Friday, December 19, 2008

Steve Chu, our new energy guru

I first encountered Dr. Steven Chu's visage on the internet last spring while preparing a presentation explaining optical trapping. Dr. Chu's work involving the manipulation of single atoms and molecules earned him the Nobel prize in physics in 1997. As a professor of molecular and cellular biology Dr. Chu has a uniquely biological perspective into the realm of alternative energies. This perspective is traditionally lacking in heavyweight energy politicians. His leadership skills, honed as director of the Lawrence Berkley National labs, also positions him well to take charge at the DOE. Despite all these positive aspects Dr. Chu has drawn fire from some blogs and news agencies for his involvement with negotiating the largest oil-company/academic-institution partnership in history. Mother Jones reports about the formation of "the $500 million Energy Biosciences Institute, to conduct biofuels research. The proposal sparked fierce opposition from faculty and students at the University of California-Berkeley, which will host the institute. Biology professor Ignacio Chapela called the partnership the 'coup de grace to the very idea of a university that can represent the best interest of the public.'"

Ignacio Chapela is a vocal genetics professor at Berkley who gained authority in the anti-GMO movement with his studies on corn genes that had been modified by scientists found freely migrating into wild corn (tiosinte) in Mexico. He appears in the documentary the Future of Food describing his research and explaining his position on GMOs. Of course these criticisms should be investigated, but I must say, Steven Chu should not be written off as someone who is owned by the corporations! Of all the oil companies British Pertolium has been cited time and time again as the most environmentally conscious. The Sierra Club reports that BP is the least of all evils when it comes to filling your gas tank. A global approach to remediating climate change will require cooperation and regulation of the multinational companies not an all out boycott. A revolution from within the system is required to change the energy infrastructure of the United States. Even the giants can tell which way the wind blows. Besides, any scientist that can quote Faulkner can not be all bad.

I am using this post as an excuse to experiment with embedding a power point presentation. Below is the presentation explaining single molecule optical trapping using focused laser beams. The drawback is that you can not see the animations. If you have problems viewing the ppt please comment. We at TPG hope you like the recent header upgrade. Expect more upgrades over the coming weeks.
Optical Tweezersv2

Transparency Disclaimer: My sister in-law worked for BP for about 5 years in early 00's. She is an adamant environmentalist/conservationist/lover of nature and had nothing but good things to say about this company.

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