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6 Amazing Plots from Bill Nye Fan Fiction

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Today is Bill Nye’s birthday—and to commemorate the occasion, we delved into the sometimes steamy (let's just say Doc Brown is involved), always wacky world of fan fiction based on everyone's favorite science guy. (We tried to keep it clean, but you might want to avoid sharing these stories with younger readers anyway.) In the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson's character in Jurassic Park, hold on to your butts—it's about to get weird.

1. The Thing With the Soda Bottles

In this Bill Nye/Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog mash-up, Bill—who is Dr. Horrible’s uncle—somehow manages to stop a rogue tornado, no thanks to Captain Hammer.

"Bill Nye?" Captain hammer laughed, putting his (strong) hands on his (slim, manly) hips. "That geezer? I didn't know he was still around. Does he still do the thing with the soda bottles?"

That was the last damned straw. "Bill Nye is a genius," Dr. Horrible snapped, getting into Captain Hammer's face and absolutely not wondering why Captain Hammer smelled like lilacs. "That man is a ninja of science and you will show some respect."

2. Bill Nye’s Disastrous Wedding

Bill is all set to marry the lady of his dreams—Jill Hurl, the science girl—with his best friends by his side. And all is going according to plan … until Jill asks Bill to take her last name, and Harry Potter shows up.

He made his way down the aisle, with several of his friends in the seats. There was his favorite poster of Albert Einstein on the left; on his right, the color spectrum; and of course, ahead of him was his best man, the glass beaker. He whispered to the beaker, "I never could have gotten this far without you, buddy." The beaker stood motionless, a tie with blue bubbles on it wrapped around its neck.

3. Bill Nye Disobeys the Laws of Gravity

In this short cautionary tale, Bill learns about the perils of ignoring gravity by leaning his chair back too far.

Bill didn't want to obey the script for once. He wanted to tip his chair back really far, and at the same time not have it fall. Bill tried to tip his chair back, and he was putting his hands behind his head. He was just about to fall backwards and get a concussion! Bill stopped himself and grabbed the table in front of him, but he pulled the table into the air…

4. Bill Nye And Dance Dance Revolution

Kids are starting to lose interest in science, so Bill tries to get them into it again by writing songs and forcing one of his band members to play Dance Dance Revolution.

"And you guys like sound, right? Y'all listenin' to ya iPods and EmPeeFree playas... listening to music and radio plays! Hey, I like music too! In fact... WE like music! That's right! We're so hip, we even have a camrecorder showing live footage from one of our backstage arcades and using it as a background! Hit it, Jerald!"

Just then, Bill whipped out a microphone, Amy jumped behind a piano, Moe got out his snare drum, and that one other girl we can't remember played a shark. They jammed out to a classical piece they made up called "We're still cool" and as they sang and played that tune, the last band member had to start his part.

5. Bill Nye: The Episodes Not Released To Children

This three-chapter epic features Bill screwing up experiments—and scarring his young audience members in the process. So much so that his assistants are replaced by a narwhal and the audience becomes a sea of Harry Potter cardboard cutouts. Also, Michael Jackson makes an appearance.

"Now any volunteers for our next experiment?" said Bill into the audience.

Silence.

"How about you Daniel Radcliff?" suggest Nye pointing to one of the cut outs in the audience.

"No? It's okay- don't be shy-" said Bill dragging the cut out on set.

He placed it in a chair.

"Now just act natural as I demonstrate." said Nye, "Now- as I was saying the second law: is that there is an opposite but equal reaction for every action, so as I drop THIS anchor onto Daniel Radcliff's head, observe the reaction!"

BANG. The anchor hit the cardboard Harry square on his forehead as the cutout snapped in half and the anchor created an indent on the floor.

6. Bill Nye the Not So Science Guy

Bill is retired, and enjoying it—until he gets a mysterious phone call.

In the dingy living room, by the old stone fireplace, Bill Nye (the science guy) was roasting marshmallows and bacon on a wrought-iron poker, and sipping on a cup of hot chocolate. He grinned and sighed, his wrinkles stretching, "Ah… This is the life! Bacon, marshmallows and a delicious, non-alcoholic beverage! No more slime, dead bugs, fecal matter…basically no more work-" his splendid thoughts were rudely interrupted by the ringing of his ancient telephone.

BRIIING! BRIIING! BRINNG-

Bill pouted sadly and dragged himself to the phone, smattering angrily like an elderly lady. "Hello? Bill Nye here." He was a little impatient; the caller didn't say anything right away. "I said, hello!" He was now angry. His right eye twitched; a vein grew on his temple.

"Seven days…" said the raspy voice on the other end.

Happy 57th birthday, Bill!

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Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Is Causing Another Explosive Problem: Laze
Mario Tama, Getty Images
Mario Tama, Getty Images

Rivers of molten rock aren't the only thing residents near Hawaii's Kilauea volcano have to worry about. Lava from recent volcanic activity has reached the Pacific Ocean and is generating toxic, glass-laced "laze," according to Honolulu-based KITV. Just what is this dangerous substance?

Molten lava has a temperature of about 2000°F, while the surrounding seawater in Hawaii is closer to 80°F. When this super-hot lava hits the colder ocean, the heat makes the water boil, creating powerful explosions of steam, scalding hot water, and projectile rock fragments known as tephra. These plumes are called lava haze, or laze.

Though it looks like regular steam, laze is much more dangerous. When the water and lava combine, and hot lava vaporizes seawater, a series of reactions causes the formation of toxic gas. Chloride from the sea salt mixes with hydrogen in the steam to create a dense, corrosive mixture of hydrochloric acid. The vapor forms clouds that then turn into acid rain.

Laze blows out of the ocean near a lava flow
USGS

That’s not the only danger. The lava cools down rapidly, forming volcanic glass—tiny shards of which explode into the air along with the gases.

Even the slightest encounter with a wisp of laze can be problematic. The hot, acidic mixture can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. It's particularly hazardous to those with breathing problems, like people with asthma.

In 2000, two people died in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from inhaling laze coming from an active lava flow.

The problem spreads far beyond where the lava itself is flowing, pushing the problem downwind. Due to the amount of lava flowing into the ocean and the strength of the winds, laze currently being generated by the Kilauea eruptions could spread up to 15 miles away, a USGS geologist told Reuters.

[h/t Forbes]

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Big Questions
Do Bacteria Have Bacteria?
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Drew Smith:

Do bacteria have bacteria? Yes.

We know that bacteria range in size from 0.2 micrometers to nearly one millimeter. That’s more than a thousand-fold difference, easily enough to accommodate a small bacterium inside a larger one.

Nothing forbids bacteria from invading other bacteria, and in biology, that which is not forbidden is inevitable.

We have at least one example: Like many mealybugs, Planococcus citri has a bacterial endosymbiont, in this case the β-proteobacterium Tremblaya princeps. And this endosymbiont in turn has the γ-proteobacterium Moranella endobia living inside it. See for yourself:

Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization confirming that intrabacterial symbionts reside inside Tremblaya cells in (A) M. hirsutus and (B) P. marginatus mealybugs. Tremblaya cells are in green, and γ-proteobacterial symbionts are in red. (Scale bar: 10 μm.)
Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization confirming that intrabacterial symbionts reside inside Tremblaya cells in (A) M. hirsutus and (B) P. marginatus mealybugs. Tremblaya cells are in green, and γ-proteobacterial symbionts are in red. (Scale bar: 10 μm.)

I don’t know of examples of free-living bacteria hosting other bacteria within them, but that reflects either my ignorance or the likelihood that we haven’t looked hard enough for them. I’m sure they are out there.

Most (not all) scientists studying the origin of eukaryotic cells believe that they are descended from Archaea.

All scientists accept that the mitochondria which live inside eukaryotic cells are descendants of invasive alpha-proteobacteria. What’s not clear is whether archeal cells became eukaryotic in nature—that is, acquired internal membranes and transport systems—before or after acquiring mitochondria. The two scenarios can be sketched out like this:


The two hypotheses on the origin of eukaryotes:

(A) Archaezoan hypothesis.

(B) Symbiotic hypothesis.

The shapes within the eukaryotic cell denote the nucleus, the endomembrane system, and the cytoskeleton. The irregular gray shape denotes a putative wall-less archaeon that could have been the host of the alpha-proteobacterial endosymbiont, whereas the oblong red shape denotes a typical archaeon with a cell wall. A: archaea; B: bacteria; E: eukaryote; LUCA: last universal common ancestor of cellular life forms; LECA: last eukaryotic common ancestor; E-arch: putative archaezoan (primitive amitochondrial eukaryote); E-mit: primitive mitochondrial eukaryote; alpha:alpha-proteobacterium, ancestor of the mitochondrion.

The Archaezoan hypothesis has been given a bit of a boost by the discovery of Lokiarcheota. This complex Archaean has genes for phagocytosis, intracellular membrane formation and intracellular transport and signaling—hallmark activities of eukaryotic cells. The Lokiarcheotan genes are clearly related to eukaryotic genes, indicating a common origin.

Bacteria-within-bacteria is not only not a crazy idea, it probably accounts for the origin of Eucarya, and thus our own species.

We don’t know how common this arrangement is—we mostly study bacteria these days by sequencing their DNA. This is great for detecting uncultivatable species (which are 99 percent of them), but doesn’t tell us whether they are free-living or are some kind of symbiont. For that, someone would have to spend a lot of time prepping environmental samples for close examination by microscopic methods, a tedious project indeed. But one well worth doing, as it may shed more light on the history of life—which is often a history of conflict turned to cooperation. That’s a story which never gets old or stale.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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