Bill Nye receives honorary degree from SFU
By Ian Bryce
On Thursday, Oct.8, renowned science educator Bill Nye (the Science Guy) received an honorary doctorate of science from Simon Fraser University.
We caught up with Nye just after the convocation ceremony and asked him his thoughts on SFU, the importance of science education, and more:
How are you feeling about receiving an honourary doctorate of science from Simon Fraser University?
I love it, these students are so happy that I’m here and it’s very gratifying. To get a doctorate from Simon Fraser is a big deal. Trust me, I’m a doctor.
What’s your main message to graduates?
Change the world! Engage the world is our motto, our way of thinking, but just don’t think that you can’t. Go out there and engage the world and change it – how hard can it be?
You hold several patents, which are you most proud of?
The digital abacus was the most useful but I’m a fan of the Throw-tech trainer which teaches you to throw ball with better technique.
I mean, if I have to pick, why do I press on after I have one? If you get a job dancing on Broadway, never say your favourite partner or then they’re going to think you don’t want to dance with anybody else.
You tweeted: ‘Just like #TheMartian, we are going to have to “science the hell” out of a planet (our planet) to survive.’ What did you mean by that?
Surviving on Mars is quite difficult. This movie came out, the movie is cool, the book is great (there’s technical issues – but that aside, it’s a great story) but Mars has nothing to drink or eat or breathe.
You can’t go live on Mars so we have to take care of the earth. This is where we’re all from. We gotta take care of the earth and so the sooner we can get to work on that, the better.
Some people are still denying climate change – does this alarm you?
Oh yeah! While we are developing ways to get clean water from sea water, while we are developing wind turbines and solar flowable intake systems and solar concentration systems to provide renewable energy to everyone, we also, in hockey terms, have to skate the deniers off the play. We have to get them out of the play.
They are leaving the world worse than they found it and many of them are well intending, many of them think they’re doing the right thing, but I think it’s reaching a tipping point where so many people are fed up. The scientific consensus is overwhelming. Now – with people facing floods and pollution – people have had enough.
Here’s what I’m hoping: that Canadians vote to close down the tar sands mining and I hope that the U.S. gets one of the Conservative politicians to go ‘oh you’re right! Climate change is a big problem.’ Like someone who quits smoking who becomes this strong advocate for not smoking - this person will become a strong advocate for addressing climate change.
Any last words for SFU students?
Change the world!