NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Despite all the issues facing the U.S., it is important that the country continue to fund science research now and in the future, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday during remarks at the 25th anniversary celebration of Jefferson Lab.
“The ability to ask questions and to try to find answers, and then ultimately go out and find answers for the physical world; we’re the only species that I happen to know that does that,” Chu said. “And that understanding of nature, in my time, does give the U.S. something that promotes economic stability.”
Chu also noted that President Obama is committed to doubling the funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science over the next 10 years, adding, “I will do all I can to make that happen.” The Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the U.S. and oversees 10 national laboratories, including Jefferson Lab.
Speaking specifically of the research done at Jefferson Lab, where scientists from around the world explore the nucleus of the atom, Chu said, “The justification for funding nuclear physics is simply that the nucleons and nuclei appear in nature and we don’t understand them.”
As to those who might question the need for such research, Chu said, “When all is said and done, if you think you are so smart, why don’t you tell me how to calculate the magnetic moment of the neutron? Until you know that, why are you saying we don’t need to know that?”
Jefferson Lab is the Department of Energy’s primary facility devoted to the study of nuclear physics and has been in the forefront of research at the quark level since it was established in 1984 in Newport News. More than 800 people attended the lab’s 25th anniversary event to hear Chu and other scientists speak about the research done at Jefferson Lab.
Energy chief visits Jefferson Lab: Clean energy is key to 'prosperity'
(September 30, 2009, Daily Press)
Energy Secretary visits Jefferson Lab
(September 29, 2009, WAVY-TV 10)