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Bill Nye Shows How Face Masks Work With A TikTok Science Experiment

"It's literally a matter of life and death."

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If you're struggling to get a friend or family member to understand why it's so important to wear face coverings during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, then send them Bill Nye's TikTok video on the importance of face masks. Using a candle and four different types of face coverings, the Science Guy explained in simple terms how wearing a mask blocks particles from the wearer's respiratory system from getting into the air. That in turn helps slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in places where people are in close contact with each other, according to the CDC.

Wearing a mask couldn't be more important right now, with states reopening and closing, and coronavirus infection numbers climbing. And, because so many people seem to have trouble understanding why that is, Nye posted two videos on his official TikTok page demonstrating the effectiveness of face masks. He began the first video by wrapping a crocheted scarf around his face and then attempting to blow out a lit candle. The candle extinguished quickly, showing that a knit scarf doesn't offer much in the way of protection. He then switched to a homemade cloth face mask, and attempts to blow the candle out — he failed. "If you're wearing one of these, you're protecting yourself and those around you," he explains.

He then pushed the experiment further by repeating it with an N95 mask, which is used in medical settings (there is a continuing shortage of these masks, and they should largely be reserved for members of the medical community). Virtually no air came through the N95. The same can be said for the disposable blue surgical mask the scientist tried at the end of the video. As Nye demonstrates, masks are effective, and wearing them is "literally a matter of life and death," according to the beloved Science Guy.

The '90s children's TV host went even further in his second video, dropping his comforting scientist voice to get as real as possible about why wearing a face mask is the most important thing people can do to protect each other right now (combined with social distancing, of course). "The main reason we want you to wear a mask is to protect me from you, and the particles from your respiratory system from getting into my respiratory system," Nye said.

"Everybody, this a matter, literally, of life and death, and when I use the word literally, I mean literally a matter of life and death," he continued. "So when you're out in public, please, wear a mask." Nye's mic drop on the science of wearing a mask is virtually impossible to dispute, making it the perfect video to share with anyone who is still stubbornly refusing to mask up when they leave the house.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC or NHS 111 in the UK for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.