Earlier today, President Obama came to my home state to announce a manufacturing hub in Raleigh, North Carolina. Lucky man that I am, I had the pleasure of watching the speech live on a TV from a Wendy's. Yes, I know, I've drunk deep of the Presidential glory.
The speech was about what you'd expect—a fairly rehearsed, on-point message about we need to set up R&D and manufacturing, with some asides about things Obama's fighting Congress on. There were a few highlights for science-y people out there, though. First, Obama was really pushing for R&D on wide bandgap semiconductors—grant writers, you have your buzzword.
Second, Obama hit on the idea of public research supporting private industry, and focusing in on science as a way to keep our economy vibrant. I'm sure people here on the O-deck see this as old news, but for me, personally, it's really heartening. There are enough people telling me that science is a waste of money, while knowing I'm working in science, that I'm constantly looking for political allies of science.
Most importantly, Obama went off-script about some research he saw on a lab tour in Raleigh. At around 15:15, he gets a little giddy while talking about a utilities application of wide bandgap semiconductors. That big smile and low mumble he does? That's what it sounds like when a researcher talks about something cool, but knows it's over the audience's head (and probably over the researcher's).
There's nothing really news-worthy in this, except further proof that Obama isn't a reptilian. It was a good political speech, got me motivated to go back in the lab and work another six hours despite a migrane. Heck, I had to watch it again to write this post, so I might go back in for another six! (No.)