It’s no secret that we, like many others across the globe, think that Bill Nye is an absolute science hero. A renowned and well-loved scientist, writer, educator, comedian, actor, television host, rationalism advocate, climate change awareness advocate, and CEO of The Planetary Society, Nye has certainly not lived a quiet or boring life.
But these are all things a quick Google search will tell you. And if you can’t wait until "The Bill Nye Film" comes out, pending raising sufficient funds through a Kickstarter campaign, then here are a few fascinating facts about the Science Guy to reiterate his awesomeness.
How Nye Got Into Comedy
Whilst working as an engineer for Boeing, Nye entered and won a Steve Martin look-alike contest in Seattle, kick-starting his comedic journey. From then, he continued to work on 747s by day and as a stand-up comedian at night, until he submitted enough jokes to "Almost Live" to earn him a place on the show. This is where he developed his character “The Science Guy.”
Nye’s Mom Was A Nazi Codebreaker
Born in Washington, D.C. to Jacqueline Nye, his mother was so adept at math and science that she was recruited to become a Navy cryptographer during World War II, working to crack the infamous Nazi Enigma Code.
His Father Was A Prisoner Of War
Bill’s father, Edwin “Ned” Darby Nye, spent a significant amount of time as a prisoner in a Japanese camp during the Second World War, during which he built sundials out of fence posts and pebbles in an attempt to stay sane.
And That’s How Nye Became Obsessed with Sundials
Nye consequently inherited his passion for sundials from his father, eventually leading him to persuade NASA to equip the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers with his team’s “MarsDials.” These devices, consisting of sundials encircled by gray rings, were designed not only for timekeeping but also photometric calibration.
Bill Nye Wants To Change The World
Okay, so that’s not news. But did you know that in the typed out “rules” for the "Bill Nye The Science Guy" show, the top line read “Objective: Change the World.” Jason Sussberg, one of the directors of the upcoming Nye movie, tells IFLScience that, in fact, every script then included that same line, which was of course the ultimate goal of the show.
Carl Sagan Was Bill’s Professor
After graduating from the private Sidwell Friends School, Nye went on to study mechanical engineering at the prestigious Cornell University, where he was taught by famous cosmologist Carl Sagan. Sagan actually founded The Planetary Society, the biggest and most effective non-governmental and non-profit organization for the promotion of space exploration, for which Nye is now the CEO. According to Sussberg, Sagan gave him the original idea of focusing the show on a single concept (like structures), as opposed to the specifics (bridges).
Bill Is Also An Inventor
Fingers in an array of scientific and entertainment pies, Nye still managed to somehow find time to squeeze some inventing into his schedule. He owns a patent for an educational device that magnifies objects simply by filling a clear plastic bag with water. And slightly more randomly, he is also the patent holder for a more comfortable ballet slipper, called the Ballet Pointe Shoe.
Bill Thinks You Can Learn A Lot From These Three Things
Sussberg shared with IFLScience a little sneaky snippet from the upcoming documentary. Bill believes that you can learn everything about the human species, or even the meaning of life, from these three things: Shakespeare, baseball and Star Trek. You’re just going to have to hang tight to find out more.
Last, But Certainly Not Least
Now, this last fact may come as a bit of a shock to you, so brace yourselves. Bill Nye… has read Fifty Shades of Grey. I hope his reading material was accompanied by a large armchair, pot of tea and, of course, a bowtie. Now that is a mental image.