The Big Brain Theory

The Big Brain Theory is an American television show on the Discovery Channel that first aired in 2013, hosted by Kal Penn.[2] Eight episodes were produced.[3]

The Big Brain Theory
Presented byKal Penn
JudgesMark Fuller & Christine Gulbranson
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Running time45 min.
Production companyPilgrim Studios
Original networkDiscovery Channel
Picture format1080i
Original releaseMay 1 (2013-05-01) –
June 19, 2013 (2013-06-19)[1]


Each week the contestants enter the blueprint challenge, where they are given 30 minutes to solve an engineering problem using only an electronic blackboard.[4] The 2 contestants with the best solutions are chosen by the judges to be the leaders of the blue team and the red team, who now have to build a working solution.[5] The team leaders pick their members one by one, and they are given a certain time and budget to finish the task; workshop time is limited to 12 hours a day.[6]

Their builds are then tested and the team that fails will face elimination. If both teams fail then nobody is safe from elimination. The judges will determine who leaves the competition. Once eliminated, one competitor can get back in if he/she wins the wild card, decided by the judges.[7]

The winner of the competition gets US$50,000 and a one-year contract to work for WET Enterprises, founded by Mark Fuller.[8] Contestants who have been eliminated cannot participate in the blueprint challenge any more, but they can still be picked for the teams and are eligible for the Judges' Prize, which is US$20,000.[9]


In addition to the full judges, there is always a third guest judge that changes every week. The two full judges are:


  • Winner: Corey Fleischer, mechanical engineer[13]
  • Runner-up: Amy Elliott, engineering grad student[14][15]
  • Judges' Prize: Tom Johnson, mechanical engineer
  • Eric Whitman, robotics grad student[16]
  • Andrew Stroup, defense systems engineer[17]
  • Dan Moyers, space systems engineer
  • Gui Cavalcanti, robotics engineer
  • Alison Wong, product designer
  • Joel Ifill, welding engineer
  • Joe Caravella, rocket scientist

Bold denotes team captain.

# Title Guest judge Winner Eliminated Original airdate
1 "The Next Great Innovator" Michael J. Massimino Joe May 1, 2013 (2013-05-01)
Keep a box full of explosives from blowing up
when two trucks collide. Both teams fail.
  • Red Team: Amy, Andrew, Eric, Dan, Corey
  • Blue Team: Joe, Tom, Alison, Gui, Joel
2 "Seek and Destroy" Bobak Ferdowsi Red team Joel May 8, 2013 (2013-05-08)
Build a device remote-controlled from a bunker to hit a missile in the air.
  • Red Team: Eric, Corey, Andrew, Dan, Joe
  • Blue Team: Gui, Tom, Joel, Amy, Alison
3 "Three Little Pigs" Burt Dalton Red team Alison May 15, 2013 (2013-05-15)
Build a shelter to protect a human life under the most extreme conditions.
  • Red Team: Amy, Corey, Dan, Joe, Gui
  • Blue Team: Alison, Tom, Eric, Andrew, Joel
4 "Triathlabots" Jason Bardis Blue team Dan May 22, 2013 (2013-05-22)
Build a robot that can do the 100-yard dash, the javelin throw, and
the standing long jump. Bryan Clay demonstrates the 3 athletics events.
  • Red Team: Dan, Gui, Amy, Joel, Alison
  • Blue Team: Corey, Eric, Tom, Andrew, Joe
5 "Waterfall" Dezso Molnar Red team Gui May 29, 2013 (2013-05-29)
Harness a waterfall to power an elevator.
Dr. Gulbranson is absent from this episode.
  • Red Team: Eric, Corey, Andrew, Alison, Joel
  • Blue Team: Gui, Tom, Amy, Joe, Dan
6 "The Wild Card" Brian David Johnson Blue team Andrew, Dan June 5, 2013 (2013-06-05)
Design an automated food delivery system.
Dan wins the wild card but gets eliminated again.
  • Red Team: Andrew, Eric, Dan, Alison, Joel
  • Blue Team: Amy, Corey, Tom, Gui, Joe
7 "Catching Cars" Carl Edwards[18] Blue team Eric, Tom June 12, 2013 (2013-06-12)
Stop any car that doesn't stop at the checkpoint
without injuring the passengers.
  • Red Team: Tom, Eric, Joe, Joel, Dan
  • Blue Team: Amy, Corey, Gui, Alison, Andrew
8 "Bridge Battle" Buzz Aldrin Blue team June 19, 2013 (2013-06-19)
Build a bridge for a 3400-pound truck to cross.
  • Red Team: Amy, Gui, Eric, Joel, Alison
  • Blue Team: Corey, Tom, Andrew, Joe, Dan


  1. ^ "BIG BRAIN THEORY, THE: PURE GENIUS (DISCOVERY)". Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  2. ^ James Sullivan (2013-05-14). "Kal Penn on 'The Big Brain Theory' | Movies News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  3. ^ Newzware - ICannon (2013-06-19). "The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius - TV". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  4. ^ Wiegand, David (2013-04-29). "'Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius' review - San Francisco Chronicle". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  5. ^ Spangler, Todd (2013-04-25). "'The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius,' 'Karma's a B*tch!'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  6. ^ "The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius Episodes - The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius Season 1 2013 Episode Guides - Watch The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius Episodes". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  7. ^ "MAKE | Makers on TV: Big Brain Theory". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  8. ^ Holmes, Linda (2013-05-01). "Discovery's 'Big Brain Theory': Not That Kind Of Nerd TV : Monkey See". NPR. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  9. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (2013-04-30). "Gray Matter in Moments of Triumph and Defeat". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
  10. ^ "WET TV | The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  11. ^ "Dr. Christine Gulbranson * Innovation Strategist * Renewable Energy Innovator * Entrepreneur * Judge on The Big Brain Theory". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  12. ^ "CHRISTALIS, LLC is a strategic advisory firm". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  13. ^ Gerri Miller. "Corey Fleischer wins Discovery's 'Big Brain Theory' competition". Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Jacob Demmitt. "Student ends run on 'Big Brain Theory'". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  15. ^ "Amy Elliot". Retrieved August 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "Engineer from Westfield competes on Discovery Channel's 'The Big Brain Theory'". Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  17. ^ ""The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius": Former Oklahoman among contestants on Discovery Channel’s new reality competition show". April 24, 2013.
  18. ^ "Edwards on The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius". 2013-06-10. Retrieved 2013-06-24.

External linksEdit