The following night, Phase 1 of Sheldon's double-slit experiment was underway. He needed to induce a general state of sexual arousal in the subject, one not exclusively associated with heterosexual attraction. Knowing Penny's libido, this would not be a difficult task.
Hacking into Penny's computer was a piece of cake. The silly girl simply used Leonard69 for a password. A half-lobotomized monkey could figure that one out.
Her file organization was about thirty times worse than Amy's. It took all of Sheldon's effort not to clean it up. Like Jack Bauer planting spyware in a terrorist's laptop, he needed to keep everything apparently the same to keep Penny from being alerted to Sheldon's tampering.
As soon as he had control over himself, he installed onto her machine a substitution cypher program that he'd spent the night making, one that would alter all text she viewed to display subliminal stimuli. The popular understanding of subliminal messages was loaded with hokum, but there was some real science behind the practice. It wouldn't completely take over a viewer's mind or even have a quarter of the suggestibility of consciously reading a message, but many academic studies showed it did have some measurable effect. In this case, Penny consciously reading an overt SOCE stimulation was the last thing Sheldon wanted, so the minor power subliminal suggestion had would have to do.
The way the program worked was taking the message he inputed and distributing it across paragraphs of text through altering the font of each character that appeared in his message to be slightly different from the font of the native text. If Penny viewed an article rendered in Arial, the program would alter relevant characters to appear in Helvetica. The change was so slight that only the most intelligent, aware minds could notice it consciously. Penny's intelligence and awareness was little better than that of a Cocker Spaniel, and Sheldon knew that only her subconscious mind would be able to see and interpret it. Penny would then be able to absorb and internalize the message without even knowing what was happening.
What to write was the question. Sheldon at first went for the obvious: a simple repetition of the term coitus. That was how reasonable people labeled the act of sexual intercourse, but he soon realized that Penny was far from reasonable. She could barely even maintain her laptop without running to him and Leonard like they were her own personal Nerd Herd. He needed to dumb it down considerably to make her subconscious mind capable of comprehending.
His next thought was to use the word sex, but that too was doomed for failure. With a relative frequency of only 0.150%, the letter X was the third least letter used in the English language after Z and Q. What he needed was a simply worded message using frequent letters.
After some thought, he came up with the somewhat longer than intended but straightforward Men are bad. Women are hot. It would serve to establish a subtle push away from men and to women as viable sexual partners. Given the strength of Penny's heterosexual attraction, he doubted that his message would truly induce a total disregard for the male of the species, but it would prime her for the subsequent message that women were "hot" and therefore could replace men as sexual targets.
The program ran its course. He pulled up Penny's web browser to test it. There was a fashion article loaded. It now displayed the altered text, obvious to him but hidden for those who occupied a lower rung on the evolutionary ladder.
Her menswear-inspired tuxedo jacket and slouchy boyfriend jeans were a cool counterpoint to the garden party–ready wedge sandals. The 24-year-old actress has always had a soft spot for bucket bags, and the Kenneth Cole one she sported today complemented the sandy hue on the straps of her shoes. Kate Middleton has long been a champion of the wedge as an all-terrain summer shoe...
It was an excellent start. However, it wasn't complete. There was still the matter of inducing Penny's sexual arousal in the first place.
Sheldon puzzled on that for a while. He couldn't very well perform the subliminal stimuli marketers did. His purpose was entirely different. He wasn't trying to induce desire to buy products by associating them with sex. He was trying to sell sex itself. The obvious approach would be to Photoshop her images to include sexual imagery in the manner of marketers, but he didn't know the first thing about doing that, and one misstep would doom him to Amy's perpetual advances.
If he could, he would just install a program to flash the word sex at her, but something that obvious wouldn't work at all. Or would it?
"Eureka," he whispered to himself.
Spam. The answer was spam. Spammers were constantly trying to download adware and malware onto people's drives. If he made his inducement look like spam, he could make it overt without Penny ever catching on.
He hacked into Wolowitz' computer. The man was a complete pervert, so of course pornography took up most of his disk space. Sheldon had a hunch that this pornography included... Yes. Folders of pornographic media featuring actors that resembled people he knew in real life, including Penny and Amy... and Koothrappali. What?
Sheldon couldn't help himself. He opened the Koothrappali folder. It contained over a hundred videos and images of South Asian women who did bear a distinct resemblance to Raj if he had been born female and was insecure about their natural breast size. Huh.
He returned to the task at hand. Entering the Penny and Amy folders, he copied a few of the items featuring women who closely resembled them to his drive and left Wolowitz' computer be, with a mental note to come back and organize it later. He ran a virus scan on the items to make sure what he was planning to do to Penny didn't happen to him, and then he got to work examining the contents with a hand held over the screen to block the indecent parts.
Finding a suitable video, he got to work on his fake spam. It took two hours, but he managed to create the perfect piece of subliminal messaging to hide in plain sight. He installed it on Penny's computer along with a virus that would make it almost impossible to get rid of without Sheldon's kill switch. Whenever she booted up her machine, a seven-second video would play featuring an actress who looked like Penny mastur... ahem, uh, mastur... touching her bathing suit area, along with a caption reading You want sexy girls? It would resemble in all respects an ad for pornography. Clicking it would even send the user to a pornography site. However, Penny's subconscious mind would identify with the actress and induce sexual arousal while at the same time internalizing the message that maybe she does want sexy girls.
It wouldn't work right away. Sheldon knew that. However, it would set the stage for Phase 2.