UK Government Asks: What's The Greatest Challenge Of Our Time?
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Now, a prize that's making a return: the Longitude Prize.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
It was set up in 1714 by the British government to solve the greatest challenge of that time: Pinpoint a ship's location at sea by knowing its longitude.
CORNISH: Three hundred years later, there's a video announcing its return.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We're at the dawn of a new world.
SIEGEL: Its committee is led by Lord Martin Rees, a professor at Cambridge University.
LORD MARTIN REES: And I also have the title of Astronomer Royal.
CORNISH: Astronomer royal - yeah, that's a thing.
SIEGEL: He and his committee are asking the U.K. what's the greatest challenge of our time?
REES: We thought the best way to proceed was to identify six different areas and then let the public vote.
CORNISH: Six challenges. OK. Provide clean water to the world.
SIEGEL: Design a low carbon means of flight.
CORNISH: Restore movement for those with paralysis.
SIEGEL: Help people with dementia live independently.
CORNISH: Prevent resistance to antibiotics.
SIEGEL: Or innovate food production.
CORNISH: Voting begins Thursday. Once the challenge is chosen, competition is open for the 10 million pound prize - that's almost $17 million of public and private money.
SIEGEL: The winner of the first Longitude Prize was a clock maker named John Harrison. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.