Bill Nye the Science Guy a success at Gallogly Events Center
Published: Monday, April 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2012 00:04
April 4 marked a memorable moment for UCCS when iconic television host, scientist, inventor and comedian Bill Nye came to the campus. Best known for his popular children’s show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” the man who made science fun holds a fond place in many students’ minds.
Nye spoke to a packed Gallogly Events Center at 7 p.m. Tickets went on sale just over a month before the event, but many students had a hard time getting one due to demand.
How fast did tickets sell out? “Seven days,” said Mitch Karstens, the assistant director of the Office of Student Activities (OSA).
Karstens said UCCS was able to independently contract Nye to come speak. “We do the significant speakers every spring, and we partner with housing, because housing does their 3.2 dinner with this.”
The “3.2 dinner” celebrates students who both live on campus and earned a 3.2 or higher GPA for the Fall semester. Nye spoke briefly at the dinner before his evening talk to students and community members.
“We were looking for someone, and Bill Nye was someone that we thought would be popular,” explained Karstens. “The only negative [feedback] we had was that it sold out so fast.”
Nye is indeed very popular with UCCS students.
“I remember watching him as a kid and really enjoying it,” said Mike Hiner, a junior in health sciences, before the event. “I’m kind of excited to see what he’s going to do.”
Fellow student Katelyn Carew felt the same. “I love Bill Nye. I used to watch it as a kid, and I heard that he was coming out, and I immediately wanted to get tickets and see what he had to tell us,” she said.
Fans began lining up outside the facility well over an hour before the event was scheduled to begin.
Although the talk started late due to technical difficulties, students chanted “Bill” over and over as Nye, wearing his customary bowtie, ran onto the stage. From the moment he started speaking, the engineer-turned-comedian kept students engaged and laughing with his liberal use of humor.
His speech covered a wide variety of topics, touching on time, atmosphere and planetary exploration.
Nye often referenced his father Edwin “Ned” Nye’s work on sundials. As a prisoner of war during World War II, Ned Nye taught himself to tell time by using the makeshift timepieces. Years later, he had written books on the subject and passed his love of sundials on to his son.
A self-diagnosed victim of “Sundial Obsessive Disorder” (SOD), Nye said, “I’m fine, I’m fine. I could quit if I want to. I don’t want to.”
“Clocks changed the world more than wheels,” he said on a more serious note. Nye claimed to be able to make sundials nearly anywhere, citing his help on one that is on its way to the planet Mars via the Curiosity rover.
A large portion of his lecture dealt with space exploration. “Where did we come from, and are we alone?” he asked. “And why is there so much empty space?”
Addressing how people tend to lose perspective, he challenged students to think about the immensity of the universe and all the secrets it holds.
“I am a speck, on a speck, orbiting a speck, with a bunch of other specks, in a group of specks,” Nye said. “I am nothing! I suck.”
He demonstrated atmospheric differences between planets with relevant and amusing analogies. “The floor is lava!” Nye yelled, referencing the childhood game as he jumped onto a stool. “On Venus, it’s really like that.”
This subject moved him onto more sober issues of earth’s atmosphere and climate change. “If you like to worry about things, this is a great time,” he said, as he explained the causes and consequences of long-term global warming.
Nye hit on many current and controversial subjects beyond climate change, such as population control, the effect of organized religion on scientific progress and the relationship between politics and science, referencing the famous Carl Sagan, a professor of his, several times.
The core of his message, however, was how the next generation needs to be involved. He said, “The world is changing so fast, it’s so exciting! I want you to be part of it. I want you to be part of this change so you can direct things, and leave the world better than you found it.”
Nye charged students to get involved, get educated and get working. One running joke throughout the lecture was how students can, “Dare I say it – change the world!”
With many of the problems facing the future, he encouraged students to use whatever field they were entering to make a difference.
The hour-and-a-half talk was followed by an extensive question and answer session. Many audience members thanked him for his work and told him what an inspiration he was to them.
Tyler Nickell, a sophomore studying English, commented later, “It was really interesting.”
“He was really funny, I did enjoy it in the lecture setting,” Nickell said, though he mentioned wanting to have seen a demonstration or experiment of some sort.
Several students had been curious as to how the talk was going to compare to the television show.
Mathematics freshman Keara Lake was pleasantly surprised. “I thought it was much better because he talked to us on a level that we could actually understand without treating us like children,” she said.
Many students said the Science Guy had motivated them once again, and that they planned to remember some of his final words to them: “You know what’s over the next horizon? Me neither! Go look!”