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Bill Nye

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Not to be confused with Bill Nighy or William Nye.
Bill Nye
Nye at Bridgewater State College on April 10, 2007.
Born William Sanford Nye
(1955-11-27) November 27, 1955 (age 59)
Washington, D.C.
Residence Los Angeles, California
Nationality American
Fields Mechanical engineering
Institutions Boeing
Cornell University
Planetary Society
Alma mater Cornell University (B.S.)
Known for Bill Nye the Science Guy

William Sanford "Bill" Nye (born November 27, 1955), popularly known as Bill Nye the Science Guy, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, writer, scientist, and former mechanical engineer, best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children's science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–98) and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator.

Early life

Nye was born on November 27, 1955,[1][2][3] in Washington, D.C., to Jacqueline (née Jenkins; 1921–2000), a codebreaker during World War II, and Edwin Darby "Ned" Nye (1917–97), also a World War II veteran, whose experience without electricity in a Japanese prisoner of war camp led him to become a sundial enthusiast.[4][5][6] His maternal grandmother was French, from Dancevoir.[7]

After attending Lafayette Elementary and Alice Deal Junior High in the city, he was accepted to the private Sidwell Friends School on a partial scholarship and graduated in 1973.[8][9] He studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University (where he took an astronomy class taught by Carl Sagan)[10] and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1977.[11] Nye occasionally returns to Cornell as a professor to guest-lecture introductory-level astronomy and human ecology classes.[12]


Nye began his career in Seattle at Boeing, where (among other things) he starred in training films and developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the 747. Later, he worked as a consultant in the aeronautics industry. In 1999 he told the St. Petersburg Times that he applied to be a NASA astronaut every few years, but was always rejected.[13]

The Science Guy

Nye began his professional entertainment career as a writer/actor on a local sketch comedy television show in Seattle, Washington, called Almost Live!. The host of the show, Ross Shafer, suggested he do some scientific demonstrations in a six-minute segment, and take on the nickname "The Science Guy".[14] His other main recurring role on Almost Live! was as Speedwalker, a speedwalking Seattle superhero.

From 1991 to 1993, he appeared in the live-action educational segments of Back to the Future: The Animated Series in the nonspeaking role of assistant to Dr. Emmett Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd), in which he would demonstrate science while Lloyd explained. The segments' national popularity led to Nye's hosting an educational television program, Bill Nye the Science Guy, from 1993 to 1998. Each of the 100 episodes aimed to teach a specific topic in science to a preteen audience, yet it garnered a wide adult audience as well.[15] With its comedic overtones, the show became popular as a teaching aid in schools. When portraying "The Science Guy", Nye wears a light blue lab coat and bow tie.

Nye has written several books as The Science Guy. In addition to hosting, he was a writer and producer for the show, which was filmed entirely in Seattle.

Nye's Science Guy persona appears alongside Ellen DeGeneres and Alex Trebek in a video at Ellen's Energy Adventure, an attraction that has played since 1996 at the Universe of Energy pavilion inside Epcot at Walt Disney World. His voice is heard in the Dinosaur attraction in Disney's Animal Kingdom park, teaching guests about the dinosaurs while they queue for the ride. He appears in video form in the "Design Lab" of CyberSpace Mountain, inside DisneyQuest at Walt Disney World, where he refers to himself as "Bill Nye the Coaster Guy."


Nye and Executive Director of The Planetary Society received the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's "In Praise of Reason" Award at CSICON 2011 in New Orleans

Nye remained interested in science education through entertainment. He played a science teacher in Disney's 1998 TV movie The Principal Takes a Holiday; he made a hovercraft to demonstrate science in an unusual classroom manner. From 2000 to 2002, Nye was the technical expert in BattleBots. In 2004 and 2005, Nye hosted 100 Greatest Discoveries, an award-winning series produced by THINKFilm for The Science Channel and in high definition on the Discovery HD Theater. He was also host of an eight-part Discovery Channel series called Greatest Inventions with Bill Nye. He created a 13-episode PBS KCTS-TV series about science, called The Eyes of Nye, aimed at an older audience than his previous show had been. Airing in 2005, it often featured episodes based on politically relevant themes such as genetically modified food, global warming, and race. Nye has guest-starred in several episodes of the crime drama Numb3rs as an engineering faculty member. A lecture Nye gave several years ago on exciting children about math was an inspiration for creating Numb3rs.[16] He has also made guest appearances on the VH1 reality show America's Most Smartest Model.[17]

Nye has appeared numerous times on the talk show Larry King Live, speaking about topics such as global warming and UFOs. He argued that global warming is an issue that should be addressed by governments of the world in part because it could be implicated in the record-setting 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.[18] On UFOs, he has been skeptical of extraterrestrial explanations for sightings such as those at Roswell and Malmstrom Air Force Base in 1967.[19]

Nye appears in segments of The Climate Code on The Weather Channel, telling his personal ways of saving energy. He still makes regular appearances on the show, often asking quiz questions. In the fall of 2008, Nye also appeared periodically on the daytime game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as part of the show's reintroduced "Ask the Expert" lifeline. In 2008, he also hosted Stuff Happens, a show on the then new Planet Green network. In November 2008, Nye appeared in an acting role as himself in the fifth-season episode "Brain Storm" of Stargate Atlantis alongside fellow television personality and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.[20]

In 2009, portions of Bill Nye's shows were used as lyrics and portions of the second Symphony of Science music education video by composer John Boswell. Nye recorded a short YouTube video (as himself, not his TV persona) advocating clean-energy climate-change legislation on behalf of Al Gore's Repower America campaign in October 2009.[21] Bill joined the American Optometric Association in a multimedia advertising campaign to persuade parents to get their children comprehensive eye examinations.[22] Nye made an appearance in Palmdale's 2010 video "Here Comes the Summer";[23] the band's lead singer Kay Hanley is his neighbor. Nye (as his TV persona) also made a guest appearance on The Dr. Oz Show.

In September 2012, Nye claimed that creationist views threaten science education and innovation in the United States.[24][25][26]

In February 2014, Nye debated creationist Ken Ham at the Creation Museum on the topic of whether creation is a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era.[27][28][29]

On February 28, 2014, Nye was a celebrity guest and interviewer at the White House Student Film Festival.[30]

Scientific work

Nye orating in October 2010.

In the early 2000s, Nye assisted in the development of a small sundial that was included in the Mars Exploration Rover missions.[2] Known as MarsDial, it included small colored panels to provide a basis for color calibration in addition to helping keep track of time.[31] From 2005 to 2010, Nye was the vice president of The Planetary Society, an organization that advocates space science research and the exploration of other planets, particularly Mars.[32] He became the organization's second Executive Director in September 2010 when Louis Friedman stepped down.[33][34]

In November 2010, Nye became the face of a new permanent exhibition at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California. Bill Nye’s Climate Lab features Nye as commander of the Clean Energy Space Station, and invites visitors on an urgent mission to thwart climate change. Beginning with a view of Planet Earth from space, visitors explore air, water, and land galleries to discover how climate change affects Earth’s connected systems, and how to use the Sun, wind, land, and water to generate clean energy. In an interview about the exhibit, Nye said, “Everything in the exhibit is geared to showing you that the size of the problem of climate change is big. Showing you a lot about energy use ... It’s a huge opportunity ... We need young people, entrepreneurs, young inventors, young innovators to change the world.”[35]

Nye with the Chief of Naval Research Rear. Adm. Nevin Carr following the presentation of a "Powered by Naval Research" pocket protector during the Navy Office of General Counsel Spring 2011 Conference.

Nye gave a solar noon clock atop Rhodes Hall to Cornell on Aug 27 following a public lecture that filled the 715-seat Statler Auditorium. Nye talked about his father's passion for sundials and timekeeping, his time at Cornell, his work on the sundials mounted on the Mars rovers and the story behind the Bill Nye Solar Noon Clock.[36] Bill Nye conducted a Q&A session after the 2012 Mars Rover Landing.[37]

Nye holds several United States patents,[38] including one for ballet pointe shoes[32] and another for an educational magnifying glass created by filling a clear plastic bag with water.[39][40] From 2001 to 2006, Nye served as Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 University Professor at Cornell University.[11][41] Nye supported the 2006 reclassification of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union.[42]

Nye is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a U.S. non-profit scientific and educational organization whose aim is to promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims.[43] Interviewed by John Rael for the Independent Investigation Group IIG, Nye stated that his "concern right now... scientific illiteracy... you [the public] don't have enough rudimentary knowledge of the universe to evaluate claims."[44] In November 2012, Nye launched a Kickstarter project for an educational Aerodynamics game, AERO 3D. The project was not funded.[45] His book, Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, was released on November 4, 2014.[46]

Dancing with the Stars

Nye was a contestant in the 17th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2013, partnering newcomer Tyne Stecklein. They were eliminated early in the season after Nye sustained an injury to his quadriceps tendon on Week 3.[47]

Dance Score Music Result
Cha-cha-cha 14(5-4-5) "Weird Science"—Oingo Boingo No Elimination
Paso Doble 17(6-5-6) "Symphony No. 5"—Ludwig van Beethoven Safe
Jazz 16(6-5-5) "Get Lucky"—Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams Eliminated

Personal life

Since 2006, Nye has lived in Los Angeles, though he has also owned a house on Mercer Island.[48] As of July 2007, Nye and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. are engaging in a friendly competition "to see who could have the lowest carbon footprint," according to Begley.[49] In a 2008 interview, Nye joked that he wants to "crush Ed Begley" in their environmental competition.[50] Nye and Begley are neighbors in Los Angeles, and sometimes dine together at a local vegetarian restaurant.[50] Nye often appears on Begley's Planet Green reality show Living with Ed. Nye enjoys baseball and occasionally does experiments involving the physics of the game. As a longtime Seattle resident before becoming an entertainer, he is said to have been a fan of the Seattle Mariners, although recently he has voiced his preference (as a D.C. native) for the Washington Nationals.[8] He also played Ultimate while in college and for a period of time while living in Seattle.[51] In July 2012, Nye endorsed President Barack Obama's reelection bid.[52]

Nye announced his engagement during an appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and was married to his fiancée of five months, musician Blair Tindall, on February 3, 2006. The ceremony was performed by Rick Warren at The Entertainment Gathering at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Yo-Yo Ma provided the music.[53] Nye left the relationship seven weeks later when the marriage license was declared invalid.[54] In 2007, Nye received a protective order against Tindall after an incident in which she came onto his property and used herbicide to damage his garden. Tindall admitted this, but denied being a threat to him.[55] In 2012, Nye sued Tindall for unpaid attorney's fees he incurred while he went to court in 2009 to enforce the protective order against Tindall after she allegedly violated it. According to Nye's court filings, she was ordered to pay these fees; to date, she has not paid any of it.[56]

Nye is an avid swing dancer.[57] He has been spotted at local dances in the Los Angeles area as well as at nationwide events such as Stompology (Rochester, NY).[58]

Nye describes himself as agnostic.[59]

Awards and honors

In May 1999, Nye was the commencement speaker at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree.[60] He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Johns Hopkins University in May 2008.[61] In May 2011, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from Willamette University, where he was the keynote speaker for that year's commencement exercises.[62] In addition, Bill Nye also received an honorary doctor of pedagogy degree from Lehigh University on May 20, 2013, at the commencement ceremony.[63] Nye received the 2010 Humanist of the Year Award from the American Humanist Association.[64]


  1. ^ "Nye Facts". Retrieved July 2, 2009.  A PDF file from Nye's official website. This information can also be found in Flash format at the site under "Bill Info".
  2. ^ a b Schwartz, John (June 17, 2013). "Firebrand for Science, and Big Man on Campus". The New York Times. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bill Nye". Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. Volume 64. September 1, 2005. Gale. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  4. ^ "Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye, 79, World War II code breaker". Baltimore Sun. April 3, 2000. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Biography | Bill Nye the Science Guy". Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Transcript of Oral History of Jenkins, S.S. (Bud)". October 8, 2003. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Nye, Bill (January 21, 2009). "My School Days – The Crazy Luck". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ Sidwell Authors lists Nye as a '73 graduate.
  10. ^ "Nye Bio". Retrieved July 2, 2009.  A PDF file from Nye's official website. This information can also be found in Flash format at the site under "Bill Info".
  11. ^ a b "Janet Reno and Bill Nye appointed CU Rhodes Class of '56 Professors". Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University. June 19, 2001. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Bill Nye, the Science Guy, at Cornell". Everything Science. March 14, 2006. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ Davis, Pamela (October 11, 1999). "Bill Nye, the successful guy". St. Petersburg Times. Archived from the original on March 5, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
  14. ^ "Bill Nye the Science Guy Interview". Retrieved March 15, 2014. 
  15. ^ A Study of Bill Nye The Science Guy:Outreach and Image. p. 10. Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  16. ^ "The Numb3rs Guy". Time. December 4, 2005. Retrieved September 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Bill Nye". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  18. ^ Transcripts from Larry King Live (CNN) featuring Nye speaking on global warming: "Hurricane Rita Threatens Texas/Louisiana Coast" (September 22, 2005), "Panel Discusses Damage Caused By Hurricane Rita" (September 26, 2005), "Could Global Warming Kill Us?" (January 31, 2007).
  19. ^ Transcripts from Larry King Live (CNN) featuring Nye speaking on UFOs: "Roswell Truth Debated" (July 4, 2008), "Debate Over Existence of UFOs" (July 18, 2008).
  20. ^ Woerner, Meredith (August 15, 2008). "First Pics Of Jewel Staite's Hot Date On Atlantis". io9. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Repower America – Bill Nye, The Science Guy". YouTube. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Make Eye Exams Part of the Back to School Routine". YouTube. Retrieved March 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ Doug (March 27, 2011). "Kay Hanley". Review Geek. Retrieved August 31, 2011. Bill Nye, my beloved nemesis and neighbor, who agreed to film the shot 10 minutes after I gave him no choice in the matter. Not for nothing, but the money shot would have been when I marched across the street as Bill was gardening, shouting “Nye! You’re gonna be in our video! Get your bow tie and lab coat. I’m grabbing one of the Emmy statues. Meet us on the porch in 10!” And he did. Love that guy... 
  24. ^ Luvan, Dylan (September 24, 2012). "Bill Nye Warns: Creation Views Threaten U.S. Science". Associated Press. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  25. ^ Fowler, Jonathan; Rodd, Elizabeth (August 23, 2012). "Bill Nye: Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children". YouTube. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  26. ^ Lily Kuo (August 28, 2012). "Bill Nye the Science Guy says creationism not good for kids". Toronto Sun. Reuters. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  27. ^ Boyle, Alan (February 5, 2014). "Bill Nye Wins Over the Science Crowd at Evolution Debate". NBC News. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  28. ^ Kopplin, Zack (February 4, 2014). "Why Bill Nye the Science Guy is trying to reason with America's creationists". The Guardian. Retrieved February 6, 2014. 
  29. ^ Nye, Bill; Ham, Ken (February 4, 2014). "Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham (video - 165:32)". YouTube. Retrieved February 5, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Students Are Stars at White House Film Festival". NBC News. Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  31. ^ Friend, T. (January 5, 2004). The sun on Mars. In The talk of the town. The New Yorker, LXXIX, 27.
  32. ^ a b Rahner, Mark (April 26, 2005). "Eye to eye with Bill Nye the Science Guy". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Bill Nye Signs on as Planetary Society's New Executive Director" (Press release). The Planetary Society. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on November 28, 2010. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  34. ^ "Bill Nye Biography". The Planetary Society. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Bill Nye's Climate Lab at Chabot Space & Science Center". Video. YouTube. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  36. ^ Wilensky, Joe (August 29, 2011). "Cornell Chronicle: Bill Nye '77 dedicates Solar Noon Clock". Retrieved July 11, 2012. 
  37. ^ Bardin, Jon; Soon-Shiong, Nika (August 5, 2012). "Mars rover Q&A with Bill Nye the Science Guy". Los Angeles Times. 
  38. ^ "William S. Nye". Google Patent search. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  39. ^ Holder, Justin (February 19, 2002). "Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' to headline engineering open house". News Bureau. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  40. ^ US patent 5515203, William S. Nye, "Educational lens", issued 1996-05-07 
  41. ^ "Walk among the planets with a star: Bill Nye, the Science Guy, guides a tour of Ithaca's Sagan Planet Walk on March 7" (PDF). Chronicle Online. Cornell University. March 1, 2006. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  42. ^ "'Science Guy' Likes Pluto Change", ABC News, August 27, 2006.
  43. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff." The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved January 4, 2010.
  44. ^ Bill Nye interview (part 2 of 2) on YouTube (Be Skeptical episode 3) IIG West. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  45. ^ "AERO 3D Bird Flight Game with Bill Nye and GameDesk". November 28, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  46. ^ Deiviscio, Jeffrey (November 3, 2014). "A Fight for the Young Creationist Mind - In ‘Undeniable,’ Bill Nye Speaks Evolution Directly to Creationists". New York Times. Retrieved November 4, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Dancing with the Stars Sends Bill Nye Home". Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  48. ^ Nye, Bill (1993). Bill Nye The Science Guy's Big Blast Of Science. Basic Books. ISBN 978-0201608649. 
  49. ^ Kerley, David (July 25, 2007). "Eco-Friendly Competition: Who Can Go Greener?". ABC News. Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  50. ^ a b Lewine, Edward (April 20, 2008). "Greener Pastures". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 25, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2008. 
  51. ^ Booth, Tina. "12 Things You Didn't Know About Bill Nye, the Ultimate Guy". Ultiworld. Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  52. ^ "Bill Nye's guy: Popular TV show scientist throws support behind President Obama.". July 19, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2012. 
  53. ^ "Bill Nye, the Science Guy, gets hitched". MSNBC. Associated Press. February 8, 2006. Archived from the original on November 16, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2007. 
  54. ^ "Bill Nye's Withered Romance". CBS News. February 11, 2009. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  55. ^ ""The Science Guy" Wants to Send "Wife" to the Moon". Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  56. ^ "Bill Nye the Science Guy -- Locked in $57,000 Battle with Stalker Ex-Girlfriend". Retrieved March 26, 2015. 
  57. ^ Lewine, Edward (April 20, 2008). "Greener Pastures: Bill Nye". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  58. ^ "Bill Nye the Science Guy swing dances?!". April 23, 2008. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  59. ^ Hallowell, Billy. "‘Science Guy’ Bill Nye Responds to Claim He Attacked Christians, Says ‘It’s Difficult to Respect What Seems Like Irrational Thinking’". The Blaze. Retrieved February 7, 2014. To me, I point out to everybody the cosmic scheme of things. You can’t know. I’m an agnostic. With that said the earth’s not 6,000 years old. 
  60. ^ Karen W. Arenson (31 May 1999). "Recognizing Achievement, Adding Glitz". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  61. ^ "JHU Honorary Degrees Awarded [Listed in Alphabetical Order]". John Hopkins University. May 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  62. ^ "Willamette University announces commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients" (Press release). Willamette University. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  63. ^ Linda Harbrecht (5 April 2013). "Bill Nye "The Science Guy" to deliver commencement address". Lehigh University. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  64. ^ "Humanists hold 69th annual conference San Jose, California". Website AHA. American Humanist Association. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 

External links