The geniuses of Eureka are inspired by a pretty good source: the geniuses of Cambridge, Mass.
Before his TV writing career took off, Jaime Paglia, co-creator of SyFy’s number-one-rated show, had a part-time gig as a program director of a science and technology public radio show called Cambridge Forum.
“It was this rare opportunity to be in Cambridge, Massachusetts where literally you have some of the greatest minds in science and technology,” Paglia told me in an interview recently. “Tim Berners-Lee, who literally invented the Internet, and Rodney Brooks, head of MIT robotics lab, the guy who made Sojourner, and who invented the Roomba in his spare time. Those guys, they see the world differently. There’s a unique way their brains work that allows them to be as creative as they are.”
These Cambridge geniuses eventually found their way into the show, if not as Nathan Stark or Douglas Fargo (Did you know he had a first name? I had to look it up), then at least as Walter Perkins or Carl Carlson. And Paglia also has another inspiration for scientific heroes: Dr. Donald Paglia, UCLA medical professor emeritus and Jaime’s dad.
I know that many scientists (and at least one science blogger) really like the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The show is well-written and acted, has a half dozen funny one-liners per episode, and delivers a weekly helping of science and nerd culture in-jokes.
In a recent episode, Howard the NASA scientist erased several hours of data from the Mars Rover after inviting a woman he had met in a bar to come back to his office and drive it. His pick up line: “Have you ever driven a car …. on Mars?” Funny stuff and mostly harmless, right?
No. Not right. After watching several episodes on a recent cross-country flight, I’ve concluded that this show is bad for American Science. And here’s why: