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Bill Nye says Nascar is the 'anti-NASA'

Technically Incorrect: In a new book, the Science Guy says he's depressed at how such old technology is celebrated by so many. He wants Nascar to turn an exciting green.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


You want these people to suddenly go green?

Nascar/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

They only differ by two letters.

For Bill Nye, they are from two worlds.

In the blue corner is NASA, carrying the hopes of humanity in its rocketing spaceships. In the red corner, Nascar, carrying the hopes of a certain section of America in its rickety Fords and Chevys.

In his new book "Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World," Nye expresses his gloom about zooming cars that drive each other off the track.

"Here I am trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow, and there is Nascar celebrating a very old transportation technology of yesterday. You might call Nascar the anti-NASA," he says.

I thought it was Elon Musk who was trying to envision the smart, efficient transportation technology of tomorrow. The Science Guy, however, is inspired by his comparison of earthly cars and heavenly rockets.

"There's no reason why Nascar couldn't be like [NASA] -- a race with rules designed to reward the coolest, most advanced vehicle technologies," he muses.

I can just see the crowds at Daytona debating the intricacies of green vehicle technologies as they kiss the bricks and sip their Stroh's.

Nye believes that this is all so very doable with one little rule-change: Put limits on how much fuel Nascar cars can use.

I suspect that deprivation isn't manna to Nascar Nation.

Nye's argument is that currently these racing cars get three miles to the gallon. With a fuel restriction, the pressure would be on engine designers to create something both good and socially conscious.

Has he seen how Nascar drivers drive? Has he witnessed their untrammeled aggression? This is what America wants -- or at least a considerable part of America. It doesn't want namby-pambiness. It doesn't want to see their heroes in glorified Priuses. Some think that global warming is the same as central heating.

For Nye, however, Nascar merely rewards the fastest, whereas NASA rewards the smartest. So how about smart racing?

Since when has smart been exciting, though?

Some types of racing have, it's true, already drifted into greenness.

Formula 1, for example, boasts of its turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 that has an Energy Recovery System that tries to conserve and re-use heat energy from places like the brakes and exhaust. Formula 1, though, seems often to be won by the teams with the most money rather than by any great competitive skills.

Would the deeply traditional Nascar ever drive down this path? The organization didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nye insists that he's not anti-Nascar. He claims he's "all for it." It's just the engineer in him that hopes for advanced engineering.

Hope on, Bill.

(Via Business Insider)