William Sanford “Bill” Nye is an American science educator, comedian, television presenter, actor, writer, scientist, and former mechanical engineer. He is best known as the host of the Disney/PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy (1993–1998) and for his many subsequent appearances in popular media as a science educator. From 2005 to 2010, Nye was the vice president of The Planetary Society, an organisation that advocates space science research and the exploration of other planets, particularly Mars. He became the organisation’s second Executive Director in September 2010 when Louis Friedman stepped down.
Chatting with Sarah Cruddas, Nye begins by reminding her in his own inimitable style of how the evidence for an asteroid impact being responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs first came about. This was through the discovery of a large, buried impact crater off the coast of Mexico. He remembers how as a student at Cornell University, he would listen to the famous planetary scientist Carl Sagan talk about the severity of large asteroid impacts and how these could lead to mass extinctions. But Nye says there is a romantic draw to the asteroids too because they represent places of exploration and scientific discovery. He explains how The Planetary Society awards grants to amateur astronomers so that they can detect asteroids, and reminds us that fundamental scientific research is importance in building a better future.