£10m fund set to mark Yorkshire inventor’s timely idea

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A PRIZE fund totalling £10m dedicated to a Yorkshire watchmaker who solved one of the 18th century’s greatest scientific challenges has been announced.

Details of the Longitude Prize, launched by Prime Minister David Cameron at the G8 summit last year, have now been unveiled to commemorate the Longitude Act’s 300th anniversary. In 1714, the British Government challenged inventors to solve one of the great scientific challenges of the time – how to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea by knowing its longitude. It was solved by Yorkshire clockmaker and carpenter John Harrison, who designed the chronometer, the first seafaring clock that allowed accurate navigation.

In an attempt to replicate that pioneering spirit, the public is being asked to vote on challenges to be highlighted on the BBC2 science programme Horizon on Thursday. The challenges which will then face a public vote include how to restore movement to anyone with paralysis, as well as preventing the rise of resistance to antibiotics and providing help to dementia sufferers to live independently for longer. The other challenges include continuing air travel without damaging the environment and ensuring everyone has access to safe and clean water. By the end of June, the public vote will have decided which challenge will deserve a £10m prize.