6.30.2009

He's No Chump

He still has much to learn about politics (as we saw again last Friday, science and politics often don't play well together), but new U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu knows his physical science, right down to the fundamental units (link):
Chu's pre-DOE curriculum vitae is filled with accounts of solving borderline-unsolvable scientific problems. Like all Nobel Prize winners, Chu wrote an autobiographical essay when he received the award that traces his history. This portrait of the scientist as a young man follows his growth from a Long Island boyhood spent tinkering with an erector set on a living-room floor, through the decades he dedicated to figuring out a method of cooling atoms so much (specifically, to 240 millionths of a degree above absolute zero) that they could be trapped, observed, and put to work. He was instrumental in creating a six-beam laser trap, from which atoms cannot escape and inside of which they lose so much energy that atoms, which at room temperature move at essentially unobservable speeds, slow to centimeters per second. The discovery has had all manner of applications, including improving the accuracy of the atomic clock maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology by more than tenfold.

Given that he was so busy experimenting with and learning about the properties of atoms, I wonder how he found time for the vast left-wing climate-change conspiracy.

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