to revolutionize medicine, making it preventative and predictive,” said Diamandis. According to Koonin, the interface between biology and energy will be “incredibly fertile.” The combination of chemistry with biotechnology will make it possible “to solve problems that we couldn’t solve before,” said Holliday. “There is no other country close to where we are today.”

The U.S. government has demonstrated its ability to cope with major problems. The government gave out more than a trillion dollars in a short period to bail out floundering banks because the industry was failing. “The crisis we are talking about today is a more serious long-term crisis than the one we just dealt with,” said Holliday. “Somehow we have to muster the attention.”

“Every challenge and every problem … we face on this planet can … be solved by the passionate and committed human mind.”

Peter Diamandis

One major challenge in capturing the attention of the government and voting public is to foster long-term rather than short-term perspectives. The stimulus funding was designed to have an immediate impact, whereas innovation may not create new jobs for several years. “But we have to start today, because if we keep waiting, we keep delaying that process,” said Estrin. “We don’t as a country think long term.”

Many engineers were heavily influenced by the Apollo project, Diamandis pointed out, and the lessons of the Apollo project can still inspire the American public, just as they inspired him when he was a boy. “Every challenge and every problem that we face on this planet can in fact be solved by the passionate and committed human mind.”

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