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?
HotCakes BPT Shiny Black Flat Ballet Casual Closed Shoe Women Shoes 9M NewGentlemen/Ladies Ladies Anne Michelle Heeled Sandals With Ankle Buckle Ideal gift for all occasions Stylish and charming Quality and consumer first BR1777Man/Woman Spot On Ladies Ankle Strap Gladiator Sandals Modern technology Known for its good quality Famous store BN2352ZOCCOLI GYMMY UOMO DONNA BAMBINO GOMMA SANDALI MARE DAL 33 AL 47M&S AUTOGRAPH INSOLIA BLACK PATENT LEATHER ESPADRILLE WEDGE SANDALS - SIZE 7New! Women's Bongo 141504 High Heel Sandals - Tan H16,NEW WOMENS LADIES REAL LEATHER SUMMER SANDALS FLIP FLOPS MULES SHOES SIZE,New Womens Flat Diamante Jelly Flip Flop Sandals Ladies Beach Shoes Summer Thong,Sam edelman sasha strappy leather peep toe wedge sandals cork platform size 8.5,Womens Ladies Faux Suede Office Work Pointed Toe New Mid Heel Court Shoes Size,NAUTICA Women’s Navy Blue Yellow Green Pineapple Flip Flops Summer Beach Size 7,RUBI BLACK SATIN THONG SANDALS WITH DIAMONTE JEWELS SIZE 40,New Next Blue Toe Post Men's Beach Sandals Flip Flops U.K 12 Euro 47,Beeagle Unisex Clogs Comfortable Lightweight Walking Garden Shoes Slippers Quick,Baretraps Honora Gold Womens Shoes Size 6.5 M Sandals MSRP $59,Kenneth Cole Reaction Men's Go Four Flip Flops Leather Sandals Brown Size 11,Tongs claquettes Kappa Monetta blc tong Blanc 77217 - NeufCrocs Kadee II Flip Thong - Navy - Croslite,Ladies EASY STEPS Leather Sandal Shoes (sz 6/37 Aust),MARK NASON LOUNGE BLACK LEATHER ETCHED DRAGON OPEN TOE SLIDES SANDALS MEN'S 11,CL LAUNDAY BLACK STUDDED SANDALS SIZE 8 MEDNew Women CFld Black Pink Tan Beige Gladiator Ankle Wrap Flat Sandals,Sam & Libby Women's Kelly Wedge Heel Ankle Strap Sandals - Coral Floral,Men's/Women's Qupid Womens grammy Open Toe Casual Ankle Strap Sandals superior Let our products go to the world renewed on time GB2701Life Stride Sandals 7.5 Gray Wedge Straps With Buckle And Accent Shiny Womens,Man's/Woman's MENS ESPADRILLS SHOES/SANDALS 2 COLOURS AVAILABLE Rich design First grade in its class Authentic guarantee,Men's/Women's Women’s Firetrap sandals size 6.5 Fashion pattern Medium cost Vintage tide shoes,Men's/Women's Old Navy Flip Flop Sandals for Woman, Great for Beach or Casual Wear Practical and economical Let our products go to the world various kinds NV365,ROS HOMMERSON Women's Justine Heeled Sandal 6 M NWTPropet Women's Tour Walker II Tie Walking Shoe 8 ½ White, Pre-owned W3900,
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 with box: A brand-new, unused, and unworn item (including handmade items) in the original packaging (such as ... Read moreabout the condition
|Shoe Size:||Various size|
Does not apply
|Fastening:||Zip with Lace Up Front|
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Minnetonka Denim Sandals Womens 10 Blue Slides Boho Hippie Buckles 799896 BLT,Cato V Natural Studded Sandals Size 7 1/2,Man/Woman Mens sonoma Black Flip Flop 2B sell Make full use of materials Various latest designs,Under Armour Mens Ignite V Slide Athletic Sandals Multiple Sizes,Gap Purple Fabric T-Strap Thong Sandals Size 8,GAP Champagne Metallic Leather Floral Cutout Sandals Women's Size 8,Cute Shiny Clear Women Slide Sandal Beach Shoes SZ36White Rhinestone Flip Flop Sandal by ITALIAN SHOEMAKERS,Gentleman/Lady Ladies sandal,/flip flops..WHITE.. Diverse new design Good market Fashion dynamicMan's/Woman's Ladies Spot On Sandals Style - F10330 Modern and elegant fashion Elegant style International big name WA1803,Marco Gianni leather Flats shoes Size 40 Good Condition,Man/Woman clarks sandals 6.5 D Long-term reputation Won highly appreciated and widely trusted at home and abroad various kinds,HUSH PUPPIES Women 8.5 Comfy Black Leather Slip On Wedge Dress Sandal Shoes NICE,Womens NEW Sweet Silver Sequin Black Wedge Flip Flop Sandals Sz 9,EASY STREET Tuscany Brenta FLATS Womens 9M Red Flip Flop Sandals-EUC,2 New Pairs Women Designer Sandles size 9,Clark Springer Comfort Sandals Leather Size 9M Adj Straps Black/BlueMan/Woman Unisex Adulti Crocs Sandali Sabot 'Crocband' Outstanding features Known for its good quality Elegant and solemn,New Leather Mens Black Slipppers Mule Flip Flop Sandals 7 8 9 10 11 12 13,Toast! Ladies Spring Sandals T-Strap Orange Lizard Metallic Print NEW,Man's/Woman's Women's cream sandals size 5 Online Shopping Quality and quantity guaranteed Preferential price,GC Shoes Women's Tan Wedge Sandals, Size 10, Cork,Tony Little Cheeks Blue & Black Memory Foam Barefoot Spa Thong Sandal 7 NEW,THALIA SODI Kiarah Pale Mauve Cage Ankle Strap Sandals us 10M,Men's/Women's Ladies low heel casual comfort shoes womens office work school comfy shoes service Sufficient supply Human border NB1582,SKECHERS Brown Suede, Relaxed FIT 360 Memory Foam Sandals, Mens Size 8Flip Flops Silver Floral Glitter Girls Women's XSS 1/3 Beach Pool Summer Sandals,Josef Seibel Womens Black Slides Size 10 (302262),Acorn Womens Black Suede Casual Slides Sandals Shoes 10 M Comfort Suport EUC,Acorn Pillow Pod Black Slide Sandals Size 9
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.