steven chu

Commentary
11:28 am
Thu January 12, 2012

Physics and Politics

The scientific and political communities in this state and country often live in largely separate worlds. Former Congressman Vernon Ehlers, a physicist from Grand Rapids and a classy gentleman, was one of the few who managed to bridge that gap.

Smart scientists know that they usually don’t want to focus political attention on what they are doing. Smart politicians, a somewhat rarer breed, know enough to mostly leave scientists alone.

But there was a development yesterday that united both Michigan’s scientists and politicians in concern.

Read more
Science/Medicine
5:25 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Federal funding in jeopardy for half billion dollar MSU nuclear research project

Construction work is already underway on MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.
(photo courtesy of MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

The future of Michigan State University’s half billion dollar nuclear research project is somewhat in doubt. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu declined to discuss future federal funding for the research facility during an appearance today in Detroit. Chu says the MSU facility is one of several worthy scientific projects on the Energy Department’s drawing board. 

“But in the end it all boils down to what our budget is going to be and how do we...spend that budget," says Chu.   

The federal government approved the MSU nuclear research project in 2008.  

MSU has already started work on the half billion dollar facility, based on the federal government’s commitment to help fund the project.  

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says it would be “unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments.”

Auto/Economy
5:24 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Energy Secretary: innovate or be overtaken

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu
U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu says now that domestic carmakers weathered the storm, they need to innovate to stay competitive.

Secretary Chu says the government rescue of Chrysler and General Motors has paid off, but there’s hard work ahead.

"And our choice is very clear. We have to continue to innovate, or we’ll be overtaken," he told the Detroit Economic Club.

Chu says innovation is more than just discovery and invention. It’s figuring out how to make things like batteries at low cost and high volume.

Secretary Chu says U.S. automakers also need to adjust to the fact that foreign markets like China, India and Brazil are where the growth is.

Chu is one of four cabinet members in the Obama administration who toured the Detroit auto show this week.