Bill Nye Wants To Help The World Beat the Asteroids
"Bill Nye The Science Guy" has been off the air for almost 15 years, but all this time later, the show’s “Soundtrack of Science" songs still haven't been released in any form. However, there's hope that could finally change.
"I would love to have The Soundtrack of Science, as we call it, available everywhere," Bill Nye told me in a recent interview. He pointed out that "it's on YouTube and everything,” while regretting it was not more widely available. "I've put a lot of energy into it. ... It never occurred to us [the show's creators] that Disney would make a product like The Science Guy show without merchandise. No one ever thought of that. You don't want to have merchandise? You don't want to have CDs of the Not That Bad Records soundtrack of science? It remains a mystery."
Nye thinks his series "stands the test of time because we did have solid research, and we did have learning objectives.” There's "something you can test at the end of the show. I'm not sure after you watch Alien Pyramid Mysteries or whatever that thing is, that there's anything that you're going to get out of it."
Nye will appear this summer as a talking head on National Geographic Channel's "American Genius", and have a role on the network's forthcoming series "Star Talk," which brings Neil deGrasse Tyson's podcast to television. And despite a lingering injury, he'd like to go back to "Dancing with the Stars" someday. But he'd also like to do his own thing.
"Having my own show again would be great," he told me. "But I remind you all, I'm kind of a different guy now. I'm a lot older, can't take a beating the way I used to, and now I have become the serious one. I just wrote a book about evolution. As a mechanical engineer, you might not expect me to have the breadth of knowledge about biology, but I know enough. These are fundamentals; it's a primer."
What kind of show would he like to make? "I very much want to make a show about space. A real threat to humankind is an asteroid impact. And I'm not joking you. That's a real thing. It's the only preventable natural disaster, if you think about it," he said. "Humankind could get together and deflect an asteroid, give it a nudge. It's a cool thing to think about; it's science fiction that's real."
He also said, "I'd love to do a show on climate change that's optimistic." Nye said that "when you get Green Bay Packer fans bitching about how cold it is, you've crossed some line. I don't know what it is, but you've crossed something. Something's gone unusually wrong." Changes in temperature, he said, are "almost certainly a result of climate change, but nobody on the weather says anything about it because they're afraid of alienating their viewers who have been indoctrinated largely by the fossil fuel industry."
"I would love to do a TV show that told everybody of these huge opportunities for inventing the better battery, electrical storage system. Inventing the better transition line, let's say, made of carbon nanotubes. Inventing a way to desalinate seawater. Whoever did that, or group of people who did that, would get rich--just crazy rich--if you manage your intellectual property properly. And it's very reasonable those invention would be the result of competition."
Nye continued, “We have a guy on the (Senate) environmental committee who thinks it's a hoax. It's a formula for disaster. Future generations, what's ever left of them, will just shake their heads at this situation. So, science education is vital to the future of the United States, and, in my opinion, vital to the world."
And television can help with that. "Half of what you learn about science you learn informally, outside the classroom. So you want the programming to be as high-quality as possible. Whether the Science Channel is effective as PBS, I leave that to television critics," he said. "You want a society that embraces the value of science. Science is the best idea humans have ever had."