A frenetic energy pulsed through the line of people wrapped around the second floor of USF's Marshall Student Center the other night, complete with crazed college-age fans squealing in delight as they discussed the man they were about to watch.
Some major celebrity? No. Just a person that these students grew up with. A trusted TV friend. The white-jacketed brainiac who taught us how to create an exploding volcano out of some baking soda and vinegar.
That's right: It was Bill Nye, the Science Guy.
About 800 people jam-packed the Marshall Center Ballroom to see the University Lecture Series speaker on Tuesday night, and another 500 overflowed into a separate room where the lecture was being broadcast live. At first, sitting five or six rows from the stage, I felt like I was attending a tween-infested Hannah Montana concert, not a lecture by one of America's most famous geeks. (My friend, a self-proclaimed biologist, informed me that Nye truly is a "diva" in his own right.)
In anticipation of the Science Guy, there was clapping, stomping, chanting ("Bill! Bill! Bill!" "Nye! Nye! Nye!") and a few kids in the second row started The Wave. But the loud, stadium-style antics didn't hide the fact that the audience was primarily composed of hardcore science nerds. Every time Nye mentioned a particular profession, 10-20 kids would "Woo!" in support. (Losers for the night: Physicists, who got a big yell from only one really geeky guy. Really, it was kind of sad.)