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Bill Nye Brings Full Crowd to ULS Lecture

Scientist, comedian and inventor Bill Nye came to speak at the Marshall Student Center for USF’s last University Lecture Series of the semester.


University Lecture Series speaker Bill Nye.                                                                                                               Photo by Grace Beck | USF News
By Laura Kneski 
      USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (April 8, 2015) - The USF student line wrapped around the second floor of the Marshall Student Center, down the stairs, out the door and toward the Castor Beach pond. When asked who they were waiting for, the students could answer in song.

“BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL!”

“BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY!”

The most popular University Lecture Series event of the semester took place on Tuesday night, probably because it featured the man who has been in almost every science classroom across the country. Bill Nye, known by many as “The Science Guy” from his hit TV show in the ‘90s, spoke about how space exploration, knowledge about evolution and young minds are necessary to halt the Earth’s warming climate.

“If our society stops looking up and out, what does that say about us?” Nye said in reference to space exploration. “That’s not good.”

The first group of students in line have looked up to Nye for years, and wanted to be as close as possible during the lecture. USF students Kayla McCarthy, Robert Busic and Ryan Smith arrived at the MSC at 11 pm on Monday, and slept outside of the student center until it opened at 7 am the next day. That’s when they grabbed their prime spot in line.

“We all have those teachers that we look back on and we really respect, sometimes we keep contact with them, like to keep up with them,” Busic said. “Sometimes I’ll even have a teacher I’ve had two years in a row and you get really close with them. Well, Bill Nye I’ve had 10 out of my 12 years of grade school, and I’ve never met him in person, so it’s really important to me that it becomes a little bit more tangible. That this educator that I’ve known for my most of my life, that I get to meet him. “

Nye’s father was a geologist who fought in the after math of Pearl Harbor, and his mother was recruited to work on the Enigma Code for the U.S. during World War II. They were part of what was known as “The Greatest Generation.” Nye emphasized that he wants the Millennials to be ‘The Next Greatest Generation.” He explained that there is a lot of potential in solar, wind and battery technology – all of which could cut down on the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. He explained he knows the technology already exists, “But I want you guys to do it better.”

Nye encouraged students to pay attention to politics as well, especially because a lot of political debate centers around scientific discussion as well.

“If you do one thing in your life, you need to vote,” Nye said.

However, Tuesday’s lecture wasn’t the first time audience members were inspired by Nye.

“I just know that, from watching him as a kid that he’s the reason that I wanted to go into science, and once I got to college I chose medicine pretty much because of watching his videos as a kid,” McCarthy said. “So my entire career path is based off my education through his videos.”

Nye is CEO of the Planetary Society, a non-profit that sponsors space technology innovation and education, and will be back in Florida on May 6 to launch the organization’s first solar sail. Instead of using chemicals to move through space, the society’s LightSail will move via solar power. Nye said that it will be shiny enough that it can be seen on the horizon.

Nye covered a range of topics throughout his lecture, but he laced one phrase throughout his talk. He was there to inform and got students to laugh and cheer, but his key message was simple.

“I want you to, dare I say it?” Nye said. “Change the world!”

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