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December 7, 2010 / J. Shaw

Remember when America was First in Everything?

Obama Wants U.S. , not Asia or Europe to be First Again….

The phone. The electric light bulb. The Model T. Heck, Google. 

The list of American innovations that have changed life on Earth is practically endless, but President Obama is trying to inspire America’s next technological wave by referring back to a 50-year-old achievement by a defunct nation — Sputnik. 

The president, visiting North Carolina’s Research Triangle Monday, called on businesses and lawmakers to help America achieve the next “Sputnik moment” — referring to the Soviets’ 1957 launch of an Earth-orbiting satellite which amped up the space race, led to the creation of NASA and was effectively rebutted when the United States put a man, or several of them, on the moon. 

“That was a wake-up call,” Obama said. “Once we put our minds to it, once we got focused, once we got unified, not only did we surpass the Soviets — we developed new American technologies, industries and jobs.” 

The United States’ response to Sputnik secured its place in the post-war world as the leading innovator in science and technology. Obama warned Monday that an America in danger of “falling behind” is once again facing such a test.

The president’s apparent point Monday was to show some tough love as he warned about the economic rise of India and China — suggesting those countries would take the place of the Soviets in this generation as the innovators to beat. 

“Competition is going to be much more fierce,” Obama said, citing the glut of statistics that show America’s students lagging in science and engineering and education overall despite the renowned quality of their universities. The president expressed confidence that the United States will once again rise to the challenge but cautioned against resting on laurels. 

“We will meet that Sputnik moment,” Obama predicted.

excerpts from:

What’s Up With ‘Sputnik?’ Obama Makes ’50s Space Race a Rallying Cry



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