Who Is Bill Nye?
Bill Nye is an American science educator and mechanical engineer best known for hosting the television program Bill Nye the Science Guy. After graduating from Cornell University, he moved to Seattle to work as a mechanical engineer for Boeing and eventually became a comedy show writer and performer. Also a successful author, he remains a popular public figure and vocal member of the science community.
Early Life and Education
American science educator William Sanford Nye, better known as "Bill Nye the Science Guy," was born in Washington, D.C., on November 27, 1955, to Jacqueline and Edwin Darby Nye. Brilliant in math and science, Nye's mother was recruited to become a codebreaker during World War II. His father was held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, where he had no electricity for four years. The experience made Edwin a sundial enthusiast, with his son later becoming one himself.
After attending the private Sidwell Friends School, Nye enrolled at Cornell University, where he studied mechanical engineering. Upon earning his Bachelor of Science degree, Nye went on to begin his career at The Boeing Company in Seattle, where he would live for many years. Nye developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor that is still used in the Boeing 747.
Nye got his start in comedy after winning a Steve Martin look-alike contest and went on to work as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. He eventually quit his day job and became a comedy writer and performer on the show Almost Live. It was there that he earned the nickname "the Science Guy."
'Bill Nye the Science Guy'
Soon after, Seattle's PBS KCTS-TV produced the show Bill Nye the Science Guy, an educational television program that aired from September 10, 1993, to June 20, 1998. Nye hosted the show, which aimed to teach science to a preteen audience: Each of the 100 episodes focused on a specific topic, making them valuable resources for schools. Over its five-year run, the show won 19 Emmy Awards; Nye personally received seven Emmys for writing, performing and producing.
'The Eyes of Nye' to 'Dancing with the Stars'
After the show ended, Nye went on to work on other television shows, including The Eyes of Nye, a science show aimed at an older audience, and the Planet Green Network's Stuff Happens program. He also hosted the 100 Greatest Discoveries show and began appearing in videos for several attractions at Walt Disney World and Epcot, including one with Ellen DeGeneres.
Among his TV credits, Nye played a science teacher in a Disney movie and on the television crime drama Numb3rs. He also appeared on Larry King Live several times to talk about global warming — a favorite subject of his — and space exploration. In 2013, Nye took on a different type of television role by joining the cast of celebrity contestants on the popular competition Dancing with the Stars.
'Bill Nye Saves the World'
In 2017, Nye launched a Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World, which explores science topics that affect everyday lives and invites both celebrity guest speakers and experts to join in on the discussions.
Along with his TV programs, Nye has written several children's books about science. Moving on to more grown-up fare, he published Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation in 2014 and followed with Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World the next year. In 2017, he delivered Everything All at Once, in which he promised to show how "thinking like a nerd is the key to changing yourself and the world around you."
Science and Space
When Nye isn't acting, making TV and film appearances or writing, he is working as a scientist. In the early 2000s, he helped develop sundials that were used in the Mars Exploration Rover missions. From 2005 to 2010, he served as vice president and then as second executive director of The Planetary Society, one of the largest space-interest groups in the world.
Nye became the face of "Bill Nye's Climate Lab," a permanent exhibition at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. He is also a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that aims to promote scientific inquiry and critical investigation: Nye has said that he is concerned about scientific illiteracy and wants to help teach the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.
Nye made headlines for a video posted to YouTube on August 23, 2012, in which he explains that the denial of evolution in the United States is generally unique compared to the rest of the world's advanced nations. "People still move to the United States, and that's largely because of the intellectual capital we have, the general understanding of science," Nye states in the clip. "When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back."
For several years, Nye served as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Visiting Professor at Cornell. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College and Johns Hopkins.
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