Friday Funny: Bill Nye’s ‘ask me anything’ explodes in his face

Redditers Rip Apart Bill Nye’s Totally Incoherent Answers In AMA

Clip from this Bill Nye Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2Gb4NIv0Xg

By Mike Bastasch at the Daily Caller

Redditers were not fans of the answers Bill Nye “the science guy” gave in an AMA, grilling the former children’s show host for dodging questions and giving inaccurate answers.

Nye held the AMA on Wednesday to promote his upcoming documentary. Nye says his goal is to end “anti-scientific thinking,” but Reddit users were left less than satisfied with answers the science guy gave to their questions.

Right off the bat Nye got hit for saying 3 Kelvins was “toasty warm, referring to the temperature of space. One savvy commenter noted 3 Kelvins is about the same as -454 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Screenshot: Reddit

In fairness, Nye may have been joking, but Reddit wasn’t having any of it.

Redditers also went after Nye for getting the facts wrong regarding a recent lawsuit filed against the National Academy of Science and various researchers for criticizing a paper written by Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson. Nye also gave some disagreeable answers about nuclear power.

Screenshot: Reddit

Jacobson filed suit against the Academy and authors of a study that debunked his own 2015 study claiming the U.S. could be powered with 100 percent green energy. The rebuttal found Jacobson relied on faulty modeling, so the Stanford professor is suing them for $10 million.

Redditers couldn’t resist going after Nye for saying science is “true whether you believe it or not.” Commenters quickly pointed to Nye’s less-than-scientific claim that gender is a spectrum, and not binary.

Screenshot: Reddit

Curiously, Nye also told Reddit users that belief in the “deep state” was the most harmful science-based conspiracy theory out there.

The phrase “deep state” gained popularity among conservatives this year as a way to describe powerful, unaccountable and veiled government institutions, like the CIA. It’s not at all a science-based idea.

Screenshot: Reddit

Things hit a fever pitch when Nye apparently gave the wrong explanation for a basic physics question.

Screenshot: Reddit

Nye also gave a weirdly obscure answer to a Redditer who asked which politicians the science guy believes he’s influenced the most.

Screenshot: Reddit

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192 thoughts on “Friday Funny: Bill Nye’s ‘ask me anything’ explodes in his face

      • Well , Bill Nye the science lie, says himself: ” that’s not rocket surgery “.

        I’ll have to remember that one !

      • He was great but my favorite was Dr. Frank Baxter in the Bell Labs series 1956-1964. It encouraged me to pursue an engineering degree, reinforced by NASA when it was an honorable organization.

      • “Mr. Wizard” held kids interest. And was able to teach them by holding their attention.
        Bill Nye’s show was based on the assumption that kids have a short attention span. It was all “Whiz, bang, thank you, kid!”. No attempt to expand their attention span. No serious attempt to communicate science as was Mr. Wizard’s goal.

      • Both Herbert and Dr. Baxter had a huge influence on me. I remember Herbert’s explanation of a chain reaction. IIRC, he had a table full of mouse traps set with ping pong balls instead of cheese. Then he tossed a ball on the table. You can imagine what happened.
        WRT Dr. Baxter, I remember his reply when asked for the two words that best described blood. Sea water. And my early understanding of evolution took a huge leap forward.

    • To be fair none gave the correct answer to why an electron doesn’t collapse into the atom nucleus and all are as wrong as he was. One fool made out it was the total energy of the system and compared it to Earth spinning around the sun … anyone with basic intelligence should be able to work out that won’t fly lets explain.

      Pick up a piece of matter and squeeze it between you hands which would be equivalent of you pushing on the earth towards the sun in the stupid example. If you did that I assure you there is nothing to resist the earth moving in towards the sun and do it hard enough and the earth would smash right into the sun.

      So lets see if anyone does know why when you squeeze applying pressure on an atom you don’t collapse it?

      • It is true that if you can apply sufficient pressure to matter you can compress it. Black hole. The best we can do at the moment, apart from the Hadron, is to make diamond from carbon.

      • Nobody knows the state of matter in a black hole. But with sufficient gravitational energy (force) protons and electrons can be collapsed to neutrons in a neutron star. Still pre black hole singularity.

      • No-one really knows why the negative electron does not collapse into the positive nucleus of an atom or even if it should. It could be a trick question. Sure they talk about quantum effects, orbital resonance, etc. The claim for the limit of applicability of classical physics is that it predicts that collapse due to radiative losses of the electron in an orbit moving at speed such that it will slow down and spiral into the nucleus. I have the opinion that the classical model did not go far enough. If you imagine an electron in snapshot orbit of proton, ALL its electric field lines will radiate in arcs toward the positive nucleus. No field lines extending into space. If there were the atom would not appear neutral. The radiative expectation surely can only come from moving field/lines/potentials that extend into the space. So I imagine that the supposed limit of the classical model, is not from a mature classical model, but from a lack of progress of its old argument. Its argument should be that the electron does not radiate/lose energy and thus fall into the nucleus because the coulomb/electric field of same does not exist, moving or otherwise, in that space. Anyone in first year UG physics will have seen the diagram/field lines and calculated the forces between two charged particles. I imagine an earth around the sun type answer is close to the mark, although the analogy is limited and needs another, related, energy system. Quantum Mechanics ‘explains’ Nothing ! QM merely observes and tabulates. Patterns emerge but have no explanation. As Feynman said ‘anyone who thinks they understand Quantum Mechanics doesn’t know enough about it’ or something similar. Knowledge about something does not mean understanding that something. QM does not explain why the electron does not radiate energy and fall in – it just says it must be different and so doesn’t, labels it a quantum effect and leaves it at that. Not much progress there. And for QM to say that the electron isn’t anywhere, orbiting, it just appears or has probability of being in a place, etc, etc, – what utter nonsense. The whole of magnetism is based on particular orbits of un-spin-paired electrons – all the calculations of period, velocity, charge, maxwells eq’s MF strength, permeability/permitivitty work just fine – for an orbiting electron. This also explains why the orbit is stable and robust…a moving electron is like a current in a wire and creates a magnetic field. That field is energy. If you try to alter the orbit of the electron you must add to or take away from the energy of that field. Any ‘pressure’ is perpendicular to the orbit and so cannot add energy to the system. It just goes thru’ the atom to the other side (via magnetic field of energy.) A hammer blow will dissipate as heat and a noise, the atoms themselves start to vibrate more vigorously, heat, and a pressure wave will exit the mass as sound after traveling around the metal. So the pressing forces are turned in to heat rather than squashing orbitals under normal circumstances. Extreme circumstances – different things start to happen which display themselves as organized/ disorganized structures, temps, voltages, and phases of matter.

      • @ Gerontius
        Put material between you fingers and use some force :-)
        In the labs we put it in a diamond anvil cell setup the current record is 1 terapascal of pressure or about 3 times the pressure on an atom at the centre of the Earth. Your little atom is able to withstand it without collapse which is a little hard to explain to expalin for a rutherford model atom.

        @Neil
        You obvious didn’t do any physics class because not only does QM explain it it gives excruciating calculations on the forces in the atom. I sugegst you don’t give up your day job.

      • LdB, You obviously haven’t read enough to realise, as most in the field do, that QM does not explain anything. It makes laws & principles after the fact, with NO explanation. You obviously didn’t do any physics because…It is impossible to explain something in a language foreign to the recipient. Try to get your head around this….

        It must be remembered that any ‘pressure’, force per unit area, must derived from the same system of electrons orbiting a nucleus. It is like two identical guys pushing against each other – you are asking why can’t one ‘win’ / why can’t they crush each other – they are using the same biochemical sources of energy, leverage, friction. The anvil crushing a diamond is still dependent on and derived from a source of energy that is identical to the one (diamond) resisting it. There is no way for one to be able to crush the other beyond the forces in the particles from which they are made. At the fundamental level everything is made of the same stuff, electrons orbiting nuclei. Particle accelerators take the stakes up a level, but even then they hit the same limit/logic, as will always be the case – one will always be using matter against matter. At that level, one does not squash anything, things either break apart, or not, or new particles are created. In the ordinary sense of matter, if forces are high enough to ‘squash’, in principle, something else starts to happen, electrons jump orbits and photons are emitted or absorbed. These are the highest forms of energy in the regular world.

        The idea that electrons do not orbit the nucleus is ludicrous – popping in and out of existence instead – baloney – more QM Quackery. I have heard it and read it and simply do not think those claiming this are doing real science – this is the same fantasy as the Big Bang and inflation to name just a couple. Do you guys realise this stuff is not proven, not an explanation, not within the laws of physics already claimed bulletproof? For example, a singularity. Come on people have you lost your common, logic, reasoning sense & selves?

      • @ LdB
        your comment, ‘In the labs we put it in a diamond anvil cell setup the current record is 1 terapascal of pressure or about 3 times the pressure on an atom at the centre of the Earth. Your little atom is able to withstand it without collapse which is a little hard to explain to expalin for a rutherford model atom.’

        If you do the calcs, the actual force on the little atom is absolutely minute, like 10^-13 N. Ten to the power MINUS 13. You, LdB have been seduced by big numbers, or are trying to seduce others with same to make your argument. Pretty weak argument, so. A little hard to explain with Rutherford model atom? – do enlighten us LdB. A nonsense, non-answer, non-qualified or qualifiable.
        Is LdB code for Bill Nye

      • @LdB,
        Oh the standard, anti – anti – QM crazy. You have all the hall marks of the Man made Global Warming believer. Time to grow up and use your own brain.
        And for the record, I’m not anti-QM, I just realize, as Richard Feynman all those years ago, that nature at the atomic scale is weird and physics does not have the ‘explanation’ yet. QM is useful in ‘tabulating’ the results, in accepting ‘principles’ (e.g.exclusion principle for which there is no explanation at this time.) and in making predictions from the patterns seen – QM is a physics that avoids explanation and goes to the math with great probability type calculations, pattern recognition and tabulated results. That is its power, but not to be confused with explaining anything. No explanations in there at all. Prove me wrong with even one example of a QM ‘explanation’. You can’t.
        Whereas the concept of the electron orbiting the nucleus explains most of the magnetic/EM phenomena in a simple, elegant and satisfying way. No need for electrons to have invisibility ability, or travels to other dimensions, to pop in and out of existence, in a cloud around the nucleus. With a bit more thought, the CM view can handle much more than credited with, the ‘spiral into the nucleus’ argument a case in point.

      • Perhaps you could explain how a scanning tunneling electron microscope works without electrons have the ability to do the things you say they cannot do?

      • @menicholas. great question! If we accept the fact that the electron is in fact orbiting the nucleus, the world around the sun, limited analogy, will suffice. If you shrink your mental self down to the sub-atomic dimensions, or enlarge same to your dimensions, many examples are given on the huge amount of ‘space’ in the atom, then consider the idea of an eliptical orbit, there is every chance that an electron could venture far outside the normal sphere of the atom. It does not need the fantastic ability to disappear and reappear somewhere else. A body the size of the earth could have a huge eliptical orbit, passing a few 100s of millions of km, not 150 as we do, and still be in a stable ‘orbit’. It would get much closer to the sun and go much further away and travel at far greater speeds than we know, therein the mechanism by which relatively large distances and energies can be ‘tunnelled’, thru. The space I suggested you imagine is to highlight that at those dimensions, an electron would have no problem appearing to ‘tunnel’ into another material, cross larger eV gaps, and so on. It could do all this and still have mundane known characteristics when averaged. And remember the atom is vibrating, i.e. the ‘sun’ is shifiting around a good bit. Brownian motion, evapouration – who knows whether or not these phenomena have analogues in electron valence or at least conduction bands. And remember the orbitals other than s, they seem to be in a form of elipse, conditioned by the presence of other charges and modified as in graphine. I know this isn’t perfect, but as above so below, it abides regular physics, is quite imaginable, does not invoke unproven and I dare say unprovable ‘magical’ superpowers. Also, magnetism would be dead without electrons in orbit – so much of that sphere of physics, that’s a lot and very detailed, is wholly in accord with the classical model as I pointed out above. I am suspicious of some of the ‘information’ that filters down to the populous from physics on high. Anyone following the contrivances and deceptions of the Global warmingongers, supposed trusted scientists,…well physics and astrophysics certainly have encouraged rather far fetched ideas. Singularity, inflation,…perhaps they will soon claim duality of orbiting and not orbiting at the same time, one to satisfy magnetism, the other to appear to explain tunneling. And by the way, tunneling is not explained by QM. The idea of popping in and out of existence to bypass energy gradients too steep for normal average joe electrons is a leap of imagination, no mechanism, too far. For me. And does not explain anything, it swops a mystery, that seems a mystery to physics today, but might well have a regular explanation tomorrow, for an idea that needs a mechanism of disappearance that no one has detected, another dimension that no one has detected and a mechanism of reappearance that no one has detected – not so simple. That is not how physics is done.

      • LdB: You mean, it’s NOT co2? Isn’t all the warming from excess anthro-co2 crushing those atoms? I’d read that it can do it all.

      • LdB, You obviously haven’t read enough to realise, as most in the field do, that QM does not explain anything. It makes laws & principles after the fact, with NO explanation. You obviously didn’t do any physics because…It is impossible to explain something in a language foreign to the recipient. Try to get your head around this….

        It must be remembered that any ‘pressure’, force per unit area, must derived from the same system of electrons orbiting a nucleus. It is like two identical guys pushing against each other – you are asking why can’t one ‘win’ / why can’t they crush each other – they are using the same biochemical sources of energy, leverage, friction. The anvil crushing a diamond is still dependent on and derived from a source of energy that is identical to the one (diamond) resisting it. There is no way for one to be able to crush the other beyond the forces in the particles from which they are made. At the fundamental level everything is made of the same stuff, electrons orbiting nuclei. Particle accelerators take the stakes up a level, but even then they hit the same limit/logic, as will always be the case – one will always be using matter against matter. At that level, one does not squash anything, things either break apart, or not, or new particles are created. In the ordinary sense of matter, if forces are high enough to ‘squash’, in principle, something else starts to happen, electrons jump orbits and photons are emitted or absorbed. These are the highest forms of energy in the regular world.

        The idea that electrons do not orbit the nucleus is ludicrous – popping in and out of existence instead – baloney – more QM Quackery. I have heard it and read it and simply do not think those claiming this are doing real science – this is the same fantasy as the Big Bang and inflation to name just a couple. Do you guys realise this stuff is not proven, not an explanation, not within the laws of physics already claimed bulletproof? For example, a singularity. Come on people have you lost your common, logic, reasoning sense & selves?

      • @ LdB
        your comment, ‘In the labs we put it in a diamond anvil cell setup the current record is 1 terapascal of pressure or about 3 times the pressure on an atom at the centre of the Earth. Your little atom is able to withstand it without collapse which is a little hard to explain to expalin for a rutherford model atom.’

        If you do the calcs, the actual force on the little atom is absolutely minute, like 10^-13 N. Ten to the power MINUS 13. You, LdB have been seduced by big numbers, or are trying to seduce others with same to make your argument. Pretty weak argument, so. A little hard to explain with Rutherford model atom? – do enlighten us LdB. A nonsense, non-answer, non-qualified or qualifiable.

      • @menicholas. great question! If we accept the fact that the electron is in fact orbiting the nucleus, the world around the sun, limited analogy, will suffice. If you shrink your mental self down to the sub-atomic dimensions, or enlarge same to your dimensions, many examples are given on the huge amount of ‘space’ in the atom, then consider the idea of an eliptical orbit, there is every chance that an electron could venture far outside the normal sphere of the atom. It does not need the fantastic ability to disappear and reappear somewhere else. A body the size of the earth could have a huge eliptical orbit, passing a few 100s of millions of km, not 150 as we do, and still be in a stable ‘orbit’. It would get much closer to the sun and go much further away and travel at far greater speeds than we know, therein the mechanism by which relatively large distances and energies can be ‘tunnelled’, thru. The space I suggested you imagine is to highlight that at those dimensions, an electron would have no problem appearing to ‘tunnel’ into another material, cross larger eV gaps, and so on. It could do all this and still have mundane known characteristics when averaged. And remember the atom is vibrating, i.e. the ‘sun’ is shifiting around a good bit. Brownian motion, evapouration – who knows whether or not these phenomena have analogues in electron valence or at least conduction bands. I know this isn’t perfect, but as above so below, it abides regular physics, is quite imaginable, does not invoke unproven and I dare say unprovable ‘magical’ superpowers. Also, magnetism would be dead without electrons in orbit – so much of that sphere of physics, that’s a lot and very detailed, is wholly in accord with the classical model as I pointed out above. I am suspicious of some of the ‘information’ that filters down to the populous from physics on high. Anyone following the contrivances and deceptions of the Global warmingongers, supposed trusted scientists,…well physics and astrophysics certainly have encouraged rather far fetched ideas. Singularity, inflation,…perhaps they will soon claim duality of orbiting and not orbiting at the same time, one to satisfy magnetism, the other to appear to explain tunneling. And by the way, tunneling is not explained by QM. The idea of popping in and out of existence to bypass energy gradients too steep for normal average joe electrons is a leap of imagination, no mechanism, too far. For me. And does not explain anything, it swops a mystery, that seems a mystery to physics today, but might well have a regular explanation tomorrow, for an idea that needs a mechanism of disappearance that no one has detected, another dimension that no one has detected and a mechanism of reappearance that no one has detected – not so simple. That is not how physics is done.

      • I believe Soupy Sales was strictly Eastern area.

        “Hey kids. What is long and red, begins with F and ends with K?”

        Firetruck!

        “Hey kids! This is dirty wrinkled old green paper. You can find this green paper in your Dad’s pants at night. Send me the dirty paper and I’ll clean it up!”

        I thought Soupy Sales was terrific and I never quite understood why my Mother wouldn’t let me watch him, (If she was awake).

        White fang, Black Tooth and Pookie were great, if hokey.

        There was also Cartoon Corners with Gene London who drew at least one picture every show.
        Nor can one forget or overlook Sally Star and Popeye Theater.

      • Did you see the Soupy Sales episode when he opens the back door, burlesque music starts playing, and then he starts laughing so hard that he literally stumbles off stage and they had to go to commercial? I did, and years later I saw a behind-the-scene video that showed a stripper in the hallway performing for him. On a kids show…

      • “4TimesAYear November 11, 2017 at 12:14 am
        @ATheoK – not just Eastern area – the midwest, too.”

        Even Soupy’s radio show?

        Before Soupy’s TV show, Soupy was on the radio; until he got pulled after a couple of his off color jokes that parents understood, but kids didn’t.

        Anyway, I’m glad the TV show covered a much wider audience while it was on air.

  1. Maybe he’s been drinking what Nancy Pelosi has been lately…or they both need to be rebooted and get their AI upgrades from Al Gore…since he invented the internet and all.

  2. This is why he avoids debating skeptics since being famously mauled by one on TV some years back.

    His schtick is paper thin.

    You would think the AGW proponents with the most contempt for skeptics (Nye, Gore, Mann etc) would salivate at the prospect at humiliating skeptics in the public arena. Instead they run and hide.

    Literally in the case of Gavin Schmidt.

    • “This is why he avoids debating skeptics since being famously mauled by one on TV some years back.”

      Just like Gavin Schmidt lost in the formal IQ^2 debate and then felt it necessary to run away from Dr. Roy Spencer on John Stossel’s show. ha ha ha Still love that performance.

  3. I was stunned by Nye’s ignorance. Anyone who does not know of the great Ernst Rutherford experiment, which then posed the spiralling in electron problem, which led to the quantum mechanics rebolutionary explanation of observations, is HOPELESS. Not just in math, but also in much less rigourous history of science. Pathetic.

    • So what do you expect from him? Gore thinks the interior of the earth is a million degrees. Seems to be the level of ignorance of most of the CAGW shills.

      • My thoughts exactly. Most Reddit discussions seem rather … well … inconsequential and unnecessary. However, increasingly, Reddit users are showing their mettle and intelligence.

    • >>
      I was stunned by Nye’s ignorance. . . . posed the spiralling in electron problem,
      <<

      Nye said exactly:

      Magic…. No wait. It’s the nature of atomic forces. Start by noticing that it must somehow be more complicated than electrons in orbit. If it were that way, they’d spiral into the nucleus and be annihilated. The[y] move in “orbitals” rather than orbits. If things were any other way, things would be different.

      I don’t see anything wrong with the statement. I’ve studied QM for many years, and the term “magic” is quite descriptive. Anyone who doesn’t see magic happening, hasn’t done much in the field of QM.

      The idea that electrons don’t “orbit” the nucleus is what lead to QM. If an electron “orbited” the nucleus. then it would follow the formula for circular orbits:

      \displaystyle a=\frac{{{v}^{2}}}{r}

      where a is acceleration, v is the tangential velocity, and r is the radius of the circular orbit (this is high school physics, by the way). The problem is that electrons are charged particles, and when charged particles accelerate (by Maxwell’s equations) they radiate. If this really happened, then electrons would lose all of their energy and spiral into the nucleus in a fraction of a microsecond. Obviously, they don’t.

      Electrons are fermions, so they follow Pauli’s exclusion principle. They also follow the Schrödinger equation which means they act like waves. The term orbitals is correct.

      And if a proton captures an electron (referred to as “electron capture” or sometimes “inverse beta decay”), then the electron effectively disappears–almost as if it were annihilated. True, annihilation is usually used to refer to matter-antimatter reactions, but we are getting a little too picky–methinks.

      Jim

      • Electron does not ‘annihilate’ proton, so that is an error. I’m not sure about electron ‘moving’ in orbital. That sounds like what you end up when you think e is a particle and not a wave.

        The classical equation above is wrong not ‘because’ Maxwell would be violated. Rather it shows by analogy how electrons just may not described with classical electrodynamics.

      • Another way to look at it, is using Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. For an electron to be found at the nucleus would make its location uncertainty very small (essentially zero) and in turn would make its momentum uncertainty very large (essentially infinite).

        When solving for the probability of an electron’s location in the lowest energy level in a hydrogen atom using the Schrödinger equation, you get an interesting result. The probability for the electron is zero at the nucleus, it rises rapidly to a maximum at roughly the Bohr radius, and then it falls off approaching zero at infinity. So an electron (at the lowest energy level) in a hydrogen atom spends most if its time at the Bohr radius, but it has a non-zero probability to be found anywhere in the universe. It just can’t be at the nucleus.

        @Hugs: Electron does not ‘annihilate’ proton, so that is an error.

        No one said anything about protons being annihilated. I thought we were talking about electrons.

        Maxwell’s equations are not exact. QED is more exact. Unfortunately, you have to deal with infinities to make it work–called renormalization. I refer you to Feynman’s, Dirac’s, and Dyson’s opinions of renormalization in QED.

        @ristvan: electron capture by a proton requires energy.

        Yeah, so?

        By my count, Nye used less than 55 words to explain why electrons don’t fall into the nucleus to an audience that wouldn’t understand the physics or the math. I’d like to see some of you experts do better. I couldn’t. But I bet I could pick apart your simplified explanations in every case.

        Jim

      • Jim,

        IMO, if deNye really understood the answers to this question, he could have stated them correctly in 55 words. I’ll grant that satisfactory explanations for both answers probably couldn’t be provided that succinctly. He could have at least said what an orbital is, however.

        I’ll see how well I can do. Mind you, I wasn’t a physics major but biology. I do however have time to think about the shortest way of answering.

        1) Dueling infinities! Potential energy of an electron nearing the nucleus’ positive attractive field approaches negative infinity. Because the atom’s total energy remains constant, an increase in the electron’s kinetic energy compensates for PE loss. Its KE approaches positive infinity. Compromise is reached where PE is twice KE, so the electron dances at an average distance.

        2) Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that within tiny confines of the atom, the electron cannot really be regarded as a “particle” having a definite energy and location. Either the location or the momentum of such a quantum particle can be known precisely, but then the value of the other must be indeterminate. So the electron’s location is probabilistic.

        The audience could perhaps be expected to know what PE and KE are without explanation. And to have at least heard of quantum mechanics. With a few more words, a “wavicle” could be mentioned.

      • Well Gabro, nice try, but I think you went over the 55 word limit. Of course, I can’t say anything, because I’ve gone over it several times. Also you lack the sarcastic, condescending snobbery of Nye, but let’s not quibble about details.

        Jim

      • Each of the two answers is under the limit, or close enough that rewording would get it there.

        As I said, both answers can’t be done in 55 words, but either would have been better than Bill’s “annihilation” response. It wasn’t just a non-explanation but flat out wrong.

        You’re right. I couldn’t do the snide, condescending, superior bit under the limit, but I did try to counter “Magic!” with a more meaningful phrase, “Dueling infinities!”. Started just with “Infinity!”.

      • If you can’t find anything wrong with his statement, you’r not looking hard enough. Emotion-laden descriptors such as “magic” aside, Nye’s answer that “electrons move in orbitals rather than orbits” is not only almost content-free, but also completely wrong (a rare feat). First of all, “orbitals” are not just some different type of classical motion, but rather represent a radical departure from the classical point of view. Saying that electrons “move in orbitals rather than orbits” suggests that they move in some crazy classical trajectory with (in principle) specifiable position and momenta at all times. Secondly, orbitals are energy eigenstates, which means they are stationary states, which means no “motion” really to speak of in the usual sense. Orbitals are special precisely because they don’t change in time apart from a trivial global phase. Electrons “occupy” orbitals, but they don’t “move in orbitals”.

      • OK, I’ll try to work both answers into one 55-word statement. This will necessarily leave out a lot of important stuff. Here goes:

        The potential energy of an electron nearing the nucleus’ positive field approaches negative infinity. But its kinetic energy nears positive infinity, so compensates for PE loss. Compromise is reached such that the electron dances at average distance. By Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the electron cannot be regarded as a “particle” with definite energy and location.

        Again, lacking Nye’s characteristic schtick, but under the limit and addressing both issues.

      • Gabro,

        I still like “magic.” You can’t study QM without being amazed at how it’s counter intuitive. Heck, the physics of a gyroscope is counter intuitive. But QM is stranger. If you really want strange, look up EPR. Then there’s the question of what, exactly, is an electron? Experiments have detected no physical size. The current assumption is that it’s a point mass. That would make it a black hole–or does it? Notice that the smaller something with a charge is, the more electrical force there is to blow it apart. For that matter, the same question goes for quarks. Electrons we can isolate–quarks we can’t.

        Yes, magic is a good term for things in the QM world. Problems arise with the vacuum, virtual particles, and the sum of histories. One model of the electron is that it is an infinite negative mass surrounded by an infinite number of virtual particles. The sum of those two infinities is the rest mass of an electron. How’s that for strange model?

        Jim

      • Jim,

        However magic you might find QM in general, in the case of electrons in relation to the nucleus, it’s not all that hard to grasp, IMO.

        It just says that on the subatomic scale, classical Newtonian mechanics don’t work. The electron might be here, there, anywhere or everywhere, but it’s a wavicle not in danger of colliding with the nucleus.

      • ” Then there’s the question of what, exactly, is an electron? Experiments have detected no physical size. The current assumption is that it’s a point mass. That would make it a black hole–or does it? ”

        That is still an overly classical model of the electron. The electron is best described as a quantum field, of which “particle number” is only one possible observable. If you take states of fixed particle number you can go further and expand them in a position basis, which is then related to the usual wavefunction with its probabilistic interpretation. But it’s important to understand what this probability is about: it’s not of “finding” the electron somewhere, as is commonly said, but of “detecting” the electron somewhere. I may detect a wave on the shore by placing a small bob on the water, but that doesn’t mean that the wave itself is that small. For the same reason, thinking of the electron as a single point, when all that QM allows you to talk about are results of measurements, can only lead to confusion.

        “One model of the electron is that it is an infinite negative mass surrounded by an infinite number of virtual particles. The sum of those two infinities is the rest mass of an electron. How’s that for strange model?”

        That is not the model. That is an overly colorful interpretation of the (renormalized) perturbative expansion. The perturbative expansion is just a tool we use to calculate with the model (of interacting quantum fields), but it is not the model itself. Like any expansion, it needs a starting point. We choose the starting point to be a theory of classical fields. It’s this choice that creates the illusion of an infinite bare mass that is added to an infinite loop correction. None of these contributions is by itself physical; only the renormalized mass, pegged to its physical value, is.

      • >>
        Val Ryland
        November 11, 2017 at 3:05 pm

        Saying that electrons “move in orbitals rather than orbits” suggests that they move in some crazy classical trajectory with (in principle) specifiable position and momenta at all times. Secondly, orbitals are energy eigenstates, which means they are stationary states, which means no “motion” really to speak of in the usual sense.
        <<

        It’s interesting that the electron in hydrogen is roughly “moving” at 1/137 the speed of light and the Schrödinger equation result needs relativistic corrections to allow for the electron’s momentum increase. It doesn’t sound like “no motion” to me.

        Jim

      • “It’s interesting that the electron in hydrogen is roughly “moving” at 1/137 the speed of light and the Schrödinger equation result needs relativistic corrections to allow for the electron’s momentum increase. It doesn’t sound like “no motion” to me.”

        If the state is constant in time, how can it be said that there’s motion? Sure, there’s a momentum distribution, as there is a position distribution, but this distribution is stationary. Importantly, it’s not a result of some underlying set of classical trajectories for which the expression “moves in orbitals” might makes sense. The distribution contains literally all that can be said about the atom in that particular state.

    • I also agree whoever that anyone who didn’t know the answer shouldn’t be commenting on the physics of climate science, which includes Bill Nye and many of those comments.

    • Actually, electrons occasionally get sucked into nuclei. It’s called K-capture (or occasionally L-capture, depending on the electron’s starting orbital). The electron and proton fuse to create a neutron, and emit an electron neutrino to balance the books. The atomic number decreases by one, and the atomic mass stays the same. Only happens when the nucleus has more protons than is really stable, though. Gamma rays are usually emitted as everything involved settles down to a new stable stat.

      • Yes but that is a radioactive decay process and not related to the question which was more general what stops the atom collapsing. Given your answer you clearly know the answer to the former :-)

    • Ristvan the quantum theory was started before Ernest Rutherford’s attempts to sort out the atom Max Planck 1900 black body radiation, Einstein 1905 the photoelectric effect , Bohr’s explanation of Rutherford’s results 1913

      • All true. Planck black body radiation solution used quanta 1900, then Einstein explained photoelectric effect in 1905 using quanta (later named photons). The spiralling in electron probkem was posed by Rutherford’s 1911 paper based on alpha particle scattering in gold foil, which posited the small positively charged atomic nucleus. But it took Shroedinger, Pauli, Heisenberg, and Dirac (and others) to fully develop quantum mechanics in the 1920’s to finally fully explain the absence of spiraling in electron conundrum that Rutherford’s famous experiment posed.

      • For completeness, there are two overly simplistic quantum mechanical ‘explanations’ to the electron conundrum. words or less. One is Schroedingers wave equation, which can be solved exactly for the ground state of hydrogen, a ‘simple’ one proton/one electron problem. The probability wave function is zero at the proton nucleus, rises to a maximum at the Bohr ground state hydrogen diameter, then tapers to zero at infinite distance (electron excited to higher orbitals by absorbing photons). The other uses the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. If the electron is very near the nucleus, then its position is near certain but its momemtum must be near uncertain, so it cannot ‘spiral in’. OTH if the electron is far away, its momentum can be near certain but its position near uncertain, so again it cannot ‘spiral in’. Spiral in is a concept of classical physics depending on Maxwell’s equations for bulk matter and resulting electromagnetic forces, simply not applicable at the atomic/subatomic scale.
        I have read, but not worked through personally, that Maxwell’s equations can be derived from the second generation quantum mechanics equations. Also, that quantum mechanics is more experimentally verified than any other thing in physics. Double slit wave/particle duality of photons and electrons, Bose Einstein condensates and light time retardation through them, quantum entanglement,… Also, that the only basic force that does not yet derive from quantum mechanics appears to be gravity.
        We just need another Feynman or Einstein for a TOE. My knowledge is time limited by Feynman’s Lectures on Physics, which I have personally now worked through twice, all three volumes, since definitely did not comprehend it all on the first pass. Probably still don’t.

      • It seems to me the correct answer is; No one knows.

        They know some “rules”, very precisely it seems, but not why the rules apply at all, rather than some other rules . . Superposition, entanglement, it’s just not like what we experience in the macro realm . . that much is certain ; )

      • I’m talking about the why, LdB, not the “it does” or the “we can” . .

        If you ask a little kid “What makes the car go?”, he might “explain” that pushing on the gas pedal does . . and he would be right, and perhaps could make the car go, but . .

  4. You don’t actually have to have a BS/BA in physics (BA in physics? Really?) to understand the four forces of physics and how they work, or to understand physics at all.

    That’s kind of a non sequitur fallacy, because high school students don’t have degrees in physics, do they? No. It’s necessary to have a basic understanding of physics in order to go from there.

    Even so, Nye’s flippant answers to those questions clearly show his ignorance and lack of respect for the very thing he pretends to support: SCIENCE.

    Wasn’t he a plumber originally?

    • The plumbers I know make Nye look like a fool. They certainly understand basic physics and might even be considered experts in fluid dynamics … Nye ? He’s swirling the drain … counterclockwise … in the Southern Hemisphere … right Bill ? Ahah ahah ha ha ha

    • Yikes! That’s a slap in the face for the plumbers I know. It was the defection of craft labor that lost the election for the Dems. Crafts are smarter than you think. Four years of apprenticeship with evening classes required is the “college of hard knox”. Nye only excelled in acting.

      • Hmmm…. I was trying to remember what Nye did before he got his TV job.

        In re: plumbing: the Romans invented the basics of modern plumbing, didn’t they? They built public cacatoria for their cities and also for the homes of Roman citizens. They hadn’t figured out flushing the system or how to treat sewage, but still, their engineers and plumbers beat Nye all hollow.

    • He was also a comedian on a Seattle television show called,” almost live.” I believe however the best and least appreciated part of his career is that of “Speed Walker” Look it up on YouTube. You’ll Never unsee it.

      • Speed walking!
        That used to be an Olympic sport, but what happened to it?
        Did it get cancelled on account of looking really silly?
        Was it because of a Monty Python skit?

      • Now I get it. “Speed walker” was intended to be funny. Bill Nye is a failed comedian. He couldn’t accept failure so he went into science. When that too failed he went into junk science, which can’t fail, since there is always another crisis to be clung to. Or pulled out of someone’s butt.

    • The problem is you actually need some understanding of QM to deal with some of these problems. Some older physicists with a degree only have a basic understanding of QM versus perhaps a student who reads physics sites and understands basic QM. In that situation some questions like what stops an atom collapsing and quantum behaviour of gas absorption will always be answered better by the student.

      The problem is and you see it on this forum all the time is people don’t know when it’s valid to use classical physics and when it isn’t, that is which parts of classical physics were invalidated by QM.

      • “LdB November 11, 2017 at 10:50 am
        The problem is you actually need some understanding of QM to deal with some of these problems. Some older physicists with a degree only have a basic understanding of QM versus perhaps a student who reads physics sites and understands basic QM. In that situation some questions like what stops an atom collapsing and quantum behaviour of gas absorption will always be answered better by the student.

        The problem is and you see it on this forum all the time is people don’t know when it’s valid to use classical physics and when it isn’t, that is which parts of classical physics were invalidated by QM.”

        Aye!

  5. OK, anyone hosting an “ask me anything” session, presumably only science oriented, is setting themselves up to look bad, no matter how brilliant or knowledgeable the person supposedly is.

    Nobody knows it all. The most knowledgeable should at least be able to point someone in the right direction as to where they might find an answer.

    Bill Nye is only the “science guy” to grade school children. High School and College folks should be looking elsewhere.

    Well, unless they need a clown for a party, in which case “Bill Nye is your guy!”

    • Ah! But that’s the entire fallacy of Warmism isn’t it? That the “science” is completely understood, and Nye knows it all. Now, shall we discuss Al Gore’s science expertise? Oh yeah, that’s right … he will NEVER debate, or take questions, or do anything to reveal his ignorance … as readily as Nye

      • To Nye, the world is really complicated, too complicated for a group of five dozen people to run it from the deep state. But apparently climate change is run by CO2.

    • Bob McDonald is the science cheerleader guy. His bread and butter is interviewing grad students, usually female (no judgement here, just observing) who have overstated the certainty and importance of their research. Bob has never been heard to ask one single critical question- the epitome of “it’s all good”. Apparently no CBC personality has ever completed grade 10 math (sarc but only slightly) so Bob is held in awe, especially since he appears to be able to talk all that sciency stuff. After a science word from Bob the CBC gets right back to interviewing teenage pop stars who want to save the world from global warming or politically incorrect thought with their artistry. Interesting???

    • I asked him why the videos that he made for the Exxon pavilion at Epcot were unscientific and misleading – in support of “greenhouse effect”.

  6. The MO of Bill Nye and the left in general is ‘symbolism over substance’; which is about as unscientific as you can get!

  7. Personally I prefer Dr. Science, his answers are purposely humorous BS unlike Bill Nye’s answers which are accidentally humorous BS,

  8. … science is “true whether you believe it or not.”

    This hearkens back to the science wars in which you have a bunch of postmodern ‘scholars*’ insisting that all knowledge is culturally constructed. In response you have scientists insisting that science is objective. My favorite retort is:

    Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. I live on the twenty-first floor. link

    On the other hand, you have Dr. Michael Mann insisting that CAGW is as solid as the law of gravity. Nye’s statement cuts both ways doesn’t it.

    *postmodern ‘scholars’ – It really is bull crap. It is not scholarship. It is word salad pretending to be scholarship. It is nasty and destructive and, as far as I can tell, aimed at the destruction of western civilization. It has taken over our universities and, most worryingly, our law schools. Here’s a link to the first hour of a three hour lecture by Stephen Hicks on the subject. I found it quite enlightening.

    • Or the infinitely more humorous Hardware Wars… You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss 3 bucks good bye. May the farce be with you.

    • No he is a failed engineer who took up propaganda. Most engineers cannot do plumbing today because the courses are all computer related, no practical labs of the old days.

      • I did read a while back that he was moved to the training department at his first engineering job. I know what that typically means.

    • That is an assumption, not reality.

      If Bill Nye chooses to respond with bogus answers to science questions, then Bill Nye is wrong on all counts.

      Note that Nye did not expand or otherwise qualify his answer. He answer was and absurdity and then Nye was quite happy to leave the answer as absurd. “Toasty!

      • Nonsense! I think Nye is a condescending snob with delusions of grandeur who loves being surrounded by sycophants. However, his 3 Kevin comment was obviously sarcasm.

        If a friend comes inside from subzero weather and you ask him, “How cold is it?” And if he responds by saying, “It’s not that cold. It’s only minus 10. Toasty.” Do you really believe he’s being absurd and is serious?

        Jim

      • He actually answered the question….just threw in a little levity at the end….i sort of liked the response

      • “Jim Masterson November 10, 2017 at 10:39 pm
        Nonsense! I think Nye is a condescending snob with delusions of grandeur who loves being surrounded by sycophants. However, his 3 Kevin comment was obviously sarcasm.

        If a friend comes inside from subzero weather and you ask him, “How cold is it?” And if he responds by saying, “It’s not that cold. It’s only minus 10. Toasty.” Do you really believe he’s being absurd and is serious?”

        Kinky!
        You distract from the topic by adding new conditions so you can add your personal perspective.

        Nye is answering questions from basically unknown questioners at unknown locations.

        There is no “comes inside from subzero weather”! Everyone is sitting in warm well lit indoor spaces.

        In the “Nye answers all questions” context, Nye’s answer is completely bogus and guaranteed to baffle everyone who does not already positively know:
        • What 3 Kelvin means,
        • That space is utterly cold,
        • That toasty has zero meaning in any description of space, kelvin, Celsius or Fahrenheit.

        ” Jamie November 11, 2017 at 5:23 am
        He actually answered the question….just threw in a little levity at the end….i sort of liked the response”

        See above response to Jim.
        You’re allowed to like anything Nye says.
        Nye’s levity is only known to people who already understand and know the reality of space and kelvin temps.

        Your like Nye answers does not make any answer Nye gives correct, accurate, on topic or even close to reality.

      • “Jim Masterson November 10, 2017 at 10:39 pm
        Nonsense! I think Nye is a condescending snob with delusions of grandeur who loves being surrounded by sycophants. However, his 3 Kevin comment was obviously sarcasm.

        If a friend comes inside from subzero weather and you ask him, “How cold is it?” And if he responds by saying, “It’s not that cold. It’s only minus 10. Toasty.” Do you really believe he’s being absurd and is serious?”

        Now there’s a false premise!
        Add in new context:
        • “Friend”,
        • “comes inside from subzero weather”, indicating immediacy of the cold,

        That is known as a false strawman. You add your fake personal context so you can make some sense of Nye’s answer.

        The correct context is Nye and his questioners are all sitting in protected, likely warm well lit interior spaces.

        It is also extremely likely that many of Nye’s audience does not know or understand the Kelvin scale; 3°K means zilch to them.
        Most of that audience likely has only a small understanding of Celsius or Fahrenheit.
        The same can likely be said regarding audience member understanding of space.

        Toasty, means zilch when discussing space, Kelvin, Celsius, or Fahrenheit.

        Any joke or humor expressed by Nye in that answer under that context is condescending and ridiculing his audience. As that humor is meant for the insiders.

        “Jamie November 11, 2017 at 5:23 am
        He actually answered the question….just threw in a little levity at the end….i sort of liked the response”

        See my response to Jim above.

        Nye did not answer the question so people who are learning have any idea what Nye is going on about.

        Any levity Nye introduces is strictly for knowledgeable insiders.
        A technique guaranteed to frustrate/baffle people who are trying to learn/understand.
        Insider levity is a technique used to ridicule and demean those outsider folks.

        You are welcome to like anything Nye states.
        That does not make his answers correct.

      • I’m not a bill Nye believer. Just a realist who can see a joke when said. bill has to know that 3 k is just above absolute zero. He’s an engineer and has this training.

  9. We have our own Bill Nye in Australia too – Dr Karl Kruszelniki.

    Dr Karl works mainly as a science educator and broadcaster on the government-owned media networks – the ABC. And guess what – he has serious problems with basic science as well.

    He stood for the federal Senate back in 2007 for the far-left Climate Change Coalition. He had to withdraw from the race when he was caught exaggerating scientific effects when he was unable to divide two numbers correctly.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, he is a climate change fanatic and a great supporter of renewable energy. It figures.

  10. That this fool would in anyway be seen as a replacement for or substitute for Mr Wizard is to illustrate exactly what is wrong with our educational system and to explain the ease with which so many are led astray.

  11. That this fool would in anyway be seen as a replacement for or substitute for Mr Wizard is to illustrate exactly what is wrong with our educational system and to explain the ease with which so many are led astray.

  12. Bill Nye should restrict his science talks to elementary school science.
    Such as:
    – Put a balloon in hot water to watch it expand, ice water to water it contract.
    – Mix vinegar and baking soda to make that evil magic gas.
    – Use electric current in water to make oxygen and hydrogen bubbles form at the electrodes.

    Anything beyond that level of science and he’s over his head.

  13. Bill Nye was trained as an engineer, not a scientist. My father, who was trained as a physicist and worked an entire career as an aerospace engineer and a contemporary of Werner von Braun (yes, “rocket science”!) told me “It is easy for a scientist to work as an engineer. It is impossible for an engineer to work as a scientist.”

    • It is not a question of scientists vs engineers.
      It is a question of logic vs emotion, ideology vs objective reality, truth vs fiction, smart vs dumb, talking points vs actual knowledge, and correct vs wrong as wrong can be.
      In no particular order, and depending on the person.

    • Depends on how you define engineer. A lot of engineers are also successful scientists! However, it’s not about engineers or scientists but about using your brain or just your memory.

  14. I have hilariously destroyed Nye et al, on all his youtube vids about the magical gaissiness what dun made a cold nitrogen bath conduction chilling a sun-warmed rock, uh… big ol’ magic heater.

    All inversion scammers despise reference to the thermodynamics violations their fraud repeatedly demands they create. He’s no exception.

    Ever seen a magic gasser who wanted to discuss the gas laws? Of course not. The main one formally, mathematically names CO2 and standard atmospheric mix, and assigns CO2 the lower energy containment in all calculations.

    Remember it was magic gassers who gave their hick fraud such a bad name. We honest scientists just caught and ridiculed them.

  15. I went to Nye’s youtube videos about the Magical. Conservation of Energy Violating Gassiness

    and burned down his and his ignoratti followers’ fraud-based world.

    • OK, I looked it up.
      But we already knew he was no shining intellect.
      Off script is when you find out what people really know.
      His later denials of really thinking that, writing it off to a long day, is clearly a lie meant to salvage some credibility.
      It is plain as day…Nye, Cox, and that other guy, Neil DegrasseTyson…these guys are not very knowledgeable.

    • Here: Cox’s answer to a grade-schooler’s question (what causes the phases of the moon) was ‘the shadow of the Earth’. https://motls.blogspot.com/2012/03/brian-cox-and-lunar-phases.html
      He tried to undo that in 2012 by explaining himself here: http://blogs.scienceforums.net/swansont/archives/11081
      (do a name search in the comments)
      Well, I’ve sat through several lunar eclipses into totality, photographed them, and I have yet to find that the Earth’s shadow gives the Moon a ‘banana shape’. It does give it a sort of rosy mauve color, but at 2AM, with an aching back I have to give up and head for my trundle bead. And people photograph these total lunar eclipses whenever they happen, so it’s not just me rattling on.
      You guys frequently try to catch me up in a comment, you know. But I’m a layman, not a scientist, so I have no degree to protect from scrutiny.
      Maybe the grant money machine needs to be wound down. It’s gotten out of hand.

  16. “…..Redditers couldn’t resist going after Nye for saying science is “true whether you believe it or not.” Commenters quickly pointed to Nye’s less-than-scientific claim that gender is a spectrum, and not binary…..”

    Ummm, apparently there are people who are unaware that the Left has created a total of 63 genders as defined in the link below. This is perhaps what Nye is referring to when he says that gender is a “spectrum”.

    https://apath.org/63-genders/.

    Don’t you just love it when Leftist ideologies decide what’s true and what isn’t true in science?

  17. The reaction in that last screen shot reminds me of someone lol

    Science is true wither you believe it or not, trust me I’m a rocket surgeon!

    [‘Tis true that, with greater cold, the weather will wither on every vine whether you believe in it or knot. .mod]

  18. to Jim Masterson nov 11 @9:41.

    you’re wrong. the 1s orbital wave function is at its highest at the nucleus. Therefore the most probable place to find the electron is at the nucleus. you are confusing probable distance from the nucleus which is at its highest at the Bohr radii to probability in unit space.

    Experimentally this has been shown for other s orbitals in other elements in perturbations to the nuclear energy levels through gamma resonance techniques. For further explanations to this topic read NN Greenwood an T Gibb’s 1970’s text on Moessbauer spectroscopy.

    • >>
      you’re wrong. the 1s orbital wave function is at its highest at the nucleus.
      <<

      I distinctly remember the electron probability is zero at the nucleus for all orbitals in the hydrogen atom.

      Jim

      • jim, the probability is not zero at the nucleus. just look up a wavefunction. your logic goes
        the centre has zero volume so at the point in the centre there is no volume so there is no probability. all points have zero volume so the electron cannot be at any point !

        however the nucleus has a finite volume and so has a probability of an electron being there. for s orbitals the highest value for a wavefunction is at the nucleus hence the highest probability per unit volume is at the nucleus. the most probable distances are at the Bohr radii because we have multiplied by r^2. however the Bohr radius has zero volume and so cannot hold an electron! you must use probability per unit volume and then the nucleus has the highest value. that is in the first few pages of atomic theory

      • JIM I have just seen where you are getting your misconception. you are equating radial probability graphs with probability. they are not the same

        probability is say p ( and is proportional to wavefunction^2) then radial probability = p.r^2
        when r =0 then radial probability is zero that simply means that at a point of no volume, the probability is zero.
        the probability is zero at ALL other points. It is zero at the Bohr radius because it does not have a volume

        You need the probability per unit volume which is at its highest at the nucleus – yes it appears we have divided zero by zero.
        or you go to the wavefunction^2
        yes confused

        try reading
        chemistry.mcmaster.ca/esam/chapter_3/section_2.html

        its written for chemists so you should be able to understand it

  19. Bill Nye is why I sadly let my membership of The Planetary Society lapse after a couple of decades or more as a member. I will not rejoin while he continues to lead it.

  20. Just another hopeless joke exposed. The problem is he remains a dangerous hopeless joke because as a fanatic he redoubles his efforts as his hopelessness is exposed.

    • HR, you may think he needs to be stifled now, but it is better to let him run off at the mouth and make a complete fool of himself in a public venue than to stifle him. He can’t answer simple questions and as embroiled himself in some very distasteful arguments, such as those about gender, among other things. He is less a danger than what he is turning into, a public joke just like Algore.
      He’s become a cartoon creature of his own making, but there are plenty people who can disprove what he says. Please do not give up.

  21. Quote: Nye says his goal is to end “anti-scientific thinking,”

    By remaining in the public eye he is succeeding in a perverse sort of way. In the long run his nonsense can only be self-defeating.

  22. Nye is too ignorant to understand what people mean when they say gender is a spectrum, but so are many folks arguing with him. Any biology undergrad could help him them that if they bothered to ask.

    There are several possible interpretations. One that is easy to understand is purely genetic. At the highest level of genome structure, one sees a whole spectrum of chromosome abnormalities, such as chromosome deletions or polysomy. Chromosomes can be missing large chunks or spliced with parts of other chromosomes. Sex chromosomes are no exception; they can be clobbered in all the same ways. For example, the deletion of the long arm of Y-chromosome is common enough to notice. So when you hear somebody say that there are only two genders, XX and XY, ask what he wants to call X, XYY, or XXXYY. The proper linguistic interpretation of the “two genders” claim is that there are two normal genders. We can all agree on that. Problems arise when people insist on calling everything that survives birth on the fringe of viability “normal”, then find themselves in consternation over what to call it.

    http://www.wikilectures.eu/w/Disorders_of_the_Sex_Chromosomes

    The next category of “spectrum generation” that is less easy to understand to a non-biologist is everything that can go wrong in development. Most developmental abnormalities are caused by genomic mutations, but even a completely normal genome can fail to express properly, and even properly expressed, parts that need to come together in a certain order can fail to assemble. The possibilities for things to go wrong are endless; however, some of the most bizarre ones get automatically aborted in utero. My favorite example of a feature that produces a continuous spectrum of effects is the sensitivity of androgen receptor, which can vary from zero to very high. Genetically, it is determined by the length of glutamine repeat that can vary from several units (highly sensitive) to more than a hundred (completely insensitive). On the sensitive end, you get an extremely expressed male phenotype — large, muscular, hairy and aggressive — that quickly dies of prostate cancer. One the insensitive end, a normal, non-pathological XY karyotype (see above) fails to develop most parts of male anatomy and instead develops and behaves as a female. You can still call him a man but he does not look like a man, does not sound like a man, does not behave like a man, and he is infertile. There is a bit of cognitive dissonance there. Normal fertile men fall somewhere between these extremes, and the degree to which normal male phenotype is expressed varies with race.

    So don’t hit the man for saying outrageous things; that one wasn’t at all outrageous. The outrage is that he says it without having a clue about what it means and is unable to explain it when challenged.

    • Thing is, Gene, etymologically speaking, the term ‘gender’ comes from the Latin ‘generare’ which means generate, basically, in the make babies sense . . And is synonymous with “sex”, in most dictionaries . . As in, one of each ; )

      • If comes from the Latin noun “genus”, ie “kind or sort”, but also “descent, origin or birth”. The verb developed later.

      • So, basically you agree, Gabro?

        It’s kinda like bipedal, it seems to me. Humans are bipeds, even though some people are born with poorly formed or absent legs/feet, ya know?

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