Secretary Chu’s Quirky Ideas

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The sun doesn’t shine as brightly for Energy Secretary Steven Chu these days. But he has other ideas for saving the world from the evil of fossil fuels. Can we forget Solyndra?

Instead, how about the “Glucose Economy.” The what?  Chu came up with the idea of a global “glucose economy” to supplant mankind’s dependence on oil while he was teaching physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

For his global glucose economy, vast supplies of fast-growing crops would be planted in the sunny tropics. The plants would be converted into glucose. The glucose would be shipped around the world much as oil is today, for eventual conversion into biofuels to run our cars. Wow! What an approach to the energy problem.

Not all tropical countries, whether oil producers or agricultural powers, are friends of the United States. But Chu has the ideas needed to deal with global warming– if there is indeed any real problem with global warming, which science says occurs intermittently with global cooling throughout history.

Then there is Chu’s somewhat peculiar idea for utilizing termites’ guts. As Chu explained in a interview in 2007 when he was director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, “Termites have developed a symbiotic relationship with colonies of bacteria that reside inside a termite’s gut and convert biomass, specifically cellulose, mostly from wood, into chemical energy the termite can utilize.

“If we can learn to either genetically engineer the microorganisms from termite guts, or cow guts…to produce more energy from biomass than they need, or else adapt the chemistry within the microorganisms to process the biomass ourselves, we would go a long way towards reducing our dependency…(on) oil.”

If he could find ways to turn cockroaches and mosquitoes into energy, that would be a real blessing.

Chu, in the interview, was also asked to talk about “out of the box” energy research—as if termite guts were an “in the box” concept.

He explained in the interview: “We think a solution to the energy problems may lie at the interface between biology and the physical sciences on the nanoscale. We are now mounting a major, multidisciplinary initiative…which would develop ways to convert solar energy into a carbon-neutral form of energy that could sustain our world in an environmentally friendly manner,

“To do this, we are drawing on our expertise in nanotechnology and synthetic biology and the resources…at the West Berkeley Biocenter…and at The Molecular Foundry, a U.S. Department of Energy nanoscale science research center….

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  • theleastthreat

    Now that we've solved the problem of how to get zero wattage from the solar panel, let's focus our attention on developing the coal powered alarm clock, the diesel televison, the wood burning microwave oven and the termite fueled chain saw. Soon, we'll all be cutting our lawns with nuclear scissors!

    • StephenD

      This is hilarious! Thanks for posting.

  • StephenD

    What concerns me is he sat there with a straight face and said the decision to give OUR money to Solyndra was not political. NOTHING has come of that!?! Why isn't the President on the hot seat for this? What is wrong with our Conservative Officials? Yeah, they brought this to light but now…DO SOMETHING! They just keep letting things drop and the President gets a free pass. The far left know all they need do is wait it out. The Right drops issues in no time so no matter what the problem is the far left need only to ignore it or at most downplay it until it runs its course and EVERYONE lets it die. Shame on the Conservatives for this.

  • Herman Caintonette

    TT: "Another example of his unorthodox thinking is his May 2009 recommendation to paint the roofs of buildings around the world white and use light-colored road surfaces to reflect sunlight back into space"

    Let's see, now … Sceretary Chu is a Nobel laureate in physics, and TT is a paid flack for the Koch Klux Klan. Who is going to know more about science?

    Quirky? This is just common sense, TT. Ever been to Phoenix? There's a reason why all the locals' cars are white.

    This illustrates the fundamental difference between the liberal and conservative mind: Whereas liberals embrace the future, conservatives cling desperately to the past. TT has a dog in the hunt, shilling for the Klan.

    • American Eagle

      The fundamental difference between the Left and the Right is the following:

      "Right is right, whereas the Left is plain simple wrong."

      some people call themselves "liberal" when they actually mean "Leftist". Now one can write a volume on these linguistic mischiefs of the Left, but who has time? The bottom line is, the Left's whole house is built on a fundamental lie, "We are striving to improve the lot of humanity". Every single utterance of the Left derives from this fundamental lie, and hence, is a lie. Whereas every single *action* of the Left derives from the fundamental truth, the fundamental goal of the Left, "To break the back of humanity so we, the criminals, can enslave it and rule in perpetuity." Any questions?
      (that;s a rhetorical question, my friend, i don't give a hoot about your questions or even having a conversation with you. For, while some demons can be exorcised by merely talking and reasoning with them, your king must be actually kicked out of the victim's body.

      • Herman Caintonette

        American Vulture: "For, while some demons can be exorcised by merely talking and reasoning with them, your king must be actually kicked out of the victim's body."

        Pat Robertson could find a demon under every rock; Bob Larson could find a string quartet.

  • American Eagle

    This is reply to StephenD's comment, but is of general interest, and hence is being posted independantly. …. Dear StephanD, your outrage is justified, and even I am beginning to doubt the sincerity of the GOP leadership in their stated goal of saving this country. Indeed most GOP leaders seem to me willingly complicit in the Left's pursuit of its monstrous agenda. However, if you look at the history of past 100 years, GOP has ALWAYS been ineffective in stopping the march of Left on this country—with hardly a couple of stalwart exceptions of Reagan etc. Even the celebrated Tea Party, the party of reagan, so to speak, has been corrupted by the belt-way GOPers into complacency, if not outright complicity—again, with hardly a handful exceptions. I was warning when people had hopes tied to tea-party and the Election 2010 to change everything. Well look at it. Has the GOP managed to stop even single one of the Left's agenda? House in their control, they have the master-key to any appropriation. All they had to do was simply refuse to pass ANYTHING that the Left had hoisted on their shoulders. Do NOTHING. Bam, Obamacare could;ve been starved so. Obama administration can be starved to death so. A hundred other victories of pre-2010 Left could've been literally starved to death. Money is exclusively a domain of the House. The Left could''ve had the whole senate, and still would be impotent against the House. Did they do what they promised? Instead, these geniuses engaged in *negotiations* which are not even needed. Negotiations which have been, predictabily, mere traps to further tie GOP's hands. These dummies actually went to the enemy's house to give away the victory to him, and dug up defeat from the victory they were granted by the people in 2010. I seriously doubt that they ever INTENDED to do anything to stop this monster. As to history, the thing is very simple. The Right has always been on defense—it is WE who have something to loose, i.e. our freedom, our property, our sovereignty, everything. The Left has nothing to loose, AND has been on attack at least since Wilson. Every little victory the Left achieves, it stays under their belt. Every single victory that the Right achieves amounts to *temporarily* halting, or retarding the march of Left. The battlefield is inherently lopsided. There is no way GOP or the Right, or those who favor the Constitution can win. Either they loose—or halt the enemy for a brief moment. The same is the case with international Left. America has everything. So they have everything to LOOSE. The Left is the drain. Anything goes down its voracious throat is lost. And it goes on. One little step at a time. There is no way even America can win in this international arena. There is only one logical solution to this problem of lopsided battlefield—we, the Right, or America, the Rightist, must completely NEUTRALIZE the enemy. At home, sooner or later, we *WILL* have to fight the Left in the streets of america. Literally. They have gained too much ground, and are not going to give up without an all out fight. ("occupy' movement is the first manifestation of that fact, also listen to what the other Leftist thugs, including Obama, are saying.). Again, no amount of "democracy" or such procedural means can or ever will stop the Left. If they are loosing an election, they will steal votes. If confronted they will start violence. In an armed confrontation, they will fight to the last man. They have no other choice. For if they give in this time, they may never rise again. But if we leave them in a position to rise, who knows, they might. They are more tenacious than Aesop's proverbial spider. They never ever give up. So, again, we must eliminate this menace. Totally neutralize in a battlefield. There is no other way. Only question is WHEN that confrontation will come. And in this, i submit that the side that strikes first will win. As usual, there is no better defense than offense. Becuase otherwise, the enemy will keep eating through our castle like termites. Sooner we strike, better the chance we have of winning.

  • Ghostwriter

    Termite guts?! Fast growing corn?! Sounds like Secretary Chu has been reading a little too much science fiction.

    • Herman Caintonette

      A lot of yesterday's science fiction is today's reality.

  • kafirman

    As a Ph.D. physicist, I am embarrassed at the stupidity of the academic Physics culture. This culture effectively believes that nothing times nobody equals everything. They believe that the Periodic Table assembled itself. There main intellectual weapon against their nay-sayers is ridicule. They can solve many physics problems, but do not understand the physical trees for the physical forest. They should be DEvolutionists, not evolutionists. Even the forest of academic Physics (though not the trees so much), as been hijacked by the left.

  • fmobler

    The termite gut idea is neither nutty, nor original to Chu. We know for sure that termites and their bacteria manage to extract usable energy from cellulose without burning it. As an observation that can lead to interesting science and potentially useful technology, it is quite reasonable. The trouble is, it is not even remotely honest to claim that it is "promising". This is where Chu the exceptionally good experimental physicist is left behind and Chu the irresponsible speculator takes over. It is probably a good idea to fund some research into termite metabolism. It is not a good idea to let speculation and extravagant bets run our energy policy.