“Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” The sold-out crowd in Diddle Arena chanted as the hero of their collective childhood strode onto stage in his signature suit and bow-tie. Bill Nye, host of popular television show “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” had finally come to give a presentation at WKU. Nye’s visit was part of the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series, and The Gatton Academy was one of the sponsors. Academy students had priority seating, but it was a greatly anticipated event for most of the students at WKU.
The opening of Nye’s presentation set a humorous tone for the entire event. He feigned great difficulty in opening his laptop, even replicating one of the various falls that he experienced on the show. Once he finally got it set up, the presentation began in earnest. He told us about how he was inspired by his father, a WWII veteran who, after being placed in a Japanese POW camp with no electricity, became fascinated with sundials. Nye, although he poked fun at it for a solid 30 minutes, ended up being influenced by his father’s love of sundials to the extent that he helped design the MarsDial, a sundial used to calibrate the cameras on Mars Rovers.
The focus then shifted to the importance of science education for the young adults of today. Several nearly cataclysmic meteor events were shown to us, with the warning that, if a meteor ever hits the Earth, our civilization would grind to a halt. Nye charged us with a mission to, in his words, “SAVE THE WORLD!” (said at the volume that you would imagine). He described various methods to derail potential meteor collisions, and the ways that we could help move the technology forward.
After that segment, Nye answered selected questions tweeted to WKU. He told us about his 300 bow-ties, the ease of understanding Klingon over the arguments of Ken Ham, and two of his favorite science jokes, which, although they were hilarious, I’m afraid to print. I will say that they were perfect closers to a perfect event, one that will be remembered for years to come.