Cosmic Queries: TV Sci-Fi with Bill Nye

Kirk and Spock at the “Guardian of Forever” time portal in “City on the Edge of Forever,” from “Star Trek: The Original Series.” Credit: © CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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About This Episode

Bill Nye the Science Guy is here with “worldwide citizen of the wide world” co-host Chuck Nice to answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about science fiction on TV and in the movies. As a Trekkie himself, Bill warps right into discussions about phasers, teleportation, Nichelle Nichols, Mr. Spock, warp drives, Star Trek’s optimistic outlook of the future, and why the show was, and still is, vital to the women’s empowerment movement. Don’t worry though; it’s not all Star Trek shoptalk. You’ll discover whether the key to astronauts using hypersleep involves studying bears and squirrels. Next, find out if there are serious possibilities of using science fiction technology in the real world such as force fields, inertial dampers, and subspace radio. Chuck and Bill share critical thoughts on stormtrooper armor from Star Wars and Bill reveals his true feelings about Lost and The Blair Witch Project. Bill also sets the record straight on time travel when a fan asks what Back To The Future’s “flux capacitor” would be like in reality. You’ll hear whether seawater and coconuts could be used to power gadgets like the Professor did on Gilligan’s Island, and Bill reflects on how underutilized Dr. Maureen Robinson’s skills as a biochemist were on Lost in Space. All this, plus a conversation on climate change that weaves its way throughout the episode, and the one item Bill would show an intelligent species from another planet to sum up the human race. (Warning: Adult Language.)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries: TV Sci-Fi with Bill Nye.

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  • David Geise

    Here’s an article about a new graphene sieve that turns seawater into fresh water:

  • Louis Cuchiara

    I still wonder why we don’t just spin up the I.S.S. to give the astronauts artificial gravity for a few hours per day. All it would take would be thrusters that can be rotated 180 degrees so you can spin it up and stop the spin, and any gas could be used for the thrust.

    • skeptic

      The areas they work in are in all different orientations, so any way you spin it would cause certain compartments to be uninhabitable. Also the Coriolis effect would be debilitating. The compartments are just too small.

    • Kevin Talley

      While I agree with everything skeptic said below the compelling reason we can’t do this is that it was designed as a microgravity structure and would likely damage itself or even come apart if spun.

  • Daniel Elegante

    I hope Bill Nye sees this but his commentary on common core being against evolution is misinformed. If you read through the common core components there is no specific scientific content mentioned. Common core is all about literacy and math skills. Common core states that students must analyze text, be able to cite sources in discussion and back arguments with data. I believe Mr. Nye should have listed the Next Generation Science Standards as the evolution document. As a teacher I can testify that a lot of people are upset with common core because of a belief that the government is dictating what they teach at a local level and because the standards are raised to the point where testing shows the students aren’t at the level everyone thought they were previous to the new standards.

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