Bill Nye The Science Guy
Mercury and Venus are the only planets in our solar system that don't have moons?
HomeHome About BillAbout Bill Nye MediaMedia Speaking EngagementsAppearances Nye StoreBill Nye Store For Kids & TeachersFor Kids & Teachers E-CardsE-Cards ContactContact Bill

Test Driving the Volt

By Bill Nye | Published: February 16, 2010 – 4:50 pm

Recently, I got to drive a prototype of the new Chevy Volt, the electric driven, gas tank back-up car. It seems to be fantastic. I drove it around the test track in the rain and in the dark. It’s a kick. It’s got plenty of pickup, very good handling, and an excellent braking system.

It is driven by an electric motor all the time. If you exceed the 65 kilometer (40 mile) battery range, a gasoline motor runs. But get this, it only charges the battery pack– no propulsion. The General Motors engineers, who worked on the wonderful EV-1, have come together for this. Somehow General Motors figured it out. It’s supposed to be available by the end of this year. Drive on General Motors. Drive on!

25 Responses to “Test Driving the Volt”

  1. Kim says:

    That is a classy car Mr.Nye. I can’t wait to see it on the streets!

  2. Will says:

    Yes I think that this will surely help the environment. This is a very nice car.

  3. Chris says:

    I would like to see what you look like when a semi hits the car. Maybe just a regular pickup truck. I don’t think you will survive a basic fender bender in that little toy car.

    I guess Darwin was right, Liberals will sustain higher casualties in the future due to them purchasing these toy cars.
    The strong will prosper while the weak will die off.

    Sad but true.

  4. andrew says:

    are you doing this because chevy paid you

  5. rachel says:

    do you know any science fair winning experiments

  6. Heather says:

    Bill i love you show mr. science guy! nice car too!

  7. consensus isnotscience says:

    Waiting eagerly to respect you again like I did in the old days. You are entertaining and made science come alive for me on TV in days past, but your religiously gripping on to the myth of global warming continues to baffle and disappoint me. I think it’s just a matter of time before even you can no longer deny the truth – the world is indeed round, not flat – and you will once again be a man of science, not consensus. Till then, take care.

  8. Manolo says:

    Republicans and Bible thumpers are by far, the biggest threat to humanity. To them, Science and scientists are the enemy, and to combat them, they have engaged in the largest program of dumbing down the nation to a scale that would have made the Third Reich green with envy. They will do everything possible to destroy everything the current administration is doing to bring the country out of this destructive addiction to fossil fuels, even if they have to take down the country with it.

  9. consensus isnotscience says:

    To the contrary, as a Christian I am a great fan of science. A clock maker makes a clock. He gives it someone who studies it in all it’s comlexities and sees how it works. That’s God and His creation. Science is simply man tearing into the creation and finding out what are it’s properties, laws, patterns, compostions and patterns, etc. I have no fear of true science in the least – it confirms for me what an amazing, awesome God we have. What I do fear is people like Bill who turn their back on true science and try to bend the data to the outcome they want. Consensus is not science. It’s strange, because on so many science shows on tv over the years, how many times have you heard, regarding any number of topics, ‘Scientists used to believe this or that, based on this or that data, but we now know that…(fill in the blank with something completely different.)’ But there is a baffling unwillingness by these guys, when it comes to GW, to come out and say ‘Science used to think this, but a better understanding of recent data shows otherwise’ It’s because global warming and such has become a religious belief to them. The are too deeply invested emotionally and financially to be rational. I honestly believe GW scientist are more driven by religious fear than any Christian. It’s just a different ‘God’.

  10. Randy says:

    What I notice in the above discussion is a strong dose of emotion and a distinct lack of data and analysis.

    As for colliding a car with a semi, a physical law is that momentum is conserved. If an object with large mass collides head-on with an object of smaller mass, the object with less mass will experience the larger change in velocity. The associated acceleration can result in injury. The injury is lessened by crash-protection technologies which spread the impulse resulting from the crash over a longer period of time, reducing the peak stress experienced by the occupants of the car. All modern cars include various forms of this technology, including bumpers with dampers, intentional crush zones, air bags, passenger restraints, and so on. This is a key reason why driving fatalities are lower today than in the past when cars were not as safely designed. (In 1994 there were 1.73 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, compared to only 1.27 in 2008.)
    But as for colliding with a semi in *any* car, don’t try it. My beloved cousin was driving a Ford Expedition — one of the largest SUVs made — and collided head-on with a semi. She was killed instantly, and the car was a mass of twisted metal. I am not joking or making this up. The law of conservation of momentum always wins, so DRIVE CAREFULLY.
    I think the Chevy Volt is cool. I expect it will drive whisper quiet and have great acceleration. And we can fuel it with domestic energy sources without having to rely on imports from other nations to keep our entire economy running. I congratulate the engineers at GM for confronting and solving the several difficult technical challenges required to develop this product.

    As for global warming, this is huge issue with complex and multi-faceted supporting data. The necessary analysis could not fit in a blog post, but here are a few basic driving physical phenomena: Solar radiation across a wide range of frequencies (radio waves through UV) strikes the Earth’s surface, and a substantial portion of this light is absorbed by ground or water, converting the photon energies to heat. This much is obvious — walk out into the sunlight and feel the warmth. Next, all bodies above absolute zero emit radiation with a wavelength spectrum that varies with temperature. For objects with temperatures in the range of 0 – 40 C, nearly all of this radiation is in the infrared (IR) range. This can be shown by a wide variety of reproducible experiments, and is the basis of operation of night vision goggles. Most of this IR radiation escapes the Earth’s atmosphere, releasing heat. This can be demonstrated by a simple energy accounting; if it were not the case, then the Earth would continue to absorb solar energy and reach a much higher temperature. Carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases absorb this IR radiation and re-radiate in all directions, including back to Earth. This can be shown and reproduced at will using spectroscopy, a common technique in analytical chemistry. The absorption and re-radiation of IR light back to Earth is the greenhouse effect. It is similar to the phenomenon you observe when you climb into a hot car on a sunny day — the visible light passes through the windows, hits the upholstery and warms it, and then the car’s roof retains the heat. But in the case of the atmosphere the effect is more subtle. In any case, these basic physical effects and their quantitative evaluation indicate that greenhouse gases clearly play a role in determining the Earth’s equilibrium temperature.
    Enough hand-waving. The Earth is a complex physical system, and textual descriptions or the statement of opinions will not decide the matter one way or another. If you are interested in embracing the full data set and analysis so you can understand this for yourself, check out the full literature on this topic. Based on this you can become fully informed. Or, you could sample books written by scientists who have attempted to reduce the complex data into reports that summarize their findings. Don’t pick just one, read several and compare them based on their data and analysis.
    I recommend against simply deciding what you think, or favoring one source over another because you like what you hear form them. This sort of emotional confidence can lead to significant errors.
    For my part, I don’t have time to analyze all the raw data, so I make no assertion one way or another. But I find the story plausible: I know from the physical effects listed above that the basic mechanisms are present to explain CO2-induced climate change. I have seen objective raw-data measurements indicating that CO2 concentrations have grown rapidly since the industrial revolution when fossil fuels began to be exploited. I can hypothesize a causal relationship, because I know that extracting fossil fuels and burning them will release CO2 into the atmosphere, adding CO2 over and above the amount that would be present if the natural CO2/O2 biological cycle was left undisturbed. And the basic mechanism of light absorption, thermal energy gain, and re-radiation indicates that increasing CO2 will increase retained energy.
    How large is this effect? I don’t know, because I don’t have time to perform the necessary calculations.
    But consider the following logic:
    Suppose we take choice A, and implement a new, improved energy infrastructure that does not rely on fossil fuels. In so doing we will eliminate dependence on foreign fuel sources, eliminate long-term vulnerability to the exhaustion of a finite fuel, and enjoy cleaner air. If the global warming folks are right, we also avoid disaster. If they are wrong, well, we still have these benefits.
    On the other suppose we take choice B, and continue to burn fossil fuels. As energy demand increases, we will inevitably approach an increasingly difficult position as the finite sources of fossil fuel in the ground are eventually consumed. If the global warming folks are wrong, this is the only trouble we will face. But if the global warming folks happen to be right, then things will be much worse.
    Given these two alternatives, why in the world would we choose option B?

  11. Tom R says:

    1) It makes sense to be a conservationist, whether you believe in GW or not. Wanton waste of resources can come to no good end. Period.

    2) On the other side of the equation, it makes no sense to claim looming catastrophe due to anthropogenic GW. There’s insufficient evidence. The most disappointing thing about Mr Nye inserting himself into the debate is that he seems to have lost sight of what he preached (correctly) to my children in the 90′s. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

  12. consensus isnotscience says:

    Tom R. Exactly – well said. I love science. I believe in saving resources and taking good care of the environment. But the whole global warming idea – the burden is on them to prove, not on us to blindly believe. They get so angry when we point out their research and evidence is extrememly shoddy. Again, for reasons I cannot fathom, they are too emotional invested in this. Bill is ignoring his own rules he used to expound, as you rightly point out. I want very much to respect him again, but for now it just isn’t possible.

  13. speak_truth_to_knowledge says:

    consensus isnotscience:
    IF you take what you just said, “…But the whole global warming idea – the burden is on them to prove, not on us to blindly believe. They get so angry when we point out their research and evidence is extrememly shoddy. Again, for reasons I cannot fathom, they are too emotional invested in this”. The EXACT same statement can be said if you replace the words “global warming ideas” with “religious ideas”. Do you not get angry when someone points out contradictions in the bible? Or do you just “blindly believe” anything a religious figure tells you?
    ’nuff said

  14. consensus isnotscience says:

    People can believe whatever they want. My objection is when they want to attach enourmous restrictions, taxations and loss of freedoms to their belief systems, that everyone must live with whether they believe Bill’s religion or not, a relifgion that is based on dubious ‘science’ at best. Especially when you look at Al Gore and his ‘do as I say not as I do’ scam – he gobbles up more resources in a year than I will in my lifetime. Oh, but he buys ‘carbon credits’ -from himself! As well as questionable science, there is also so much hyposcrisy in the Green Movement, it’s not easily ignored or glossed over. And before you say it, what about the religous types who want to shut down marriage for gay people -wouldn’t that be the same thing – imposing laws from one belief system on everyone? Yes. That’s why I am not opposed to gay marriage. We aren’t a theocracy. And that goes for Bill’s Green religion, as well. There are pollution laws. Science can prove pollution is bad, so that’s sensible. But there is no science that conclusively proves that if the whole planet switched the kind of lightbulb they use, the planet will be enough degrees less warm in five years than it is right now, or have saved enough energy, to undo the enviromental concerns caused by those lovely new light bulbs whose manufacture and disposal are a dicey business because of the MERCURY in them! Yet state by state old lightbulbs are getting phased out – ridiculous. Oh, and if you want an eye opener, google the truth about the batteries made for those keen electric cars and the mess their manufacture creates and leaves behind – not very ‘green’ stuff, it turns out. All I want is good science, a lack of covering up the ‘dark side’ of the green movement, and a little less hypocrisy by the ‘Green Rich’ before everyone signs on to things like Cap and Trade and the Kioto Treaty.

  15. consensus isnotscience says:

    And no, I don’t get angry when people bring up questions about the Bible. Faith is a very personal business. I’m not threatened by those kinds of questions. At some point a religious belief is based as much on faith as it is reasoning out what your worldview is going to be, and i’ts your CHOICE. But with science? Not so much – especially if you are going to try to change people’s lives, in very personal, day to day ways, with sceince that is questionable.

  16. Dear Bill Nye the Science guy, electric cars are wonderful, compressed air cars may make more sense being our massive V8s can be converted. But the question I have wanted to ask was why you never talk about Sulfur, atomic number 16, weight 32 and eight electrons in its outer ring to enable the transport of oxygen’s eight electrons in its only ring.
    Glad to hear the news of your death was only an example of bad science
    reporting.

    Patrick McGean
    Director
    Cellular Matrix Study

  17. Dear Bill Nye the Science guy, electric cars are wonderful, compressed air cars may make more sense being our massive V8s can be converted. But the question I have wanted to ask was why you never talk about Sulfur, atomic number 16, weight 32 and eight electrons in its outer ring to enable the transport of oxygen\’s eight electrons in its only ring.
    Glad to hear the news of your death was only an example of bad science
    reporting.

    Patrick McGean
    Director
    Cellular Matrix Study

  18. Paul says:

    Randy, I thought You comments were quite interesting. I like how You show that a little open mindness doesn’t hurt. Thanks for the good read.

  19. Hello webmaster, class read! I hope you don’t mind if I quote you on my website if I post an link back? Thanks

  20. David Dangel says:

    Great to see that you’re still one of the “good guys” on TV that consistently carries important messages about all aspects of science to an extremely diverse audience.

    If you think back to 1991, I wrote and co-directed a video for GM entitled “Bill Nye’s Environmental Science” in which you described, detailed and explained many aspects of engineering for the environment that GM had engineered into their vehickes of the day. Unfortunately, I believe the initial video was followed by another, written by a junior writer … and the script did NOT originally live up to your standards. As I understand it, you traveled from your home town back to Detroit to PERSONALLY supervise the re-write/re-production ON YOUR OWN TICKET!! I applaud your dedication (and feel bad that your relationship with the particular production company that I worked for eventually deteriorated completely). By the time the SECOND GM PR video was produced, I had moved on to greener pastures. Again – unfortunately -I did not have the opportunity to participate in the second production.

    If I recall correctly, your compensation for starring in the video was NOT a load of $$, but a GM electric vehicle instead! This further demonstrates your TRUE commitment to science and education, as opposed to chasing the almighty buck.

    I hope you remember me (the writer/director with the big mouth that shared dinner with you at the Space Needle and who wore a gaudy, leather Corvette coat during production).

    I feel honored to have worked with you on that project (in fact, to date, it has been the most enjoyable assignment of my career) and would welcome any chance to again collaborate in the future. In my book, you’re a standout among actors, with a natural ability to educate adults as well as children. Please feel free to conact me via the info provided here if you’d like to get together again.

    Thanks … and by all means keep on keeping it real.

    Dave

  21. David Dangel says:

    Great to see that you\’re still one of the \"good guys\" on TV that consistently carries important messages about all aspects of science to an extremely diverse audience.

    If you think back to 1991, I wrote and co-directed a video for GM entitled \"Bill Nye\’s Environmental Science\" in which you described, detailed and explained many aspects of engineering for the environment that GM had engineered into their vehickes of the day. Unfortunately, I believe the initial video was followed by another, written by a junior writer … and the script did NOT originally live up to your standards. As I understand it, you traveled from your home town back to Detroit to PERSONALLY supervise the re-write/re-production ON YOUR OWN TICKET!! I applaud your dedication (and feel bad that your relationship with the particular production company that I worked for eventually deteriorated completely). By the time the SECOND GM PR video was produced, I had moved on to greener pastures. Again – unfortunately -I did not have the opportunity to participate in the second production.

    If I recall correctly, your compensation for starring in the video was NOT a load of $$, but a GM electric vehicle instead! This further demonstrates your TRUE commitment to science and education, as opposed to chasing the almighty buck.

    I hope you remember me (the writer/director with the big mouth that shared dinner with you at the Space Needle and who wore a gaudy, leather Corvette coat during production).

    I feel honored to have worked with you on that project (in fact, to date, it has been the most enjoyable assignment of my career) and would welcome any chance to again collaborate in the future. In my book, you\’re a standout among actors, with a natural ability to educate adults as well as children. Please feel free to conact me via the info provided here if you\’d like to get together again.

    Thanks … and by all means keep on keeping it real.

    Dave

  22. Adolph says:

    Oh boy, I adore The Vice President . How do you feel he is dealing with the seperation?

  23. I’d like someone to answer Patricks questions, they are all valid and deserve a legitimate answer.

  24. Big Bird says:

    Congratulations Bill Nye on getting one of the first VOLTs to come off the line!!!!! We still have to wait for another 6 mo. here in Canada but very soon I’ll have one too :)

  25. George says:

    I, personally, would have a 1959 Caddy. Sorry, but it looks cooler and is a classic. Just make that a hybrid. Much better than the Chevy Volt.

Leave a Reply

Filed under: Consider the Following

Follow TheScienceGuy on Twitter Follow Bill on Facebook Bill Nye the Science Guy: Offical You Tube Page
Epsiode Guide