9 things you might not know about Bill Nye the Science Guy

Learn how the Science Guy links to sketch comedy, Martian vehicles, Steve Martin and Sir Mix-A-Lot.

Top image: The Everett Collection

Boomers watched Mr. Wizard. Thankfully, their children would not go without a television scientist.

From 1993 to 1998, Walt Disney Television produced original episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy for PBS. New generations learned about geology, astronomy, biology and all the other -ologies thank to an enthusiastic man sporting a lab coat and bowtie.

Bill Nye continues to be a popular spokesman for science today. 

Let's take a look at some fascinating facts about the multitalented guy.

1. He studied astronomy under professor Carl Sagan at Cornell.


Nye is an Ivy League man. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell in 1977. While at the school, he took astronomy with Carl Sagan. We imagine he did quite well in the class.

Image: AP Photo/Castaneda

2. Nye worked at Boeing and quit to become a comedian.


While working for Boeing in Seattle, a young Nye developed a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the 747 aircraft. He also appeared in training films, which must have given him the acting bug. Nye quit to pursue a career in comedy. 

Image: The Everett Collection

3. The Science Guy character was born on a Seattle sketch comedy show.


In the early 1980s, Nye was a cast member of the television show Almost Live!, a sort of local Saturday Night Live for the Seattle area that aired on KING-TV. The "Science Guy" character first appeared in a skit on the series.

Image: Almost Live! / KING-TV

4. Bill Nye once won a Steve Martin look-alike contest.


While he was an engineer, Nye entered and won a search for a Steve Martin look-alike. Do you see the resemblance with the wild and crazy guy?

Image: AP Photo/David F. Smith / AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

5. Bill Nye is Doc Brown's assistant in the 'Back to the Future' universe.


Back to the Future: The Animated Series featured live-action segments with Christopher Lloyd's Doc Brown demonstrating the wonders of science. His silent apprentice in the shorts was none other than Bill Nye, demonstrating experiments like how to check if an egg is hard boiled without peeling it.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. There are secret rappers in the theme song.


The catchy theme song was the work of musician Mike Greene. In an interview with Science Bob, he revealed that mysterious un-named rappers were behind the chants of "Bill, Bill, Bill!" He revealed, "Believe it or not, those are rappers. I can’t name them, because it was against their contract to do outside things without permission from their record company… They had no idea what it was for, but they’re cool, so they did it." Perhaps one was Seattle MC Sir Mix-A-Lot?

7. His show made awesome science covers of popular '90s songs by Snoop Dogg, Björk, Nirvana and more.


Speaking of Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back" was just one of the many contemporary hits parodied on Bill Nye the Science Guy. The show featured music videos branded "The Soundtrack of Science" (on Not That Bad Records). They were like a cross of Weird Al and Schoolhouse Rock! Some of our favorites were Nyvana's "Smells Like Air Pressure," Rhoda Dendron's "Cross Pollination" (Björk's "Human Behaviour") and Dose of Soap's "Just Wash Your Hands" (Ace of Base's "Don't Turn Around").

8. He helped design the sundial used on Mars landers.


Nye was part of the team that developed the MarsDial on the Mars Exploration Rover, seen here. Thanks to the Science Guy, we can tell time on the Red Planet!

Image: AP Photo/Michael OKoniewski

9. He recently co-wrote an EDM song.


An avid fan of swing dancing, Nye explores other areas of music. Recently, he collaborated on a song with celebrity DJ, futurist and Vegas institution Steve Aoki. The work is titled "Nobel Gas." Keep your ears peeled for it in a brainy nightclub near you.

Image: The Everett Collection

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


KathyMcKinny 41 months ago
also something EVERYONE doesn't know........HE'S NOT A SCIENTIST, he's a engineer.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?