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Bill Nye Calls Kyrie Irving's Flat Earth Theory 'Heartbreaking'

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Last year, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson feuded with rapper B.o.B. over his belief that the world is flat. About a year later, Tyson's friend and science educator Bill Nye is contesting professional basketball player Kyrie Irving's own "Flat Earth" claims.

It all started when the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard appeared on a recent "Road Trippin' with RJ and Channing" podcast hosted by teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye and discussed conspiracy theories.

"This is not even a conspiracy. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat," Irving insisted, as USA Today detailed about the Feb. 17 show.

"For what I've known for as many years and what I've come to believe, what I've been taught, is that the Earth is round," he continued. "But if you really think about it from a landscape of the way we travel, the way we move, and the fact that—can you really think of us rotating around the sun and all planets aligned, rotating in specific dates, being perpendicular with what's going on with these planets?"

He seemed to double down on these claims in a later interview with Sports Illustrated. Even when the All Star athlete was asked if he's seen photos of our round Blue Marble, Irving responded, "I've seen a lot of things that my education system said was real that turned out to be completely fake."

But "The Science Guy" wasn't having any of it.

"It's really concerning when you have people in the public eye—or people in general—who think the Earth might not be round," Nye told Sports Illustrated. "It's really an extraordinary thing."

He remarked that a host of scientific technologies depend on our very round planet.

"We have spacecrafts, we all depend on weather reports. We've got mobile phones, we're talking on electric computer machines right now," Nye said. "So to have people that eschew or don't accept or don't embrace this method, this process that brought us all this remarkable technology ... all this is through this process of science."

"And so it's heartbreaking when we have people that even joke about it," he concluded.

Nye's dose of science fact is especially necessary during these fraught times. As any EcoWatch reader knows, many people who control the U.S. government are about as anti-science as it gets.

Luckily, Nye will soon make his long-awaited return to our screens with his new Netflix show, Bill Nye Saves the World, which has a premiere date of April 21.

Each episode will explore some of the most complex scientific topics of the day, from climate change, vaccines and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Nye and his band of correspondents aim to bust myths and refute anti-scientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders or titans of industry, according to its IMBD description.

Irving's Flat Earth beliefs have been lighting up news outlets and social media this week. However, he seems to have since slightly backtracked on his position.

In the video below, Irving appears around the 1:45 mark saying that Earth being flat is "scientifically impossible" and that the media has politicized his beliefs.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.