Bill Nye Crashes AOC’s Panel at SXSW

Bill Nye Crashes SXSW Panel

On Saturday, Bill Nye stood up in the middle of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) SXSW panel and shocked everyone, including her. The TV host and world-renowned science advocate crashed the SXSW panel to ask the Congresswoman about fear, climate change, and the future of science in American politics.

Nye Questions AOC about Fear, Science, and Politics

The outspoken Nye is a champion of all things science. His public television show – Bill Nye, the Science Guy – first went on the airwaves back in the 1990s, and he’s been at it ever since. He declared, “I think the problem on both sides is fear.”  He went on to ask Rep. Ocasio-Cortez if she has a plan for getting past that fear in Congress. He shared a particular concern about climate change. “People are just afraid of what’s going to happen if we make these big changes,” Nye said. You can see the video of Nye’s questioning here.

While we’re not really big into the business of politics here at Space Porn, Nye’s visit is intriguing for cosmophiles for many non-political reasons as well. One reason is that nobody knows what the long-term solution to climate change is yet.  It’s a big problem that requires big thinking, and it may very well need to include colonization.  Sure, we’re not nearly there yet.  But we are working on going to Mars.  That’s a reality.

An Advocate For Science and Space Exploration

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In fact, under Nye’s leadership, The Planetary Society has worked with NASA to help outfit the Mars Explorer Rover missions with sundials. Through research and public awareness projects, the society continues its mission “to empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration.”

The Planetary Society was formed by Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murray in 1980.  Over 50,000 members strong worldwide, The Planetary Society is a nonprofit, non-government organization that works to advance science and engineering – particularly concerning space exploration.  

Nye made his name as a TV personality, but he has a background as a mechanical engineer.  He has written multiple books aimed at educating the masses about science in all fields.  His first PBS series, which aired from 1993-1998 inspired my generation to look to the stars and to try things out for ourselves.  He showed us how to ask questions and be curious.  

What Bill’s Been Up To

These days, Nye has come back into the spotlight to once again.  He continues to inspire viewers with his new show Bill Nye Saves The World, which has three seasons currently available on Netflix.  It follows a similar format to Nye’s original show, but is definitely more geared toward adults than children.  The show tackles topics ranging from vaccination to panspermia – the theory that claims that life on earth originated from interplanetary microbes hitchhiking on comets, space dust, meteorites, or – yes – even spacecraft (maybe).

As previously stated, Nye’s work with The Planetary Society has done a lot to advance the cause of space exploration, as well.  In addition to its work on the Mars rover missions, the agency has put work and funding into other high profile space exploration projects.  Two such projects are Lightsail and LIFE (Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment).  The former is a series of solar sail experiments.  The latter deals with the survivability of microorganisms in space.

So, Are We Outta Here, or What?

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Nye’s questions began with a statement that science advocates can look at with optimism.  “So, I think one of the keys to dismantling fear,” she said, “is dismantling a zero-sum mentality.” She went on to give an example of such a mentality in terms of inequality, but the idea of getting rid of that all-or-nothing mentality in terms of progress is a step in the right direction when it comes to science, research, and exploration. While we may not be boarding a ship to Mars tomorrow, the time is probably sooner than many of us think.

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