Scientific American will make another television appearance tonight (other TV roles include the topic of conversation on episodes of the sitcoms Cheers and Mad about You as well as set dressing on House of Cards and Breaking Bad). In the plot of the Thursday, March 12 episode of The Big Bang Theory, (spoiler alert) the magazine runs a story about a scientific paper that characters Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter published about superfluid vacuum theory. A row ensues when Hofstadter realizes that only Cooper was mentioned in our coverage.

Scientific American talked to executive producer and showrunner Steven Molaro about writing for scientist characters and getting the science right.

Credit: Neil Jacobs/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]
What challenges do you face in writing for characters who are scientists?
I suppose the biggest challenges are getting the science correct and presenting it in a way that's understandable—and if it's too complex to be easily understood, it should at least be interesting to hear about.
Do you receive a lot of feedback from real scientists praising or critiquing the science included in the show?
Thanks to Dr. David Saltzberg, our science consultant, we have a solid track record so far. Although I do think people may have complained in the past that his handwriting was sloppy on the whiteboard.
In addition to having a science advisor, how do you ensure the science is accurate?
Our science consultant is definitely the first line of defense. After that it would be the more science-minded writers that work on the show. And, of course, there's always Wikipedia!
What formats work best for showcasing the science—dialogue, whiteboards, props, etcetera.?
We use a combination of dialogue, props and the whiteboards all the time on the show. It's usually much more interesting when a visual element like the board or actual science equipment and demonstrations can be included. Speaking of the whiteboard, we had done an episode about Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you look carefully at the whiteboard, you can see the equation Indiana Jones had on his blackboard in the movie. There has been a bit of controversy over that equation since many people feel it doesn't make any sense.
Do you think the show has gotten more people interested in science?
We have heard that enrollment in the hard sciences has increased since the show's debut, but I don't have any statistics.
Is there any trick for brainstorming the complicated words Sheldon uses or the fun facts he shares?
I suppose the trick is having smart writers with a fondness for trivia and a robust vocabulary—also a good thesaurus doesn't hurt.
How did you decide to include Scientific American in this episode?
We wanted a science journal to write about Leonard and Sheldon's paper. If that journal's name carried weight, it would only make the stakes of the story that much heftier. We were thrilled Scientific American was willing to work with us to make it happen!