Hey Bill Nye! What Do You Consider Your Greatest Achievement?
Bill Nye is the CEO of The Planetary Society, has his own Netflix show, flew on Air Force One with President Obama, and has at least six honorary doctorate degrees. But there's one thing that makes him prouder than all that combined.
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.
Tracey: Dear Bill Nye. My name is Tracey, and as of today it is my 19th birthday, and I’m pursuing my education in the sciences thanks to the influence of worldly educators such as yourself. My question to you is: what do you think is the most beneficial thing a scientist can do for the community, and what do you consider your greatest accomplishment as a scientist and an educator? All the best, and thank you for your contributions to the generations ahead of you.
Bill Nye: Tracey. I’m delighted that you are pursuing a career in science. We need as many scientifically literate people as we can in our society so that when it’s time to vote and make decisions about our future we do it in an informed way with science as the background. So thank you. This is fabulous.
As far as my contribution, that’s a very nice question. I think it’s getting young people excited about science so that in the future we’ll have scientifically literate people. And what we want is for people — it’s not just the facts. The facts are great. They often change as we learn more, but the big thing is to get the process of science.
You make an observation, your eyebrows go up, you say to yourself, "My goodness, what caused that?" And then you come up with an idea or a hypothesis of what made that effect happen, this phenomenon that you observed. And then you come up with a way to test it. You test it and then you see what happened and compare what you thought would happen with what did happen. And you’re comparing your hypothesis to the outcome.
If we can get that across to as many people as possible we can, Tracey, dare I say it: we can change the world. That’s a great question.
Bill Nye has many feathers in his cap — he's the CEO of The Planetary Society, has a brand-new Netflix show, flew on Air Force One with President Obama, has at least six honorary doctorate degrees and two books to his name — but there's thing one he's most proud of, and he shares it with Tracey, a 19-year-old student just beginning her science studies at college. As she steps into a lifelong pursuit of science, Nye advises her on the greatest contribution scientists can make to their community. Dropping awe-inspiring facts and publishing groundbreaking findings are exciting parts of being a scientist but the greatest contribution a scientist can make is to educate people — especially kids from a young age — about the scientific method. Carl Sagan, Bill Nye's mentor, can explain this in better words than anyone: "Science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan — political or religious — who comes ambling along. The people have to be educated, and they have to practice their skepticism and their education otherwise we don’t run the government, the government runs us." Bill Nye's most recent book is Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
Normally, the landscape in this photo would be a white ice sheet.
- Climate scientists say that Greenland is experiencing ice losses that are unusually early and heavy.
- Two main weather factors are fueling the losses: a high-pressure system and the resulting low cloud cover.
- Greenland is a major contributor to sea-level rise.
One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".
- Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
- Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
- A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
It's a "canary in the coalmine," said one climate scientist.
- A team of researchers discovered that permafrost in Northern Canada is melting at unusually fast rates.
- This could causes dangerous and costly erosion, and it's likely speeding up climate change because thawing permafrost releases heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere.
- This week, Canada's House of Commons declared a national climate emergency.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.