A Science Guy’s Place in the Sun

Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer and TV host of science shows, including “Stuff Happens” on Planet Green, “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” on the Science Channel and “The Eyes of Nye” on PBS.

Bill Nye in the living room of his home in Studio City, Calif.

My “green home” is yellow, pale yellow. In the Mediterranean environment of Southern California, dark colors soak up more sunlight and turn it into heat. So where I live, a light-colored house is cheaper to run than a dark one. This wasn’t my idea. The ancient peoples of Southern California and the more recent Spanish figured it out.

In our world, we use an astonishing amount of energy. It is sobering to consider that a world-class cyclist, using even a 100%-efficient mechanical-to-electrical-conversion generator, could not power a modern blow dryer, even in a sprint. A cyclist cranking out 400 watts (half a horsepower) can’t make a 1,500-watt hair dryer go (or blow).