from the world's big
Hey Bill Nye! Does Forever Exist?
This week's question arrives from the Philippines, courtesy of Amy. Bill dissects the question before giving several possible answers.
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.
Amy: Hello. This is Amy from the Philippines and my question is does forever exist? I’m pretty sure a lot of people in my country would like to know the answer to this very important question so I hope you can answer it. Thank you.
Bill Nye: Amy, does forever exist? As far as I know. It’s really hard to tell. Here’s the question I’m just inferring. I’m reading in. I’m adding. You say people in your country want to know — is it a question really Amy about the afterlife? I don’t know if it is in the afterlife. I certainly am not planning on it. I am not counting on any afterlife. And I’ll tell you why. I’ve watched people get old and they don’t generally — they don’t just die with all their — at the height of their powers, able to pole vault their highest, able to do math problems the quickest, able to raise a family with just the right judgment. They don’t do that and then disappear. We humans fade and I suspect the afterlife is just hopeful thinking. And if it turns out there is an afterlife, cool, I’m in. I will do my best. I’d like to be able to run as well as I could when I was, say, 23. I’d like to be able to ride a bike as well as I could when I was 34. And I’d like to be able to write jokes as well as I could when I was about 38. And then now I have all this wisdom. I’d like to have that sprinkled in now I’m all this wise stuff. But as far as we can tell forever goes on forever. There’s no reason to think that time will end. We had a Big Bang and people speculate about what happened before that. And you can say nobody knows. That’s true. But just intuitively for us time travelers all going one way, I guess left to right, it’s like that. There probably is a forever. That’s a great question Amy. Thank you.
This week's question arrives from the Philippines, courtesy of Amy. Bill dissects the question before giving several possible answers. Does "forever" mean an afterlife? Because Bill sure isn't counting on there being one. If it means endlessness with regard to time, there's no reason to think time will somehow or somewhere come to an end. In this case, there probably is a forever.
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- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
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