You probably know him by his trademark blue lab coat and colorful bow ties. He’s TV’s “Mister Science,” known and beloved by generations of young viewers. He’s Bill Nye, the Science Guy!
News about STEM is everywhere these days, but Nye has been into Science Technology Engineering and Math – heck, any scientific exploration, for decades. From 1993 and 1998 he even starred in his own science show (Bill Nye the Science Guy).
His passion for the subject is clear, and so is his friendly and easy-going personality…making him definitely one of television’s most positive role models.
But make no mistake: Bill Nye doesn’t just play a scientist on TV. He’s an actual scientist, with an impressive educational background and amazing work resume.
In fact, when Bill Nye’s the topic, there’s no shortage of cool and surprising facts.
25 Cool Facts About Bill Nye the Science Guy
- Carl Sagan was his Teacher: Nye holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from prestigious Cornell University, where he took classes from famous astronomer Carl Sagan. He sometimes returns to Cornell as a guest teacher on astronomy and human ecology.
- He was an Engineer at Boeing: Nye’s work career began at the aviation giant Boeing in Seattle. While there, he engineered a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for 747 jets.
- Has a NASA ID Card: Nye’s interesting work history includes consulting stints at NASA, where he served as a mechanical engineer. (He tried unsuccessfully to get into the ultra-exclusive astronaut program there.)
- He’s an Actual Inventor: Given’s Nye’s work experience as a mechanical engineer, it’s not too surprising that he holds several U.S. patents. His inventions include ballet pointe shoes and a clever educational magnifying glass that consists simply of a clear plastic bag filled with water.
- Hosts a Walt Disney World Attraction With Ellen Degeneres: Nye makes an appearance in the “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” experience at Epcot. If you visit CyberSpace Mountain at Walt Disney World, you’ll see a video of Nye, who refers to himself as “Bill Nye the Coaster Guy,” (he also loves rollercoasters). He’s also featured in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park; you can hear Nye’s voice in the “Dinosaur” attraction.
- Mars Mission Man: Nye helped develop a sundial (called the MarsDial) that was carried onboard NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover missions, and was designed to help precisely keep track of time on Mars.
- He’s an Environmental Warrior: As a scientist, Nye is urgently concerned with the issue of global climate change and what it means to the future of all life on the planet. His Climate Lab exhibit at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center is dedicated to making people aware of the enormity of the problem. On Earth Day 2015, Nye met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Florida Everglades to discuss the politics of climate change.
- He’s a CEO: Currently he’s the CEO for the The Planetary Society, an organization dedicated to space exploration, especially Mars.
- Said No to Pluto: In 2006, Nye backed the reclassification of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, as undertaken by the International Astronomical Union.
- Mom was a Codebreaker, Dad was into Astronomy: His mother was a codebreaker for the Allied armies in World War II, while his father was a soldier who spent time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. While there, he became an ardent believer in the use of sundials, an interest he would pass along to his scientifically gifted son.
- He’s a BIG Advocate of Science: Nye has devoted his life to teaching others about science and is worried that average people now “don’t have enough rudimentary knowledge of the universe to evaluate claims.” He has been a tireless supporter of having more science education in American schools.
- He Recycles – And Then Some: Nye doesn’t just make impassioned speeches about environmental matters; he also tries to implement those concepts into his daily life. He has participated in an ongoing challenge with neighbor and environmental activist Ed Begley, Jr. to see who can leave the smallest carbon footprint, through recycling and other measures.
- Loves the Seattle Mariners A well-rounded guy who enjoys sports as well as science, Nye is a longtime fan of his hometown Seattle Mariners baseball team.
- Has a Room Full of Degrees: Nye has racked up a slew of honorary academic degrees, including honorary doctorate degrees from Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, Willamette University and Lehigh University.
- He’s a Man of Many Causes: Because of his ongoing commitment to various humanitarian causes, Nye was awarded the 2010 Humanist of the Year Award from the American Humanist Association.
- Launched a Spacecraft: Not to be outdone by commercial space exploration pioneers like Elon Musk and Richard Branson, Bill Nye headed up the LightSail project for the The Planetary Society. On May 20th, Nye and company launched a solar particle-powered spacecraft, comprised of a small satellite and a 344-square-foot solar sail.
- He’s a Leader in Interactive Science: Nye’s signature program, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, last aired in 1998. But thanks to streaming video magic, a new generation of kids (and grown-ups) can check out some of the show’s 100 episodes. About 30 are now being featured on Netflix, and we expect more episodes to be added at a later date.
- Loves Selfies: The Science Guy is not afraid to weigh in on today’s most practical issues. Like taking selfies. Nye has blogged selfie tips before. (Example: “First, have the lens facing you. That’s key.”) He also suggested taking selfies left-handed (for most right-handed users) and remembering to keep your battery full and your iPhone’s memory not-so-full.
- UFO Believer: Nye recently made it clear in a HuffPost Live interview that he firmly believes that alien life actually exists somewhere in the universe. “It’s gotta exist outside the solar system. I mean, there’s 200 billion stars in this galaxy alone.”
- Denounces Racism: Nye speaks out on many topics and was recently asked if whether he thought there was any scientific basis for racism. “Tribalism exists in the animal kingdom, and this is what I think is at the base of this,” he suggested. “We’re all the same, from a scientific standpoint. There is no such thing as race – but there is such a thing as tribalism.”
- Teaches Emoji Science: As perhaps America’s best-known scientist, Nye has his finger on the pulse of technology…even taking time out of his busy schedule to get down with the latest communication trend. Watch Bill Nye teaches a science lesson with emojis.
- What Event Inspired Him? When he was young, his parents took him to the New York World’s Fair in 1965, and the event showed him a whole new world of possibilities. “That intensely optimistic view of the future is still with me. It was the result of technology…”
- Why We Must Explore Space: In a recent interview, Nye explained why he considers space exploration so important. “Where did we come from?” he asks. “And are we alone in the universe? If you want to answer those questions, you have to explore space.”
- Was on Dancing With The Stars: In addition to all his other talents, Nye’s also a pretty good dancer, as he proved on TV’s Dancing with the Stars. Nye competed during the 2013 season, but was eliminated during Week 3 due to a tendon injury he had suffered. He danced to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” (featuring Pharrell).
- Got Advice from a Cabbie: Bill Nye said this was the best piece of advice he ever received: “Everybody you ever meet knows something you don’t.” He heard it from a cab driver more than 30 years ago, and has remembered it ever since.
Get into Science!
Do you love science like Bill Nye? If so, maybe it’s time you explored your passion for the subject this summer at a Digital Media Academy tech camp.
DMA offers super-cool tech camps in cutting-edge subjects and students explore robotics and engineering and other scientific pursuits.
Maybe you want to learn rocket science this summer instead? DMA’s got you covered there, too.