Bill Nye the Science Guy competed on this season of Dancing With the Stars. Yeah, that surprised me too, but Nye’s got a great sense of humor and doesn’t take himself too seriously, so why not? For his final dance, he performed the robot, jerking, freezing, popping, locking, and waving into the hearts of viewers everywhere, and making dancing cool again (because obviously, science has always been cool).
Nye’s partner is High School Musical Alum Tyne Stecklein. When they first started practicing together, he gave her a little talk about the importance of sexual tension—evolutionarily speaking, of course. She had no idea what to do with that, but it seems she grew accustomed to Nye’s quirkiness, and their partnership blossomed. Their first dance was the cha cha, which they danced to “Weird Science,” of course. And it turns out that Nye, who enjoys swing dancing in his free time, isn’t as bad as one might expect—when he’s not quizzing his partner about the difference between a beaker and a flask, that is.
Sadly, Nye’s stint on the show came to an end this past Monday. He was voted off the show, but had already decided that he to conclude his run after tearing a ligament in his knee last week dancing the paso doble. At the very end of the pair’s routine, Nye tripped and fell across the floor—but kudos to him, as it looked like he delivered a dramatic slide instead. The stumble was apparently caused by his Beethoven wardrobe, which included a wild grey wig and footwear that look like men’s platform shoes. Stecklein believes the shoes, not the feet of her partner, were to blame. “Tyne believes I would not have stepped on the cuff of my slacks if I hadn’t insisted on wearing the Latin heels,” Nye says. I imagine him saying this in the most serious, deadpan voice possible.
After the fall, Nye put on a brave face for the judges, his partner, and the fans, but a trip to the hospital confirmed that the injury was serious and may require surgery. Doctors advised him to hang up his dancing shoes, but Nye had another experiment in mind. He and Stecklein came up with a routine that didn’t require bending his injured leg, and he performed what I believe is the most awesome move in all of dance: the robot.
It’s so perfect, it’s almost as though Nye planned it. And if that wasn’t enough, he danced the robot to Daft Punk, bringing his geek cred to astronomical levels. The pair apparently relied on some gimmicks to help get the low-scoring Nye through the competition, but that only makes me—and his legions of other fans—love him that much more.
Nye never had any delusions about his odds of winning. “I’m pigeon-toed, I’m on the wrong foot, and I’m slouched—I mean when you look in the mirror, I suck,” he said in an Entertainment Weekly interview.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 2, 2013
Ever the optimist, however, Nye is looking on the bright side. He claims that his posture has improved dramatically, which would make any scientist proud. Being on the show has boosted Nye’s popularity, as well as his presence on social media, especially Twitter, where he now has over a million followers.As long as he keeps robot dancing, I’ll follow him anywhere.