Here's The Real Person That Inspired Sheldon Cooper

In 2017, an avid fan of The Big Bang Theory suggested, via Quora, that Sheldon Cooper may have been inspired by real-life physicist Sheldon Lee Glashow. For one, Glashow and Cooper both have a Nobel Prize to their name. Glashow won his Nobel Prize for his work on the electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. Cooper won his for "super asymmetry." Potato, Potaato? According to his Boston University page, Glashow is a Harvard University graduate, like Sheldon Cooper's wife, Amy Farrah Fowler, but unlike Sheldon Cooper, who graduated from the California Institute of Technology. Tomato, Tomaato? 

Perhaps the most convincing similarity between the two is that Glashow, like Cooper, to borrow PBS' words, has "strong opinions about string theory." Says Glashow: "The string theorists have a theory that appears to be consistent and is very beautiful, and I don't understand it." Says Sheldon Cooper: "If I'm being honest, I never forgot about string theory. It's remarkable. It's the closest we've come to a theory of everything" (via YouTube). Of course, Cooper then goes onto "solve" string theory, so he has that against Glashow.

Is Glashow, then, the real-life inspiration behind Cooper? Maybe partly. But The Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady has another story to tell.

This is who inspired Sheldon Cooper, according to Bill Prady

Turns out that Bill Prady's inspiration for Sheldon Cooper was not a physicist but a computer geek (via The TV Addict). "Before I was a writer I was a computer programmer and was working with guys who were amazingly bright and had a little trouble fitting into the world" he explained during Paley Fest '09, "I would tell Chuck [Lorre] about a guy I knew who was a human calculator. If you programmed in Z80 assembly you had to convert from decimal to hexadecimal and you could either grab the calculator or you could shout it to this guy and he would be faster." When it came to human interaction, the programmer was lost. "He couldn't calculate a tip at a restaurant," Prady recalled, "because the formula for a tip is 15-20% depending upon the quality of the service and he couldn't put a numeric value on the service. It was human."

You, of course, fell in love with Jim Parsons' interpretation of Sheldon Cooper. Parsons worked to make sure you did. The actor described his preparation for the role to Fresh Air's David Bianculli. "I really just [ran] rampant around my apartment saying these words, this dialogue over and over. I'd go outside and say it. I'd sit down and say it. I'd stand up and run while staying it. Because I thought 'I need to be able to trust myself to have these words come out.'"