Nobel Laureate Steven Chu (Hon.’07) Picked for Obama’s Team
Physicist to be energy secretary, lead global warming initiatives
Steven Chu, the 1997 Nobel laureate in physics and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama as his secretary of energy.
Chu (Hon.’07), who was Boston University’s Commencement speaker in 2007, has been a leader in the development of technologies to reverse climate change. In his speech at BU, he warned students that aggressive global warming will bring visible changes in the coming century.
“Scientists predict that in the next century the planet will warm between one and six degrees,” he said. “This means that Greenland will be green, the oceans will be seven meters higher, and the world will be a very different place.”
Reducing the effects of climate change, he said, will require scientific research into cost-effective means of trapping and sequestering carbon emissions, economic incentives for energy efficiency, and continued research into biomass, biological material that can be used for alternative fuel.
“Biomass offers the hope of creating an alternative to oil,” he said. “Corn is definitely not the solution, but in Brazil it costs less to run your car on sugar cane ethanol than on gasoline. I believe we can breed plants that will much more efficiently convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, precious water, and nutrients into biomass. Already, wild grasses grown on nonirrigated, nonfertilized land in Illinois have yielded enough biomass to produce 10 times the ethanol per acre of corn.”
Chu won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997 for his work in cooling and trapping atoms by using laser light. Prior to his appointment at Berkeley, he was a professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford University. He earned a bachelor of arts in mathematics and a bachelor of science in physics, both from the University of Rochester, and a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley.5 Comments