome shot of the rubix cube tissue cover. I just made one for a friend and wanted to relate it back to Big Bang Theory. PS didn’t take the picture just posted the link to the post. Thanks!

  • Sheldon L. Cooper says:

    You’re in my spot.

  • Daniel Wiegandt says:

    What is the device on the top shelf of Leonard and Sheldon’s bookcase? It is wooden with vacuum tubes on it. Is that some kind of radio?

    • Sara Mitchell says:

      Daniel – That’s a great question! I don’t know, but you might be able to ask on one of the show’s fan discussion sites.

  • sulee says:

    I know there is only one staircase in the hallway, but I’m trying to picture just how it’s done: when the actors are supposed to be going upstairs, between sets do they have to come back down the left stairs (as we see it) to where the elevator is and then go down the right side stairs as the set is changed to look like different floors, or is there a way for them to do that behind the set, like another set of stairs? (A fireman’s pole seems like a good idea!)

    • Sara Mitchell says:

      sulee – They have to come back down while the sets are changed! Each stairwell (up or down) ends with a wall. Sadly, no fireman’s pole.

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