President Barack Obama spent time yesterday looking at the stars—both real and those in the scientific firmament.
In a formal ceremony in the East Room of the White House, the president honored this year's winners of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology. A few hours later he stepped outside into the clean, crisp evening and, dressed more casually, invited some 200 middle school students to join him to look through a sea of telescopes assembled on the White House lawn.
Obama reminded both audiences of his Administration's plans to increase spending on research and education and the role of science and technology in boosting the economy, protecting the country, and improving public health. He even linked the two events, telling students that "this morning I awarded the National Medals of Science and Technology to individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of human knowledge. And here's my question: Which one of you are going to come back here to claim your prize?"
The timing of the events coincided with this week's announcements of the Nobel prizes in medicine or physiology, physics, and chemistry, again dominated by Americans, who claimed seven of the nine awards.