As you probably know, I got to go to SXSW this year. Between running around the convention center and going to more parties in three days than I had in the six months prior, I got to sit down with Bill Nye the Science Guy, host of StarTalk Live.
It was MAGICAL. I mean, I grew up with Bill. I wasn’t really allowed to watch the teen dramas when I was a kid (thanks mom and dad!) and PBS was really the only thing on. Bill was a very important part of my youth. He is the man who taught me what gravity was and how my eyeballs work. He planted and nurtured my very surface love for manic filmmaking, men in bowties, and popular science. Did I study physics because of Bill? Nope. So, I studied art and was just really enthusiastic about science.
In his most recent, and highly publicized, debate Bill served some major knowledge (and a few very good jokes) to conservative creationist and Answers In Genesis CEO, Ken Ham. “You’re in there just laying down fact after fact,” said Bill “You can get frustrated, but the big thing there was to show the world, really, how extraordinary this guys view is and how inappropriate it is for our schools. [Ham] wonders why young people were leaving his church. It’s because he’s asking them not to think. I think he’s deeply troubled, he’s got something really bugging him.”
Did I mention that we were in a nightclub? Did I mention that there was a line behind me of other journalists buzzing just as violently as I was for a moment with Bill? In fact, we were sitting on a STAGE for Quirky+GE's Night of Invention, that Bill was participating in. More comfortable on the stage than I, Bill was hyper focused and able to remain on topic. We talked about the Science Guy shows and what he would want for young people now, besides his own show, of course: “I think evolution could be treated more thoroughly, and climate change could be more explicitly spelled out.”
These are his two most important causes. Unlike the past shows with floating test tubes and heads superimposed on a space scene, Bill’s work has taken a far more urgent tone. “I’m very concerned about climate change... I want everybody to be aware of it and have a sense of urgency about it.” He is showing us how these things are affecting us in a very real world. Essentially, all those cool things he taught us about the ozone layer when we were five, is what is going to inevitably destroy us all.
Okay, maybe that was a bit dramatic. But not really.
Though the bowties have remained, it is now time to take things a little more seriously, not only for his adoring fans (ME) but because climate change is something that needs to be addressed. “I’ve grown up from the kids show, and so have you, and so I’m taking a more serious tone.” We’ve evolved from kids learning about gravity to adults trying to combat climate change and Bill has grown with us. I find a very real comfort in that.
To top it all off the second I asked to take a photo with him he grabbed my phone and was all "oh no, let me." He simply plucked the phone out of my hand and started taking selfies of us together like he’d been doing it for years.
In fact, I’d like to start this rumor: Bill Nye invented selfies. Ok?