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6 Things We Learned From Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Reddit AMA

4 minute read

TV personality Bill Nye the Science Guy hosted a Q&A on Tuesday, answering questions about his latest endeavor and science in general.

Nye, who’s the CEO of the engineering non-profit The Planetary Society, first tackled questions relating to LightSail, the organization’s crowd-funded project to develop a tiny spacecraft that’ll use solar power to sail inexpensively and indefinitely. Of course, the Redditors were all wondering: Why? Here’s how the Science Guy explained it:

LightSail™ will demonstrate that we can greatly reduce the cost of missons to other worlds in our Solar System, e.g. the Moon and Mars. It will be another step in democratizing space. It will enable more of us to learn more about what’s up up there.

So it wasn’t a surprise that when asked about Google’s driverless cars—which the tech giant acknowledged on Tuesday aren’t perfect—the Science Guy had only good things to say:

I can imagine a future with cities having nothing but electric driverless cars. You’d call for an automated taxi from your wrist-held device. There would very few car wrecks, and cities would be quieter and cleaner. Those of us, who really want to drive, can party on out there on the open roads. Driverlessness will be more common than airplane autopilots.

Nye also praised Tesla’s Powerwall, a home solar panel-powered battery that’s been labeled by some as “another toy for rich green people”:

It’s a good idea. Energy storage is the key to humankind’s future. Tesla has repurposed their car batteries for home energy storage. I have 4 kilowatts of solar panels. With these batteries, I could keep my food cold for a few days off the grid. It’s a good start on a world changing idea.

For those who wanted to talk about something more relatable, Nye also had a few things to say about Chipotle’s decision to eliminate all genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) from its ingredients. The burrito chain’s campaign has elicited pushback from scientists who argue that GMOs should not be linked to health or environmental damages:

Removing GMOs seems like a marketing idea. Let’s see if it works. If they can provide the quality that customers want at the price customers want, well, that’s the free market at work. Consumers may find that they prefer vegetables that have more flavor and more nutritional value from modified crops, in which case Chipotle may have to change back or get outcompeted. Also, if other companies are able to raise more food on less land, they may do an end-run around Chipotle’s marketing by showing that their crops actually have a lower environmental impact. Let’s all stay tuned.

And, of course, there was an attire-related question. One commenter asked, “How possible would it be to solar power a bow tie?” The answer is pretty great:

Yes, I do it all the time. We don’t see things; we see light bouncing off of things. So whenever a bowtie is out in sunlight, its image is powered by the Sun. If you want to put small solar panels on a bowtie and spin a propellor on your head, well, knock yourself out.

Last, Nye had a simple science tip for a Redditor wondering about his controversial view that racial differences aren’t rooted in science, but rather “tribalism”:

O wouldn’t it be great, if everyone on Earth understood that we are, in fact, all one species. It feels like that would be a great step toward all of us getting along with each other. We are one species. It’s provable. It’s science.

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