"The country needs really smart people to help it and to lead it," former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said to a gathering of Stanford students, faculty and staff. 

Chu, the William R. Kennan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford, addressed postdoctoral scholars and graduate students from the Rising Environmental Leaders Program, the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at a special event co-hosted by the Stanford Woods Institute ​on Nov. 20. The first scientist to hold a cabinet-level position since Benjamin Franklin offered advice and observations on science and government service in between stories about how websites fail and legislative bills grow to 800 pages, among others. While Chu laced his comments with references to political dysfunction (e.g., the "theory of mud" and the "three golden rules" of politics), he also emphasized reasons to be hopeful. "There are an amazing number of good people in government service," he said.