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Meet GATSBII. He’s a sturdy fellow who weighs about 450 pounds and stands at four foot four—unless he needs to reach something and extends to five foot five. He looks just like the classic robot of your imagination: a broad, rolling base that contains two operating computers; arms with clawlike pincers; a laser scanner that hums up and down; and a row of cameras and an Xbox Kinect atop his head. (Yes, we know you shouldn’t use personal pronouns for a robot, but who can resist? Just look at him.)
Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets may have the more distinguished histories among local colleges. But Atlanta’s future may very well rest in the hands of the Panthers of Georgia State. That’s because the classes graduating from the lower-profile research university in Downtown Atlanta mirror the emerging demographics of the surrounding city—diverse both in terms of ethnicity and socioeconomic background. In fact, GSU graduates a higher rate of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians than any of its in-state rivals and in 2011 awarded more bachelor’s degrees to African Americans than any U.S. non–historically black college.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has admitted patients who weigh more than 500 pounds, and the pediatric facility treats type 2 diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, and sleep apnea—diseases once seen only in adults. When Children’s started asking questions, it was stunned to discover that although 40 percent of Georgia children were overweight or obese (second worst only to Mississippi), more than 70 percent of parents considered their kids’ weights normal.
On August 2, 1926, Sears threw a party and 30,000 Atlantans showed up, frantic to peek inside the new 750,000-square-foot retail center on Ponce de Leon Avenue, where all of the 35,000 items in the iconic Sears Roebuck catalog were on display. “If ever there was a doubt in the minds of Atlantans that the company actually kept in stock the thousands upon thousands of articles . . . that doubt was erased after a tour through the building,” enthused an Atlanta Constitution reporter. It was built in a record six months by more than 2,000 workers, and Sears pumped $2 million into the construction job market. That’d be $26 million today; no wonder Mayor Walter Sims was on hand to hoist a flag atop the 232-foot tower.
The problem is invisible. The solution is expressed in a symbology that few laypeople can decipher. And despite more than a decade of development, any substantive sign of that solution’s effect on humanity is still, at best, years away. But in terms of impact, it doesn’t get much bigger, clearer, and more immediate than the prospect of a successful HIV vaccine.