Steven Chu on scientist work ethics

"I've never been that good at apportioning time…When I got really excited about something, I would dig into it. It turns out that is a quality that the best researchers have."

- Steven Chu, as quoted in Nature

In this issue of Nature, journalist Eric Hand profiles the Secretary of the Department of Energy in US President Obama’s cabinet, the first Nobel-winning scientist to take such a role. Chu, who gained fame by using lasers to trap atoms (a system, we're told, which is peanuts compared to the bureaucratic complexity of the Department of Energy), wants to use a Manhattan Project-style assault to combat climate change, including the use of riskier research strategies and the flexing of his US$27 billion budget to the utmost.

And how is Chu dealing with the residual denialists in Congress who don't believe that humans are causing global warming? According to Hand, Chu has "assumed the role of persuader-in-chief": He doesn't just deal with such people passively – he actively targets them and walks them through the evidence. Apparently, having a Nobel Prize helps. "At the very least you can put a little doubt in their minds," he is quoted as saying.

You can read the entire article with a subscription to Nature.