At a speech this morning at the White House to outline a new science initiative, President Barack Obama named himself "Scientist-in-Chief."
"I’m glad I’ve been promoted Scientist-in-Chief," Obama said to laughter at the White House. "Given my grades in physics, I’m not sure it’s deserving. But I hold science in proper esteem, so maybe that gives me a little credit."
Obama said he brought together a lot of smart people, which would help grow the eocnomy. "Today I’ve invited some of the smartest people in the country, some of the most imaginative and effective researchers in the country -- some very smart people to talk about the challenge that I issued in my State of the Union address: to grow our economy, to create new jobs, to reignite a rising, thriving middle class by investing in one of our core strengths, and that’s American innovation," said Obama.
Ideas are what power our economy. It’s what sets us apart. It’s what America has been all about. We have been a nation of dreamers and risk-takers; people who see what nobody else sees sooner than anybody else sees it. We do innovation better than anybody else -- and that makes our economy stronger. When we invest in the best ideas before anybody else does, our businesses and our workers can make the best products and deliver the best services before anybody else."
Obama then explained his proposal:
"So the founders of Google got their early support from the National Science Foundation. The Apollo project that put a man on the moon also gave us eventually CAT scans. And every dollar we spent to map the human genome has returned $140 to our economy -- $1 of investment, $140 in return. Dr. Collins helped lead that genome effort, and that’s why we thought it was appropriate to have him here to announce the next great American project, and that’s what we're calling the BRAIN Initiative.
"As humans, we can identify galaxies light years away, we can study particles smaller than an atom. But we still haven’t unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears. (Laughter.) But today, scientists possess the capability to study individual neurons and figure out the main functions of certain areas of the brain. But a human brain contains almost 100 billion neurons making trillions of connections. So Dr. Collins says it’s like listening to the strings section and trying to figure out what the whole orchestra sounds like. So as a result, we’re still unable to cure diseases like Alzheimer’s or autism, or fully reverse the effects of a stroke. And the most powerful computer in the world isn’t nearly as intuitive as the one we’re born with.
"So there is this enormous mystery waiting to be unlocked, and the BRAIN Initiative will change that by giving scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember. And that knowledge could be -- will be -- transformative."