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?
New Mens Genuine Leather Comfort Closed Toe Gladiators Fisherman Sandals ShoesSavannah Womens/Ladies Crushed Diamante Open Toe Sandals (KM121),Woman's Tom's Sz 6 M floral wedge open toe shoe sandal Espadrille,Lands End Womens outdoor Sport Sandal Agion antimicrobial ShoesTrekker size 5 Mspring step size 38 Brown Leather Slide Sandals,Womens Dollhouse Silver Ankle Wrap Sandals size 9,Judihi Women's Multi-Color Strappy Slip On Cuban Heel Sandals Size US 8.5 MDiane Von Furstenberg Women's Black Leather Thong Flip Flop Sandals Size US 7 M,BCBG Taupe Leather Platform Sandals Size 7.5CROCS Animal Print Sandals Women's Size 7 Ladies Casual Slides AdjustableMan/Woman Ladies Savannah Metallic Platform Sandals F0830 ~ K Cheap Quality First Global sales VH2063Womens Promise Sandals White Size 7 GLADIATOR PPEN TOE FLIP FLOPS SUMMER SHOESMan's/Woman's WHITE SATIN RHINESTONE FLIP FLOPS Modern technology online shop Exquisite processing,Hombre Marrón Sandalias Tira en el dedo A0034JOE N JOYCE Paris Synsoft Soft-footbed - Olive Patent - Mules,RF Room Of Fashion Dalia03 Open Toe Rhinestone Strappy Jelly Sandals BLUE,Gentlemen/Ladies New Women Colorful Pearl Summer Slippers Sandals Beach Shoes US Size 4-9 Special price Elegant style have fun HG558Man/Woman Ladies Savannah Casual Sandals F0842 Label ~ K use Win highly appreciated Valuable boutique VB1944,CAPE ROBBIN - STRAPPY AQUA & GOLD EMBELLISHED FLAT SANDALS - LADIES 6.5,SOLETECH HANDMADE HAND MADE SHOES SANDALS LEATHER SIZE 10.5 N NARROW,Naturalizer Taupe Nubuck Leather Sling-back Sandals 8 wide NEVER WORNCOLUMBIA 'inagua' ortho style comfort slide sandals size 11 new,Life Stride 'Meteor' White Sandals Open Toe Shoes SIZE 8M,Man/Woman Ladies Low Wedge Toepost Jewelled Sandals Spot On Durable service Orders are welcome Caramel, gentle VW1958,WOMENS LADIES ESPADRILLES FLAT LOW HEEL ANKLE STRAP SANDALS HOLIDAY SHOES SIZE,Madeline Shae Open Toe Kitten Heeled Slides White Flower Bow Detail Size 7.5 M,Man/Woman new summer holiday ladies low wedge slip on sandal mules black, size 3 to 8 Moderate price Quality First Recommended today VG1007,Womens Lady Toe Thong Sandal - Universal Thread - Black - Size 8.5,Man/Woman Ladies Savannah Rose Trim PVC Toe Post Sandals Style ~ K quality Reliable performance Excellent workmanship AR346,Men's Gotcha Quest Outdoors Sandals Size 12
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?
|Condition:||New without box : |
A brand-new, unused, and unworn item (including handmade items) that is not in original packaging or may be missing original packaging materials (such as the original box or bag). The original tags may not be attached. For example, new shoes (with absolutely no signs of wear) that are no longer in their original box fall into this category. See all condition definitions- opens in a new window or tab
|Seller Notes:||“These shoes are NEW, from a store display, they have been tried on and kept out of the box. There may be lightly soiled places and scuffs on the soles.”|
|Width:||Medium (B, M)||Fastening:||Slip On|
|Heel Height:||Flat (0 to 1/2 in.)||Heel Type:||Block|
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Men's Adidas 3 Stripe Slide Rubber Sandals------sz 13----,BIRKENSTOCK Arizona EVA 2-Riemen-Sandale Schwarz Black EVA normal,Anne Klein Women's Black Strappy Slip On Cone Heel Sandals US Size 9.5 M,Gap Leather Black White Snake Print Buckle Sandals Shoes Sz 8VINCE CAMUTO "LORDES" Brown Suede Ankle Strap Sandals Women's sz 8.5 B NEX2NEWNew Women Peep Toe Beaded Ankle Strap Stiletto Sandal High Heel Cover Heel Shoes,Reef Flip Flops Brown Leather Women Shoes Size 6 (B, M) NWOTMr/Ms Spot On Ladies Open Toe Low Wedge Sandals Every item described is available Sales Italy Outstanding function WV1723Chaps men's solar slides size 11 black./graySANDALIAS BOTINES ROMANAS rojo negro verde JENIKA sintetica con goma tobilloMUJER LAVABLE ORTOPÉDICAS DIABÉTICO CÓMODO PANTUFLAS CIERRE ADHESIVO ZAPATOSCandies Brown Leather Mule Sandals Slip On Size 6,Annie Kandi Slide Sandals Heels Shoes NEW Cutout Design,7841358 LDFSA20 Women's Shoes Size 7 M Ivory Suede Sandals Johnston & Murphy,Woman Silver Sandals w/Delicate Straps by Pierre Dumas "Amethyst" NEW Free Ship,Mr/Ms American Eagle Outfitters Womens Woven Crochet Sandals Size 10 Reasonable price Trendy Exquisite processing WG2768,Men's New M&S Navy/Red Flip Flops Size UK10-11Gentlemen/Ladies Sandalias de flores cuña número 37 New Listing International choice Outstanding function,G.H.Bass Women's Leather Wedge Slide Sandals Size 8.5,WOMEN'S LIGHT BLUE DENIM FLAT ANKLE 2 BANDS OPEN BACK SANDALS SHOES,Nike Sandals Slides Size 8M Excellent Condition,** C Label Slip On Sandal - Women's Size 7.5 Dark Gray,Alpine Swiss Womens Fringe Sandals Beaded & Studded Strappy Gladiator Ankle Flat,Spiaggia di crocs arancione slip on Clog XS W4-5 (G1),New Mens Brown Black Leather Wool Slippers Shoes 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Flip-FlopBorn Sandals Wedge Heel Black Leather W3372 Strappy Slides Womens 10/ 42 (A09),Womens Adjustable Ankle Strap Flat Comfortable Lightweight Sandal Sabrina SAB325,Mr/Ms Italian Shoemakers Sandals Women Size 6m New product Quality First Various,Pesaro Ankle Strap Silver Wedge Sandals 3” Heel - Women’s Shoe Size 7,Earth Spirit Leather Birch GELRON 2000 WOMEN sandals shoes size 8.5 flip flops,
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.