Hey Bill Nye! What If We Were Intelligently Designed?
Asked what a universal superintelligent designer would be like, Bill Nye the Science Guy takes an evolutionary approach: In a way, we designed ourselves. #TuesdaysWithBill
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.
Matt: Bill, I’m Matt from Mexico and I wanted to know what would a universal superintelligent designer be like? Thank you.
Bill Nye: Matthew, buenos dias. I don’t know what a superintelligent overbeing would be like. People have speculated that there is an entity that has a plan for your life and in the U.S. anyway we use the English word God for this guy. And if that’s true there’s a lot of loose ends. So I’m not sure what the superintelligent entity would be up to.
But to give you something to think about, in contrast, the reason you and I are here is because of evolution. We are a result of millennia — of about four and a half billion years — of evolution on Earth. Now life started three and a half billion years ago — billions of years of evolution. And evolution doesn’t work that way. There is not a superintelligent entity at the top directing things. Instead things come into being through nature in our case on Earth from sunlight, the spin of the Earth, and the primordial warmth of the Earth. This energy induced chemical reactions to take place that led to things that could reproduce and then reproduce better and better after that. And it was bottom up.
The things that fit in the best with the situation around them, the environment, this three and a half billion years ago to today — not the things that lift the most weights in the gym. The thing that fits in the best led to this expression the survival of the fittest. And you and I are here because we’re good enough. We are not super — I don’t think — it doesn’t seem to be.
There’s no evidence to support the idea that we were designed by a super intelligent designer. Instead we’re good enough to be here. If we were a design by a super intelligent designer I mean wouldn’t the plumbing be a little different? Wouldn’t we have made some different choices about things? Would we have six fingers? Would we have a bigger brain? Why would I forget stuff? Why wouldn’t I have super eyesight? Why would I need glasses later in life? And so on. This is a cool question, but for me it fills me with reverence because you can ask it. You and I are made of primordial stardust. We are somehow at least one of the ways that the universe knows itself. That’s a great question, Matthew. Gracias. Carry on.
Asked by Matt what a universal superintelligent designer would be like, Bill Nye the Science Guy takes an evolutionary approach: In a way, we designed ourselves. There is no evidence to suggest a God-like creator orchestrated the rise of humanity. Rather, by way of evolution, we have developed into the beings we are today by adapting to nature. The process of natural selection has optimized and continues to optimize our physiology. It's not superintelligent or universal, but it's certainly not an accident why we are the way we are.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Great again? Why America stopped looking forward to the future
- Income inequality is dividing Americans.
- Wages haven't risen in 30 years, while prices for housing, schools, and basic goods has.
- Canny (and uncanny) politicians have learned how to milk the politics of fear by comparing the present to the past.
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