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Steve Martin and Carl Sagan inspired Bill Nye's 'Science Guy' character

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Few scientists have captured the imagination of children like Bill Nye. In a new short for NOVA's Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers, Nye discusses the comedic and scientific inspirations behind his popular 90s PBS Kids show Bill Nye the Science Guy. After winning a Steve Martin lookalike contest in Seattle, Nye went on to write comedy. While working both as an engineer and a stand-up comic, Nye developed the character for his show. Like other prominent scientists, Nye received inspiration from Carl Sagan, who told him to "focus on pure science" for his young audience. "After you get laughs on stage it's addicting," Nye says. "If you want to entertain a kid of any age, you make it funny."

Nye continues to be a prominent scientific personality in science, most recently debating evolution with psuedoscientist Ken Ham. There's a chance his iconic 90s series could return; in 2012, Nye hinted that a reboot of Bill Nye the Science Guy could be brought to the web.