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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Steve Chu, Energy Secretary

Steve Chu, currently director of LBNL, is Obama's pick for Energy Secretary. Thank goodness! Finally a big brain will run the agency that funds our national labs and basic energy research.

Chu won the Nobel prize for his work on laser cooling of trapped atoms. This technique is now a fundamental tool in atomic physics. Chu did his PhD at Berkeley under brilliant experimentalist Eugene Commins (who was still around when I was a grad student). When Chu won the Nobel my mother received several phone calls from well wishers -- "I heard your son the Berkeley PhD won the Nobel Prize in physics!" :-/ (Hsu, Chu, what's the difference?) Sorry ma, don't get your hopes up!

Chu: "I told my boss .... `Guess what? I just trapped an atom.' He said, `Great. What are you going to do with it?' I said, `I don't know, but it's great!'"

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