The first Nobel Laureate to be appointed to a presidential cabinet-- he is the recipient of the 1997 Prize in Physics -- Chu brings scholarly gravitas to his role as America's 12th Energy Secretary. And his well-documented research is matched by his creativity. For example, he's advocated for the roofs and the tops of roads around the world to be colored white or other light colors, which could possibly reflect sunlight back into space and help alleviate global warming.
In his tenure at Department of Energy, Chu has called for more research in alternative energy and nuclear power. Recently, he was tapped by President Obama to lead a team of government officials and scientists to help contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
He talked to us about why he went into science, his thoughts on fossil fuels, and playing hardball with BP after the spill: