Q&A: Bill Nye, the Science Guy
With Bill Nye speaking at today’s Assembly Series, Student Life sat down and picked the brain of the famous science guy.
What are some fun experiments I can do in my dorm room?
I can’t say enough good things about vinegar and baking soda and making a balloon inflate.
How many times have you burned, cut or otherwise injured yourself in the name of science?
I’ve actually hurt myself very few times, just a few blisters or burns here and there. But that’s not to say that tomorrow, as a homeowner, I might cut myself somehow.
How much has your approach to teaching changed since switching from a program that caters to children to a program aimed more at adults?
The approach is essentially the same: you want to show, then tell. The “Eyes of Nye” is more about the issues that are affected by the choices that society makes rather than scientifically accepted facts. Genetically modified food, for example, has some people’s support, while others are against it… It isn’t a clear answer show, whereas the kids’ show is straight.
What’s your perspective on Global Warming?
The situation with Global Warming is a very serious one and what people don’t understand is that everything they do affects the situation. If I throw away this magazine, for example, it’ll affect someone in India. This is a large part of what I’m going to be talking about tomorrow in my lecture. You can change the world.
Can you think of any things that need to be done to educate the world about Global Warming that hasn’t already been done?
What we need is leadership. And our nation, the supposed global superpower, is lacking that right now. Our government and politics are focused in a way that has been marginalizing science and the public’s understand of science. And to me that’s very important. I don’t know if that’s as important to everyone else, and therein lies the problem.
How has university level science changed since you were an undergraduate?
The great thing about education now is that information is so easy to get. The World Wide Web allows us to have access to information and that’s got to eventually help increase people’s understanding of science. I would like to see more science requirements for people who are not science majors. Science literacy is essential for our future because we are all so dependent on science and technology.
On a local level, what are you looking forward to doing while in St. Louis?
I’ve been to St. Louis a few times but I’m really looking forward to visiting the lab of [Washington University professor] Dr. Ray Arvidson, deputy principle investigator on The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. I’ve met him several times before, but I’ve never spent that much time with him.
Any last words for the WU community before you address them in the lecture tomorrow?
Don’t miss it if you can!
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