It’s been a big week for solar and science lovers. Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society and role model of science lovers everywhere, revealed the LightSail. Then just days later, Nye’s classic television series, Bill Nye the Science Guy, hit Netflix and ignited the inner science nerd inside of many fans. So what is the significance of these two events? Well, in the words of the science man himself, it’s about time we “change the world!” And Bill Nye is leading the way for the younger generations.
The LightSail has the potential to revolutionize space exploration. In short, this satellite could be propelled through space solely by sunlight. This would allow spacecraft to travel far into the universe at a very low cost. If you want the gooey, scientific details, get the scoop from Nye in this video.
A LightSail spacecraft was released into space on May 20, and it is successfully sending data back to Earth. Despite the hype that the LightSail has caused, it is not the first solar sail. In fact, the concept that sunlight could move an object was first proposed over a century ago and solar sails have been built and tested for decades. But the LightSail is different in that it is entirely citizen-funded. Having a popular face such as Nye’s spreading the excitement for science and the power of solar is exactly what we need to inspire the younger generations of our society—the ones who are facing issues such as climate change head on.
The release of Bill Nye the Science Guy on Netflix suggests that these young generations are doing just that: facing these issues. The kids that grew up watching Nye explain photons and electrons are still looking up to the “Science Guy,” who spends his free time visiting colleges and talking to students about climate change and their important responsibility of changing the world. I was lucky enough to hear that speech last month—and I have to say that I wasn’t nearly as impressed by his speech as I was by how excited the 800 students in that room were about changing the world.
While this may not be the first solar sail, and Bill Nye the Science Guy was first released over two decades ago, these two events represent a very important leap forward for science and solar power. The generations of college and high school students are aware of climate change, excited about science, and ready to take on the obstacles that lie ahead. If Bill Nye can do it, so can we.