C.J.: A taste for wry from ham Bill Nye

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 28, 2012 - 3:18 PM

Bill Nye is my kind of Science Guy.

He speaks in English and has great people skills. He's naughty and never shies away from double entendres in the interest of propriety. And he's not afraid of controversy as proven by his video challenging the teaching of creationism.

Nye was in the metro on behalf of Minnesota-based Sophia.org, an online educational platform offering more than 25,000 tutorials for students. We talked about his serious evolution flap and sillier matters such as the characters from CBS's "Big Bang Theory," his dream date and George Washington Carver. Nye even demonstrated how he ties his preferred necktie.

Q Do you regret dipping your toe into the creationism vs. evolution debate, even though your video went nearly 5 million viral?

A No, I don't regret it at all. Sorry. It wouldn't matter, except we have 7 billion people living on a small planet and we need as many scientifically literate people as we can get. It is a troubling irony that the guy who got elected to the U.S. Congress and serves on the Science, Space and Technology Committee doesn't embrace the fundamental idea in geology, nor does he embrace the fundamental idea in all of life science, apparently. Just wonder what else, as a science educator, I've failed to provide this guy. It's troubling.

Q How are you changing your videos to fit with the new Common Core State Standards?

A As we said back in the day, the goal of the "Science Guy Show," if you look at our rules of the road, the objective of the show is to change the world. My belief was based on something my professor, Carl Sagan, said: If you are true to the science, it will be useful indefinitely. Which is to say, it will always be true.

Q Where does George Washington Carver rank among scientists, in your opinion?

A George Washington Carver, not a Minnesotan, my understanding, went to Iowa State -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- and INVENTED peanut butter! What more do you want? What greater value could a person be to humankind? What, invent popcorn? That is so worthy [he said bowing down]. I cannot say enough good things. Let alone my current obsession with almond milk and soy milk and all these other nut things. I love the guy.

Q When you drive, do you contemplate the equations of motion?

A Yes. You say the equations. Traditionally there are three in classical physics. Right?

Q My daddy was the science professor. I'm not your science person, not your math person. Were I either, I'd be a veterinarian.

A Well so. Inertia is a property of matter. Things that are in motion tend to stay in motion. Things at rest tend to stay at rest. Force equals mass times acceleration. And for every action, C.J., there is an equal and opposite ...

Q Reaction.

A Yes, you do know some classical physics, you see.

Q Your thoughts on the Large Hadron Collider?

A Love it. I'm kooky for the Large Hadron Collider. I spoke with the guy who may get the Nobel Prize for it the other day on Neil's show -- Neil deGrasse Tyson's show -- "Star Talk."

Q Do you have Neil deGrasse Tyson's cellphone number?

A Yes.

Q Do you have his home number? I just want to see how tight you are.

A Yes. I had dinner with him week before last.

Q Would you tie that bow tie in front of my camera?

A Sure, yeah. [He does it, no mirror.] Mirrors at this point throw you off. Not my first time. My father taught me [he said in a geezer voice, as you can see and hear on my video].

Q How would you describe Dr. Sheldon Cooper's relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler on "Big Bang Theory"?

A Some tension. You want that in a sitcom. You want romantic tension. Can we say tension on camera?

 

Q Do you find Amy Farrah Fowler appealing?

A Yes, but we must keep in mind that I've met the actor [Mayim Bialik] who plays Amy. She is quite charming. Yeah, I have no problem. Bring it on. But she's happily married.

Q Let's pretend your girlfriend doesn't read my column. If you could date any famous woman, she would be who? I'm trying to get a feel for your type.

A Can we say dating? Oh, oh, Amy Adams.

Q You and your neighbor, Ed Begley Jr., have a competition to be greener.

A Ed, good friend of mine, but I must crush him. Right now at this moment I might be ever so slightly greener because my windows are double-pane, low-emissivity glass. He has a few on the north side of his house that are not. That said, he's moving a kilometer away where he's taking a house completely apart and building it all green. All groovy. That's hard to compete with.

Interviews are edited for space and clarity. C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9.

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