Bill Nye

November 5, 2014

Bill Nye, UNDENIABLY back. AMA.

Bill Nye here! Even at this hour of the morning, ready to take your questions.

My new book is Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

Victoria's helping me get started. AMA!

Update: Well, thanks everyone for taking the time to write in. Answering your questions is about as much fun as a fellow can have. If you're not in line waiting to buy my new book, I hope you get around to it eventually. Thanks very much for your support. You can tweet at me what you think.

And I look forward to being back!

Hey Bill ! I coming to see you on Friday in NYC ! Can't wait to read your book ! My question is what do you think of schools telling their students that evolution is not the only choice when it comes to science ?

Well, first of all, that's wrong. Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science. So I've taken it on as an important issue for the future of the US, and for all of humankind. I'm not kidding...

What's your opinion of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general? Do you think it can achieve widespread use, or is it just a fad?

Take a night off and enjoy 4 beers on me. /u/changetip private (the bot will message you with a link to collect it)

If it's not bitcoin, it'll be something. The future of commerce is going to be all electronic. The gold standard was a fine idea, but electronic changes of funds and credits will be the future.

Speaking for myself, I want bitcoin in my analog watch, somehow, someday soon. But i want an analog watch. Not everybody wants that. It's not for everybody!

Hi Bill!

You have inspired many children to see the fun in learning about science for many years now.

What do you feel is next for the world of edutainment?

My movie!

My movie. It's about a historical figure who changed the world by teaching himself mathematics. I'm very excited to share his story with the world, and the deal is pending so I can't talk too much more about it. But that's what i want to do next, and that will be edutainment.

What would be the first thing you would change about the way the world is run today if you were to spontaneously.. dare I say it.. TAKE OVER THE WORLD???

We would have a Carbon Fee. We would charge everybody who produces carbon dioxide a fee, and that fee would go into a central fund, and be redistributed. This is how it's done, in of all places, Alaska. The model for this exists in a very conservative state. So it is very reasonable that we could expand this model to the country and then the world. The average citizen of the US would receive, would get back, about $3,500. Oil companies have already built this fee in- they are planning for it, they know it's coming sooner or later, it's in all their financial plans. If we could see this moment, we could change the world.

The big idea I want everybody in the US to keep in mind, especially our politicians who got elected yesterday, is that the world isn't gonna be able to do anything about climate change until the United States leads us. If the United States were leading the world in addressing climate change, it would be addressed in a heartbeat.

Let's get going.

Hey Bill! Thanks so much for the AMA, I just wanted to know: do you have a favorite episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy”?

If you decide to become a dancer on Broadway, never say who your favorite dance partner is, because members of the media will presume you never want to dance with anybody else.

In the same way, I will never say I have a favorite episode of the Science Guy show.

HOWEVER, getting a ride in the FA-18 hornet Fighter Plane was pretty cool.

And scuba diving in Hawaii was not bad either.

Thanks for making science so much fun for me in my younger years. I'm from Kentucky Ken Ham is a Asshat. My question is, what sparked your interest in science? And what's something that never fails to amaze you?

Watching bees, watching bumble bees, still amazes me.

They're pretty small wings, considering how big they are, and yet they fly fine. But maybe you and I could too, if we had anything that could do 350 times a second.

If there will be a second season to Cosmos, would you like to be the host if Neil deGrasse Tyson steps down?

I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Why would Neil step down? Neil's a dear friend of mine, so we'd have to take a meeting.

Hi! I've been a long time fan, and I'd like to ask about something a bit old. I work in plant science, and we have this controversy that is every bit as unscientific, damaging, and irrational as the controversies surrounding evolution, vaccines, and climate change, so I was thrilled to see there was an Eyes of Nye episode on GMOs...right up until I watched it, and saw you talking about fantastical ecological disasters, advocating mandatory fear mongering labels, and spouting loaded platitudes with false implication. You can see my complete response here, if you are interested, and I hope you are, but it was a little disheartening.

When I look up GMOs in the news, I don't see new innovations or exciting developments being brought to the world. I see hate, and fear, and ignorance, and I'm tired of seeing advances in agricultural science held back, sometimes at the cost of environmental or even human health, over this manufactured controversy. Scientists are called called corporate pawns, accused of poisoning people and the earth, research vandalized or banned, all over complete nonsense. This is science denialism, plain and simple. That Eyes of Nye episode aired 9 years ago, and a lot can change in nearly a decade, so I want to ask, in light of the wealth of evidence demonstrating the safety and utility of agricultural genetic engineering, could you clarify your current stance on the subject, and have you changed the views you expressed then? Because if so, while you work with public education, please don't forget about us. We could use some help.

Thank you.

Sir, or Madam:

We clearly disagree.

I stand by my assertions that although you can know what happens to any individual species that you modify, you cannot be certain what will happen to the ecosystem.

Also, we have a strange situation where we have malnourished fat people. It's not that we need more food. It's that we need to manage our food system better.

So when corporations seek government funding for genetic modification of food sources, I stroke my chin.

Mr. The Science Guy, Is it more important to learn the practice or the philosophy of science?

The process of science is a vital idea for all of us.

If I understand your question, the philosophy of science is inherent in the process. This is to say, you think critically, you draw a conclusion based on evidence, but we all pursue discovery based on our observations.

That's where science starts.

What was going through your mind at this moment?

I felt deep concern for the future of Kentucky science students.

That's what was going through my mind.


How are you able to remain so calm on TV when being interviewed by people who so blatantly remain closed off to logical discussions?

I find it very admirable, you'd be great working in IT.

Thanks for inspiring millions, myself included!

Thank you for your kind words.

Staying calm is my business.

And it seems to me I'm working in IT right now. Coincidence?

Hey Bill! Im a huge fan and currently an undeclared freshman in college because I cant decide between a mechanical engineering degree or something in a more general science, such as physics or biology. Got any advice on what I should do?

If you are a tinkerer, consider mechanical engineering.

If you experience the joy of discovery, look into something called engineering physics.

With that said, I love it all!

As a freshmen, I'm sure you don't have to decide yet. Take some courses and see what you think.

Hi, Bill, what kind of things can we learn from New Horizons's encounter with Pluto next summer?

We don't know! That's why we're going out there.

When you explore, 2 things will happen.

You will make discoveries, and you will have an adventure.

Come next July, please tune in to

Hi, Bill! I grew up watching your show every day on PBS after school - wouldn't miss it for anything. I think it's one of the early reasons why I developed a strong interest in math and physics. Now at age 30 and with young children of my own, we've watched and rewatched those classic episodes. It's pretty awesome when one of your child's earliest verbal requests are "bill guy". So a great big thank you for that.

I'd just like to ask:

1) Who came up with the format of the show? I always thought the integration of the comical announcer, science parody songs, and the retro science video clips used in transitions were great touches.

(Funny story - the first time I heard the real "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana, I thought it was going to be the song about air pressure from Bill Nye).

2) I read that you applied to NASA every so often but were denied likely for not having a Ph.D. I'm guessing your honorary degrees don't count, but is this something that you still push for?

3) What's your favorite place on Earth that you've visited, either professionally or on vacation? Personally, I've visited Iceland, and it's hard to imagine any place being more geologically pristine, varied, and fascinating.

P.S. Just missed your commencement speech at Johns Hopkins (my alma mater) by only 2 years!

1) Three of us - Jay McKenna, Erren Gottlieb, and me.

2) I don't believe I was denied for not having a PhD. That's a joke I enjoy. I think after Christa McAuliffe got killed, NASA was reluctant to experiment with another science educator in space.

3) A key idea is that because life is so short, we have to enjoy every moment. And I'm in New York right now and loving it. I was in California yesterday, I loved that too! I look forward to snorkeling again, somewhere, sometime soon.

Hi Bill! Thanks for doing this, and also great job on the debate back in February, that was incredible to watch.

I watched the Storytelling of Science event at ASU on Youtube a while back, and it was one of the coolest things I've ever watched in lecture form. It was so exciting having all of you together in one place. Also watching Brian G get scared and run away from Neil was hilarious. Can we expect another gathering of this sort to happen again in the future? Also, I'm curious to know if you have close friendships with any of the other brilliant minds on that stage. Are you all best buds? Do you go out for drinks and movies and such?

More on topic (I wrote this in advance so I'm just assuming you're here to promote the new book) are you optimistic about the future of science literacy in the US? Polls are consistently showing an overall decline in religiosity, especially among young people. How long do you think it will be before the American public views evolution as obvious as something like heliocentrism, and creationists can no longer be proud of their ignorance, especially in politics? I certainly expect it in my lifetime (I'm 27) but the wait could be unbearable. What are some ways we can all help speed this up?

P.S. I think you and Alton Brown should open a bow tie store together. You could even expand and sell Neil's awesome space vests.

Neil is one of my best friends in the world. I always have a good time with Lawrence Krauss.

And Brian Greene is pretty impressive.

Talk about it. Talk about science with everyone you meet. ESPECIALLY talk about climate change. It needs to become a part of our everyday conversation (the way it is everywhere ELSE in the world).

I'm working on bow tie deals. I'm working on a bow tie deal right now, thanks!

What is your favorite science fact?

You and I are made of stardust.

We are the stuff of exploded stars.

We are therefore, at least 1 way that the Universe knows itself.

That, to me, is astonishing.

Hi Bill, you and /u/GovSchwarzenegger are big crusaders on Climate Change awareness. What's the latest scientific threat we should be alarmed about and what can we do from keeping our planet from termination?

Climate Change is the most important issue facing humankind today.

A clear but troubling feature of nature is that the earth will be here no matter what you or I do.

We want to preserve the earth's ecosystems for us, for us humans.

Good morning, mr. Nye. What is your favorite piece of fiction? Be it art, literature, music - you name it.

Probably "Singin' in the Rain."

It's a movie.

Bill! What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?

Eddington on the Second law of Thermodynamics.

Sit by for this little additional moment of brilliance --

Page 20 of my new book.

He said "The second law of Thermodynamics hold the supreme position among the Laws of Nature."

Mr. Nye, have you ever thought of running for the presidency of the United States? I think you would be surprised by how much of a populist campaign you could build in 2016.

Haha. I've thought about it.

I've also thought about jumping head-first into a pile of ice cubes from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Hi Bill,

What are your thoughts on Epic Rap Battle's Bill Nye VS Sir Isaac Newton?

Who won?

Let's face it, I won.

He's only Isaac Newton.

Are there any plans to bring back the "Bill Nye the science guy"?

because that would be the greatest thing in the world and it would give me more hope for future generations. Every kid should grow up watching that show.


No plans to bring back The Science Guy as such. I'm always locking for another television opportunity to do a new and somewhat different show. Near as I can tell, kids in school today still grow up watching The Bill Nye The Science Guy Show.

Which is very gratifying.

Mr. Nye, I grew up watching your shows and your bowties have greatly influenced my choice in neckwear. Do you have a favorite bowtie?

You know, you can't have a favorite bow tie! You find the right bow tie for the right occasion for the right company (the people you're with).

That is the art of clothing. We are very fortunate to be living in a time when so many of us can afford a wardrobe.

who would be at your dream dinner?

I don't think I've met her yet.

Aside from Science, what is your favorite subject?

Swing Dancing.

Do you think it's possible to switch to clean and sustainable energy without utilizing at least some nuclear power considering the standard of living for the developed world?

Edit: Not quite the answer I was hoping for but I'll take what I can get. I agree with Bills answer but it wasn't as direct as I was hoping. I'm an environmentalist and I plan on getting my Masters or PhD eventually but I'm torn on the nuclear power issue. On one hand it's dangerous, on the other it's clean, sustainable,shows promise, and is efficient. I'm just unsure if there's a possibility of a clean sustainable world without it.

We need more science education in elementary grades.

We get our passion for science long before we are 10 years old.

That's where we need to apply resources.

Along with that, we need to do a better job of teaching algebra.

As Nuclear Power has the lowest death toll of all available energy sources per terawatt generated, what are your thoughts on instituting more nuclear plants as a means of combatting climate change?

Nuclear Power has the lowest death toll, probably because there are only 432 commercial nuclear power plants. We have almost killed a heckuva lot of people 3 times. I am open-minded. But no one would get in a car that had a 3 in 400 chance of killing you.

What are your thoughts on Pluto being renamed a planet?

I am asking your scientific opinion because I am currently weeding out all the pre-2006 juvenile books at the library that say it is a planet, and it has been on my mind.

As you may know, I would like Pluto to be - instead of the last among the traditional planets - the first among a new class of objects we would call "The Plutoids."

That people get so bent out of shape about this is fascinating.

And I would not bother weeding out books in the library. Instead, educate library users that when the book is old, the information in it is old. It's not a good or bad thing, it's just the way of the universe.

Hi Bill! Can you explain your username?

My father was, and I am, fascinated by sundials.

Hi Bill! I am a senior in mechanical engineering at a well known engineering school interested in sustainable design. How do you think the world is handling the issue of sustainability today? And are we doing enough to try to make a difference in terms of sustainable engineering practices?

First of all, we are clearly not doing enough.

I want YOU to invent the better electricity storage device, the better battery, and I want you to invent a more efficient way to desalinate water. If you can do either or both of those things, you could utterly change the world.

What did you think of that ESPN reporter who mistook Eureka with IKEA?

When one is on camera, mistakes are made.

I hope we can all move on.

I'm a big fan of your ride at Epcot, though it's a bit dated. If you could go back and update it, what would you change about it?

I would emphasize climate change distinctly. The sponsors on that ride were quite nervous about it 20 years ago.

Hey Bill, what are you most looking forward to?

My book tour!

Hey Bill! Thanks for coming back and gracing us with your presence!

What was your favorite experiment that you did on your show?

Never gonna say there was a favorite. I loved the globe with the solar panels demonstrating the intensity of sunlight varying with the Earth's seasons.

Hi, it's great that you are back!! What would you say to anyone to make themm persue scince??


It seems you still have a cult following, how often are you recognized in the street and how do your conversations usually go?

I'm recognized continually.

Everywhere I go in the english-speaking world.

It's cool.

I prefer "Excuse me, Doctor Nye" to "Hey Bill."

I'm recognized continually.

Everywhere I go in the english-speaking world.

It's cool.

I prefer "Excuse me, Doctor Nye" to "Hey Bill."

(I guess that's human nature)

(I guess that's human nature)

For whatever reason, I'm not crazy about the expression "IhatetobotheryouI'msosorrytobotheryouIhatetobotheryou"

Bill! Hi, I'm so glad I stumbled across your scheduled AMA last night. Thanks for being here, even at this hour of the morning (2PM here on the east coast), ready to take our questions!

My question is: What's your favorite astrophysics fact that makes you want to grab people on the street and say, have you heard this?

Also, I wanted to say thank you. When I graduated high school, I didn't have much math or science knowledge beyond trig and chemistry; But I made the recent switch from being an arts major to becoming a physics major by teaching myself the prerequisite components at home with the help of Khan Academy as well as inspiration from you, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku and a handful of other scientists all enthusiastic and passionate about sharing the importance of knowledge with the world. Thanks!

We are made of exploded stars.

First of all, THANK YOU! You were incredibly influential in my upbringing. You got me interested in the sciences at an early age. It helped shape me into who I am today.

Secondly, I’m a father now and was wondering if you had any tips on effective ways to get my son interested in the sciences. Maybe a simple experiment suggestion we could do together?

I have inflated balloons with vinegar and baking soda countless times.

Each gaseous molecule brings me joy.

That would be my recommendation.

Do you know about the Reddit Secret Santa? And if so, are you participating? Imagine getting a present form Bill Nye.

Well, what people need is to subscribe to my Quarterly box! Subscribe to my Quarterly Box to honor Isaac Newton's birthday.

And yes! I'll do it.

What is one experiment you would like to do the most? Or even redo one with better technology.

Oh, I'd like to re-do the Transpiration of Plants in a Plexiglass Box, using modern electronic CO2 detectors, rather than Thymol blue.

Who is your scientific idol, what past or present scientist do you admire the most?

Michael Faraday. He not only made discoveries, he shared them with the world. And like me, he spoke English. Which helps me appreciate him.

How are you doing this day?

Now that I'm redditing with you, I'm fabulous.

Hey Bill, loved your show and all that jazz. I'm curious if you are familiar with Ray Kurzwiels concept of Singularity and if so given your knowledge of science...your thoughts?

I am deeply skeptical of The Singularity. Although I remain open-minded, of course.

I am deeply skeptical of The Singularity. Although I remain open-minded, of course.

Check out page 263 of my new book, when you get your hands on it later today, on your way home or something.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

It's probably "Singin' in the Rain."

But for whatever reason, I still get great joy out of "Sun Valley Serenade."

Hey Bill, u my frend. On a more serious note, what different career would you pursue if given the chance?

Oh, I would have pursued a career in physics. Or full-time astrobiology.

BILL! I have the best school memories as a kid because of you - thank you from the bottom of my heart!

What's your favorite TV show, and why is it Game of Thrones?

I've never made it all the way through an episode of Game of Thrones. I guess I am too busy.

It seems to me that it is probably not based on a true story.

Hey Bill! What is your favorite kind of bird?

I am charmed by both hummingbirds (with their vertical takeoff and landing capabilities) and by albatrosses (with their extraordinary ability to exploit the boundary layer above the sea surface, and travel more than a hundred nautical miles a day).

I am charmed by both hummingbirds (with their vertical takeoff and landing capabilities) and by albatrosses (with their extraordinary ability to exploit the boundary layer above the sea surface, and travel more than a hundred nautical miles a day).

If you ever watch albatrosses land on land, it's horrible, they smash themselves all the time, but they land beautifully on water.

Hi Mr. Nye. What would be the best Science project my 8th grader can do for her fair?

This is an old question. There is no "best one."

Find out what he or she is interested in, and try something.

The KEY is the process. You want the students to embrace the process. Observe, design, try, see what happens.

What's your favorite planet?

Earth. Earth is my favorite planet.

All my friends are here, and I stay here for the air.

hi Bill, whats for supper?

I don't know. I'm going to a banquet. I'll play the hand I'm dealt.

Why did you leave Sheldon stranded at that smoothie bar?

In case you didn't pick up on it, Sheldon is ANNOYING.

Bill! What is something you can tell us that might make us want to read your new book?

Evolution is the fact of life.

It fascinates all of us. I hope my description of it fascinates you, too.

If you were to appear on Drunk History, which scientist would you most like to tell a drunken story about?

Oh, probably the guy - Kekuel. Who first described benzene rings. And he said it came to him in a dream. But it may have come to him while he was drunk!

If given a chance to be one of the first to colonize Mars, would you take it?

I would very much like to go to Mars and look for signs of life. But I don't want to colonize it. I'm an Earthling through and through.

What major scientific discovery from before living memory do you wish you had witnessed or been a part of?

As intriguing as that sounds, I would prefer to be part of the next scientific discovery, which I hope involves low-energy desalinization of water, better batteries, or the true nature of dark energy and dark matter.

What is your opinion of Senator Inhofe recent re-election and his post as Chairman of the Sentate Environment and Public Works committee?

I would prefer that he had stuck to his original plan, which was to retire. Although he doesn't mean to, he's leaving the world worse than he found it.

Hello. Bill, my son was diagnosed with autism and I was curious if there was any autism friendly children's books showing the amazing side of astronomy and science? And if not, if you were looking into the future to publishing any books of that nature or for any young children audience? I was a huge fan of your show as a child and have been learning about what you do now and science and biology. Sincerely, Will.

Although there may be a few, I don't know of any books as specific as the ones you seek.

I recommend you get a home planetarium. And just turn that on. And see if it turns him on to science.

From a scientific point of view: What kind of bear is best?

The different species of bears are a product of evolution. Each is uniquely suited to his or her environment.

Did I mention my book, Undeniable? Hahaha! I crack myself up!

Although, as a Cornellian, I have to remind all of us: GO BIG RED BEARS!

Hi Bill! Is there an art form to taking a great selfie?


In your opinion, what is the most important discovery in the last 10 years?

That the universe is not slowing down in its expansion, it's accelerating.

And, do you know why?


I'm currently in my chem lab while posting this question; I am a biology major. Over time it becomes increasingly harder to try to figure out what to do as a profession or to even keep this major. Do you have any life changing advice?

Follow your passion.

And when you're in that lab, keep in mind that it's all done with molecules.

Would you ever entertain doing the Reading Rainbow and reviving Bill Nye, The Science Guy online for a new generation to learn from you?

I'd do Reading Rainbow anytime! LeVar Burton is an acquaintance of mine.

And I'm always looking for a new TV show.

What are your thoughts on interstellar travel?

Let's go!!!

The trouble is, there's a lot of space in space. As a start, please check out the LightSail Project on

Working together, we can change the world.

What is your favorite type of sandwich?

For many years, I liked the pastrami.

Nowadays, though, because of the environmental impact of beef, I lean to the egg salad.

Hi Bill! I saw you when you spoke at the University of Nevada, Reno a couple years ago. You put together a fantastically entertaining and educational presentation. Thank you for that.

I remember during the post-presentation Q&A, the subject of religion came up and you distanced yourself from condemning religion in general—focusing only on young Earth creationism. You have since debated Ken Ham on the same subject.

I understand fully your reluctance to bash believers as they make up a large part of this country and your target demographic. However, your main contention with creationism is that it is a rejection of facts and an adoption of beliefs in spite of evidence to the contrary. It seems to me that all religion does the same at least to some degree. As part of its nature, religion encourages the embracement of ignorance. It deters its followers from the pursuit of further knowledge.

How do you view religion and faith in general?

Religion is separate from science.

I guarantee you we all have a faith in something for which we do not have proof, or even evidence.

So I work hard to separate science from uncritical belief. But no matter what you believe in, the Earth is not 6,000 years old.

If someone were to make a movie about you, who would you like to see play as you?

Some extraordinary good-looking, charming young man.

Hollywood must be lousy with 'em!

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Bill Nye conducted on Reddit on 2014-11-05. The Reddit AMA can be found here.