An entire generation of kids (myself included) had some of their earlies introductions to scientific concepts due to Bill Nye the Science Guy. The show aired on PBS and in classrooms around the world from September, 1993 to June, 1998.
Nye made science fun, accessible, and cool. There is no arguing that there are scientists in a lab right now, working on something that might change the world, at least partially because they were inspired by Nye and his show.
Bill Nye’s impact on my lifelong love of science can’t be understated. There’s a reason I have three telescopes at home and a considerable collection of fossils, I lay a huge portion of that responsibility at Nye’s feet (I’ll be sending you an invoice, that stuff isn’t cheap).
But the Science Guy has been off the air for coming up on twenty years and let’s get real honest for a second, things aren’t looking so hot. Climate change threatens to wipe out an untold number of species, throw into chaos entire ecosystems, and threaten the continued relatively comfortable existence of humanity. Preventable diseases that were on the verge of being wiped out are making a comeback due to the anti-vax movement. Sarah Palin in a blonde wig just got confirmed Minister of Truth… er, I mean Secretary of Education. We need an infusion of 100 milligrams of science STAT!
Look, science isn’t always sexy. It’s mostly quiet, unassuming, and scientists rarely say anything with 100% certainty. It isn’t as appealing to our lizard brains as when someone says they know that vaccines cause autism or that they can tell your future by the lines in your palm or the location of the stars in relation to the day you were born. But for real… that stuff is nonsense and our lizard brains would have us hitting each other with sticks on the African plains, getting eaten by tigers and sh*t.
Science brought us hygiene and antibiotics. Medical science has almost doubled our lifespan since we came down from the trees, literally giving you a second life. Computer science has brought us well… computers and video games and Pixar movies. The physical sciences taught us how to synthesize fuels, build rockets, and blast ourselves to the god damned Moon.
Yes, it also brought us chemical warfare and the atomic bomb. It aint perfect, science is a tool and while you can use a hammer to sink a nail, you can also use it to beat your neighbor to death. But here’s the deal, if you don’t educate yourself then the only people who will have those tools might not have your best interests at heart and you won’t see it coming when they beat you over the head.
It’s more important than ever that charismatic scientists like Nye carry on the legacy that Carl Sagan began with Cosmos and popularize science, making it palatable to the masses. We’re in some serious trouble Bill and some of us don’t even know it.
Like every good hero, they rise to the challenge when they’re needed the most. We’re pinning all of hopes on you Bill. We’re depending on you to save the world.
Bill Nye Saves the World premieres on Netflix April 21.