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Bill Nye on life, the universe and everything (and by 'everything' we mean bow ties)

Written by
Tazi Phillips

​​Anyone who grew up in the ‘90s knows him: He's Bill Nye the Science Guy, and he's about to drop some serious knowledge on you. Although Nye's educational TV show ended in 1998, the star has been busy hosting TV series' on The Science Channel and Discovery, debating creationism with "Anti-Science Guy" Ken Ham and taking selfies with Obama and Neil deGrasse Tyson. In advance of the Bill Nye the Science Guy lecture this weekend at Irving Plaza, the man of science discusses the scientific mysteries he finds most compelling, the possibility of a new TV show and his famed bow tie collection.

How does it feel to have inspired millions of people about science?
It’s wonderful. But I’ll admit, I’m not sure I grasp the reach of the show. So many people have come up to me to tell me how it influenced their careers and even their lives. It’s amazing and very gratifying.

You're in New York City for three nights this weekend. What can people expect from your new lecture?
I hope they’ll laugh. I hope they’ll enjoy the story of how the Science Guy came to be. Most especially though, I hope they’ll leave with optimism about how we each can be part of a bright future for humankind and change the world. It is very cool indeed to be on the same stage that has presented the Ramones, U2 and Bob Dylan. Science as the new rock & roll. Who knew?

Rumor has it that you’re shopping around for a new TV show. Will today’s younger generation get to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy 2.0?
I believe the Science Guy show series stands the test of time well enough for younger viewers (and the young at heart). What I—and, I believe, my fans—want is a new show for an older audience in which we address important scientific questions. The key for me is finding the right people to work with on a big enough stage or network. Stay tuned, and prepare to turn it up LOUD.

From someone who grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, you managed to teach kids about science and the universe while making it fun. Are there any challenges that arise when you speak to an older audience?
Older audiences are easier, because I can write and speak with an adult tone and voice. As the head writer on the Bill Nye the Science Guy show, I insisted on what I call Discipline In Vocabulary or D.I.V.. With an older audience I still work hard to show-then-tell, but I don’t have to go back and change and add words to explain concepts.

Do you find any scientific mysteries particularly compelling?
Where did we all come from? Are we alone in the cosmos?

Who would win in a science-off between you and Neil deGrasse Tyson?
Neil is somewhat more well versed in almost everything. In general, he would kick my empennage. However, I may know more than he about climate change. I’ve been working on that for over 20 years. We both took a lot of physics. I have spent a bit more time as a stage performer and in developing pedagogy. (Show, then tell…)

If you could give a piece of advice to our audience, what would it be?
Be optimistic about the future, and work to leave the world better than you found it.

And finally, what’s your bow-tie collection like at home?
I have about 250 bow ties. Since moving to New York, I have been compelled to expand the collection even more. It’s been fun—so far…

Bill Nye the Science Guy speaks at Irving Plaza Friday July 18, Saturday July 19 and Sunday July 20.

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