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LBL Director Steve Chu leads Gov. Schwarzenegger on a tour of the Advanced Light Source
LBNL Director Steven Chu leads Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) on a visit to the lab's Advanced Light Source. Joining in the tour were (l to r) UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, UC President Robert Dynes and Bruce Darling, UC senior vice president for university affairs. (Photos by Steve McConnell / UC Berkeley NewsCenter)

Gov. Schwarzenegger gets taste of UC 'brain power' in visit to LBNL

– Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger traded in political science for a look at the future of physical science on Friday at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. After touring the lab's Advanced Light Source with LBNL Director Steven Chu, Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and UC President Robert Dynes — all physicists — the governor said the "brain power in our UC system and in the national laboratory is absolutely incredible."

Prof. Paul Alvisatos  demonstrates nanoscale tool for Gov. Schwarzenegger
Prof. Paul Alvisatos (second from left) demonstrates one of the nanoscale tools he uses in his quest for new energy solutions. Aiding in the demonstration is Calvin Chow (left), CEO of Nanosys, a partner in Alvisatos' research.

Schwarzenegger's visit to LBNL was a rare appearance at the UC-managed national lab by a California governor. But Schwarzenegger said he was no stranger to Berkeley, recalling the two weeks he spent on campus with actor Danny DeVito filming the movie "Junior."

During the tour of the Advanced Light Source, the governor met with UC Berkeley professors Paul Alivisatos and Jay Keasling, both of whom hold joint appointments at the lab. Alivisatos, who is associate laboratory director for physical sciences, described how he uses the light energy in the ALS to study the structural properties of nanocrystals. Keasling, meanwhile, explained the emerging field of synthetic biology and its potential to solve a wide range of health and environmental problems. Keasling is head of the Synthetic Biology Department at LBNL.

Schwarzenegger speak at post-tour press conference
Gov. Schwarzenegger answers questions at a post-tour press conference.

The focus on the promise of science to solve problems and fuel California's economy quickly faded, however, as reporters got a chance to question the governor during a press conference that followed the tour. "Is the November election really a referendum on you?" asked one reporter. "No. It is a referendum on the legislature that created the mess, and on the system," the governor responded. "We can't continue to spend more money than we have coming in."