Bill Nye, star of the ’90s children’s TV show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” spoke on global warming issues in front of an audience that filled Upper Strong Auditorium to capacity last Thursday. Spectators also overflowed into Lower Strong Auditorium, where they watched the lecture and discussion session on a simulcast.
Before the show began and the stage was still empty, audience members, anticipating his appearance, chanted “Bill! Bill! Bill!” The room broke into applause once Nye, clad in his signature bowtie, stepped onto the stage while the Science Guy theme song played in the background.
Early in his lecture and accompanying slide show, Nye discussed his father, who he characterized as an amateur geologist fascinated with sundials. Nye described how his father’s long-time hobby influenced him to develop a small sundial for a NASA space mission. Nye designed two identical sundials that landrovers carried onto Mars; each structure featured the inscription, “To those who visit here, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery.”
Nye used pictures of the sundials on Mars to illustrate the true color of its sky. Unlike the blue hue the sundial’s shadow exhibited in the first photograph, the shadow should be sepia-toned, Nye remarked, returning to his point that shadows’ colors are just one effect of Earth’s unique atmosphere.
“The sky on Mars is not blue, it’s more taupe or salmon,” he said.
Throughout the evening, Nye echoed a statement that we need to use new science technology to “do more with less.”
Nye demonstrated his point with examples of how he reduces his environmental footprint in day-to-day life with his hybrid car and solar-paneled, temperature-regulated house that help him produce more energy than he uses in a given year. Nye urged each attendee in the room to do his part.
“I thought it was really cool how cheap his gas bill is because of his use of solar panels and other technologies,” sophomore Liz Barnes said. “He also showed some pictures of new high fuel-efficiency cars which was really interesting. Although some of his environmental goals seemed ambitious, he showed how they could be plausible if implemented over time, and with the help of new technology.”
Nye ended his speech with the suggestion that each person present reduce his or her greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. “Eighty by ’50” was his slogan.
“We can be the innovators and people to change the world,” he said.
Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions following the lecture. Questions during this session spanned a range from the scientific and philosophical to a personal request for a job from Nye.
“I think he did a great job of expressing his concerns about our global situation, although it would have been nice to see him blow something up,” freshman Andrew Lee said.
Leber is a member of the class of 2011.