11 December 2008

Our energy future

In February of last year the University of California at Berkeley announced a partnership with BP to create the Energy Biosciences Institute. This 10-year, $500 million dollar venture was viewed with skepticism by some, to say the least. One of the key players in the new project was Dr. Steven Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The article in California magazine (Sep/Oct 2007) by Lisa Margonelli quoted Dr. Chu thusly: "We are seeking industry partnerships . . . We seek solutions. We don't seek, dare I say, science papers anymore." (italics mine)

Today's news is that Dr. Chu has been asked by President-elect Obama to head the Department of Energy. The Quantum Pontiff, my source for all things physics, likes the move. I do, too. One, we get a really smart, accomplished guy. Two, we get a really smart, accomplished guy. And three, well, he's a really smart guy. And has a C.V. to die for. (OK, so he's a Stanfurd guy. Go Bears!)

I want to wish Dr. Chu "good luck" with his new job in Obama's cabinet. I think he's a brilliant choice. We need all the brains, energy, vision, desire, commitment, inspiration and perspiration we can get when we tackle the issues facing us in the 21st century. After eight years of an administration that seemed hopelessly anti-science, we have a Nobel-laureate physicist with the ear of the President to look forward to. Check out something else he said in the aforementioned article: ". . . industry's strength is that they can make technology scalable . . . moving fast is better than maintaining purity. Monasteries are good places, but they're not good for science."

When it comes to energy, climate change, and the future, we have to get off our collective asses. Larry the Cable Guy says it best: "git-r-done!" I think Dr. Chu might be a git-r-done kind of guy.

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