The theme of US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address yesterday evening was on how Americans could "win the future" despite increased competition from countries including China and India. Obama noted that China has the largest private solar research facility as well as the world's fastest computer — which Top500 says is at the National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin. "We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world," Obama said.
Obama then called for an increased federal investment in science as well as for training 100,000 more science, technology, engineering, and math teachers. "This is our generation's Sputnik moment," he said, echoing remarks he made at Forsyth Tech in Winston-Salem, NC, in December.
In particular, Obama focused on renewable energy. "We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo projects of our time," he said. Funds for those projects, he said, could come from eliminating federal subsidies to oil companies. "With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels," Obama added.
William Talman, the president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, said he was pleased to hear Obama say that he wants to make biomedical research investment a 2012 budget priority. "This will promote innovation, create new technologies, improve health, and revitalize the economy," Talman said in a statement. "It is also gratifying to the thousands of young Americans who have dedicated themselves to pursuit of careers in science and engineering, and this will inspire others to follow their lead."