Small World

Bill Nye the Science Guy's motto is, "Leave the world better than you found it." He owns approximately six dozen bow ties, and he advises kids interested in science to "try things, then clean up after yourself." Nye had a mechanical-engineering degree from Cornell University and a long career in his field before becoming a small-screen celebrity, but he's also a funny guy with a penchant for standup. And, as if he were one of his own wacky experiments, he found a way to mix both qualities together and spearhead a magnificent combustion. (Nye, it seems, has never gotten over that heady rush generated when vinegar and baking soda meet.)

"I decided I would be the next Mr. Wizard," Nye says. But he's turned out to be much more than that. His popular public-television series for kids ran a healthy six years, from 1992 to 1998, and he's been a spokesman and host on MTV's Noggin Television network in the years since. On the side, he's written four fun science books for his main constituents, and he's now shopping a new show, Eyes of Nye, to PBS. The twist? It's for grownups -- people, Nye notes, "who are old enough to vote." Instead of conducting explosive experiments in the studio to titillate young minds, he's on the road in this show, talking with experts on everything from the science of sports to the evolution of sex.

Why does the world need a Science Guy? "Every problem you can think of," he maintains. "Global climate change, the AIDS epidemic, overpopulation, increased resistance to antibiotics by bacteria, weapons in Iraq...these are all science problems. The world needs people who are more scientifically literate, because then they are able to understand things and make the decisions necessary to be good voters and taxpayers. My goal is to change the world." And, so far? "I'm doing okay. Very few people come up to me and say, 'I hate you. You suck.'"

The many people who agree can meet, greet and find out, scientifically, why we don't have giant insects, when Nye appears Saturday, March 8, at noon in the Ricketson Auditorium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2001 Colorado Boulevard, to introduce his latest kids' book, Bill Nye the Science Guy's Great Big Dinosaur Dig (that's not a poem, Nye notes, in spite of the rhyme). And, though the program is geared toward kids ages six to twelve, you grownups are invited, too, even if you are old enough to vote. Admission is $3 to $9; call 303-322-7009 for reservations.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd