Nineties science icon Bill Nye -- the finest classroom info-tainer since the blob people on "Schoolhouse Rock" -- had a real treat in store for the University of Southern California campus last night: a stock celeb lecture on global warming.
Sadly, this morning, no one in attendance would be able to tell you what Nye thinks about global warming. That's because the 54-years-young lab hero was weaving in and out of consciousness the entire time.
What sort of action did onlookers take, you ask, when they noticed their childhood hero had begun staggering around the stage like a mad scientist after a long night of test-tube huffing?
Wish we could tell you that they rushed the stage and let Nye crowd-surf through the dizzy spell, or at least that they started chanting BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! on the hopes he would gain strength from a motivational flashback to his glory days.
Nope. None of those things. What did the people do? They tweeted.
Is that how you repay Father Science? The same man who taught you the wonders of surface tension, then guided you through your blue-ribbon Twistin' Tornado in a bottle?
USC senior Tristan Camacho recounted the drama to the Los Angeles Times:
"Nye was walking toward the podium when he collapsed mid-sentence. Then after about 10 seconds, he popped back up with much gusto and asked everybody how long he was out for and went on with a story about how a similar thing happened to him that morning."
Nye appeared determined to finish his presentation, but began slurring his words and stumbled against his laptop, Camacho said. At first, Nye refused the offer of a chair and continued taking sips from a water bottle. Camacho said Nye was eventually removed from the stage.
Another senior, Alastair Fairbanks, said he was disgusted by the reaction from his peers:
"Nobody went to his aid at the very beginning when he first collapsed -- that just perplexed me beyond reason. Instead, I saw students texting and updating their Twitter statuses. It was just all a very bizarre evening."
Sure enough. Twitter archives showcase mildly concerned-to-ecstatic audience members relaying the scene second-by-second, for a news story far more informative than anything the Times could have put together.
First, the lede:
Next, an unverified, secondhand yet too-hilarious-to-omit quote from the victim:
A bystanding skeptic in dark-rimmed glasses weighs in:
Oblivious nerd on other side of country makes irrelevant Nye reference:
This chick, on the other hand, wasn't so much as un-crossing her legs for the guy:
One last truth-seeker provides a questionable diagnosis:
And, like any good fluff piece, we end on a left-field quote from the peanut gallery:
Ba-dum chh! There you have it. Last Night in a Twitter Storm: The Science Guy Edition. Hopefully USC doesn't run out and get B-List Beakman as a stand-in, reminding 20,000 young scientists of the moment they lost Nye and started hating science.