Cosmic Variance (among others) reports that 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics Steve Chu will be the next Secretary of Energy. Sean gives a good run-down of the many reasons why this is a Good Thing.
Like Sean, I’ve met Chu in person. Unlike Sean, my one meeting with him doesn’t shed any light on anything.
I met him at a reception at the National Academy of Sciences in honor of the American science laureates (Chu, Bill Phillips, and… somebody else). I was talking to Paul Lett, one of the permanent members of Bill’s group about something or another when Chu stopped to say hi to Paul.
He was badly jet-lagged from flying in earlier that day, and mentioned that his room at the Watergate hadn’t been available when he got in. Genius that I am, I said “Just tell them you’re a plumber, and go on up.” He looked at me like I had two heads, and I had to explain my unfunny Watergate joke. He wandered off shortly after that.
So, there you go. What that tells you about his likely policy direction as Secretary of Energy, I don’t know.
Congratulations to him, and to the Obama administration for making a good pick.