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$17 Million Incentive for Scientists to Help the World

May 19, 2014 05:40 PM EDT
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Three-hundred years ago, the British government offered a fantastical award to the first academic mind to figure out how figure out a ship's longitudinal location in real-time. Now Britain has done it again, offering a massive cash prize to the first scientist to solve one of the many major problems of our time - and it's up to the public to decide what that problem will be.

Britain is offering 10 million pounds - nearly $17 million - to the first scientist or team of scientists who figure out how to solve this generation's "longitudinal problem" - a metaphor for whatever the public will deem the "greatest problem of our age."

On Monday, innovation charity Nesta and the Technology Strategy Board of the UK revealed the six world problems that the public can chose from to be the focus of the Longitude Prize, according to Wired UK.

Since then, the Longitude Prize 2014 website has gone live, presenting the six majors problems for all the world to learn about. According to Nesta, Lord Martin Rees, and Wired UK editor David Rowan, the prize will either call for:

Antibiotics - a low-cost, fast and accurate test for bacterial infections so that everyone, everywhere can be given the right antibiotics prescription at the right time

Water - cheap, environmentally sustainable technology to remove salt from sea water

Food - a food innovation that allows everyone to have a sustainable, nutritious and low-cost diet

Paralysis - a tool that provides paralyzed individuals with freedom of movement

Flight - a zero-carbon plane that can fly from London to Edinburgh at normal speeds

Dementia - a low-cost technology that enables dementia-sufferers to live independently

Voting will reportedly begin on May 22 following an on-air announcement made by BBC television. The chosen topic will be announced June 25 and the contest-proper will open for entries in September.

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