In S10 E05 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is wearing a red t-shirt.

How does some chemical flasks and electric bolts make the Flash logo?

In the TV show it looks like The Flash was created because of the dark matter from the collider explosion and the lighting.

Sheldon wearing red shirt with symbols

  • 6
    Fyi, Sheldon had this shirt a year before the new tv show aired, so it's 100% based on prior Flash origins, which all are just chemicals+magical speed force lightning
    – cde
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 5:35
  • @JuanCarlosOropeza that one: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_(comics)#Barry_Allen
    – njzk2
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 19:33
  • 10
    This shirt is much more confusing when you think it says chemistry + electricity = fascists.
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 21:24
  • @njzk2 considering that all of the answers already say that, I'm not quite sure why you felt it necessary to reiterate it here in the comments. If you want to answer the question, please do so. Chastising the op for not reading the Wikipedia page is not constructive.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 13:45

3 Answers 3


Chemicals + lightning = The Flash.

Sheldon is well known to love the comic character The Flash.

This shirt is an equation for how you create that character.

As you can see from the link above, the shirt actually appeared in a much earlier episode of the show, season six episode 21, which aired on April 25th, 2013, over a year before the CW version of The Flash started airing (October 2014).

From the Flash Wikipedia page:

Barry Allen is an assistant scientist from the Criminal and Forensic Science Division of Central City Police Department. Barry had a reputation for being very slow, deliberate, and frequently late, which frustrated his fiancée, Iris West. One night, as he was preparing to leave work, a freak lightning bolt struck a nearby shelf in his lab and doused him with a cocktail of unnamed chemicals.

The same thing happened to Wally West:

Wallace Rudolph "Wally" West is the nephew of both Iris West and Barry Allen, by marriage, and was introduced in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (1959). When West was about ten years old, he was visiting his uncle's police laboratory, and the freak accident that gave Allen his powers repeated itself, bathing West in electrically charged chemicals.

This is faithfully reproduced in the 1990 TV show The Flash:

John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen / Flash: A forensic scientist in the Central City Police Department (CCPD) who gains the power of super speed after his lab is struck by lightning causing him to be doused with chemicals.

This is also at least partially how Barry Allen in the 2014 TV show The Flash gains his powers:

Fourteen years after his mother's death, an advanced particle accelerator malfunctions during its public unveiling, bathing the city center with a previously unknown form of radiation during a severe thunderstorm. Allen is struck by lightning from the storm and doused with chemicals in his lab. Awakening after a nine-month coma, he discovers he has the ability to move at superhuman speeds.

Yes, there's the addition of the radiation but the basic formula still applies.

  • Yes. Im also fan of Flash, but he was created by a reactor explotion. (at least the new tv serie) Not sure how chemical play a factor there Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 4:37
  • 2
    There was no particle accelerator explosion in the comics @JuanCarlosOropeza.
    – user33741
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 4:48
  • 1
    Regardles @JuanCarlosOropeza, you're misremembering what happened in the WB show. In the WB show he's in his lab and there is a lightning storm and he's doused with chemicals... so it still fits the TV origin story.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 4:55
  • In any case, the answer is pretty complete here as it is clear that Sheldon's shirt is implying the comics' Flash and not of the TV show.
    – user33741
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 5:09

It is a reference to one of the origin stories about The Flash.

As a scientist, he was working in his lab when a lightening bolt struck some chemicals which turned him into The Flash.

That's what the equation represents.

Chemicals + Lightening Bolt = The Flash

The lightning bolt through a circle is the logo for The Flash.


Excerpt from Wikipedia

Barry Allen is a police scientist (his job title was changed to a forensic scientist in The Flash: Iron Heights one-shot) with a reputation for being very slow, and frequently late, which frustrates his fiancee, Iris West, as the result of his devotion to crime-solving. One night, as he is preparing to leave work, a lightning bolt shatters a case full of chemicals and spills all over Allen. As a result, Allen finds that he can run extremely fast and has matching reflexes.


It is the classic origin for his powers.

enter image description here

Even in the new CW Flash, Barry Allen was mixing some chemicals in his CSI lab when Star Labs had its explosion. The resulting energy wave also created some lightning, of which one of the bolts struck Barry.

enter image description here


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