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CU Independent

CU Independent

Posted: February 17, 2011 03:48 PM

By Emma Castleberry

Bill Nye, the one-and-only "Science Guy," is helping hundreds of nostalgic fans to -- dare he say it? -- change the world after visiting CU's Macky Auditorium.

The eager students who scored tickets to the much-anticipated event were camped out in front of Macky Auditorium by 6:15 p.m. Tuesday night, 45 minutes before the doors opened. Some gathered in circles playing cards while others studied, but most were discussing Nye.

"I mean, the cornerstone of our education was Bill Nye," said Clementine Stowe, a 19-year-old sophomore integrative physiology and neuroscience major who was among the students waiting outside for the event. "No wonder there's a ton of us here."

Students compared the Science Guy to other worldwide famous faces.

"Yeah, if they brought the Pope, there'd probably be about the same attendance," said William Grandbois, a 20-year-old junior anthropology major who was also waiting outside the theater.

Shortly before 7 p.m., the crowd poured into the auditorium, cheering and chanting, "Bill! Bill! Bill!" Punam Chatterjee, chair of the Distinguished Speakers Board that brought Nye to CU, marveled at the crowd's enthusiasm when she came on stage to introduce the Science Guy.

"Man, you guys are really excited, aren't you?" Chatterjee said over the cheers.

Daniel Griffitts, a 22-year-old senior geology major, said he thought Nye was a great choice for the DSB to bring to campus.

"It's hard to go wrong with Bill Nye," Griffitts said. "I mean, it's Bill Nye. He could do anything and I would approve."

As Nye walked on stage, he was greeted with a standing ovation and roaring cheers. He began his presentation with a welcome that echoed science fiction novels.

"Greetings, Boulder," Nye said, bowing to the crowd.

Titled "Your Place in Space," Nye's presentation covered a range of ways students can impact the future of the planet, and emphasized the importance of tackling problems like climate change and overpopulation.

"The world has never gotten this warm, this fast," Nye said. "And this is of great concern to all of us. And you guys are going to have to like, totally deal with it."

Nye began his presentation by introducing a theme that carried through the evening: sundials. Nye used this theme to discuss the leaps and bounds of space travel in his lifetime. This included the Mars rovers, both of which bear sundials with the inscription, "Two Worlds, One Sun."

"The shadows on Mars are cast by light from the same star that casts shadows on Earth," Nye said. "I hope that gives you something to think about. I hope that helps you when you think about what I like to call, 'your place in space.'"

Nye contrasted chilling images, like the distinct line of smog below Mt. Rainier's summit, with more optimistic images of the possible future, such as bike tunnels and buildings covered in gardens.

"If you take a second, you will see the effects of humans on the atmosphere just about everywhere you go," Nye said. "Do more with less. That, my friends, is how I want you to change the world."

Nye was visibly passionate about empowering the audience, which was mostly comprised of what he called the "space and climate generation." However, despite his scientific leanings, Nye said that scientific discoveries aren't the only way to change the world.

"Putting rovers on Mars, finding salts in Martian soil that prove there were seas on Mars: That is nothing," Nye said. "That is child's play compared to feeding people in East Africa."

Nye's call to action was followed by a question-and-answer session, which was characterized by many confessions of admiration and devotion to the television personality.

Some questions explored Nye's position on controversial issues such as nuclear power or Genetically Modified Organisms, while others explored his television career. Nye fist-pumped for several students.

As students filed out of the auditorium, there was a buzz of positivity and nostalgia in the air.

"It's something I've always dreamed of," said Evelyn Maguire, a 19-year-old sophomore chemical and biological engineer major.

Michael Silverstein, a 19-year-old sophomore music major, said many students probably share this dream.

"A childhood idol actually coming to talk to us was really cool," Silverstein said. "Everyone has elementary school memories of watching [Nye's] videos. It was the highlight of science education."

Though Nye has already impacted the "space and climate generation," he said he continues to encourage his fans' curiosity.

"Imagine a day when everything is just a little bit different," Nye said. "That's why you go to college: The joy of discovery."

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emma Castleberry at Emma.castleberry@colorado.edu.

 

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