Hey Bill Nye! How Will Quantum Mechanics Change the World?
Echoing Bill Nye's favorite phrase, Tom from Western Australia asks after the practical implications of quantum mechanics. It's a tough sell, explains Nye, but computing power is on the short list.
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.
Tom: Hi, Bill. Tom, from Western Australia. If quantum entanglement or quantum spookiness can allow us to transmit information instantaneously, that is faster than the speed of light, how do you think this could, dare I say it, change the world?
Bill Nye: Tom, I love you man. Thanks for the tip of the hat there, the turn of phrase. Will quantum entanglement changed the world? If this turns out to be a real thing, well, or if we can take advantage of it, it seems to me the first thing that will change is computing. We'll be able to make computers that work extraordinarily fast. But it carries with it, for me, this belief that we'll be able to go back in time; that we'll be able to harness energy somehow from black holes and other astrophysical phenomenon that we observe in the cosmos but not so readily here on earth. We'll see. Tom, in Western Australia, maybe you'll be the physicist that figures quantum entanglement out at its next level and create practical applications. But for now, I'm not counting on it to change the world. However, I am counting on all of us to continue to explore; to continue to building particle accelerators; to continue to observe the cosmos; to continue to fund basic research so we will make discoveries about quantum mechanics and the nature of nature and subatomic particles. You were alive when the Higgs boson was proven to exist. You were alive when Italian researchers thought they had found a phenomenon that was faster than light, but it wasn't — but it has led to further explorations. And so now people wonder about the next thing in particle physics below the Higgs boson. And if that is discovered, who knows where it will lead? But it is only through basic research that we will learn about the extraordinarily small and the extraordinarily huge. Fabulous question, Tom. Carry on! Lead the world!
Echoing Bill Nye's favorite phrase, Tom from Western Australia asks after the practical implications of quantum mechanics. It's a tough sell, explains Nye, but computing power is on the short list. The imaginable benefits of quantum entanglement, called "spooky action at a distance" by the skeptical Albert Einstein, lie further afield. Nye thinks with our knowledge of subatomic particles it is theoretically possible to harness the energy created by black holes and perhaps even travel backwards in time. One thing is certain: continued funding for the sciences is essential to uncover the practical qualities of nature.
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