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The Terminator Decoupling is an episode of the television series The Big Bang Theory that first aired on CBS on March 9, 2009. It is the seventeenth episode of second season of the series and thirty-forth episode overall. The episode features guest appearances by actress Summer Glau and cosmologist George Smoot.


Leonard (Johnny Galecki) , Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) are heading to San Franciscomarker to attend a conference, where cosmologist George Smoot is giving a keynote address. On Sheldon's insistence the gang decides to travel to San Francisco by train. On board the train, they find out that Summer Glau (played by herself) is riding the same train. Raj and Howard debate on who should approach her first. With Raj unable to talk to women except when under the influence, he departs to find alcohol on the train. As Howard is trying to figure out the best opening line, Raj swoops in and starts talking with Summer. Their conversation is going very well until Howard points out that Raj is drinking non-alcoholic beer. Realizing he was under a sort of placebo effect, Raj quickly departs the scene, unable to talk anymore. Howard tries to strike a conversation but is unable create an impression; instead it just comes off as annoying, his attempt ends with his phone being broken by Summer after he tries to take photos of him and her. With the failure of both Raj and Howard, Leonard musters the courage to approach Summer, but she gets off the train just as he is about to introduce himself.

During the train ride, Sheldon realizes that he has forgotten the flash drive containing the paper he wanted George Smoot to read. Reluctantly, he resorts to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) to locate his flash drive so she can email him the paper. When Sheldon eventually presents the paper to Smoot (appearing as himself) and proposes joint research on the subject, Smoot rejects his idea.


George Smoot had written to the producers of the show and requested to be featured on the series. Smoot, who received Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006 for his work which cemented the Big Bang theory, is an admitted fan of the series. The scene involving Smoot was shot at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Californiamarker on February 18, 2009. Summer Glau also appeared as herself in the episode. Glau is part of the cast of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which along with The Big Bang Theory is produced by Warner Bros. Television. Bill Prady, one of the creators of The Big Bang Theory, presented the script of the episode to Josh Friedman, creator of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles with the plan of casting Glau as herself. Friedman, impressed with the story, suggested it to Glau.


On the night of its first broadcast on March 9, 2009, the episode was watched by 9.46 million households, according to Nielsen Ratings. The episode received a 3.6 rating/10 share among viewers aged between 18 and 49, and a 2.4 rating/8 share among viewers between 18 and 34.

The episode received modestly positive reviews. Noel Murray of The A.V. Club praised the writers for evenly including all the main characters in the episode. IGN's James Chamberlain found Glau's acting lacking emotion, remarking "it felt as though Cameron were on the show and not Summer". Alan Sepinwall from The Star-Ledger also remarked this episode as a balanced one for the cast ensemble.


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