Bill Nye Does Ballet

Ballet and science? You bet.

Okay, yeah. I’m not talking about Bill Nye dancing in Swan Lake or anything (LOVE that ballet, by the way). But I did just discover that many years ago the infamous science guy developed a ballet shoe—one that is built to better support dancers.

Why? Well, #becausescience. Obviously.

Most of us know that ballet, while a really lovely thing (so very lovely), can mess with your body. And part of the reason is due to the traditional ballet slippers that most dancers wear when dancing en pointe. Nye describes the physics behind it in a 2011 interview:

“General principles of physics illustrate how dancing en pointe, when performed in traditional toe shoes, creates forces that act on the body of the ballet dancer.

For example, ballet dancing involves movements of the dancer’s body interspersed with motionless poses. When a ballet dancer dancing en pointe is positioned in a motionless pose, the sum of all forces and torques acting on the dancer’s body is approximately zero. This means that the dancer’s centre of gravity lies on a vertical line that passes from the dancer’s body down to the area of support, which is the dancer’s foot, toes, and ankle. This downwardly directed force of gravity is balanced by a force rising upward from the floor on that same vertical line. Therefore, the dancer’s foot, toes, and ankle are subject to a force that is at least equal to the dancer’s weight. This force may increase as the dancer accelerates from flat-footed position to an en pointe position while practising or performing.”

Bill Nye, The Atlantic

So Nye came up with a new design that worked with nature’s forces instead of against. His shoe included a “toe box” that would encase and protect the toes with an upper and outer sole to provide more support to the foot and ankle.

Sounds good, right?

I’d say. But even though Nye has a patent for the design, his shoe has not been produced yet (as far as I know).

Sorry, dancers!