It was only a matter of time before Stargate paid homage to some of today’s greatest leaders in the world of science. But we wouldn’t have guessed they would be appearing as themselves!
Bill Nye, known to more recent generations as “The Science Guy,” guest-starred in a special episode of Atlantis‘s fifth season along with friend and colleague Neil deGrasse Tyson in the episode “Brain Storm.”
The episode, prominently featured on Earth, dared to address real-world issues. We expand on those thoughts in our exclusive interview with Nye, talking not only about the episode, but climate change. Bill also tells us about his earliest memories of getting involved in science, his buddy Robert Picardo (“Richard Woolsey”), and being on the cusp of several technological leaps in his field.
Like a good Stargate wormhole GateWorld’s interview with Bill Nye runs 38 minutes. Listen online at your leisure, download it to your MP3 player, or subscribe now to the iTunes podcast! The full interview is also transcribed below.
GateWorld: For GateWorld.net I am David Read and I’m here talking with Mr Bill Nye, dare I say, The Science Guy! Bill, is that something that you’re proud of, being known the Science Guy?
Bill Nye: Absolutely!
GW: Or after all these years it’s “I wish it would go away!”
BN: Oh, no! No! I’m very, very proud to be the Science Guy! It’s an honor! The trouble, the feature, the what I like to call “The Blurse,” which is the blessing and the curse, of Bill Nye, is that what you see is what you get. So, when a feller shows up on Stargate Atlantis playing himself, it’s not that hard! [Laughter]
I should be able to do that. I say I repeat myself continually anyway, so why not repeat myself with words that are pretty close to what I would have said — had there been freeze lightening, and the world was ending, and we only had 48 minutes to save it.
It’s not easy! 48 minutes saving the world?
GW: No pressure!
BN: Yeah, exactly.
GW: This is one of the things that I wanted to ask you about, Bill. I’m buddies with Martin Gero and I asked him this — I spoke with him a little while ago, and I said, and in terms of for you, “What is it like receiving a script and having someone basically sticking words in your mouth?”
You’re not necessarily playing yourself, you’re playing a caricature of yourself. For this script for instance, for “Brain Storm,” did you receive this and did you see any one specific line and ask yourself or ask Martin, “Is that how you really see me?! I’m not like that! I don’t act like that!”
BN: No. I did ask to change a few things, though, and he was very receptive. He was super receptive — the king of receptivity! He was the Supreme Commander of Receptivity! It was very nice, it was great!
As I say, people perceive me, I think, pretty much the way I am, with a couple of, once in a while there’ll be a so–called misqueue, but not from Martin Gero.
He had me making fun of Rodney McKay a little more than I did, and I thought it came out just right. I don’t know if you watched the show. You must have, of course you must have.
GW: I’ve seen it a few times now.
BN: You’ve memorised it, yes. Where I say, I mutter to myself, “That guy is one odd duck.”
GW: Yes, that’s right.
BN: That was an ad-lib, and Martin embraced it, and let me say, that sort of crystallises your relationship to Rodney McKay. The guy you love to hate, but he saves the world every week, so what are you gonna do?!
GW: Yeah, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a real oddball.
BN: He’s an odd guy. But, he’s hooked up with Keller! Yes!
GW: Of course, Jewel Staite, gotta love her.
BN: I mean, come on!
GW: Now, I’ve got to tell you Bill, in order to watch Power Rangers when I was growing up, I had to watch Bill Nye first. My Dad would not let me watch my show until I watched his show, and eventually his show became my show as well.
It only took I think two episodes before I got really hooked. I think I was eight or nine at this point. At least a quarter of the stuff that I know about science I learned from Bill Nye the Science Guy ! Now, aside from the fact it’s a real honor to speak with you here, how does it feel knowing you’ve helped to influence so many kids to have an interest in science?
BN: It’s fantastic. With that said, I still don’t get it, and every day I say to myself, “I gotta take a second and understand what’s going on here.” I mean, people come up to me, “Hi, I’m a physician, I’m a doctor because I watched your show.” “I’m a mechanical engineer because I watched your show.”
GW: Because they watched your show?
BN: Yeah, people say that to me quite often, and how much of it is a result of seeing me personally, physically in the same part of the space–time continuum, the same coordinates, or how much of it is really real? So I think a lot of its real, that’s quite a thing for me. It means a great deal to me. I still can’t get over it, because that was the goal.
GW: Yeah, well it had to have been!
BN: I wrote a paper, a single sheet of paper, years ago, called “The Rules of the Road.” The objective of the show, the first line on “The Rules of the Road” is “Change the World.” That’s the goal. Maybe we did, maybe we are.
GW: Well, you made, at the very least, helped make science accessible, by explaining it in fundamental terms. I still have a number of episodes; I went back and watched “Buoyancy” the other day.
BN: That’s a good show.
GW: Yeah, exactly, you underwater and everything, showing the water line. It all makes sense. Whether I’m eight or whether I’m 25 now, yeah some things are a little fundamental, and you hear the guy going “Uh, Bill, they get it Bill,” but it still works, and it’s still something I enjoy watching.
BN: Well half the viewers are grownups, so, turn it up loud!
GW: Right! Now what first got you interested in science? I’m sure you’ve got this question a million times before, but our readers would like to know, Bill!
BN: Here’s how I always answer this: I don’t remember.
BN: It’s before I can remember. I was certainly before I was four; I think it was before I was three years old. These stories aren’t really apocryphal, but they’re emblematic.
My brother had a chemistry set, and he made ammonia. Then we had litmus paper and it would change color, and that was astonishing. Astonishing I tell you! Then, I remember watching bees. I spent a lot of time watching bees.
GW: Aren’t they interesting?
BN: They’re astonishing. I spent so much time watching so many bees that I convinced myself I was watching the same individual come and go from a flower, in front of my parent’s house. Then I read in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not,” which was in the Sunday paper, a single frame, it said, “According to aerodynamic theory bumble bees cannot fly.” I remember thinking, “That’s not a very good theory!” [Laughter]
GW: Yeah, something’s missing from the equation.
BN: Because the bees seemed really good at it, better than helicopters. I gotta say, these were big moments for me. The other one, I tell this story often, just as you pointed out, but I had balsa wood aeroplane, which is still made by Guillow’s, this company, and it’s called “The Sky Streak.”
GW: I think I had one!
BN: I’m sure you did. And the advantage of the “Sky Streak” — it’s cheaper than the “Super Streak,” but it has no wheels. We were talking this and that, we were talking about boats. If you bent the rudder, the vertical tail, it would curve, so we did that, using steam. I threw it.
Also at this point I was sophisticated enough to lubricate the rubber band motor with dishwashing soap, so you could really crank a lot of knots into that rubber band, and the thing made three turns, circles to the left, and came right back to me, like a cartoon boomerang. I went “That is amazing!”
Then later on I went to college, and I took aerodynamics, I took airplane design, and you can show that when you move the rudder the airplane banks, and so on and so on, so called “coupling.” It’s astonishing!
GW: Yeah. “It’s science!”
BN: You can predict the future. “It’s science!” Yes! If you think about how good birds are at this, we are babes in the aerodynamic woods. These moments had a great affect on me.
GW: My father is a helicopter pilot.
BN: Oh, so I’m not telling you anything! [Laughter]
GW: Well, I’ve been acquainted with aerodynamics. Honestly I don’t understand how all of it works. The fact that we can put a helicopter in the air, to this day, still astonishes me. It’s so cool.
BN: It is so cool. It’s fantastic. With science you can predict the future, with science you can make things that you would not find in nature. Or you’d not find outside of humans, so I’ve always loved it. Compared with other ways of looking at the world science is pretty good.
GW: Right, it’s the method by which we discover more about the world around us, and maybe a little bit about ourselves, too.
BN:: Well, there’s a huge market for people and their health. People of all ages are fascinated with their bodies. We learn most of that from science. Can you imagine a time when people didn’t really exactly quite believe in germs?! Wow. I mean wow! People didn’t believe in blood and circulation, didn’t believe — wow!
I mean, they’re slaughtering pigs, chickens, whatever else you might go for for protein, but they never really embraced the idea that blood goes out this way and comes back that way, passing the oxygenated over here. It’s amazing!
GW: We can be so blockheaded with trying to understand, or perceive, or believe in things that we cannot see with our own naked eyes, and there is just so much out there.
BN: Let me say, that’s what physics is all about. The stuff that looks fine, just really isn’t.
GW: Had you seen Stargate Atlantis before “Brain Storm?” Had you seen any Stargate?
BN: Oh yes, yes. But let me say, I was not obsessively obsessed. I watched it now and then. But then since I was on, or since a few weeks before I was on I watch ’em all. Those Wraith, they’re trouble man. Trouble! I guess their commander’s a thoughtful guy but they really are trouble. It’s a small galaxy.
GW: It is, it is. From your perspective, how real is the Stargate as a concept? Is it pure fiction, or is there some truth behind it?
BN: Well, the word truth … there’s a lot of good astrophysical speculation behind it. Is it true? [Laughter] That’s a whole other … This idea that you can fall into a black hole, a place with so much gravity that you end up in another part of the universe at another time is quite charming, but so far from what we know about black holes you would die.
GW: Yeah, you wouldn’t survive the trip.
BN: No, not at all. But maybe it’s not a black hole, maybe it’s this other thing. You get into the, if I may, the “intersticies,” the places between the nodes of the network of mathematics, and who knows?
Science leads us to this fabulous science fiction. What goes on with relativity is stranger than you could imagine from scratch. It’s so counter–intuitive, so outside of our everyday experience, and yet obviously so obviously true that who knows what’s possible with black holes, and space time, and multiple universes, and travel between them by just pushing the right button. Who knows?
It’s wonderful to thing about, and the other thing that I love about science fiction, it’s so hopeful. Not all of it, but when you’ve got people flying around galaxies it shows you that humans will make it to the next level and that’s what everybody wants.
GW: Well, if we’ve made it this far, Bill. Through a couple of world wars, and splitting the atom, we might just have a chance.
BN: Oh no, I’ve got to tell you. This business of climate change, this is serious biz. Now, we got 7 billion people, but “by the time you’re my age” there might be 12 billion people. These people are all going to be trying to live the way we do in the West, the way we do in the developed world.
GW: It’s unsustainable.
BN: It’s not sustainable. So you and I are living at the turning point, the critical, critical time. We’ll see if we pull this off. Now, humans will survive, but how many of us, and at what quality of life?
I think back, not every day but from time to time, this library in Alexandria, where they had most of the world’s knowledge, and these people show up and burn it down just to show they were tougher than the next guy. When you get climate change and people can’t make a living and people can’t get fresh water, and then there are these diseases that ravage humans … it’s not clear how well the Internet’s going to do, and without the Internet, or the next level equivalent of it it’s just not going to be … people will long for the good old days.
By the way, one thing about Stargate, and Star Trek, and Star Wars and all of them, is this business of diseases. You just can’t show up and start breathing on people, on Wraiths. This idea was captured in War of the Worlds, but it’s a real idea.
Your enemies are not really lions and tigers and bears. Oh, they’re trouble, and you know what I’m talking about, lions and tigers and bears. The real problem is germs and parasites.
GW: Microscopic stuff.
BN: Parasites are the real dangerous thing. So when you start getting infrastructure collapsing, starving people overrunning neighboring countries, it just really could be bad news.
On the other hand, I always like to say, huge economic opportunities with climate change. The innovations, everyone’s talking about “The Green Economy” … the innovations that are possible just seem like they should outweigh the dangers of climate change. We should be able to do better. We’ll see.
GW: Well, it’s really interesting, I went and saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” last week, and it talks about how we as human beings are fully capable of change, but we don’t change until we are absolutely on the precipice and are forced to. Because it really is the mother of invention. When we’re pressed against a wall, that’s when we shine.
BN: Well, we’ll see.
GW: Yeah, exactly. You brought up germs. Stargate did answer that in season two of SG-1. There was an episode called “One False Step,” where we visit a planet and our germs, we think, are the death of a civilisation and the doctor on the base actually brings up, “I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more often.”
So that was their tip of the hat to that, where germs and bacteria and coming in contact with other alien life forms, just by visiting them would really cause a problem, and we’d have to really be careful.
BN: On the other hand, maybe they had some technology that is not explained. Why can’t you have gravity on a starship? Easy to get gravity in the sound stage. [Laughter] Or a remote desert location. Which is where we had our “Brain Storm.” That was a climate-change episode. hat was big fun for me. “Freeze lightening!”
GW: Freeze lightening — oh don’t get me started! Science fiction, baby! How did you get approached to do the show? Did Martin give you a call?
BN: Yeah, he called me. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure the people at Stargate were fans of the Science Guy, and after they brought Robert Picardo on board …
GW: Yes, good Bob. Good old Bob.
BN: Bob and I are very good friends, and I think Bob was telling Martin, “Oh yeah, I know how to get hold of Bill Nye, blah blah blah.” But it was cool. It was really fun!
GW: You didn’t even get to work with him!
BN: With Robert? No I didn’t. Woolsey. That guy, he’s got a lot on his mind. I really encourage everyone to just watch how funny he is. All this little stuff he brings to every scene. It’s cool. He really is an actor. Man, he is really good.
GW: Bob is, believe it or not, my favourite actor of all time. I watched him on Wonder Years growing up, but the EMH on Voyager, he just mopped up the floor, he stole the show, we all know it! He really did.
BN: I enjoyed the Doctor very much. But I also, I’ll just tell you, had no problem with Seven of Nine at all.
GW: No! them together, I don’t why they didn’t record an album! That was one of the things that I forgot to ask Bob the last time I talked to him about it. They were so good together!
BN: He stays in touch with Jeri. They exchange emails from time to time. I had lunch with Jeri one day, she is all that! She is all that. Wow.
GW: So you knew that Bob was on Atlantis, and then the global warming aspect of this show came out. Martin said that NBC/Universal was doing a Green Week and so they wanted to do something that had to do with the environment. So that was a perfect excuse to come back to Earth, and meet all these science geeks.
BN: Yes, of course. I wore a tuxedo for four days. It was fabulous!
GW: With Neil deGrasse Tyson.
BN: Neil was there, yep.
GW: I’m sure you’ve worked with him before, in the science community?
BN: Well, he and I are very good friends. We’re on the Board of the Planetary Society, which is organization started by Carl Sagan. In fact I just got an email from Neil and his book about Pluto is coming out.
GW: The Plutoids.
BN: I don’t know if you all realize it but he was among the people who started this “Pluto is not a planet” thing.
GW: The episode mentioned that.
BN: Yeah, it’s great. He did it for very, very good scientific reasons. To your listeners who think it’s, if I may, “arms akimbo,” the nerve of these astronomers …
GW: Yeah, all the little school kids crying.
BN: Pluto is just no much of a thing compared to other celestial objects. It’s much smaller than the Earth’s moon. If you took it nearer the Sun, for instance near where the Earth is, or else the better example might be Venus, it would evaporate. It would volatise, it would just disappear into space. It would have a tail.
I mean, is that worthy of a planet? What’s more is that it’s not in the plane of the ecliptic that I like to call “The Main Plane.” “The Main Plane” is my own coinage. It’s not made of same the stuff as the other planets.
If you’re scoring along with this, what do you do about Ceres? Ceres was a planet for a while and then it got demoted on account of its diminutive size. So this is how you can get into a fist fight in the planetary bar. [Laughter] The Moons of Jupiter, rather the Galilean Moons, the big ones are almost the size of the Earth, but as they say they play in a tough division. Some people want them to be planets, but other people go, “They’re orbiting another planet.”
GW: They’re moons!
BN: And so there you are. Where do you draw these lines? Well it’s quite reasonable to not have Pluto be among those heavy-duty, gravity-sweeping bodies. I love, love, the term “Plutoid.” It was the last of the planets, now it’s the first of the Plutoids. Come on, what more does a Plutoid hope for? And I ad–libbed all that stuff that Martin Gero left in the scene where Neil and Bill meet Rodney and …
BN: Keller. Yes.
GW: I didn’t know about the Plutoids, so I learned something there.
BN: See? We slipped in a little pedagogy!
GW: It was great! That’s right [Laughter] So I have to check out that book. Do you know if it’s out yet?
BN: No, it says right here, I just got this email on me a few minutes ago, it arrived at 10:39 Pacific time — an hour ago. “The book won’t officially be released for another couple of weeks at which time I’ll have copies sent around. All the best to you, Neil.”
Neil and I are always going after each other about this stuff. Because he’s another guy that throws around the expression “Trans–Neptunian.”
GW: OK, you’ve lost me.
BN: “Trans–Neptunian” means “across from Neptune,” and Pluto is a trans-Neptunian object. Many, many of the other Kuiper Belt Objects, or KBO’s, out beyond Pluto, just a few million kilometres, those do not cross the orbit of Neptune, and they would not “trans-Neptunian” but “ultra-Neptunian.”
My Latin teaches would be rolling in their proverbial chalk dust over that. I took three years of Latin and I know what you’re asking, “Did you put it back?” [Laughter] So, I did three years of Latin and I didn’t get a lot out of it except vocabulary. I learned a lot about English vocabulary and etymology of words.
I spent a lot time with that. It’s absolutely fascinating. It’s funny, you go to a place like Italy and you can sort of figure out what’s going on. With Latin you can go to France and to a lesser extent Spain, very well, you can figure it out from Latin.
Anyways, so these should be “ultra-Neptuanian objects.” Pluto being trans-Neptunian to be sure. Anyway, Neil and I got into it with Neil about this once, he put one of those emails in his book. I also told him, “Neil, you gotta take a stand on this man! You the head of the Hayden Planetarium — he going through this, “Oh, well, it could go either way.” “Neil!!” He’s the guy who started it, so he’s on it now man.
GW: “Put your foot down!”
BN: Well, no, he did.
GW: Like anything, it’ll take a while for those of us, “Aw, Pluto was a planet when I was growing up.” to change, but, you know, if it sticks it sticks.
BN: Well, not just that. It’s good science, and the one thing you can count on in science is that things are going to change. Now, we are upgrading the old Bill Nye the Science Guy show about planets and moons. You may remember it has the sequence of me on a bicycle riding between planets?
GW: Yes, yes, the size comparison.
BN: We’re gong to change that. In those days Jupiter had 16 moons. Now it has at least 60, and what it is is the better pictures you get the more you discover.
GW: So you’re going to out there and reshoot that?
BN: We’re going to reshoot the Pluto arrival, yeah.
GW: Very cool. That’s great!
BN: Now let me ask you this, should I use my old bicycle, or the new bicycle?
GW: Well, continuity in me should say …
BN: The old one bicycle.
GW: Yeah, the old one, and darken your hair, and you know, all that stuff.
BN: I’ll keep the helmet on. [Laughter] But the helmet is I think long gone. You wouldn’t wear it anymore, that old helmet, it’s not as good as a modern helmet. I still have that jersey, but it’s not as dark as it once was. It’s seen a lot more ultraviolet light. So, we’ll think that over. It might make sense to be on a new bicycle. Science changes, I change bicycles as the technology changes.
GW: That’s great, that you want to keep these shows consistent.
BN: Still, you have a lot on your mind, I don’t want to burden you with one more decision!
GW: No, it’s cool!
This particular episode was Martin’s first outing, as a director.
BN: Yeah, he was outstanding! He was just outstanding! It was like rolling off a log. He knew just what to do, he set it all up. They have a very good crew there. They finish each others sentences.
GW: They’ve been around since MacGyver — a lot of them.
BN: They don’t start beating each other up over stuff that doesn’t matter. It’s a very good crew.
GW: Getting back to the problems that “Brain Storm” spoke to, as a civilization we’re spinning out of control in terms of our size. Our usage of the Earth’s natural resources.
Trying to be succinct with the answer, how do we become part of the solution rather than the problem? How do we start to curb our extravagance before taking some of the bigger steps that we need toward change?
I, for instance, turned off my power in Phoenix before I left [for vacation], I didn’t want all of my clocks to be taking power because I wasn’t going to be using them. But aside from that, what do you think we can in our daily lives to help out.
BN: Well, if you want to worry about things, there is a lot of low hanging fruit that we have yet to reach your “precipice” where we finally do something about it. If you own a vehicle, your car is the single biggest consumer decision you make as far as climate change and greenhouse gases. So get a less inefficient car if you can.
GW: Less inefficient, yeah.
BN: Yeah, I use that expression whimsically!
GW: What sort of car do you drive?
BN: I have a Prius. But you would expect a science guy to have a Prius, wouldn’t you?
GW: You have your reputation to keep up, Bill. [Laughter]
BN: Versus that I can buy a car, not everybody does. Buying a car is a big deal.
GW: Oh yeah!
BN: So get a less inefficient car if you can. Then if you own a house, the big thing is insulation, especially the windows. But the trouble with replacing the windows is it’s not sexy.
“Windows, what? My house has windows! What? What?!” But it makes an enormous difference. If you have storm windows put up storm windows. If you live in an apartment you can rig up storm windows. It makes a huge difference. See, what everybody in the traditional environmental movement, the one I grew up in if you will, since the first Earth Day, environmentalists want you to do less by tradition. Drive less, wear dirty clothes, wash your clothes less, and if possible just don’t eat. Don’t eat anything. That’d be great.
GW: This, by and large, is unrealistic.
BN: It’s not what people want to do. Especially when you go to the developing world. Go to India and some parts of China, it’s not what people want, they want to turn it up to 11 right now. They want to live like Starsky and Hutch, or whatever it is.
So what we have to do is find way to do more with less. This is the Science Guy’s message: more with less. This means more efficient solar panels, better batteries. Whoever makes the best better battery is going to get crazy rich, I can’t even think about it.
Then we need less inefficient city planning. We need less inefficient irrigation, less inefficient fertilizing. We have this thing where we make fertiliser with nitrogen. Meanwhile we dump pig waste down our river systems, whereas the pig waste used to be used for fertiliser.
We don’t close the loop the way we used to in farming like we once did. And these are solvable problems. The technology for doing that is better ways to move pig waste around. There have to be these things. Better use of materials, better use of energy.
This has all got to be doable, and I’m very excited, as a US citizen, about the people that Obama has brought on board. These are people that no longer deny climate change, no longer confuse heat islands or city warming. And they’re also people who can understand how serious it is.
It’s a real problem when we have these guys in charge. I don’t know what their motivation was exactly. It’s generational I think. If you’re from an earlier generation it seems literally incredible. Climate change seems incredible. It’s too big to be true. But there it is apparently, so, we gotta get ‘er done!
GW: I have a friend who’s a real big environmentalist. He’s put solar panels on his roof. His entire roof is covered in solar panels and in Phoenix, where it never doesn’t shine, he’s very excited that he’s giving energy back to the grid, as opposed to taking away from it.
BN: I do that! I have four kilowatts of solar here in Southern California, and I put power — right now while we’re sitting here — power’s going back on the grid.
GW: Sweet! One of the problems with solar energy is, from my limited understanding, is the technology is so young right now.
BN: No, I totally get it. Our solar panels are 15 percent efficient.
GW: Yeah, they’re very inefficient.
BN: But if they were 50? Change the world! So everybody’s dream is to use nanotubes to get more efficient capture of photons, and everybody thinks we’re close.
GW: It can be done, yeah!
BN: This billionth of a meter, or this tenth of billionth of a meter-long tube would be the same length as a quarter wavelength of light. And these things would be 50 percent or more efficient – three to four more times as efficient than what we have now. And that would change the world.
GW: Would they be costly in their construction?
BN: The whole thing is if they are then we haven’t gotten there. We have to do all [of it]. I’m not saying this is the key to everything, putting solar panels on everyone’s roof, but its part of it, and it’s certainly something worth spending research dollars on. Research euros, research yuan, research everythings.
You live in Phoenix right? Solar hot water! Talk about the low hanging fruit! My goodness people! All the sun shines all day in Phoenix, and hardly anyone uses it to warm their domestic hot water. That is, if I may, a little wacky!
GW: I know!
BN: But somebody’s going to on that. Someone’s going to get into the business, and we will change the world.
GW: You know, I look at my hot water heater, inside my extremely hot garage door, and I’m thinking to myself, “What a waste!.” I feel bad going to bed at night, knowing that this thing is running. It is so redundant.
BN: What you need is to optimise it. Because it does get quite cool there, right? In the evening?
GW: Oh, it sure does.
BN: We need systems that take advantage, store it during the day and give it back to you at night. These are ancient tricks. I’m looking at my solar panel output right now … It hasn’t updated for about a half hour. We’re making 6 kilowatts so far, kilowatt-hour. That’s not bad.
GW: Alright, doing your part Bill.
BN: Well, it’s fun!
GW: Yeah, it is.
BN: It’s unbelievably fun to go to your see your meter going backwards, I can’t even tell you.
GW: So, last question, what’s currently going on in the world of Bill Nye? What can we expect to see from you in the future.
BN: The new thing is supposed to be out by the 20th of January, are these webisodes, as the kids call them, about algebra. We have a giant piece of graph paper, the floor of the stage, or the studio is this vinyl graph, and we have two train tracks, toy trains.
GW: X and Y.
BN: Yeah, X and Y, and they have equations and we solve two equations for two unknowns. And what do you think happens when you have two trains on a big graph?
GW: They eventually intersect and hit one another.
BN: They crash, yeah!
GW: [Laughter] Oh, that’s going to be fun!
BN: Ty trains crash. Then I ask the people, the little plastic people who are strewn about after the wreck, “Are you all OK?”
“Yes Bill, we’re made of plastic!”
“We’re fine Bill, we’re made of plastic!”
It’s Solving for X. That’s where you’ll find it. The other thing I’m working on is Stuff Happens on Planet Green. Planet Green is in the Discovery family of channels. There we go. Planet Green is their environmental channel, and my show is called Stuff Happens. We did 13 of them, and they were very well received.
GW: Is that available on DVD?
BN: I don’t know, but they almost always are. [Laughter]
GW: Ain’t that the truth! You can get anything on DVD!
BN: Well, Discovery is all about that. They’re all about making these things available. They’re not about revenue, it’s making things available.
GW: Right, very good. Well Bill, it’s been a privilege sir!
BN: Oh no, it’s great! Let’s change the world!
GW: I completely agree. We look at all these world problems. Even I look at that, — “Even I?” … I think we sometimes see the big picture and get overwhelmed by it, and it just starts with us. It starts with little things.
BN: The longest journey starts with but a single step. Every single thing you do — this is an really hard idea, and it’s especially hard for a guy like Senator Inhofe. He just can’t get his mind around this. Every single thing you do affects everybody in the world. Hard to believe.
GW: The butterfly effect.
BN: Well it’s not that so much as, every mile or kilometer you drive affects the air, and we all share the air. Everything you do affects everyone, and so there’s nothing you can do that doesn’t affect people, so every decision you make, make it as well as you can. As a consumer, make as good a decision as you can. These are all easy things to say but hard things to do.
GW: Thank you, Bill, very much!
BN: No, Dave, it is I who must thank you. Carry on! Let’s change the world!