Well, say what you will about Steve Chu, but the fact that Obama has nominated him to be the Secretary of Energy is only a good sign for science and society as far as I am concerned.
It is a good sign for science because it shows explicitly Obama’s respect and support for science. Most recent Secretaries of Energy have been non scientists (the #s depends on whether you count an engineer as a scientist – I do – but some don’t) and Bush (who I want to say is out previous president but we still have him for another month) does not believe in evidence in any way, let alone science.
It is a good sign for society because it is important for the president to understand and respect science. So – some may criticize Chu for some issues – but none of the criticisms I have seen really hit home with me. Sure, I would like a Biologist in their in the Cabinet, but Chu seems to actually understand that the biological diversity of the planet is under threat from global change and he wants to do something about it. I cannot really ask for much more from a Physicist/Administrator. For full disclosure – I have an Adjunct position at LAwrence Berkeley Lab where Chu just happens to be the Director. So maybe I am not completely objective, but anyway, I think this is a good day all around.