Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama's Energy Secretary

A few news-worthy items have cropped up in the past couple days. The first is the official CERN press release confirming that the LHC will start up again in 2009 (phew!). I know a lot of people were relieved to hear that, because the rumors had been swirling. However, for some graduate students, it might be too late... I have heard of a few who can't wait. They are switching over to one of the experiments at Fermilab's Tevatron because their grad school clock is running out, and they need some actual data for their Ph.D. theses. It's rough though ... moving from X grad school to CERN and then to Fermilab (outside of Chicago) in the span of a few years takes its toll.

The second is the news reports naming President-Elect Obama's new Energy Secretary, current Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director and Nobel laureate, Steven Chu. I think Energy Secretary is an amazingly difficult position right now, because not only do you have to deal with the major issue of oil and moving toward alternative fuels, you can't lose track of the Office of Science (the DOE Office of Science is the largest source of funding for basic scientific research in the U.S.). To me, this choice indicates a strong commitment to basic scientific research over the next four years... I hope!

It's also pretty exciting from a personal perspective, because merely 6 years ago I was sitting in Steve Chu's grad quantum mechanics class my first quarter at Stanford! (Actually, in December 2002 I was probably sweating it out over our last problem set and final exam...) So congratulations and good luck to him! He has a really tough job to do.

A bientôt!

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