Bill Nye the Science Guy Explains the French to You

A man wearing a suit and tie

You might know Bill Nye The Science Guy from his TV shows. He’s kind of goofy and is always explaining things like magnetism and volcanoes and how blood flows through the body. And he’s a big fan of bow ties.

But you wouldn’t think of him as someone who would give you deep insight into the French. That would be the Existentialism Guy or the Postmodernism Guy, not the Science Guy, right?


Nye was recently interviewed by The New York Times for their Travel section. (He flies a lot and is known as a spectacularly organized packer.) The Times reporter asked him, “What do you always take with you when you travel?”

Nye described the sorts of nerdy things you would expect, stuff like gaffer tape and dongles. But then he said something very interesting.

“There’s a technology that allows you to deal with changes in the weather,” he said. “The first and main technological innovation is a scarf. A scarf will buy you 15 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Aha, so that’s why the French always wear scarves! I thought it had to do with fashion, with the French sense of style, with that je ne sais quoi for which the French are so famous.

But no. It’s really all about energy efficiency.

Politicians around the world love to prattle on about developing a Green Economy. They wax poetic about solar panels, smart grids, and millions of new jobs, while very little actually happens.

But while others talk, the French act. (And by act, I mean shop.)

All the publicity goes to places like West Texas for their wind farms and Australia for their shiny new wave power station. Meanwhile, the French have quietly built a dominant market position in one of the most important green industries of the future. And the evidence is literally in front of our eyes and around their necks.

Think about it: the French wear scarves year-round. AND they know how to tie them. A properly tied scarf serves a dual purpose: not only does it look good but it undoubtedly also increases the “thermal yield.” Clever, those French.

The results are clear — France is nearly 30% more energy efficient than the United States. And more stylish, to boot.

Hermès: World Leader in Green Tech. Who knew?

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