Bill Nye, The Science Guy

My wife and I had the great pleasure of listening to Bill Nye speak this evening.  We subscribe to a speakers series at a local community college, and he was the first speaker for this year’s series.  Of course, one of our local teams was playing in the world series while before and during the talk, which caused some consternation on my part.  I watched a little over an hour of the game before driving down, listened to the game on the radio during the drive, and was thrilled to find that the facility was showing the game on a large screen on the stage while the auditorium filled.  As the Royals scored five runs in the blink of an eye, a 2-2 tie became a 7-2 blowout.  The crowd became very quiet.

However, when Tim Lincecum entered the game, the crowed erupted into spontaneous applause.  Tim Lincecum was once an elite pitcher, but he has been far from that for the past several years.  Still, the Giants fans adore him for his past accomplishments.  Each out was applauded as he retired the first three men he faced.  I enjoyed what that said about loyalty for a player who continues to work hard, even when the results do not match expectations.

Then, the game flicked off and a man walked onto the stage – the crowed booed him!

It was not Bill Nye.  “I was not expecting that reaction when coming out to introduce tonight’s speaker, but I totally understand.”

The first thing Bill Nye said after being introduced was that he would pass along updates on the score – which got a cheer.  He was a delightful speaker; touching on a series of science-related subjects.  He especially spent time on the risk to humanity of extinction if we allow the earth to be impacted by an asteroid (which required talking about space exploration and NASA – did you know that there are at least three sun dials on the face of Mars right now?), evolution (the top idea of science, because every question that it raises leads to new answers, new discoveries, and even smarter questions), and global warming.

As a father of girls, I loved what he said was the single thing that could have the biggest impact on global warming:  improved education for girls and women. The improved education will lead to a higher standard of living for those women.  When women have a higher standard of living, they tend to have fewer children (but those children are raised with a higher quality of life).  This is the one thing that is most likely to slow the increase in population that has driven global warming.

Bill Nye has written a new book, Undeniable, which will be in bookstores November 4.  I would have purchased an electronic version of it, but after hearing tonight’s talk, I plan to get a hardback copy and keep it in my personal library.

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