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 HANDMADE TAN COLOR OXFORD HIGH QUALITY LEATHER DRESS SHOES WITH BLACK SOLEDonald J Pliner Velka Red Suede Patent Leather Peeptoe Stilettos Heels 7.5 M,Delman Italian black leather heel womens shoes size 8 1/2 B,Gentlemen/Ladies H&m Flat Shoes Size 4 New product Brand Highly appreciated and widely trusted in and out,Kelly & Katie Mules Slides Size 8 M Brown Leather Berkley Tassels 2.5" HeelMERONA Gray Faux Suede "Blair" Oxford Flat Casual Shoes Womens 6.5,Gorgeous Madden Girl Vintage style shoes 30's 50's.NEW Size (65),CHAMARIPA Height inceasing Shoes / 2.76inches / Black /,Man's/Woman's Studed Espadilles Size 4 Packaging diversity Clearance Non-slip,WOMENS DESIGNER CLARKS SOMERSET SHOES BLACK LEATHER US 9.5 LOAFER,hommes Red Tape à la mode chaussures brogues BRACKEN classique,Womens Raffia Wedge Ankle Heel Peep Toe Summer Sandal Ladies Rose Gold Silver,BP Nordstrom Womens Black Satin Peep Toe High Heel Fashion Pumps 7MClarks ASCAR andar Hombre Cuero punta cuadrada Zapatos Con Cordones,Mr/Ms Ko Fashion Ladies Flats Leather Lining Promotion modern classic style,Softlites Sze 6 Open Toed Casual Shoe,multifit size 9 pink moccasins eee from a pet and smoke free home,hommes Ben Sherman laçage cuir chaussures richelieu simspon,Marc Fisher Valma Brown Peep Toe Platform Cork Heels Size 10,Men/Women Mens Barker Formal Shoes Albert Reliable quality Optimal price Different goods,Men's/Women's Womens Flats Size 7 Floral Print Various styles Attractive fashion Various,Men/Women Men's Bugatti Formal Shoes Label Bene U9008 New Listing Bright colors business BG2800,Lauren Ralph Lauren Black Scale Patterned High Heels Women’s Size Shoes 8 AAFUNTASMA Vintage Costume Kitten Heel Round Toe T-Strap Pump FLAPPER-26 Black,Nicole Miller Women's Wine Laminated Tweed Leather Heels SZ 8 1/2,Red Tape Bromham Tan Suede Mens Formal Dress Shoes RRP !,New w/ tags USA DAWGS youth kaymann girls red frost slip on flats/shoes size 11,REDFOOT ALBERT TAN LEATHER BROGUES LN084 JJ 11CUTE QUIRKY EMBROIDERED FLORAL BALLET FLATS BEIGE SIZE 37/4,Soft Style Hush Puppies Womens Shoe Size 7.5 M Black Slip-on Loafer Strap Buckle,
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
|Material:||Leather||Toe Type:||Round Toe|
|Occasion:||Casual||US Shoe Size (Women's):||US 6.5|
|Width:||Medium (B, M)||Heel Height:||Flat (0 to 1/2 in.)|
PS: You also put heavy emphasis on developing innovation and entrepreneurship. How do you make Silicon Valley happen all over the country?
Mens Clarks Formal Shoes Label Glement OverMan/Woman Ladies Shoes Size 5 Customer first The highest quality material Explosive good goodsWomens Madeline Stuart SHOES BEIGE faux suede Wedge slip on HEELS Size 6.5M EUC,New Look satin black heels with bow detail uk size 5,Gabor Women's Dark Burgundy Patent Shoes Size 5,5,BASE LONDON PARKER MENS BLACK MATTE SLIP ON SHOE WITH STRAP,Men's Shoes Loafers ROBERTO SERPENTINI Beige Suede Vent Braided Comfort New,Men/Women Mens Anatomic Sergipe 2 Smart Slip On Shoes Adequate supply and timely delivery stable quality Breathable shoes VW1930,femmes Spot On CHAUSSURES LE STYLE - f9587,Gianni Bini Black Cat-Eye High Heels Size 8,Man/Woman Pair Of K Shoes Size 4 Outstanding features Price reduction Exquisite processing,Soft Style Clogs Women's Slip On Shoes Blue Leather Size 8.5 US 40 " Heel,Men's Navy Blue Spanish Leather Shoes,Man's/Woman's hommes RIEKER chaussures habillées' 40701cm Customer first Online export store value,Men's/Women's Dorothy perkins flat shoes size 4 fashion Lush design Complete specifications,Men's/Women's Sperry top sider Children’s Size 6.5 Beautiful design Highly praised and appreciated by the consumer audience classic styleComfort-well by Beacon Womens Dress Slip On Pumps Shoes Bone sz 9.5M,Primrose Oliver Ladies Womens Gold Snake Sling Back Heels Shoes Sandals,Johnston Murphy Tobacco Brown Wingtip Oxford Shoes Size 8.5 M VG condition,DONALD J PLINER Mens BLACK LEATHER CASUAL SLIP ON LOAFERS,Uomo Base London Noel HI PELLE LUCIDA SCARPE ELEGANTI Brogue con lacciLADIES WHITE CASUAL SHOES SIZE 41 BY FLEET & FOSTER,G by Guess Chippy White Womens Shoes Size 8.5 M Flats MSRP $59,9 Nine West Black Leather 3.5" Heels Pumps Shoes Ankle Straps 8.5M,Gentlemen/Ladies Purple high heels size 6 Various styles First quality Elegant and robust menuUomo Clarks' ASTUTO stile 'Scarpe con lacci ETICHETTA ~ K,Allen Edmonds "LAKE BLUFF" Loafers 13 D Chili (552),Man/Woman Mens Clarks 'Baze Night' Slip On Shoes Style ~ K Complete specification range delicate Comfortable and natural AV1358,Spot On F9586 Ladies Black Leopard PU Microfibre Flat Shoe (32A),Nine West Cadence Black Womens Shoes Size 8.5 M Boots MSRP $99,
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.