Sputnik Moment

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Earthrise from Apollo 8

Excerpt from the State of the Union, 2011

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

Getting to the moon took more perspiration than inspiration, but without vision it never would have happened.

What if we hold our President to his word on this? I watched his address in the company of people who assembled for an informal SOTU party, and when Barack Obama talked education the teachers jumped up and cheered.

We still have the vote, and we still have influence when politicians know that people who care about an issue will turn out. Do we have any clout in the nerd community? I read Scientific American for entertainment, and the editors there are very fired up about science and math education.

Can we imagine a future as glorious as our past?

This may be the moment. I’m watching the snow fall though my plastic-covered windows, imagining a future of clean, smart energy.

I think about a fourteen year old girl, looking at a black and white TV, watching Americans walk on the moon. Yes we did. Yes we can.

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