President Obama wants the U.S. to build the world's fastest computer. And he's not asking.

Every president gets one moment to encourage America to do something really, really impressive.

JFK inspired us to go to the moon.


And Stanley Kubrick really made it look like we did! Photo via Pixabay.

George W. Bush pitched putting people on Mars by 2030.

15 more years! 15 more years! Photo by NASA.

And President Obama finally had his moment this past week when he challenged all Americans to come together as one and...

...build a really, really fast computer.


One that can run Oregon Trail and WordPerfect at the same time. Photo by Cornellanense/Wikimedia Commons.

OK, so it's not as flashy as going to the moon or Mars. But it's still a pretty big deal. Possibly an even bigger deal.

'Cause Obama doesn't have just any computer in mind.

He wants America to build the world's fastest computer. By 2025.

He issued the challenge in the form of an executive order to boot. So, technically, he ordered us to build the world's fastest computer.

Second term, balls-to-the-wall, IDGAF Obama, FTW.

According to Chris Baraniuk at the BBC, the kind of computer Obama has in mind could actually be a pretty big technological leap forward.

And not just in a highly-technical-scientific-techno-I-don't-totally-understand-this-but-OK way, but in some pretty neat, tangible ways that affect lots of folks' daily lives:

"The US is seeking the new supercomputer, significantly faster than today's models, to perform complex simulations, aid scientific research and national security projects.

It is hoped the machine would help to analyse weather data for more accurate forecasts or assist in cancer diagnoses by analysing X-ray images.

A blog post on the White House website
also suggests it could allow NASA scientists to model turbulence, which might enable the design of more streamlined aircraft without the need for extensive wind tunnel testing."


A computer that will give us better weather and climate data? That's awesome. It could even legit help us rescue the planet.

A computer that will carry out super-advanced cancer screenings? That could save lots of real human lives.

And turbulence is ... really, really annoying. I'd sign up for having a giant supercomputer design planes that can move through it like it's NBD.

All good.

Which raises the question...

Can we actually build it?

It's probably going to be pretty expensive, requiring an annual electricity bill of around $90 million per year. And it's going to require a lot of really smart people thinking really smart thoughts for a lot of hours to get us there.

But think about it.

If we could go from this:

OK, so this isn't the plan for 2025 after all. Photo by Cornellanense/Wikimedia Commons.

To this:

Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images.

In the span of a little more than 20 years...

It's pretty cool to think about how much further we can go in the next 10 years.


Photo by Alistair McMillan/Flickr.

OK, we might have to wait another few decades for the Enterprise computer.

But with POTUS backing the project, I bet those fancy future weather forecasts are gonna be pretty neat.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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One little girl took pictures of her school lunches. The Internet responded — and so did the school.

If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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Norton

This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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