Science

Mr. Wizard has left the building.

We’ve lost a good one tonight — Mr. Wizard, who taught me all about the mechanics of swallowing upside-down (no, really) has gone to the great laboratory in the sky. Or the ground. If we can take any comfort during this time, it is that he accomplished a helluva a lot in his 89 years, and also that he lived a good deal longer than Jerry Falwell. Let’s remember him with his previous mentionings on this blog in the past:

Conclusively Challenged

Bill is an affable guy. He’s fun, zany, and the kids love him. He’s like Mr. Wizard, only kind of cute and still alive. I’m pretty sure, though, that Mr. Wizard never pissed off a fundamentalist.

Sad Happy Sad

I’d like to apologize to all the readers of Memoirs of a Skepchick. Though I try to enact the highest standards of quality in each and every post, circumstances beyond my control prevent me from performing even the most basic editorial tasks, such as running a spell check, having someone read for grammar, or, you know, fact checking.

Thus it is with great sorrow that I point out that despite what I wrote two days ago, Mr. Wizard is, in fact, still alive.

I ask that you all mourn his passing by observing a moment of science.

(thanks to Carrie for the heads up)

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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10 Comments

  1. NOOOO!!!

    It's always a sad way to find out that someone you thought dead had been living all along when you read his obituary. I must not have been a reader when your first "Mr Wizard is dead…psych!" entry went up, because I definitely thought he had died some time ago. Blast.

    Well, I'll always remember watching his show in the old days of Nickelodeon, when he used a radar gun to track the speed of some kid on a bike, and also scattered some weird powder on the surface of a fish tank, then asked a kid to put his hand in it, to demonstrate how not to break the surface tension of water. OOH, and the day he burned all sorts of various chemicals to show what color flames they made in reference to identifying fireworks!!

    We lost a good one today. Any word on what shape Hugga Bleurn he'd have liked?

  2. […] and also scattered some weird powder on the surface of a fish tank, then asked a kid to put his hand in it, to demonstrate how not to break the surface tension of water.

    Lycopodium. Because it has a high surface-area-to-volume ratio, it's also good for making fireballs (as is, say, non-dairy coffee creamer, but you kids at home didn't hear that from me).

    If you weren't depressed enough already, just wait until you hear that lycopodium is also used in homeopathic "remedies".

    We lost a good one today. Any word on what shape Hugga Bleurn he’d have liked?

    Forget the Hugga Bleurns. Mr. Wizard's ashes need to be shot out of the biggest baking-soda volcano ever built. Into orbit.

  3. Lycopodium, eh? Thank you SO much, Blake. You have concluded a roughly TWENTY-YEAR-LONG search for the name of that powder. Not that all twenty years were spent actively searching, but you get the gist. Much obliged :)

  4. I ask that you all mourn his passing by observing a moment of science.

    Now that is so much better than a moment of silence. I will indeed do that. (Just the thing is, I'm a tad younger than most of the other crowd, so my science exposure was handled a bit more by Bill Nye than Mr. Wizard, though I did catch a few good things from him.)

    Thus it is with great sorrow that I point out that despite what I wrote two days ago, Mr. Wizard is, in fact, still alive.

    Any chance we can turn this into a "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" type of running joke? Maybe something we can complain about when science isn't being popularized enough such as, "…but sadly, Mr. Wizard is still dead…"

  5. Expatria,

    The name stuck in my head from when Mr. Wizard told me about it, 'round about 1990, and somehow I never forgot! This from the guy who can't remember how the people he sees at family reunions are related to him. . . .

    Infophile,

    Gallows humor is the best kind. :-/

  6. Eh, I do have a little problem with not knowing when to turn the humor off. In this case, though, I do think it might actually be a good way to honor him and make sure he isn't forgotten. Just might not have been best to bring that up right now. If anyone felt that was insensitive, I apologize.

  7. Bill Nye was/is essentially a Mr. Wizard remake — and that's not a dig.

    I loved Mr. Wizard, and also fondly remember Pat Paulsen's "Mr. Science" bit on his comedy show, a fond takeoff on Mr. Wizard.

    PS. The "observe a moment of science" is terrific, in all ways.

  8. The episode I remember most is the swallowing upside down one. I was beside myself and spent a good part of the day swallowing cheerios while standing on my head. (Close runner up is putting a piece of scotch tape on a blown up balloon and then pricking it with a needle through the scotch tape. It doesn't pop but instead slowly leaks air. )

    He turned my young brain on to science and I owe him a great debt of gratitude.

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