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.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less