Bill Nye: Why We Explore

Bill Nye: If you stop exploring, and it kind of doesn’t matter what it is—your back yard, the bottom of the ocean, species that live in the canopy of rainforests that are undiscovered, some insect or somebody, some amazing fern that doesn’t—epiphyte that doesn’t need to have contact with the ground—, if you stop looking for those, let alone on Mars and other worlds and other stars, if you stop exploring, what does that say about you?  It says okay, I’ll stay home, don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.  I tell you, if you take that attitude, you’re not going to move forward as a species; and especially, talking about economic times, your country’s economy will fall behind.

Space exploration stimulates the economy.  Space exploration is what I like to call “trickle-up investment.”  When you get a bunch of well-educated people running around in society, it raises the level of intellectual achievement for everybody.  So for me, the search for extraterrestrial life is part of space exploration and, therefore, something you just do.  

Copernicus goes, “The sun is the center, not the earth.”  Everybody’s like “What?  Dude!”  “Yeah.  The earth goes around the sun.”  “Oh, now everything adds up.  Now the ancient observations—now it all lines up.”  Galileo says, “Hey, you know, we’re not the only planet with a moon.”  “Oh, we’re going to have to put you in prison.  I’m sorry, we’re going to have to keep you in prison if you’re going to insist.”  “No, but look, it’s not me.”  So if we found evidence of life elsewhere, it would humble us in the same way.  

So there are many people that are troubled by this uncertainty, by this inability to know, and they want to have all the answers and have it all settled.  But that’s not the nature of nature.  And, furthermore, it’s especially not the nature of science.  Science is this process where we keep making discoveries in a disciplined fashion, and in general, the more discoveries you make, the more you realize you don’t know what’s going on, the more you realize you don’t know.  So not knowing the next physics, whatever is causing the stars to accelerate away from each other, not knowing really where gravity comes from, not knowing the future, these are all very troubling to some people.  But to us in science, it’s exciting, it’s always exciting.  You’re always going to find something, especially in space.

Directed / Produced by 
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

According to Bill Nye, if you stop exploring, you’re not going to move forward as a species. Your country’s economy will also fall behind. After all, space exploration stimulates the economy, since it is a so-called "trickle-up investment."

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