MARQUETTE - Change the world. That's the message Bill Nye the Science Guy most wanted to impart on the 1,500 people packed into the Vandament Arena Thursday evening.
"(The world has) serious, serious problems that have to be addressed by you and for you to address them, you are going to have to know science," Nye said. "You are going to have to believe that our process of science, this way of understanding the universe that humans have come up with, is reasonable and valid and good. We have to use that process to - dare I say it - change the world."
People began lining up at 3 p.m. - with the event scheduled to start at 7 p.m. - to see the man they'd grown up watching in science classes in elementary schools across the country in real life. They lined up with books for Nye to sign, sporting bow ties - one of Nye's signatures - and a love for science.
From left, Northern Michigan University students Christy Sands, a senior photography major, and Rachael Raspetello, a senior pre-physician’s assistant and recent NMU graduate, Randa Osman, sport bow ties for Bill Nye the Science Guy’s lecture Thursday evening. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
"My entire elementary school science class revolved around Bill Nye videos," said Margaret Saelens, an undeclared freshman at Northern Michigan University who is also a part of the Honors Student Organization, the group that hosted Nye.
Nowadays, you can find Nye on national news networks such as CNN, hosting one of three scientific television shows or working as the chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization The Planetary Society.
Nye has also been making it into the national news lately after a video he made for the public forum website The Big Think went viral.
In it, Nye discusses creationism and what he sees as the danger of teaching it in the classroom.
"I have no problem with anybody's religion, but the claim that the world is 6,000 or 10,000 years old, you can show that that's not right. That's wrong. That is an incorrect presumption about the Earth," Nye opined in an interview before his speech. "You can't use tax dollars intended for science education, to offer as an alternative to all that we observe in the universe. ... That the earth is an impossible young age ...
"Whatever it is in somebody's belief system that makes them insist on that, I encourage them to re-evaluate those beliefs. And don't ask me as a taxpayer and voter to support that sort of thing. It's wrong. It's demonstrably wrong."
Nye said the issue of climate change is much too daunting to allow a large portion of the United States' population to not learn scientific fundamentals like evolution in the classroom.
"You don't want to raise a generation of science students who do not embrace these fundamental ideas," Nye said. "It's not in anybody's best interest. The United States will not continue to innovate, will not continue to be the world leader in technology. Other economies, other countries will outpace us if we raise a generation of people who are scientifically illiterate. It's troubling. But it's also an opportunity."
During his lecture, Nye mostly focused on his parents' influence on him, how they nurtured his love for science at a young age, telling stories of his father's obsession with sun dials and how Nye played an intricate role in sending a sun dial to Mars with the Mars rover.
At the end of his lecture, which was filled with much of Nye's characteristic animation and sense of humor, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.