How Bill Nye Draws Power From Being Insignificant

By Bill Nye

“It’s very difficult to understand how old the earth is. If you lived to be 82 years old and seven weeks, you’d get 30,000 days. The cosmos is 13.7-, 13.6-something-billion years old. We’re here for 30,000 days. That’s nothing! If you think about the amazing techniques people have devised to reckon time, you either feel like a completely insignificant part of this larger whole, or you feel this wonderful sense of empowerment. This humble species on this remote part of this ordinary galaxy can figure this out. There are physicists now who are floating the idea that time itself is quantized in the same way energy is quantized. The electron is either at this level or that level, and when it falls down, it gives off a photon, and that’s a fluorescent light. People are speculating that they’re essentially particles of time. And you go, Dude, that is astonishing.”

—Nye is a science educator, a podcast host and an engineer.

Christy Haubegger

“How do we make this time different? You don’t dismantle some-thing as large as racism or sexism without systems. Everybody wants transformation, and nobody wants to change. A year ago, five years ago, everybody would agree that this is a critical business priority for companies. But people say, ‘Well, we’re going to try and do a little bit better.’ If that were your strat-egy in any other aspect of your business, you would be fired. This requires the same level of discipline and focus. We need to get to the roots as opposed to the symptoms, and that takes time and a lot of often painful introspection. You have to build systems—so that you don’t count on random acts of diversity—if you really want to trans-form your workforce into an equitable, aspirational place. ”115

—Haubegger is executive vice president, chief enterprise inclusion officer, at WarnerMedia and a founder of Time’s Up.

Ayad Akhtar

“There isn’t really anything other than the now. I don’t mean some mumbo jumbo ‘being in the present’ or whatnot. I started to understand that my experience of the past and my experience of the future were both modes of being in the present and that I was never interacting with the past except now, or any notion of the future except now. In some very meaningful sense, there is no such thing as past and future, though that is not to say they didn’t exist or they won’t exist. The task as a writer is to create an ever-present now, which is to be so absorbing and rich that the audience or the reader loses themselves and loses a sense of time in the experience. I try to get to a point where I can dilate that experience of the present so that the audience is not looking at their watches.”

—Akhtar is a novelist and a Pulitzer-winning playwright. His most recent novel is Homeland Elegies.

Lily Cole

“Once, as a species, we had ‘empty time,’ we had time to think and start drawing on caves or tapping things to make music. I like this idea that a burst of culture came out of having free time. The Iroquois talk about thinking seven generations ahead, so seeing ourselves and our decisions in the context of a few hundred years as opposed to a few years has very pragmatic impacts. Philosophically, when you’re thinking in really deep time, you notice the fact that all humans came from the same tiny, single-cell creature in the sea. There have been at least five known mass extinctions in the past. Thinking super big-picture like this, we start to feel a little bit smaller. But how can we be happier today? Owning our time and making conscientious decisions about how we want to use our time wisely is a good starting place.”

—Cole is a model, actor, writer and environmentalist. Her most recent book is Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in Our Changing World.

Jean-Claude Biver

“I don’t care about time when I look at my watch. If you want to know what time it is, you can take out your iPhone. There are other sensations when you look at your wrist that are so much more important. Watches are pieces of art, pieces of tradition, pieces of culture, pieces of emotions, pieces of desire, pieces of beauty. So who cares what time it is? The feeling is the same as looking at an impressionist painting. The watch tells me, J-C Biver, you are wearing, on your wrist, a key that connects you to eternity. My phone, my car, connects me to technology. A painting connects you to eternity, but you cannot wear it. The watch is a piece of art that you can wear. That’s the genius thing. You can have eternity 18 hours a day on your wrist.”

—Biver is a watchmaker, cheese-maker, entrepreneur and the chairman of Hublot SA.

Ayesha Curry

“In the midst of sheltering in place and the pandemic, there was a point where people had time and were cooking a lot more. Now the realities are setting in and people are working from home, and we’re back to not having any time. The state of the food industry right now sucks, honestly. Everybody is just trying to figure it out. It’s a scary time to wrap your head around, but I have hope. In the kitchen, preparation remains key. The same way that I mise en place—the way you prep for your meal so that it runs a little bit smoother—is the same way my husband [NBA star Stephen Curry] preps for a game, looking at plays and watching game footage. Truly, preparation is key, and it just makes things run a little bit better.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *