the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

(President Barack Obama applauds recipients after presenting 2008 Medals of Science and Medals of Technology and Innovation during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
This afternoon the President presented recipients of this year's National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology with their awards.  A humbling moment to be amongst some of the brightest and most pioneering minds in the world, he spoke about the importance of science and exploration—and expounded upon the necessity of creative and virtuous individuals to our country and to humanity:
At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we can't afford to invest in science, that it's a luxury at a moment defined by necessities.  I could not disagree more.  Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, and our health, and our way of life than it has ever been.  And the winners we are recognizing only underscore that point, with achievements in physics and medicine, computer science and cognitive science, energy technology and biotechnology.  We need to ensure that we are encouraging the next generation of discoveries -- and the next generation of discoverers. 
That's why my administration has set this goal:  by investing in education, funding basic and applied research, and spurring private innovation, we will devote 3 percent of our gross domestic product to research and development.  That's more than at any point in recent history.  (Applause.)
And as part of this effort, we're putting in place policies that will move us from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science education over the next decade.  We are challenging states to dramatically improve achievement by raising standards, by improving the use of technology, and by making it possible for professionals like our honorees to bring a lifetime of experience and enthusiasm into the classroom.  And we've also launched a Race to the Top fund to encourage states to compete for the most innovative programs in math and science, as part of a broader effort to foster new ways of engaging young people in these fields. 
Later, he expressed excitement over tonight's South Lawn astronomy event, which will include a live chat at 7 PM/6 CT with NASA astronaut, first woman in space, Sally Ride.
(President Barack Obama presents the National Medal of Science to Dr. JoAnne Stubbe of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009.  Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

(President Barack Obama congratulates Charles Geschke, left, and John Warnock, center, of Adobe Systems after presenting them with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation during an awards ceremony in the East Room of the White House, October 7, 2009. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)