The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Our Learned Energy Secretary

Energy Secretary ChuAfter some false starts trying to write this post yesterday, here we go. SLAC was treated to a visit by Secretary Chu, the U.S. Energy Secretary. Unlike previous people in his position, who showered the crowd with dumbed-down bureacro-babble and errant platitudes cobbled together from a patchwork misunderstanding of SLAC’s history, Chu engaged the audience in a 1.5 hour discussion of climate change and the challenge ahead of U.S. science. He showed data, models, discussed technologies, even talked about the history of basic research in places like Bell Labs. While the chairs were spine-killers for a talk that long, I was floored . . . ABSOLUTELY FLOORED . . . that the Secretary talked to us like we were working at a scientific institution. He skipped the crap and went straight for the substance.

This is just another one of those positive signs about how science is regarded by this administration. To put a pure scientist in this position, a man clearly able to speak to his audience and who seems to write his own material (or at least know it by heart), is an honor to the U.S. scientific effort. Having such an intelligent and creative man at the helm of DOE is better than a Nobel prize for the U.S. scientific community. Why? A Secretary in the business of developing and promoting pure but directed scientific inquiry is a Secretary who is setting the stage for a dozen Nobel Prizes.