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STOCKHOLM — Life imitated art Tuesday when ‘‘The Big Bang Theory’’ — the hit American TV sitcom, not the scientific explanation for how the universe began — entered the annals of Nobel Prize history.

The announcement of the winners of this year’s Nobel in physics began with a nod to an unlikely cultural reference: the opening lyrics to the show’s theme song.

‘‘The whole universe was in the hot, dense state, then nearly 14 billion years ago expansion started,’’ academy member Ulf Danielsson said, quoting the ‘‘Big Bang’’ theme at the presentation in Stockholm.

‘‘The Big Bang Theory’’ had its finale in May after 12 years. In the final episode, two of the main characters, Sheldon and Amy, win the Nobel prize in physics.

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Goran Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said the TV show was a ‘‘fantastic achievement’’ that brought the ‘‘world of science to laptops and living rooms around the world.’’ Referencing its theme song therefore seemed fitting, he said.

‘‘The Big Bang Theory’’ debuted in 2007 and overcame early doubts to become a cult classic. The show featured a crew of nerdy misfits, all scientists at the California Institute of Technology.

Associated Press