Hey Bill Nye! What If the Moon Were Made of Green Cheese?
And now for something totally different...
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
Dan Green: Hi. Dan Green here. Bill, I wanted to ask you a hypothetical, if the moon was really made out of green cheese, how much mass would it have? What would its gravity be like? How would it affect our tides differently than the real moon does? And just for fun, how much milk would it take to make that much green cheese? Thanks for your answer.
Bill Nye: Dan. Great question about the moon being made of cheese, specifically as I understand it green cheese. If it were green cheese like really green I would expect it to reflect a little more green light than it does. I mean it would depend, does it have a rind? Does it have that wax that they put on at the cheese shops? I'm not sure. Anyway, I can tell you from experience that -- in general -- cheese floats, in general. So with floating cheese you got to figure its specific gravity, that is to say how much mass it as for how much volume it takes up is somewhat less than rocks. If water is one, rocks are one and a half, they're two, they're twice as dense as water. They're not 50 times as dense, twice as dense. Rocks sink but they don't sink like a bullet. So a moon that was 80 percent the mass of the current moon would have 80 percent of the effect on the tides. But if it were 80 percent of the mass, its orbital distance would probably be different. Would it be set up to libate in the same way, that is to say the moon currently keeps the same face to us with every orbit. That's because it spins almost exactly one time as it goes around the earth. It has a little wobble to it where you actually see somewhat more than just half of the moon if you're really diligent with a telescope paying close attention.
And then the other thing I would wonder about a cheese moon, you know, rocks are pretty solid but cheese often is not. I wonder if it wouldn't have modes or vibrational oscillations within its own shape that are noticeable. I wonder if its spin wouldn't - spinning once with each orbit I wonder if it wouldn't have an equatorial bulge. I wonder what would happen to it when other cheesy objects hit it, you know, meteorites of cheese, cheese-eorites, whatever they're called. And I wonder if it wouldn't out gas or evaporate in the blackness of space. Also cheese freezes. So on the far side of the moon or the near side depending on the time of month, you might have some lunar freezing, which then could potentially affect the shape because it would affect its gravity with one side solid changing density relative to the other side, the geode as it's called, the shape would change with its own gravity. So there would be some issues. You'd notice it right away.
And I think another issue to keep in mind, if the moon turns out to be made of cheese it just really expands our possibilities for a lunar base because there would be limitless food. It does, for those of you who are gluten-free and dairy free, you may not want to be an astronaut on a lunar mission now if it turns out that it's made of green cheese.
Today's #TuesdaysWithBill question comes from Dan Green (or Dan Green's mouthless gaze, either one). It's a hypothetical, a question many of us have no doubt asked ourselves during times both triumphant and despondent: "What if the Moon really were made out of cheese?"
True to form, the Science Guy tackles this questionable query with aplomb. A cheese moon would affect our tides, likely take a totally different shape, and probably do a number on Earth's gravitational pull. It would also dissuade our most promising lactose intolerant astronauts from Lunar missions, which would be a darn shame. For the rest of us who love cheese though... well, let's not get too invested in this hypothetical. We might not be able to handle the stark disappointment of reality.
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.