7 Interesting Things I Learned About Evolution from Bill Nye

I read Bill Nye’s book titled Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation not too long after it first came out back in December of 2014. I remember Bill from when I was in either 4th or 5th grade when our science teacher used to show my class videos of Bill’s children’s TV show, Bill Nye The Science Guy.

I never liked science when I was young. I hated it to be exact, but I have developed a liking to it over the last three or four years because I enjoy the subject’s idea of trying to solve a problem. Scientists create a hypothesis and then try to prove it by looking for all kinds of dis-confirming evidence.

In other words, they try to prove that their hypothesis is correct by searching for all of the possible ways that their hypothesis might not be correct. This way of solving problems is much different then the way our minds are wired to solve problems. We tend to have a hypothesis and look for confirming evidence and this can get us in trouble at times because it causes confirmation bias.

An example is if you are looking to go on vacation and need to find a hotel. How do you find a hotel? What you’re most likely to do is look for all of the awesome amenities a hotel has and what you would enjoy about the area surrounding the hotel.

A scientific way of trying to decide what hotel to stay at would be to first pick one out and form a hypothesis like “This hotel is a good one to stay at” and then start searching for all of the ways that would make your hotel pick a really bad one. Some examples could be looking for reasons this hotel would have high noise levels, far traveling distances to destinations, or lack of transportation.

The benefit about science is that when a hypothesis is proved correct, the theories get published and get passed on to other scientists, and these other scientists perform rigorous tests on that same hypothesis also. So if a theory has been in existence for a really long time and tested by multiple scientists, that theory can become a scientific fact.

The theory of evolution is one such theory that has been rigorously tested and has stood the test of time. Charles Darwin did a lot of studying on theories based around evolution such as Natural Selection and Sexual Selection.

One thing he did was travel to the Galapagos Islands and look at the beaks of the finches on the island. What he noticed was the difference types of beaks on finches that were on the island compared to finches that were on the mainland.

The finches on the island developed a certain type of beak that helped them adapt to their environment much better by being able to obtain food in harder to reach places, and this made it easier for them to survive. These finches then passed their genes on to their offspring.

Natural selection is an organism’s interaction with it’s ecosystem or environment, where certain attributes of that organism are better suited for survival and allow the organism to thrive and pass its genes down to its offspring. Sexual selection is an organism’s interaction with its own species where the organisms pass their genes down to their offspring, and that offspring passes their genes down to their offspring, and so on.

Regardless of what your religious views are, Bill Nye makes a very strong argument for evolution, and he even refers to it as a scientific fact as well as undeniable.

I posted below — in Bill Nye’s words, not mine — the 7 most interesting things I learned from reading his book.

(1.) “Populations do not grow and grow indefinitely, because their environment will always have limits on resources available. Darwin connected these ideas by observing that living things produce more offspring than can survive.”

(2.) “There are three main sources of energy for life on earth: the sun, the heat from fissioning atoms deep inside earth, and the primordial spin of earth itself. These sources provide energy throughout the day. The sun provides the most energy. It’s a fusion reactor releasing 10²⁶ watts every second (10²⁶ joules). Earth’s core also provides energy in the form of heat. The spinning of our planet keeps shifting the energy inputs and adds acceleration to the wind and the waves.”

(3.) “The difference between temperatures of Earth and Venus is not because Venus is slightly closer to the sun. No, Venus is hot primarily because its atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that keeps the suns heat trapped in the planet’s atmosphere. Venus is the extreme case of climate change: there is no way, as we know it, that life could survive at those beyond boiling temperatures.”

(4.) “At the cellular level, humans and monkeys and pigs and mice are very much alike in construction and design. We share almost all of our biochemistry. We all have DNA, and its nearly the same. In rhesus monkeys, we are close to 93% the same. In mice its closer to 90 percent overall.”

(5.) “Humans share 99.9% of the same DNA with other humans and 98.8% with chimpanzees.”

(6.) “In general, the closer people live to the equator, the more ultraviolet exposure they receive and the darker their average skin color. Strong local weather conditions can also attenuate the ultraviolet levels. Take a look at the map of skin color of people native to different regions of earth. Near the equator, people have darker skin. Where its cloudy a lot, as it is in Britain, people have lighter skin. Where people live closer to outer space, as they do in Tibet, they are exposed to more ultraviolet and have darker skin. Skin color is basically a measure of local ultraviolet levels, and it is controlled by relatively minor adaptive changes in the genome.”

(7.) “Since 1995 astronomers have found nearly 2000 confirmed planets around other stars. Some of these planets are similar to Earth in size and mass. About two dozen of then orbit in the habitable zone, the distance where temperatures are potentially suitable to our kind of life. Extrapolating broadly, there may be 50 billion habitable planets in our galaxy. “

Accountant, part-time investor, reader, blogger. I use this platform to improve my thinking and writing. www.mikegorlon.com