Win the Longitude Prize—and $17 million

SCIENCE

A £10 million prize (about $16,820,000) has been launched to solve one of the six greatest scientific problems facing the world today. The competition was inspired by the 1714 Longitude Prize, which was won by John Harrison. His clocks enabled sailors to pinpoint their position at sea for the first time. (BBC)

Use our resources to better understand longitude, and get started on a 21st century breakthrough.

Discussion Ideas
Read about the Longitude Prize in the BBC article, and then take a look at the six potential challenges. Which do you think professional and citizen scientists should try to solve?

A Front Royal, Virginia, woman comforts her twin, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic

A Front Royal, Virginia, woman comforts her twin, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic

DEMENTIA: How can we help people with dementia live independently for longer?

  • It is estimated that 135 million people worldwide will have dementia by 2050. This presents a great personal and financial cost to society, and with no existing cure there is a need to find ways to support a person’s dignity and extend their ability to live independently.
  • Dementia places a burden not just on the health-care system but on individuals, families, and networks of care. With a growing global financial and social cost, an integrated care solution is required.
  • Use our resources to learn more about health and medicine.
Aircraft engines, like car engines, emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Photograph by Bill Chan, courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

Aircraft engines, like car engines, emit greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.
Photograph by Bill Chan, courtesy U.S. Department of Defense

FLIGHT: How can we fly without damaging the environment?

  • If aircraft carbon emissions continue to rise they could contribute up to 15 percent of global warming from human activities within 50 years.
  • The rapid growth of carbon emissions caused by air travel needs to be addressed to help tackle climate change. The potential of zero-carbon flight has been demonstrated but it has had almost no impact on the carbon footprint of the aviation industry, which still relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels.
  • Use our resources to better understand global warming, the current period of climate change.
Students at a school in Kella, Ethiopia, crowd around a new tap during their afternoon water break. Photograph by Lynn Johnson, National Geographic

Students at a school in Kella, Ethiopia, crowd around a new tap during their afternoon water break.
Photograph by Lynn Johnson, National Geographic

WATER: How can we ensure everyone can have access to safe and clean water?

  • Clean freshwater is becoming an increasingly rare resource. One in 10 of the world’s population doesn’t have access to safe drinking water. Forty-four percent of the world’s population and 28 per cent of the world’s agriculture are in regions of the world where water is scarce. As water requirements grow and our water reserves shrink, many are turning to desalination—but current technologies are too expensive and damage the environment.
  • Use our resources to understand the looming water crisis.
As the world’s population grows, gets richer, and moves to cities, their tastes will turn to more resource-hungry foods such Western-style fast foods.  Photograph by Steve Raymer, National Geographic

As the world’s population grows, gets richer, and moves to cities, their tastes will turn to more resource-hungry foods such Western-style fast foods.
Photograph by Steve Raymer, National Geographic

FOOD: How can we ensure everyone has nutritious, sustainable food?

  • By 2050 it is estimated that 9.1 billion people will be living on our planet. As the world’s population grows, gets richer, and moves to cities, their tastes will turn to more resource-hungry foods such as meat and milk.
  • The problem is multifaceted; solving the global food supply problem is not just about tackling starvation. Many people are not starving, but they do lack nutrients in their diets, making them unhealthy. We cannot rely on replicating carbon-intensive and unhealthy western diets in order to solve this problem.
  • Use our resources to better understand food and nutrition.
Not all species of the Penicillium mold are helpful to humanity. Newly discovered species, such as this one (held by technician Eileen Bayer) have been linked to illness in tropical areas. Photograph by Keith Weller, USDA, Agricultural Research Service

Not all species of the Penicillium mold are helpful to humanity. Newly discovered species, such as this one (held by technician Eileen Bayer) have been linked to illness in tropical areas.
Photograph by Keith Weller, USDA, Agricultural Research Service

ANTIBIOTICS: How can we prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics?

A paraplegic in Lopcha, Russia, performs rehabilitation therapy. Photograph by William Daniels, National Geographic

A paraplegic in Lopcha, Russia, performs rehabilitation therapy.
Photograph by William Daniels, National Geographic

PARALYSIS: How can we restore movement to those with paralysis?

2 responses to “Win the Longitude Prize—and $17 million

  1. This competition is so incredibly inspiring! Can’t wait to follow it’s progress and the best of luck to all of the entrants!

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