Science Slang With Bill Nye

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Science advocate Bill Nye promotes his new PBS special with Vanity Fair with a jaunt through various scientific  terms like “arsole,” “hinny,” “champagne tap” and more.

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65 thoughts on “Science Slang With Bill Nye

    1. GahBlahBlah

      Well he worked as a mechanical engineer, so I reckon he knows his stuff on the maths, physics and chemistry fronts anyway!

      1. Clampers Outside!

        I’ve a degree in Economics, Sociology & PolSci…. I’m neither an economist, a sociologist nor a political scientist :)

        I suppose I could teach kids about those subjects, like Bill does… on ‘science’ :)

        1. Bertie Blenkinsop

          He’s gotta a degree in economics,
          Maths – physics and bionics,
          He thinks that I’m a cabbage
          ’cause I hate university challenge….

          1. Bertie Blenkinsop

            I watched that documentary about the undertones again last weekend, no love lost there with Feargal….

          2. Clampers Outside!

            I saw an argument on the twitter machine where one argued “Bill has six PhD’s”

            To which the response was…. “they’re all honorary awards”

            Makes me chuckle :)

          3. Neilo

            @Bertie: I always believed and I could be wrong that it’s a historical beef because Sharkey didn’t wrap himself in the tricolour.

        2. ivan

          Indeed; David Attenborough ‘only’ has a degree in geology and zoology (and a postgrad in Social Anthropology) and yet he’s widely accepted as a naturalist, despite the fact that, it would seem, he’s very little academic background in it* and only got involved in his present line of work through *producing* nature shows which then led to other things.

          (*invented snooker on the telly, mind – who’d’ve thunk it)

          1. Listrade

            Oh clampers. Really? “Christian Intellectual” who’s a lab assistant? Who’s says that just because Bill Nye worked for NASA and Boeing (invented part of the 747 don’t you know), he isn’t a “scientist” he’s an “engineer”. And that’s the argument.

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            That’s very interesting. I did not know that about David Attenborough. It’s hard to imagine anyone of our time with a greater depth of understanding of our natural world who has such a vast worldwide following.

            I do love him. We’ve started showing some of his stuff to the kid. She very much enjoys it.

          3. ivan

            And that article is largely hard to argue with but perhaps we’re dancing atop the head of a pin here.

            a) I’m wary (not entirely dismissive tho’) of folks who ‘signal’ their religious faith in any article about science, or scientists, ‘cos (cognative dissonance ahoy) I tend to think they might have an anti-science agenda, or will seek to have their imaginary friend credo trump science at some point in the future.
            b) He’s called a science advocate in the post; you’re the one brought in the ‘scientist’ word :)
            c) If all he is *is* a science advocate, and he’s good at it, and he understands the McGubbins he’s talking about, then of itself that’s not a bad thing, is it? Does he call *himself* a scientist, or hold himself out as one?

            I don’t have a degree in musicology but I can probably teach you to bash out the opening of Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor despite not knowing what an augmented fifth was, even if it bit me on the leg.

          4. ivan

            As others have said, you’re the one started the ‘but he’s not a scientist’ routine; nobody here said he was.

            And my point about having ‘-ist’ at the end of your job title doesn’t (necessarily) confer any particular aptitude for imparting information any more than the lack of it implies an inability, still stands. Nye seems to be good at imparting valid scientific information in a humerous folksy way, but not much cop at getting published in peer reviewed scientific journals, which is just as well, because getting published in peer reviewed scientific journals etc isn’t his job.

        3. Listrade

          Yeah, but he WORKED as an engineer. Didn’t just study it he worked at Boeing and actually designed stuff. I think that gives him some scope to say he’s a bit of a scientist.

          But then Johnny Ball only had an O Level in maths and geography, but he did ok making maths presentable to kids.

          I suppose the key is that the shows had a range of qualified people writing, particularly the science areas and the skill was in Bill Nye being a good presenter and communicator and helped by his background.

          You should take it as educational entertainment and not really read much more into it. Having said that, the Bill Nye Netflix show was pants. It was just a mess.

          1. Nigel

            Is there any particular reason why this is a hill to die on? What is it about this guy that requires this to be so strongly asserted when he suddenly appears?

          2. Listrade

            And Clint Eastwood wasn’t a cowboy.

            It’s a name created for a tv show where he explained scientific principles. Bill Nye the Engineering Guy not as catchy. funnily enough, kids don’t really care that much on the subtleties between science and engineering.

            I’m an engineer, not a scientist. But I had to understand the scientific principles in order to apply them practically. Understand them to a point where I can discuss them and even explain them to non-scientists.

            Your whole point is on a name made up for a kids TV show. A minor technicality that has nothing to do with his ability to discuss or explain scientific principles.

            I know where the sudden backlash against Bill Nye has come from. Let’s just leave it there as it doesn’t reflect well on those who are suddenly so interested in a stage name.

          3. Listrade

            @nigel. There is a reason. It’s to do with an episode of his Netflix show where he made discussed the issue of gender being non-binary. From that point, his qualifications to call himself “the science guy” suddenly became an issue among the usual groups.

          4. Clampers Outside!

            Never took you for a ‘gender is a social construct’ type, Listrade. People can identify as whatever they wish, but that doesn’t change things. But if one wishes to ignore biology, as social constructionists do, then…. anything goes! :)

          5. Listrade

            Yeah that bit where I never actually stated what my views on the subject is and just stated when and why someone’s stage name suddenly became an weirdly significant issue for certain people but you decided to infer your own judgement and run with it.

          6. Nigel

            Yes Clamps humour is achieved through the contrast between the dramatic nature of the language and the triviality of the subject, which also expresses a larger sense of how these things are both important enough for you to raise while simultaneously insisting they are not important at all, distancing yourself from the larger, darker cultural neuroses lurking underneath, as identified by Listrade. Well done on making me say all that out loud for your benefit.

            That he isn’t a scientist but has a sciencey background and is a science advocate seems like the sort of thing one needn’t get overly stressed about. That people who take political issue with something he said and use this as an angle of attack is the sort of thing that’s worth knowing.

          7. Clampers Outside!

            Language and meaning of words is important.

            Many Joe Soap’s on the street think Bill Nye is a “scientist”, which is unfortunate when he does talk poo, in fairness. The ‘gender is non-binary’ stuff is just an example of how nonsense can become understood as factual when TV “scientists” spout such.

            Anyway…. the stairs is calling :)

          8. edalicious

            People, with an anti-scientific bent, ironically, also started calling out Nye’s scientific credentials when he started weighing in on the inaction of the US government on climate change.

            Science is a process, not a private club or some kind of pseudo-religion, like some people appear to think. You can “do” science yourself, use it to learn and apply that knowledge, at home, everyday, without needing to have X amount of Phds. That’s kind of the whole point of Bill Nye; get kids to think in a scientific way.

            Source: Studied Mechanical Engineering and now work in entertainment, like yer man.

          9. Nigel

            If you disagree with someone one sure sign that it’s a serious scientific matter is you go all-out to pedantically challenge a word used to describe them in popular usage. Very scientific.

            Since he’s a science advocate he presumably hasn’t done the science on ths issue himself but is reporting the findings and thinking of those who have. Literally attacking the messenger.

          10. edalicious

            Also, apart from the obvious physical evidence that gender is non-binary, we’re starting to see evidence for neurological causes for non-binary biological sex. Have you any evidence that people with non standard chromosome variations and genital variations don’t, in fact, exist, Clamps? Because I’m sure they’d be a bit disappointed to find that out.

          11. Clampers Outside!

            “Gender binary” results from humans producing two types of gametes, sperms and eggs. Where’s the third?
            Just because a person can have traits of both does not indicate a third.
            Gonadal development can go wrong, mutations can be caused by many factors, it doesn’t indicate a multitude of genders in humans.

            People can ‘identify’, but ‘identifying’ doesn’t make new genders factual, nor scientific. Plenty of transgender persons out there agee with this if one is willing to look into it.
            Plenty argue otherwise.

            The debate will go on.

            But… those with a “non binary”, to use the phrase, variation of the XX or XY combination cannot reproduce naturally should be some indication.

            If you have XXY or klienfelters syndrome, reproduction requires assistance from medicine – https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/klinefelter/conditioninfo/faqs

            On the X only, or Turner Syndrome the ability to reproduce naturally also requires medical intervention –
            https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/turner-syndrome/turner-syndrome-faq-part-2

            If one cannot reproduce naturally is an important factor in the evidence for the debate for gender binary.

          12. Listrade

            I’m sure that’s all interesting, but you’re not a “scientist” so you are not in a position to comment on science.

          13. Clampers Outside!

            Em…. who said that variations don’t exist?
            Humans have hands with five digits, but that doesn’t mean people are not born with 1, 2 or even 6 digits. But these are not ‘spectrums of hands’.

          14. edalicious

            Clamps, just because it’s outside the norm, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. By your own admission there are plenty of examples of people who fall outside the standard binary gender designations. Binary means 0 or 1 but non binary doesn’t necessarily mean 3 or 4, etc. Non binary in this situation means a range of values *between* 0 and 1. No one is really trying to invent a new, distinct gender; they’re just trying to define and hopefully give a feeling of belonging to those who fall between.

          15. Clampers Outside!

            Oh please… I already said there are those outside of the binary, and I did not say ‘they don’t exist’. Plse at least read what I had written.

            What we are discussing is how it is defined, and I am saying that just because something exists outside of the gender binary does not mean that gender is on a spectrum.

          16. Clampers Outside!

            @Listrade Em…. neither are the ‘social constructionists’ scientists, and so to quote yourself.. they “are not in a position to comment on science”, so why believe them.

            Happy Friday boss!

  1. scottser

    grand day today all the same. nice bit of heat in the sun, and as i was cycling in the lads were out cutting the grass verges. when the smell of it hit me, i thought immediately of tit monday followed by a strong urge to blow off work and lay in a field drinking cans of cider.
    explain that, science guy.

      1. scottser

        nothing wrong with the spelling old boy. you’ll know it when you see it – it marks the true beginning of spring.

    1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

      to skive
      there was a time when skiving was practiced openly and with pride, a little known phenomenon known as Saint Monday
      demonstrators by historian Douglas Reid 1st mentioned in the 17thC basically am extension of the Sabbath used to knock back ales and watch fights.

      When in due course Saint Monday wakes the day
      off to a gin shop straight they haste away
      perhaps at work they transitory peep
      But give and lathe are soon consigned to sleep

      1. The Old Boy

        Pre-industrial revolution England, and to a greater extent pre-reformation England had so many saints’ days and local observances that the average working week was nearer to three days than the five (or six in the factories) that it later became.

        1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

          indeed
          our freedom destroyed by the industrial revolution and the protestant work ethic or distrust of being Idle
          the arid philosophy of living indoctrinated at school and work of suffer now and pleasure later, the bourgeois myth of future stability !
          well the skiver says pleasure now !

        2. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

          I’m liking the sound of this. Bar the aul black death and short life span and shizzle like dah, it sounds ideal.

      2. scottser

        thanks janet, i did not know this. i shall take pride in my skiving today knowing that i am both taking from and contributing to a fine cultural tradition. on a thursday.

        1. Janet, I ate my Avatar

          yes !
          steal back that time stolen from you !
          like kisses time to be sweet ought to be stolen :)

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