By Matt Olson
On Wednesday, March 13, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” visited Union as Speaker Forum’s winter speaker. He gave a talk to a crowded Memorial Chapel on what Nye called “National Pi-Day Eve.”
Nye is best known for the television show, which ran from 1993-1998 and won 19 Emmy Awards. He earned his degree from Cornell University, where he studied mechanical engineering.
In recent years, Nye has worked at a “day job,” so he called it, as CEO of The Planetary Society in California. He has also hosted several other television shows such as Stuff Happens.
Nye’s education at Cornell brought him some knowledge about our very own school, especially the rivalry between the hockey teams. He showed pride in his school when he said, “We [Cornell] beat you guys in hockey this year! Though, of course, I wasn’t playing.”
The talk covered topics ranging from World War II to tectonic plates to the atmosphere of Venus. Yet, his message to the students and community remained the same: Science is important. He said, in a sit-down interview, that “Science is everything; There’s nothing in this room that doesn’t owe its existence to science. Without electricity, you’d have nothing.”
Nye has faced criticism in the past for his beliefs on Creationism. He argued, “The earth is not 10,000 years old. It’s not. I can prove that to anybody … it’s inappropriate to use tax dollars intended for science education to teach creationism as an alternative.”
‘The Science Guy’ has also been an advocate of the awareness of the reality of climate change. Nye believes that the Green Fee the college has implemented is a good thing, and is a step in the right direction. The Green Fee is a charge on every student’s account that is spent toward “green” initiatives, hoping for ‘carbon neutrality.’ Nye even suggested a “carbon tax” for the general public: A tax on any entity that emits carbon dioxide. In Nye’s views, “If you drive a car that pumps out carbon dioxide, you’d pay a tax on that.”
When Nye was asked about his tradition of wearing a bow-tie, he chuckled and said, “The boys served as waiters for the Girls Athletics banquet at my high school. And so I said to my classmates, the other guys, ‘hey, let’s take it seriously. If we’re going to be waiters, let’s dress like waiters.’ I ended up going back to a straight tie for a number of years, but what’s better than a bow-tie?”
Nye ended the interview by saying, “Most of us think we have free will and that we have meaningful lives, but in geological terms, we’re only here for a blink.” He ended the talk by exclaiming, “I’m just a speck on a speck orbiting another speck … I suck!” But, in the end, as Nye reminded us so many times on Bill Nye the Science Guy, our generation has the opportunity to “change the world.”