Name: William S. Nye
Date of Birth: November 27, 1955
Birthplace: Washington D.C.
Education: Cornell University, Mechanical Engineering
Favorite Subject: Physics
Motto: “One test is worth a thousand expert opinions.”
Family: Father works in advertising sales, Mother has Ph.D. in Education, one brother, and one sister.
First Childhood Memory: “Throwing a rubber band-powered airplane, the Sky Streak, and figuring out how to make it turn left. That way you could stay in one place and the plane would come back to you. It was riveting.”
Lab Coat Size: 38 tall
Eye Safety: Prefers safety glasses over goggles because of air flow to eye, but choice of eye wear depends on the experiment.
Number of Bow Ties: Owns approximately five dozen bow ties. Does not have favorite bow tie, although does enjoy wearing black tie and tux.
Coolest Piece of Scientific Equipment Ever Used: A telescope, because with a telescope you can see things farther away than you can imagine.
Favorite Science Trick: Blowing up a balloon without your breath using the classic vinegar-and-baking-soda-makes-carbon-dioxide-gas reaction.
Favorite Element: No favorite element, but really likes water.
Thoughts on UFOs and Aliens: Believes Earth has never been visited by alien craft, but they’ve got to be out there.
Favorite Sports: Bicycling, baseball, Ultimate Frisbee.
Favorite Band: The Presidents of the United States of America
Favorite Pastime: Tinkering with bikes.
Least Favorite Pastime: Maintaining tax paperwork.
The Best Part of Having Your Own Show: “Not only do I get to imagine ways to do something, but I get to do it too.”
Advice to Young Scientists: Try things, then clean up after yourself.
Tons of people tune in to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy as he bungy jumps, SCUBA dives, parachutes, and does all sorts of cool stuff with science. The show is so popular with both kids and adults that it receives over 400 fan letters every week. Here’s how the comedy of a way cool scientist ended up as the hottest science show on TV.
Bill Nye had been interested in science ever since he was a kid, so when he attended Cornell University it was only natural for him to major in Mechanical Engineering. Besides, Bill like bikes, so what better degree than one that deals with gears? After graduation, he headed to Seattle, Washington to work for Boeing, the airplane manufacturer.
Back in 1978…
While Bill was still working for Boeing, his friends pressured him to enter a local Steve Martin look-alike contest. He won the contest hands-down, and Bill the stand-up comedian was born. Bill worked as an engineer by day and performed his own stand-up comedy material by night.
Take me to Bill’s Bio! It was in the back of one of these comedy clubs where Bill met John Keister and Ross Shafer, two stars from Seattle’s hit show “Almost Live!,” a local version of Saturday Night Live. By the spring of 1984, Bill was writing and performing on “Almost Live!” Bill’s famed characters include the super hero Speedwalker, Rainbow Man the Refrigerator Magnet, the Scandinavian Cop, and Bill’s favorite, Captain Flanker. It wasn’t until January of 1987 that he appeared on the show as the Science Guy, and from the audience’s response, Bill knew he had a good thing going.
Bill hooked up with Jim McKenna, then a producer for “Almost Live!,” and producer Erren Gottlieb to start a science show for kids. After several years of hard work, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy funded the making of the pilot episode. A few months later, one day before Bill was to leave on an all-summer bike trip across the country, the Walt Disney Corporation called. They had seen the show, loved it, and wanted to be a part of the excitement. Needless to say, Bill called off his bike trip.
In June of 1993…
Construction of Nye Labs began in Seattle, Washington. Since the first show aired in September of 1993, a total of 85 shows have been produced — all of them making science cooler than Absolute Zero.
Season two went into production in April of 1994, and consisted of thirty-nine new episodes, taped within a one year span. Season two included trips to the Florida Everglades, the Redwood Forest in California, and the Hawaiian Islands. With the second season came an unprecedented achievement: Bill Nye became the first television show to run concurrently on public television and syndicated television.