Geek Goes To Congress: Foster Takes Hastert's Seat

Once an inventor, designer, and researcher, Bill Foster is unlikely to refer to the Internet as a series of tubes.
A technology and science geek who promises he can "get things done" is getting his chance in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former physicist Bill Foster won Illinois' 14th Congressional District during a special election last week to replace former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who resigned in November 2007.

Foster's resume is enough to impress even the sharpest technology insiders, business leaders, and policy observers. He is credited with making headway with experiments in particle physics, managing multimillion-dollar projects, designing and building advanced electronics, superconducting magnets, and analog and digital integrated circuits.

Foster helped build, design and test the IMB Proton Decay Detector, a cube that detects proton decay in a salt mine beneath Lake Erie, which also led to the first observation of a supernova's neutrino burst.

At the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), he helped design and build equipment that led to the discovery of Top Quark, the heaviest form of matter discovered to date. His integrated circuit designs, developed in the 1990s to improve measurements of particle collisions, are still used for high-energy physics experiments.

Finally, Foster helped design Recycler Ring, a giant particle accelerator, for Fermilab, in Illinois.

Now, the Democrat who defeated Jim Oberweis in the March 8 special election for Hastert's seat, prepares to tackle a wide range of policy issues.

His campaign did not highlight technology policy issues. Instead, Foster said he would work toward finding a political solution to the war in Iraq, promoting financial responsibility in federal government and reducing the deficit, promoting safe and affordable energy, cracking down on companies that hire illegal immigrants, guaranteeing health care for all Americans, and addressing the influence of lobbyists.

It also remains to be seen whether Foster's election will benefit technology companies and employees, but he's one federal lawmaker who's unlikely to draw mockery for his description of the "Internets" as "not a truck," but a "series of tubes," or "getting on the Google."

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