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.

Heroes
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