The Science Guy Cometh

Las Vegas’ March for Science saw many fans of Bill Nye, who returns to the festival to headline the Ideas program

Bill Nye. Photo by Krystal Ramirez.

Bill Nye. Photo by Krystal Ramirez.

“Science serves every one of us. Every citizen of every nation in society. … Science brings out the best in us. With an informed, optimistic view of the future, together we can—dare I say it—save the world!”

So said Bill Nye as he addressed the crowd at Washington, D.C.’s March for Science on April 22. The TV host, author and cultural icon was an honorary co-chair of the event, which drew enormous crowds across the nation.

And at Las Vegas’ own March for Science event, Nye’s influence and presence was everywhere. A stenciled portrait of him was the highest-bid item in the happening’s art auction, and his face adorned numerous signs: one was a caricature of Bill next to the statement “Don’t deNYE the facts,” while another read, “Free to good home (or White House): vintage Bill Nye the Science Guy VHS tapes! Complete series!”

A bearded man watching his kids draw in chalk on the sidewalk remembered watching Bill Nye the Science Guy as a kid. “He made it exciting. All of those shows: Bill Nye, The Magic School Bus, Mr. Wizard’s World, Beakman’s World. It was all about curiosity.”

A young guy wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a Shepard Fairey–style image of Nye (one of several in the crowd), enthused, “I love Bill Nye. He taught me about the atmosphere, about evolution. As a kid, I was looking to be entertained, but at the same time I got educated.”

His friend nods, grinning. “And he had that dope theme song: Bill! Bill! Bill!”

The dope theme song is back on Bill Nye Saves the World, mixed into a beat-heavy track by Tyler, the Creator. Nye’s new Netflix series (which debuted April 21) is aimed at adults rather than kids—it’s still got the hands-on experiments and playful attitude, but in the service of serious and sometimes controversial issues such as global warming, vaccines and overpopulation. The show has a wide range, as correspondents including comedian Nazeem Hussain and model Karlie Kloss cover issues such as the role of women in India’s STEM revolution and how technology is being used to combat the sinking of the city of Venice.

But at the center of it is Nye, on a set that’s part scientist’s lab, part superhero’s lair—the site of demonstrations and panels, as well as a segment titled “Bill Needs a Minute,” in which Nye takes off his impartial scientist hat and preaches the gospel of how science saves. “My parents, both of them were in World War II. They didn’t want to be, but they showed up, they had a worldwide problem, and they solved it. We can do this, people! Let’s get to work!”

Vegas Seven