Bill Nye preaches 'coolness' of science to packed house

Mar 20, 2014

MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin presents Bill Nye "The Science Guy" with a new bow tie.
Credit Bridgit Bowden / KBIA

TV’s Bill Nye the science guy spoke at the University of Missouri Columbia last week as a part of the Life Sciences and Society Symposium.

Jesse Auditorium was packed on Saturday morning with people ready to learn about science. Tickets to the event were free, but ran out within 30 minutes of the box office opening. That’s more than 1700 tickets.

Jack Schultz is the director of MU’s Bond Life Sciences Center, and oversaw the event. He said  they weren’t initially expecting such a huge turnout.

“Ordinarily we don’t ticket for this event, so yes, in a sense we didn’t realize it until fairly late but we knew this was coming but we’re fairly surprised too. There’s a fair bit of scalping going on, and people offering a fair number of dollars for tickets,” he said.

So what made so many people flock to a science lecture on a Saturday morning? It’s pretty simple. You see…Bill Nye is kind of a science rock star.

Nikki Moore is a sophomore chemistry major at MU. She said Bill Nye inspired her to pursue science.

“This is why a lot of us got into science, specifically me. I was exposed to science at a really young age because of Bill Nye and now I’m a chemistry major. So I think it has a lot to do with the community, it’s a very educational community, and the fact that it’s our childhood that we’re talking about,” she said. 

Bill Nye’s speech touched on topics ranging from overpopulation to climate change to building a better battery. But his main focus was how science can impact the future.

“So the discoveries that may be made tomorrow, in the next ten years, could utterly—dare I say it—change the world! And so, this moment in history is fantastic. And I will claim that we are living in a time where science is cool again,” he said.  

This story originally aired as part of Under the Microscope, a weekly program about science, health, and technology in mid-Missouri.