Along with running the free world, President Barack Obama has spent the past seven years guiding U.S. science and technology policy. The initiatives and goals he puts in place—in clean energy, space, medicine, education, nanotechnology, and more—help direct research, which in turn directs the future. With one year left in the Oval Office, the president talks about what he’s achieved, what’s left to do (a lot), and why being a nerd is one of the best ways to serve your country.By Cliff Ransom Photography by F. Scott Schafer
Popular Science: You have been a very pro-science president. Why do you see science and technology as being so important?
Men's/Women's SPOTON-MENSCLOGS= Modern technology Make full use of materials Very practical,Womens Juicy Couture Flip Flops Size 7M~Pink Bows & Charms~Original Box,New Naot Harbor Mens Comfortable Adjustable Durable Outdoor SandalsMan/Woman Material Girl Womens Swirlz Split Toe Casual Slingback Sandals Complete specification Elegant and sturdy packaging Quality and consumer first WV2927,MUNRO Black Sandals, Size 9 Narrow, Very Gently Used,Men/Women Womens Ladies Slip On Designer Inspired Embellished Studded Sandals Sliders Size High-quality Win the praise of customers Popular recommendation WV2435,**Abound Baxter Ankle Strap Sandal, Women's Size 6 M, Black,Nine West Metallic Brown Thong Wedge Cork Sandals Sz 6.5 - 2.75" Heel,Mens Flip Flop Slide Lightweight Casual Comfort Sandals UK size 6 7 8 9 10 11,Donald J Pliner Womens Sandals size 9M Kitten Heels fabric strapsMossimo Supply Co Women's Lena Metal Toe Slip On Flip Flops Sandals, Pink / GoldBORN BOC Women’s Leather Flip Flops Thong Sandals Sz 9 M,A. Cremena Sparkle Strappy Dress Sandals, Champagne, 7.5 US Display,Holden Special Vehicles HSV Logo Mens Black Printed Thongs Size 6 New /40,Urban Outfitters Cross Confetti Platform Pool Slides Sandals Slip On Black Sz 10,Men/Women Naturalsoul by Naturalizer gold women's sandals/shoes New Listing special promotion Authentic guarantee,Man's/Woman's Adidas Originals Adilette Slippers Pink Ladies Elegant and sturdy set meal real Excellent stretching,Sommerpantolette mit Pailletten und Plateausohle Farbe: Orange Größe,Westies Gibson Black Leather Slides Sandals Women's Size 8 M,Not Rated Black Studded Ankle Strap Back Zip Buckle Detail Flat Sandals Size 7Mariage Fête Pantoufles mariée demoiselle d'honneur SPA,Gentleman/Lady Ladies Down To Earth Sandals F10297 The color is very eye-catching Modern design Quality and consumer first,Womans Clarks White Criss Cross Leather Slides Slip-on Mules Sandals 75580 Sz 7M,Clarks Womens Black Leather Slip On Sandals Slides Strap Shoes Sz 7 M,SAS Womens Shoes Slip On Loafers Sz 7M Gold Bronze Leather Comfort Walking,Sandalette | chicer Schuh | braun | Gr 37 | braun | Absatz 7 cm,Camellia Pink Women Big Flower Flip Flop Thong Slipper Flat or Heels Sandals,Bass Women's Cora Pink and Tan Flip Flops Sandals Size 6 G7,Life Stride Slip-On Black Patent, Open Toed Sandles, 7 1/2 N, great Condition.,Men/Women Sparkle Fitflops Sandals 61/2 Economical and practical Beautiful Modern and elegant
PS: Among your White House initiatives, you’ve focused heavily on improving STEM education in America. What’s your proudest achievement on that front?
BO: There’s a lot to be proud of. We now graduate 25,000 more engineers per year from our colleges and universities than we did when I took office. We’re more than halfway toward our goal of preparing 100,000 new math and science teachers by 2021. We’ve secured more than $1 billion of private investment for improving STEM education, and commitments from college and university leadership to help underrepresented students earn STEM degrees. There’s also something that’s harder to measure, but every bit as important: all the young people, including minorities and young women, who are more excited than ever about pursuing their passions for STEM.
One of the new traditions I’ve started as president is the White House Science Fair. We ought to celebrate science fair winners at least as much as Super Bowl winners. And when young people are excited about science, technology, engineering, and math, that’s not just good for them. That’s good for America. We want the next game-changing industry or life-saving breakthrough to happen right here in the United States.
PS: Do you consider yourself a nerd and, if so, what’s your nerdiest pastime?
New without box: A brand-new, unused, and unworn item (including handmade items) that is not in original packaging or ... Read moreabout the condition
|Fastening:||Buckle||Style:||Slingbacks / T-Strap|
|Heel Height:||Flat (0 to 1/2 in.)||US Shoe Size (Women's):||7|
|Occasion:||Casual||Width:||Medium (B, M)|
|Country/Region of Manufacture:||China||Material:||Synthetic|
|Country of Manufacture:||China||Color:|
Does Not Apply
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Women Tommy Hilfiger Shoes Size 7 Flip Flops Red White Blue Summer Sandals,LIFESTRIDE DARK TAUPE/BLACK FAUX LEATHER STRAPPY SANDALS SHOES SZ 8,NEW WOMENS LADIES REAL LEATHER SUMMER SANDALS FLIP FLOPS MULES SHOES SIZE,Havaianas Slim Flip Flops - Women's Size 6. No Wear! EUC!!! Green & Gold Trim!!,Men/Women Women's Dress Loafer Shoes Size 6 BLACK Various styles High-quality materials Maintenance capability WN2779,HAVAIANAS ESPADRILLES COLOUR AMAZONIA / YELLOW SIZE 36Fashion Women Big Flower Open Toe Slip-On Slides Flip Flops Comfy Sandals Flats,bar III Siren Platform Ankle Cuff Wedge Sandals, Black, 6 US Display,SPEEDO Womens Flip Flop Thong Sandals Size 8 Black Yellow Performace Active Swim,Fashion Women's flat sandels Gold with big strap in the front, Size 37,Mr/Ms brindx sandals womans size 10 Wear resistant Attractive fashion Full range of specifications,Gentleman/Lady Designer Inspired Unisex Sliders Slip On Slippers Fine processing high quality A balance between toughness and hardness WB245,FLIP FLOPS /SANDALS MULTI-COLOR US SHOE SIZE 11 SUMMER BEACH THAI COLOR FASHIONMens Hunter Original Adjustable Logo Sliders Black Slip On Sandals Sz Size,Indian Ethnic Handmade Artificial Leather Belly Color Brown Casual 2 For WomenLadies RED Slip-ons Sandals SIZE 7,Decree White Open Toe Sandals Cork Wedge Strappy Women's Size 10,Women's Nicole Pink Slide Flower Sandals Size 7M (New With Box),DIVAZ CARAMEL FLOWER SLIDES UK6 FLAT BEACH WALKING HOLIDAY SANDALS,Man's/Woman's Spot On Ladies Mid Heel T Bar Sandal Excellent craft Optimal price Full range of specifications BG1668,Negro De Hombre / Azul Ajustadas Sandalias Sin Cordones / Zapatos Talón surferoMr/Ms stuart weitzman 6 sandals Online Shopping Trendy International big nameNew CL by Laundry Black & White Zebra Slides Sandals Heels Lime Lining sz 9,De Lona Para Dama Cuña Baja Sandalias Con Lazo punta,Henry Ferrera Womens Black Slides Shoes size 8.5 / 39 EU Italian leather,Havaianas Brasil Logo Womens Flip Flops Beach Sandals Shoes New for Summer 2711,Vince Camuto Womens Illana Black Wedge Sandals Shoes 7 Medium (B,M) BHFO 0802,Man/Woman WOMENS LADIES FLAT STRIPED SLIDERS SUMMER SLIP ON MULES SLIPPERS SANDALS SHOES Exquisite (middle) workmanship Quality and quantity guaranteed Cheap order RB3089,Mens Rainbow Sandals Flip Flops XL (11-12),WOMENS STRAPPY FLIP FLOPS SLINGBACK WEDGE HEEL SHOES LADIES SANDALS NEW SIZE 3-8,
BO: When it comes to precision medicine, advances in technology, data science, and clinical research are already curing diseases that were once thought to be incurable. It’s entirely possible that a decade or two from now, treatments would be tailored not just to the disease, but also to the individual patient. We’re being careful to protect patient data and to make participants partners in this work. Because if we embrace precision medicine in the right way, the possibilities for better treatments are practically endless.
The BRAIN Initiative is another project whose time has come. Right now, we can identify galaxies billions of light-years away. We can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the 3 pounds of matter that sits between our ears. I believe that with America leading the way, we can change that. Hundreds of scientists and dozens of universities, companies, foundations, and other organizations have stepped up to help us tackle this challenge.
PS: You’ve also advocated the development of a private space industry to work alongside and complement government efforts. What is your vision for space exploration and commercialization? Who does what?
BO: I’ve laid out a vision for space exploration where our astronauts travel out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay. To build a sustainable human presence in space, we’ll need a thriving private-sector space economy. I see the expanding space industry as an addition to, not a replacement for, the extraordinary work of NASA. With industry taking over tasks like ferrying cargo and crew to the International Space Station, NASA can focus even more intensely on the most challenging exploration missions, like landing astronauts on Mars or learning more about Earth and the rest of our solar system.
As we set our sights toward other planets, we can also create good jobs here on this one. American companies have begun to reclaim the lucrative market for launching commercial satellites. That’s just one example of the way that a growing space economy can help American workers succeed.
PS: If you were to end up on Mars, who would you want as your companion: Mark Watney from The Martian, or Ellen Ripley from Alien?
BO: As long as it’s a hypothetical question, can’t I pick both? If I’ve got Matt Damon growing potatoes and Sigourney Weaver taking care of any unwelcome intruders, I like my chances.
PS: It’s been barely two months since a climate agreement was struck in Paris. How do you think the agreement will be remembered 20 years from now?
BO: I believe the Paris agreement can be a turning point for our planet. It’s the biggest single step the world has ever taken toward combating global climate change. When I traveled to Paris at the beginning of the climate conference, I said we needed an enduring agreement that reduces global carbon emissions and commits the world to a low-carbon future. That’s exactly what we achieved.
The American people should be proud because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership. The skeptics said that taking action to transition to a clean-energy economy would kill jobs. Instead, we’ve seen the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. We’ve driven our economic output to all-time highs, while driving our carbon pollution to its lowest level in nearly two decades.
These kinds of concrete steps helped bring more countries to the table. With our historic joint announcement with China last year, we showed it was possible to bridge the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for too long. And that accomplishment inspired dozens and dozens of other nations to follow our lead and set ambitious climate targets of their own.
BO: Before you can solve a problem, you have to understand it. That’s why we’ve fought hard to protect the funding for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, a government-wide effort to help us see what’s happening in the present so we can better predict the future. Thanks to their efforts, our satellites, aircraft, ships, buoys, and terrestrial-monitoring systems are providing indispensable insights and strengthening the models that tell us what to expect going forward.
My administration hasn’t just helped to advance climate science—we’ve also made good use of the results. We used the most up-to-date insights from climate science as the basis of our national Climate Action Plan. And we’ve begun to develop accessible climate databases and tools that help governments, businesses, and citizens protect themselves from the effects of climate change that we can’t avoid.
President Obama, photographed on January 4 at the White House
BO: Fifteen of the planet’s 16 warmest years have come in the first 16 years of the 21st century. The warmest year yet was 2015. The Pentagon is warning us that climate change will threaten our national security by fostering instability overseas. Here at home, we’re seeing longer and more dangerous wildfire seasons, coupled with devastating droughts. Last year I visited Alaska, where towns are literally being swallowed up by rising sea levels. Miami now routinely floods at high tide. So this debate is over. The question now is what we do about climate change because there is such a thing as being too late. And I think that regardless of their party, if candidates for elected office want to resign your children and grandchildren to a world that’s broken beyond repair, then there’s simply no way they deserve your vote.
BO: Well, here’s what we’ve done. Over the past seven years, we have transformed America into the global leader in fighting climate change. We’ve set new fuel standards for cars and trucks, invested more than any administration in history in growing industries like wind and solar, taken unprecedented steps to protect our natural resources, and set limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can dump into the air. Most important, we’ve proved that we don’t have to choose between a growing economy and a safer planet for future generations. We can have both.
But in the end, when I think about our efforts to combat climate change, I don’t just think about CO2 emissions levels or degrees of global temperature rise. I think about my two girls, and the grandchildren I’d hope to have one day. I imagine myself pushing a little boy or girl on a swing set, out in the open air, looking up at the sun. In that moment, I want to know that the planet’s going to be in pretty good shape. And I want to have contributed to that.
Because that’s our goal: to leave behind a better, safer, more prosperous world for our kids and grandkids. That’s our most important mission in the time we have on Earth. And after seven years as president, I’ve never been more confident that together, we’ll succeed.