Bill Nye arrives at National Geographic's "Cosmos: Possible Worlds" Los Angeles Premiere at Royce Hall, UCLA on February 26, 2020 in Westwood, California.
Amanda Edwards—Getty Images
July 10, 2020 2:44 PM EDT

As Tom Hanks, and many medical experts know, the best practices for controlling an infectious disease like COVID-19 include, keeping six feet apart from others, washing your hands regularly, and, wearing face masks in public. If you know someone who isn’t sure why face masks are so important, Bill Nye is here to help.

In the early days of the virus spreading across the U.S., there were mixed messages from federal, state, and local governments about whether or not to wear masks, on April 3, the Center for Disease Control advised Americans to wear non-medical cloth face coverings, including homemade face masks, while in public spaces like grocery stores. Health experts have backed up the importance of masks, citing studies that show that properly wearing face masks can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by somewhere between 50% and 85%.

Now, the internet’s favorite science guy is wading into the fray. Bill Nye shared two videos on TikTok showing the importance of face masks in slowing the spread of airborne particles. In the clips, whose format fans of his TV show, Bill Nye the Science Guy may recognize, Nye explains that face masks can play an important role in preventing the spread of particles, like say, viruses, from our respiratory systems. Masks form a literal barrier to stop particles from getting into the air and spreading to others.

In one video, Nye shows exactly how effective a medical-grade N95 mask is at preventing the spread of airborne particles. After wearing the mask, he tries to blow out a candle, the flame doesn’t even flicker. As he says in the video, the mask is extremely effective at preventing “particles from your respiratory system from getting into my respiratory system” and vice versa. He concludes: “Everybody, this is a matter, literally, of life and death.”

In another video, Nye demonstrates the effectiveness of different types of face coverings. He starts with a scarf, which he wraps around his face. He then blows on a candle and, because the scarf offers minimal coverage, he is able to easily blow out the candle. However, when he wears a homemade face mask made of two layers of cloth that lies flush against his nose, he’s unable to extinguish the flame. It’s a very clear reminder that face masks are extremely good at their job.

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