back to article Brits to vote: Which pressing scientific challenge should get £10m thrown at it?

Regular Brits are going to get to decide which of humanity’s challenges will get a £10m shot at being solved, in a new prize from the UK government and charity NESTA. The Longitude Prize wants to hand over the millions to the best idea for sorting out one of six problems facing the human race - eco-friendly flight, sustainable …

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  1. Jacksonville

    They missed a trick...

    How about formulating proposals for the reversing the trend of the ever-increasing global population?

    1. NogginTheNog

      Re: They missed a trick...

      The North Koreans and the US military already have some good research projects in that area.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: They missed a trick...

      Global population can be controlled by increasing the standard of living for poorer countries. Already many European countries have a stable population. You increase the standard of living in poorer countries by making electricity cheap and plentiful. That means lots of power plants. Unfortunately because of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming/climate change/climate disruption/climate weirding theory, poorer countries have a huge barrier into providing cheap and plentiful electricity because the only source of cheap electricity today is nuclear, coal, natural gas, and hydro. Environmentalists have some problem with all 4 of those.

      1. Charles Manning

        "increasing the standard of living"

        Look, there really is no problem with global population per se.

        Why does it matter if there are 1bn people or 100bn people? The population is not the direct problem.

        The problem is only caused indirectly: those billions of people consume resources: food, land, water,...

        This is where "increasing the standard of living" idea becomes a fallacy.

        A Westerner consumes at least 10x what an impoverished Asian/African does, so converting all the impoverished people into Western-level consumers means we have to find 10x the resources for these people.

        Even if this reduces the actual population by a factor of two or three, you're still taking a backward step in terms of actual resources required.

        Now, to be clear, I am not at all opposed to lifting the standard of living of impoverished people - indeed I support efforts to do so. I merely point out that this is not a solution to the "population issue"..

        It is worth noting that the standard of living has increased dramatically over the last few decades. Disease is reduced (except for the murderous greenies banning DDT and causing malaria to increase again). Famine is rare; indeed obesity is now more of a problem than malnutrition.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "increasing the standard of living"

          "Now, to be clear, I am not at all opposed to lifting the standard of living of impoverished people - indeed I support efforts to do so. I merely point out that this is not a solution to the "population issue".."

          Part of the reason for the rising population levels, especially in less "advanced" societies, is the increase in medical care and raising of living standards while still having the local attitudes of past generations when infant mortality was even higher and children are your pension/insurance.

          In the short term, raising living standards increases population level. I the long term, population levels stabilise. The downside is that they stabilise at the higher levels brought on by the initial raising of living standards and in most countries rarely, if ever, go down.

          On the other hand, the world is more than capable of feeding the population well. It's the logistics we are shite at,

    3. Jacksonville

      Re: They missed a trick...

      I can't remember where I read it, but I saw an attractive proposal on this matter once.

      The principle being allow the market to control population... It was effectively a voucher system based on the rights to have children...

      Each human being gets the right to reproduce 2/3 of a child. A couple coming together therefore have the right to produce 1.5 children. If they have one, they each have the rights to have 0.25 children left. If they don't want another child they can sell their rights in the market to those that wish to have more. If they do want another child with the same or another partner they would have to go to the market and purchase the additional rights or face a sanction of a fine equivalent to the market value of the right.

      Obviously it is riddled with hugely complex obstacles and assumptions... how would religion react, how do you punish those who do not adhere and do not pay the sanction...etc

      The proposer suggested that by doing so you immediately reduce the single biggest pressure on overpopulation in the developing world by commoditising not having so many children...

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: They missed a trick...

        I'll start the ball rolling. What am I bid for my 2/3?

        1. Naughtyhorse
          Alert

          Re: They missed a trick...

          please don't tell me you'll send the 'winnings' to the lucky bidder in a jiffy bag

          1. Captain Hogwash
            Happy

            Re: They missed a trick... @Naughtyhorse

            I enjoyed your post so much that I'm prepared let you enjoy the bounty conferred by mine and call off the auction.

        2. Don Jefe

          Re: They missed a trick...

          Human population isn't a problem people need to deal with. It's a self resolving issue and the best solution will be automatically created and deployed as the pop off valve every system has. There are no exceptions. Naturally occurring systems, artificial systems and both kinds of those systems with control/manipulation mechanisms (civilization in this case) all have a pop off valve and it always works without the need for any external input.

          So be happy and don't worry about that big ole mess. Any solution developed by Humans to deal with the issue is guaranteed to be inferior, and more destructive, than the system generated solution. A Human solution is also stuffed with moral potholes that historically haven't led to anything good.

          Let the system handle this one. No good ever comes from dicking around with safety mechanisms.

          1. Nuke

            @Don Jefe - Re: They missed a trick...

            Wrote :- "Human population isn't a problem people need to deal with. It's a self resolving issue and the best solution will be automatically created and deployed as the pop off valve every system has. "

            Yes, the "self resolution" could be by a number of mechanisms, such as :-

            1) So many people for the food that can be produced that many starve to death, or they simply start killing each other for it.

            2) So many people for the energy available that they start killing each other for it.

            3) So many people living so close together that an as yet unevolved fatal virus goes through them like wildfire.

            4) So many people crammed together that a significant percentage reduce the numbers by going postal with the stress of overcrowding.

            5) I could go on and on with this.

            I remember from school biology some classic cases of certain animal species whose numbers fluctuated wildly in series of booms followed by natural catastrophies caused by factors similar to the above, and there have been increasingly ominous signs of the same even among humans for the last 100 years or so. I would have hoped that, being supposedly higher animals, that we could control things without waiting for such catastrophies. From an engineering background, good plant operators don't wait for the safety valve to lift - they keep the pressure below that level.

            Even without catastrophies, as you may argue, there is still the matter of quality of life. I'd rather have fewer descendants living happily than loads of them living in the kind of hell depicted in Soylent Green.

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: @Don Jefe - They missed a trick...

              You completely miss the point, Nuke. The system will respond and the results for Humans will be far, far worse than in your examples. We can use science, engineering and technology and delay the safety mechanisms being activated, but we can't stay ahead of it indefinitely.

              I am not advocating for the death of billions of people, I'm saying that if we don't do anything to stop people from breeding then shitloads of them will eventually die, probably horribly, as system safeties kick in. That will suck, especially if you're one if the shitload that die, but the most horrid system safety scenario you can imagine isn't nearly as horrible as any Human designed methods of managing the Human population.

              There are zero equitable, moral or enforceable methods of determining who should breed and who shouldn't. Every possible system is so chock full of holes and caveats that doing nothing becomes a far less atrocious thing and far preferable. Doing nothing is a choice just as much as doing everything possible. Knowing when not to do something is every bit as important as knowing when to do something. In this case doing something is going to create a huge fucking disaster.

              Who is going to enforce the rules? You realize none of those rules will apply to me or anyone in my neighborhood. Nor will those rules apply to those I choose to make exempt from the rules. Anything that gets proposed is going to create classes of people even further apart than wealth creates now. I'll be able to carry in as I please. Will you? Are you willing to die trying to stop me from living by a second set of rules? Because that's what will happen. People will be, rightfully, angry that they can't have kids, but I can do as I please. They'll choose to take action and they will die. They'll be dead before they even see my office or my home and that story will be repeated and repeated.

              Because any plan to control population is granting certain people the right to grant life I've got an inexhaustible supply of troops who will fight, and die, simply because I granted them permission to breed, and there's fuck all anybody can do about it. Why would that situation be preferable to anyone? I think it's awful and wholly unfair, but that's not going to stop me from protecting myself, family and those I deem valuable from being overwhelmed by peasants who aren't allowed to breed. It's far better to not even go down that road. It won't end well for most people.

              Far better to do our best to engineer the environment using improved science and technology to delay the inevitable as long as possible. Maybe someone not too far in the future will figure out how we can colonize other worlds or who knows what. But let's see what that 'who knows' turns out to be. But if we try to control the population, instead of provide for, it most people will not like the outcome.

        3. davemcwish

          Re: They missed a trick...

          "I'll start the ball rolling. What am I bid for my 2/3?"

          A second-hand iPhone

      2. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: They missed a trick...

        Maths fail.

        As to how the religions would react, same way as ever - badly.

        1. Jacksonville

          Re: They missed a trick...

          "maths fail"

          You're quite right, should be 0.75

          1. Tom 13

            Re: They missed a trick...

            There is a bigger maths fail, but it's hidden in the assumptions.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They missed a trick...

          > Maths fail.

          > As to how the religions would react

          1/. Inability to do simple mental arithmetic revokes your breeding rights.

          2/. Overpopulation problem solved.

          3/. Prophet!!!

          1. Vic

            Re: They missed a trick...

            > 3/. Prophet!!!

            And that last is exactly the problem with most forms of social engineering; they end up creating some sort of pseudo-religion...

            Vic.

      3. Fibbles
        Trollface

        Re: They missed a trick...

        "Each human being gets the right to reproduce 2/3 of a child. A couple coming together therefore have the right to produce 1.5 1.333 children. If they have one, they each have the rights to have 0.25 0.166 children left."

        Must try harder. See me after class.

      4. Charles Manning

        Selling baby rights

        These theoretical ideas don't gain traction in the real world because they are unworkable.

        Consider a person that has no assets:

        1. Sells right for $10k, blows it all.

        2. Then has 10 kids.

        3. Owes "fines" of $100k.

        What are you going to do to get that 100k from them? Threats don't work on people who have little or nothing.

        On top of this, you will have leaders saying "screw the Westerners and their ideas" and telling people to have all the babies they want because that is the African way. That's how people like Jacob Zuma in South Africa get into power.

        1. Nuke
          Holmes

          @Charles Manning - Re: Selling baby rights

          Wrote :- "Consider a person that has no assets: ...... Then has 10 kids. .... Owes "fines" of $100k. What are you going to do to get that 100k from them? "

          Sterilise them if they go over their allowance. Only 10k.

      5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: They missed a trick...

        "The principle being allow the market to control population... It was effectively a voucher system based on the rights to have children..."

        I believe a Mr Jonathan Swift also had A Modest Proposal many years ago.

    4. Robin Bradshaw

      Re: They missed a trick...

      @ Jacksonville

      http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth

      There you go, as mentioned by Wade Burchette improving the standard of living for emerging economy's will sort out population growth, Id highly recommend looking at other talks by Hans Rosling too.

      Personally Id like to see more research into either Thorium cycle or maybe Fast neutron reactors as a source of clean electric for the future.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Safe water's easy

    The technology for cheaply delivering safe water and sanitation exists. So my proposal for solving the problem is "Spend some money on it, instead of on guns, bombs, bribes and presidential palaces". Who do I apply to for my £10 million?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safe water's easy

      and probably the only one that will see any decent outcomes.

      £10m is a drop in the ocean compared to the research budgets of aerospace and pharma companies, who are probably already interested in those topics.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Safe water's easy

      The technology isn't the problem. It's deploying the technology that makes a mess of it all.

      Clean water technology turns every place it is deployed into a strategic asset for persons with dreams of dominion. The UN as well as a variety of NGO's and regular greedy companies have looked at the issue for over 30 years and the conclusions are aways the same: In order to deploy clean water technology without turning the area into a war zone you need to turn the region into a war zone so that the technology is so widespread it losses its value as a tool of subjugation.

      It's a big fucking mess and every scenario involves lots and lots of soldiers. The Israelis are kind of the gold standard of using water as a political tool. Don't get me wrong, they're really big, hyper aggressive assholes about it, but they've killed a lot less people to protect clean water producing installations than we saw killed by warlords and just outright crazies in Sub-Saharan pilot deployments. When the difference between the best and worst examples of a given thing is just a body count it's generally a long, long way from being a 'good thing'.

      I don't know what to do about it and I'm pretty good at solving huge problems without using soldiers. Other commercial entities have the same interests, and more ppresources as me, but they've also got the same basic problem; private armies usually don't work out like you hope and nobody with lots of money wants to lose it to a weaponized lunatic. Most NGO's pretty much suck at anything that isn't fundraising and everybody knows how politicians solve problems. It's either through inaction, taxes, soldiers or some highly unstable combination of all those things. Again, rarely are the outcomes what sane people would consider desirable.

      So if somebody can figure out how to get everybody to get along they'll win the clean water prize by default.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Safe water's easy

        "So if somebody can figure out how to get everybody to get along they'll win the clean water prize by default."

        Get rid of the politicians?

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Get rid of the politicians?

          There's only one thing on the planet worse than a politician. That's why we used politicians to replace warlords.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Safe water's easy

      All that's needed is a campaign to stop teenagers peeing in reservoirs.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got 5 out of the 6 sorted...can I get my money now?

    eco-friendly flight - Air Balloon.

    sustainable food - eat insects

    safe and clean water - Britta water filter

    a cure for paralysis - Robocop

    independent living for those with dementia - post it notes

    1. stucs201

      anti-biotic resistance - Patients: finish the damn course, don't leave the last few pills because you feel better. Doctors: don't cut the length of course prescribed to save funds.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        @stucs201

        "anti-biotic resistance - Patients: finish the damn course, don't leave the last few pills because you feel better. Doctors: don't cut the length of course prescribed to save funds."

        You missed the big one.

        Stop feeding them to farm animals as "growth promoters" so every bacteria on the planet can get a set of plasmids for all know anti biotics.

        Then maybe the drug companies could actually restart developing (and looking) for some new ones.

    2. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Holmes

      6 out of 6

      Paralysis - how can we restore movement to those with paralysis;

      Electroencephalogram-controlled pneumatic prosthetics (already invented).

      Antibiotics - how can we prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics;

      Stop using them.

      Food - how can we ensure everyone has nutritious, sustainable food;

      Stop being greedy, and freely redistribute the 17% of food we currently overproduce.

      Dementia - how can we help people with dementia to live independently for longer;

      Stop trying to force the elderly and infirm to live in isolation, and take responsibility for caring for them, instead of discarding them like trash.

      Flight - how can we fly without damaging the environment;

      Solar-powered aircraft (already invented).

      Water - how can we ensure everyone has access to safe and clean water.

      Solar stills, wells and desalination plants (already invented).

      I claim my £10 million prize.

      Please donate it to Oxfam.

  4. Sleepy Bob

    Science education...

    .. on why homeopathy (and similar) don't work.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Science education...

      *sigh*

      Can we get this straight, please?

      Homeopathy (and similar) does work. It just doesn't work any better than placeboes etc. and medicine generally works better.

      1. ukgnome Silver badge

        Re: Science education...

        *double sigh*

        Can we get this straight, please?

        Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility and the axioms of homeopathy have been refuted for some time.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Science education...

          This website tickled me a while ago when I came across it: http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/

          1. Tom 64

            Re: Science education...

            On homeopathy:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dFYfeADX7g

            This always makes me laugh

        2. JLH

          Re: Science education...

          TRT ukgnome - your statements are not contradictory.

          Read Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science. Ben is no fan of homeopathy.

          However he discusses it in the book - it works as well as a placebo, because the practitioner takes time to take a medical history, and gives you something for the complaint.

          I agree 'the something' is water. Or a sugar pill.

          So vefore you get me wrong - homeopathy is completely useless if there is something serious wrong with you (and indeed it can stop you seeking real treatment and is therefore actively dangerous).

          But in the cases of minor conditions it works as a placebo.

        3. Vic

          Re: Science education...

          Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility and the axioms of homeopathy have been refuted for some time.

          Of course.

          But it is a placebo. And the placebo effect is *incredibly* powerful.

          Derren Brown did a programme called "Fear and Faith" in which he introduced a military-derived drug called Rumyodin. Given the context of this post, I'm sure you can guess the ending - but the effect was truly magnificent. I recommend a watch...

          I was reading some material about drug trials a while back - apparently, it is very easy to prove the effectiveness of just about any drug that's ready for trials, but the tricky part is showing that the drug is significantly better than a placebo; said placebo can have such a major effect that even known-good drugs show no improvement over it...

          Vic.

          1. JLH

            Re: Science education...

            Vic, talking about drugs and the placebo effect,

            is there not a great influence on the surroundings, the company and the expectations when drugs are taken?

            I remember reading about a study where students were given alchohol, or a drink tasting the same but with no alcohol at all. Most reported feeling 'drunk''

            And no, I'm not going to repeat the experiment by dropping some acid and convinginc myself that it is a bit of blotting paper which will do nothing to me!

            1. Vic

              Re: Science education...

              is there not a great influence on the surroundings, the company and the expectations when drugs are taken?

              Absolutely. The TV programme I mentioned goes into this in some detail.

              I remember reading about a study where students were given alchohol, or a drink tasting the same but with no alcohol at all. Most reported feeling 'drunk''

              There's a late-night, BBC3 programme called "The Indestructibles" which does assorted sciencey-type things. One of the more interesting bits is various experimentation they do with a pair of identical twins - testing with a fairly decent control subject.

              One of the articles was about whether you get drunker on bitter or lager[1], so they had one twin drinking bitter, the other lager. Quoted ABV was the same for each. And the film showed the pair of them getting utterly smashed at the same rate.

              Then came the interesting bit - the revelation that one of them was actually drinking an alcohol-free drink. The experiment was actually to test the placebo effect by seeing if convincing a man that he was drinking high-strength alcohol would make him drunk. It did. Most assuredly so...

              Vic.

              [1] I might have mis-remembered exactly what they were drinking. Being late at night, the only reason the telly was on was because I'd just got in from the pub myself.

        4. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Science education...

          *double sigh*

          Homeopathy lacks biological plausibility and the axioms of homeopathy have been refuted for some time.

          *triple sigh*

          It doesn't need to have a plausible mechanism to have an effect. It has an effect, it's called the placebo effect and though that won't reattach a severed arm it still can make you feel better if you're a bit under the weather. Same as a park on a beautiful summer's day or a coy smile from a pretty girl can make you stop sniffling and you feel like life's worth living. OK?

  5. Norman Hartnell
    Facepalm

    Sigh

    "they’re going to let the British public vote on which of the six problems should be the focus of the prize this year. "

    Icon says it all, really. We could easily find £10m for each of the six projects, for less than one mile of HS2.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Sigh

      HS2 should cost a fraction of that but someone somewhere screwed it, But at least it will help with flight option.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Sigh

      This is a very good point. Have an upvote.

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    "Regular brits"

    That's like, all of us right?

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

      Re: "Regular brits"

      I think your toilet habits are your own business.

      Me? I'm fairly irregular.*

      *Yes, I know you did not ask, but I like oversharing.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: "Regular brits"

      Well, not me.

      Although I wouldn't object to being an honorary "Regular brit" (with or without the correct capitalis/zation).

  7. MJI Silver badge

    My answers

    Antibiotics - £10 million there, phages research and crack down on stupid usage.

    Water - spend some money on storage and piping it around.

    Flight to Scotland - go by rail and use nuclear power stations to get zero carbon.

    Paralysis - I think this is already not far away to be honest.

    Dementia - I think post it notes were a good idea

    Food - eat what is in season and encourage population shrinkage.

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: My answers

      Phage research has been done extensively in the old USSR. It works, but ultimately has the same problems as regular antibiotics. Also, since most of the research was never published in english-language Big Publications it's not been taken seriously.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: My answers

        It's not that simple. For better or worse, English is the language of science and that's not going to change for a long, long time.

        It isn't that English is 'better' or easier or anything so unquantifiable. It could have been Esperanto or Klingon, and it wouldn't have mattered. It just needed to be a single, agreed upon language so that everyone could communicate and share their findings.

        It's that 'sharing' bit that's so important and it's why if you don't publish in English your research is only going to go so far before it hits a big barrier (Ha!). The reason research is published is so that others in the scientific community can add your research to their own in an effort to increase the size, validity and availability of information.

        If you don't publish in the language everyone else is using it's clear you don't want to participate in that community. Even better, is access to that shared information is given even to those who don't want to contribute to that knowledge, only use it to further their own ends. That's perfectly fine, they can use the information and not give back in the same way everyone else has done. But those who refuse to operate for the greater good also don't get to enjoy the perks of contributing. There's no punishment or fine, but if they want to play the same game as the cool kids you've got to play with their rules.

        Don't do English and don't want to learn, but still want to contribute? Get some science oriented translators to do up the English. The Japanese, Brazilians, Chinese, Koreans and old school Norwegians do it and it works great (everybody else, and lots of people from those listed countries, just speaks English when doing science). Hell, the lab translators make as much or more than the scientists, and have steadier jobs. Know why? Because science without sharing isn't science at all and the transistors are enabling that.

        Regardless, that old phage research is too old to be used by itself. All those experiments have to be repeated, with modern equipment and updated methodologies or it's simply dangerous, and really poor form, to go using that information. Science most certainly has a use-by date. If left unused too long it losses its value and must be started over.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Get some science oriented translators to do up the English

          And depending on the journal, the English in the original submission doesn't necessarily have to be that good. The one I worked on had a small staff of editors and took a fair number of submissions from Central and South America. So long as the ideas were fairly clear and the data was solid, they'd happily clean up the English from the original submission.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    For the interested...

    John Harrison's grave (and a monument) can be seen at St John-at-Hampstead churchyard in North London, which he shares with other luminaries such as Peter Cook, John Constable, and C.E.M Joad.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old, same old

    "While the committee that picked out the six issues will ultimately decide the winner of the cash pot, they’re going to let the British public vote"

    Sounds just like a general election.

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A warning, not an incentive

    As the article points out, the original guy got screwed out of his rightful prize.

    So if the same level of honour holds with this prize, any right-thinking contestants should be very wary of taking part. And especially careful about handing over any intellectual property to the body running the competition.

    Plus, in this day and age, you'd think there would be "Dragons" lining up to bung the odd 10-mil. at any individual or research outfit that could come up with anything like a half-workable solution to any of these issues.

    The question then arises: is this a bona-fide "let's give science a helping hand"? Or is it merely some publicity for the organisers and the hope that (as with most commercial competitions) the value of the submitted entries far outweighs the benefits that the lucky winner will walk away with. If it's the latter, it's probably harming science, rather than helping.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      NESTA ALERT

      NESTA are made of it ------------------------------>

      It was also NESTA that borked up that brit guy (Andrew Fentem) who was working on Multitouch and who are also funding multi-millionaire vacuosity Lily Cole's "wishing site"

      Good luck getting money for a real science project.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: NESTA ALERT

        God I hate NESTEA. It was awful when it came out and it's still awful. I don't care what they do to the package. That's a fucking challenge right there; how can a company not designed by Dougls Adams produce a substance almost, but not completely unlike tea, label it as tea and get people to drink it as tea.

    2. Steven Roper

      Re: A warning, not an incentive

      "And especially careful about handing over any intellectual property to the body running the competition."

      Intellectual property issues are the reason I refuse to donate to medical-research "charities." It seems wrong to me, that a treatment researched with money people have donated out of altruism, should be restricted by patents held by some greed-driven pharmaceutical corporation and thus be unavailable to the poor.

      This is why my stock response to medical (e.g. cancer, dementia etc) research collectors and callers is this: "Sure. I'll give you a thousand dollars right now, if your organisation can give me a legally binding written guarantee that any cure or treatment resulting from your research will be released openly and never be encumbered by patents or intellectual-property claims by any pharmaceutical entity." So far, I haven't had to make good on that deal even once.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: A warning, not an incentive

        This is my new stock response; many thanks.

  11. Alister Silver badge

    non-resistant antibiotics

    No such thing.

    It may be possible to produce new antibiotics for which the human body and the various biological pathogens have no current resistance, but as soon as you start using it, there will gradually be more and more cases of resistance.

    What we should be doing is re-educating patients and the medical profession to stop expecting, and stop handing out antibiotics for minor infections, or even (as has happened) for viral illnesses on which they have no effect.

    1. phil dude
      Boffin

      Re: non-resistant antibiotics

      well there are phage....

      The trick seems to be to have multiple molecular targets and the probability is very small (not zero) that it will kill the invader.

      We can design any molecule, but we cannot necessarily synthesise them (in quantity)...

      P.

      1. WalterAlter

        Re: non-resistant antibiotics

        Optical biophysics. You find a point in the virus's electromagnetically orchestrated molecular metabolism that is vulnerable to a particular EMF frequency that is singular to the virus only and blitz the puppy with wifi.

      2. phil dude
        Joke

        Re: non-resistant antibiotics

        wow, a thumbs down for a string of facts. Must have touched a nerve....

        P.

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: non-resistant antibiotics

          It wasn't me...

  12. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    It's me!

    Yes indeed, I deserve the £10m for it will solve all of the six problems:

    - the money will allow me to fly very economically;

    - guess I won't run out of food anytime soon

    - and neither of water;

    - let's face it, I won't even get close the ugly germs, no need for antibios anymore;

    - in case it hits me, probably can afford the most advanced wheel chair ever;

    - who cares about my dementia when I GOT TEN MEEEELLION QUID!!

    No?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Err £10 million for new antibiotics?

    Estimated cost to bring a new drug to market is ~ $5 billion.

    Incidentally clean water is solved - desalination plants have it covered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      desalination plants have it covered.

      Not when you are a landlocked, desert ridden country

      1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

        Re: desalination plants have it covered.

        desalination plants have it covered.

        Not when you are a landlocked, desert ridden country

        To solve that problem we have legs. Countries are an artificial construct, so simply leave and move closer to water, and allow neighbouring countries with coast line or waterways to annex parts of the desert.

        The world would arguably be a better place if Zimbabwe or Afghanistan ceased to be nations and instead were broken up and divided amongst their neighbours.

  14. Nextweek

    The biggest problem I see is that these problems are not clearly defined. They are multifaceted with billions of research being spend already. Plus when you put the cost of HS2 in comparison, you have to think what's more important getting to Manchester faster or curing dementia?

    More succinct challenges that get amateurs involved would be better. Say a prise for:

    1, Landing a probe safely on the moon.

    2, New form of food packaging that is also a benefit to the environment.

    3, Robots that can do the washing (take clothes out the washing machine and hang them up to dry)

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Coat

      Re robots that can do the washing

      They are already around and widely used. They come at quite a cost but are multipurpose, too. They are...

      Let's stop here, before it gets ugly.

      Yep, mine's the one with Stupid Jokes for Dummies.

      1. Caesarius
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Re robots that can do the washing

        Bluebottle: You should get one of them tings my grandad's got.

        Eccles: Oooohhh?

        Bluebottle: His firm give it to him when he retired.

        Eccles: Oooohhh.

        Bluebottle: It's one of dem tings what it is that wakes you up at eight o'clock, boils the kettil, and pours a cuppa tea.

        Eccles: Ohhh yeah! What's it called? Um.

        Bluebottle: My granma.

        (pilfered from http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-193860.html)

    2. Don Jefe

      You've got to keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of research into these problems isn't simply finding a solution, that's fairly doable. It's finding a solution that's either sufficiently profitable on its own, or sufficiently profitable when used with another extant product.

      Most people don't realize it, but even government research is done at the behest of private companies who get together and say 'we need to this for our industry to thrive, can (agency/department) design a series of grants and projects to make that happen?' My wife is on the advisory board of a government research agency and retired out of commercial science where she used to pressure said agency. It's all so depressingly profit related. A solution isn't appropriate until the money is right too.

      My point is, awards like this are important as they take away some of the reluctance to look for a solution to a problem where the final outcome may not have such high margins.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Joke

      "More succinct challenges that get amateurs involved would be better. Say a prise for:"

      4. Most innovative use of a Raspberry Pi

  15. Faye B

    Is this the 10 million pound idea

    For 10 million quid you could:-

    convert old petrol tankers into solar furnaces that boil water to generate electricity with the residual steam condensed into pure drinking water. The electricity can be used to power refrigeration and other useful products like computers. This enables better education in remote villages and better health care and better agriculture. Also improves communications and trade. By reducing poverty you free up more resources for research into things like paralysis and dementia. It also reduces pollution and increases habitable land.

  16. Notrub

    "What we should be doing is re-educating patients and the medical profession to stop expecting, and stop handing out antibiotics for minor infections, or even (as has happened) for viral illnesses on which they have no effect."

    Education won't cut it, particularly where there is competition at play in the marketplace, e.g. in the USA.

    If a patient wants an antibiotic they are going to go to the Doctor who gives them one.

    To counter this you'd need to make it a criminal offence for anyone to be given antibiotics unless there was evidence they needed them. If a doctor prescribes them for something that is clearly just a common cold or flu, they lose their licence to practise and are heavily fined.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      My (blind) guess is that biggest consumer of antibiotics is agriculture, this would have to be cut, too.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Agriculture

        In the US

        In the UK there is not the stupidity

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Agriculture

          "In the US

          In the UK there is not the stupidity"

          I'd suggest you look up how poultry farming is done in the UK.

        2. Don Jefe

          Re: Agriculture

          In the UK there is not the stupidity? Hahahaha! Do as John suggests and go look at the farmers cocks, and on your way back check out the swine in the UK.

          I'll tell you something about that pig, something I bet you didn't know. The UK is the worlds leading pork modification specialist. It's actually impressive. An enormous commercial pork operation with branches all over the globe with their only purpose being to produce piglets that can be imported back to the UK so stuffed with antibiotics and growth hormones and fed GMO feed specifically to compensate for the immunodeficiencies from they don't need to be given more drugs because the fucking things grow so fast they're ready for market before they wear off.

          That's not bullshit liberal hippy scaremongering. I meant it when I said it was an impressive operation and I've got more than a little vested interest in making sure you lot get as much bacon and bacon derivatives as you want, but you're out of your fucking mind if you think that beer-o'thirty sandwich isn't just packed with delicious antibiotics and growth goodies.

          Still not sure? Go back 15-20 years and look at how much longer non-EU (and UK) piglets born in the US can now live in the States and still be imported into the EU (and UK) and look at how much faster them piglets is become pigs, how much larger they are, and how much less food they require. Ain't none of that happening because the pigs are getting counseling you know. It's happening because UK companies are over here doing all that stuff nobody likes to talk about, then shopping it back to you with a nice label that doesn't mean 95% of what you think it does.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Agriculture

            We only buy outdoor reared pork.

            My farming relative does cattle.

  17. Notrub

    "2. New form of food packaging that is also a benefit to the environment."

    Done - it's called biodegradable plastics.

    "3, Robots that can do the washing (take clothes out the washing machine and hang them up to dry)"

    I cannot believe you even put this one down - that's just so wrong for so many reasons!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Clean water is trivial - just need a plastic bottle and sunshine

    http://www.irinnews.org/report/79172/benin-sunshine-plastic-bottle-clean-water

    "Users take a clear plastic bottle with a maximum size of three litres, fill it with water and put it on the roof or a corrugated iron sheet to soak up the sun’s rays. Between six hours and two days later, depending on the strength of the sun, the water should be purified. "

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Clean water is trivial - just need a plastic bottle and sunshine

      Are you sure? That guy who recently came up with the water-light by putting it in a hole in the roof to refract sunlight was saying he needed to put a bit of bleach into the water to stop algae growing.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Clean water is trivial - just need a plastic bottle and sunshine

      Are you having a laugh? Yes, you're miraculously creating clean water from a bottle of... almost clean water. Science be praised!

      Tell you what, you do this with three litres of liquid sewage (or seawater) and then drink it without throwing up, and you can have the £10m. I'll even throw in a stomach pump.

  19. Longrod_von_Hugendong
    Boffin

    All good projects...

    But missing the obvious ones...

    1) Create liquid fuel from atmospheric gases, create petrol or diesel from stuff in the air. This means I can still use my V8 powered car, rather than covering to a milk float.

    2) Cold fusion - come on, what list is not complete without this? (At least if I do have to drive a milk float it will have a Mr. Fusion on the back)

    3) Vacuum propeller / reaction-less engines / Warp drive.

    4) High temp superconductors, that work at 100 C for example.

    Those are the real obvious ones I can think of, plus solving some of these would make solving the other issues pretty simple.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: All good projects...

      5) exchange of information faster than light (based on quantum entanglement). Yeah I know, it's deemed impossible.

  20. stucs201

    Is the flight one even the right question?

    Surely a better question would be to ask for solutions for "fast intercontinental travel with less environmental impact that current planes"? Why is assumed that flight has to be the solution because its what we use now? For example if someone came up with a practical way to build intercontinental trains in vacuum tunnels it'd go a long way to helping with the actual problem, but not fit the constraints imposed here.

    1. psychonaut

      Re: Is the flight one even the right question?

      already been thought of a loong time ago by IKB. Elon Musk was working on it recently too...hyperloop i think he called it.

      1. stucs201

        Re: Is the flight one even the right question?

        Thought of. Yes. Which is why I suggested that the prize should be for a practical way to implement the idea, not the idea itself. That the idea exists that makes excluding an implementation of it from the prize on the grounds of not being flight especially daft - its already known that there are possible alternatives to flight to solve the problem.

  21. Don Jefe

    I Win

    As I have submitted my single seat, environmentally friendly, CO2 powered aircraft for paralyzed people suffering from dementia. The onboard electronics ensure the passenger is safe and can't get into perilous situations potentially caused by their dementia and embedded carbon tax credit calculation systems ensure the passenger never needs to worry with money for craft maintenance, food or medical care as their craft is powered by the waste gasses created by everyone else.

    Ultimately, enough active craft could act as nodes in a massive, global data network that could also help underwrite future cost escalations. It's fun, it's smart, it's tax deductible and it's cheaper than a room at a convalescent home.

  22. Shaha Alam

    Methods and Processes to understand why government spent £6 beeeeeelion on it's IT over the next 4 years.

  23. Fading Silver badge

    Eureka...

    I have the solution. Give me the £10 million. I will use this to prove conclusively that an increase from 200 ppm to 600 ppm of CO2 in a water triple point dominated atmospheric system does not lead to catastrophic climate change.

    We can then start spending some of the $1 billion dollars a day wasted on researching "climate change" on solving the 6 problems above.

    QED

  24. Chemist

    The Longitude Prize wasn't a scientific challange !

    Unfortunately even the BBC seem to be suggesting it was.

    The basic science of navigating by local noon was understood - the problem was a technological one i.e. producing a an accurate stable clock under seagoing conditions.

    Some of the suggestions have no scientific backing - they are just a wish-list. For example it may might be possible,although unlikely in my view, to produce a an antibiotic that doesn't engender resistance but there is no clear science to suggest that.

  25. John G Imrie Silver badge

    So which of Cameron's friends ...

    Has a company researching each of these problems?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Terminator

      Re: So which of Cameron's friends ...

      "Has a company researching each of these problems?"

      Hmmm.

      They cynicism is strong in this one.

      1. John G Imrie Silver badge

        Re: So which of Cameron's friends ...

        I always think the worst of people, that way I'm often pleasantly surprised when they fail to live down to my expectations :-)

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: So which of Cameron's friends ...

          "I always think the worst of people, that way I'm often pleasantly surprised when they fail to live down to my expectations :-)"

          Good.

          Although it's a rare day when they fail to live down to mine.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: So which of Cameron's friends ...

        "They cynicism is strong in this one."

        Wow, yes! It's the highest metacameron count I've ever seen!

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Coffee/keyboard

          Wow, yes! It's the highest metacameron count I've ever seen!

          Nice.

          I think this has toppled "conslutant" as my favorite new word.

        2. Faye B

          Metacameron

          I this Regs new measurement for selfish greed.

  26. John Sager

    Let's hope the winner fares better than Harrison

    He never got the full prize due to the same kind of political scheming that goes on to this day:(

    The big problem with air travel is matching the energy density of kerosene and the power to weight ratio of modern jet engines. I suspect the future solution will be to manufacture synthetic kero from atmospheric CO2 and water, and forget about the energy inefficiencies of such a process.

    Alternatively, we return to the age of the Titanic...

  27. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Joke

    Sir

    To hell with Fusion, we should be researching how to extract sunlight from cucumbers!

  28. 45RPM Silver badge

    Controversy abounds…

    Eco-friendly flight - Why limit this to flight? Why not just have eco-friendly power? Promising areas of research might include Nuclear power that doesn't produce waste that is radioactive for millennia, and that can't be used for weapons production. It might also include, as a sideline, ways of reducing power consumption of devices that we already have - <tongue-in-cheek>imagine a power-efficient PlayStation or Xbox (might look light a Wii U) or a power-efficient PC (might look like a Raspberry Pi)</tongue-in-cheek>

    Sustainable food - If we can reduce global warming and world population, this one should follow automatically. GMO probably has a part to play too - provided that the innovations aren't patented, and provided the innovations concentrate on hardiness and not on making the crop able to survive ever more toxic pesticides. True, global warming may increase crop yields per hectare of farmable land, but the amount of farmable land will be reduced, and the nutritional value of the food grown will be diminished.

    Safe and clean water - Again, linked to global warming, world population and sustainable food. Reduce global warming, and world population and the reserves of safe and clean water increase. Improve food sustainability and less water will be polluted with pesticides in the production of food.

    Reduction of non-resistant antibiotics - I hesitate to say this, particularly when everyone knows someone who has been saved by antibiotics (and therefore I apologise if this comment hurts anyones feelings), but in planetary terms this is the wrong thing to be doing. No antibiotics and a bloody nasty plague would do more for the long term viability of this planet than anything else. Imagine a planet where the population was slashed from 9bn to 0.5bn? That'd hurt - entire families wiped out. A global disaster - but one that would remove all doubts about long term sustainability, and one that would (probably) deal with global warming in one fell swoop too.

    A cure for paralysis and independent living for those with dementia. In the grand scheme of things, are these really the biggest or most important problems that we should be concentrating on?

    1. Fading Silver badge

      Re: Controversy abounds…

      Reduce global warming - are you mad sir? Global warming out of an ice age is the only thing that gives us enough food to eat and enough water to drink. If the glaciers start expanding again - total arable land will reduce, growing seasons will shorten, sea levels will drop, extreme weather events will increase in number and duration and as the oceans uptake more CO2 as they cool, plants will reduce in numbers and the deserts will expand.

      Global warming might cause a few issues in the next 2 centuries (nothing bad this century according to the IPCC AR5 report) but global cooling is faster and far more detrimental to life on this planet.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Re: Controversy abounds…

        Actually, deserts are going to expand if we don't resolve global warming now. There's a happy balance between too cold and too hot - and the balance was about right fifty years ago. The problem is that, as we tip past the tipping point, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase - out of control. Not good.

        I wish I could be as sceptical as you, and that Global warming scepticism was well founded. But that's just wishful thinking. Right now we're fucked - but if we act now we might be able to avoid being buggered as well.

  29. Fink-Nottle

    Paralysis

    What is more profitable: a one-off £3000 operation to repair spinal cord injury in a 20 year old patient, or the opportunity to supply the same patient with a (vastly profitable) £3000 wheelchair every 2 years for the next 60 years?

    A cure for paralysis will never happen while the medical mafia are able to make vast profits providing over-priced 'medical' products to a captive consumer base.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Paralysis

      What costs the NHS more?

      The chairs.

      There you go.

      1. Fink-Nottle

        Re: Paralysis

        Who does the NHS pay?

        Medical suppliers.

        There you go.

        The Reeve foundation has some figures on the cost of living with spinal injury.

        They conclude: "By developing therapies for those who are already spinal cord injured and preventing new injuries, the United States would save as much as $400 billion on future direct and indirect lifetime costs."

        Any industry worth $400 billion (in the USA alone) will undoubtedly attempt to ensure it's continued profitability.

  30. David Kelly 2

    Ice Cream

    100% nutritionally complete balanced diet ice cream. Ice cream is relatively cheap to make, easy to serve. Feed the world's masses with ice cream. And nothing but ice cream. Eliminate payments for food via public assistance, replace with an ice cream allocation.

    Of course people will get sick of eating the same old sweet tasty healthy former junk food ice cream all the time and will flock to fruits and vegetables in protest.

  31. Neil Stansbury

    No imagination - no mention of energy.

    Seems to me many of these things will be much easier to resolve with a relatively abundant cheap energy supply.

    How about:

    Create a reusable; zero emissions; self contained power plant; that can deliver 5 MW of energy continuously for 5 years without refuelling; that can be transported around the globe in two standard 20m shipping containers.

    Water: Solved (Desalination/condensing anywhere)

    Food: Solved (Hyproponics, urban farms/bio ships + LED grow lights)

    Flight: Solved (Electric turbofans. 2x containers ~ 60,000 Kgs, 747 LHR > JFK 80,000 Kgs fuel)

    3 of 5 is a good start...

  32. Andrew Torrance

    What a waste . All worthy but .. none of them moved me to spend any of my brain cycles considering them . I can imagine a few research groups getting hot and bothered , but not much of an opportunity for a modern day John Harrison . There should be at least one option where little people have a chance . And while I am on this pedestal , where the heck is the option of a better form of energy storage ? Wind and Solar are not dependable for the base load until we crack that one . Kind of dwarfs CO2 emissions by planes .

  33. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    Most of the items on the list require specialist equipment to research properly, rather than just a clever boffin in his garage*.

    *Not dissin' the garage scientist/inventor here, some noteworthy inventions started in garages, but this stuff is just a bit too ambitious for the lone brainiac.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    Let's look at this from a British perspective.

    eco-friendly flight,

    I would have thought the last thing all those UKIP supporters would want would be cheaper ways for "Johny foreigner" to rock up on their shores, taking their jobs, taking their houses, claiming their benefits etc etc. :).

    sustainable food,

    The UK has one of the most efficient (subsidy) farming systems in Europe. Why try harder?

    safe and clean water,

    The only UK water survey ever done (during the 1976 drought) found that in fact the UK has plenty of water, but most of it is in Wales. Note UK water companies are all foreign owned and make profits in the £100s of £m range. 4 decades on the UK is no nearer setting up an effective "water grid" that it was in the days of maxi skirts and cheescloth shirts and some water co's lose as much water in their leaks as they manage to sell to their customers. I'm looking at you Thames Water. The "fix" does not need new technology, it needs legal changes and a regulator with a testicle transplant.

    non-resistant antibiotics,

    Bulls**t. I guess these arse**les don't understand how evolution works to understand how dumb that is.

    a cure for paralysis and independent living for those with dementia.

    There are 100 types of dementia. It's been so ignored (being thought impossible to do anything about) that £10m might make a difference, and as 1 in 4 of the current UK population (excluding certain parts of Glasgow) are expected to make 100 this is pretty relevant to the UK.

    So with 4 in 5 being pretty much total fails I'd say the odds on bet is that whatever the Great British Public (gawd bless em') choose it will be a fail.

  35. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Marine chronometers

    More about the history on

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_chronometer

    And as usual there are many persons worth mention, and as so often the same problem was tackled by many at the same time.

  36. Zmodem

    give me £2000 and i`ll make a perpetual generator, giving you clean water, infinate green power, the ability to use heat rods in jet engines instead of combustion fuels, and power for a 100kw electro magnetic pulse propulsion drive system for the next space shuttle so you can blip around out whole solar system in a year, 6Mw green power for ocean going cargo ships instead of combustion generators

    1. Zmodem

      its all in the comments how to do it, along wiht everything else on other article comments... : http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/12/10/willetts_man_mars_30_years/

      1. Vic

        http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/12/10/willetts_man_mars_30_years/

        And to quote from the comments you received there :

        Amazing, every single word is wrong!

        Vic.

        1. Zmodem

          no, make your own with the cruddy non direct drive charger dynamo and the 150rpm 2kg of torque RC car motor, or the 300 rpm motor

          make a real generator with a full modern direct drive turbine dynamo, run it in a vacuum cylider

          electric motors do not have shaft power, the input watts is all thats needed to do what the electro magnets have been configured to do

          the loop is just a standard domestic turbine kit you will have in the loft if you have a turbine installed or buy a full kit

          modern turbines are not chargers or crap dynamo`s like your altinator in your car that need massive torque to make them turn and generate power

          nobody gets that basic stuff before chatting bollox and not understanding how it works

          1. Zmodem

            if you have the spec`s for the turbines dynamo and the correct motor, you dont need a metre long axle from the motor to the dynamo, so the actual loop for the electric from dynamo generation to the motor is minimal

            then your have all of the lightweight sci-tech metals to make the dynamo out of

          2. imanidiot Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Nope

            Still not making any sense.

            1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Trollface

              Re: Nope

              "Still not making any sense."

              True.

              Troll, semi random word generating bod, young child or SEL off their meds?

              I can't decide.

              They are all good reasons for the kill file.

              1. Zmodem

                Re: Nope

                you start off with a small external power source to send to the motor

                once the motor has reached the dynamo`s minimum generating RPM, the loop becomes perpetual as the RPM increases to the dynamo`s maximum generating RPM which is usually 20 RPM

                turn for turn from the dynamo and motors spin ratio are matched, and you have the forces of the torque needed to spin the dynamo and made a motor with all the right specs, and then run the generator in a vacuum so you can have less power waste looping back to the motor, you could probably make the generator 98^% efficient with all the scientists and metals for a industrial commericial generator to be sold on the open market

                a 300 watt charger wind turbine can be powered by a RC car motor which can be started up with any AA battery

                1. Vic

                  Re: Nope

                  once the motor has reached the dynamo`s minimum generating RPM, the loop becomes perpetual

                  No it fucking doesn't.

                  There is no such thing as a perpetual motion device, nor can there ever be. It breaks the principle of Conservation of Energy.

                  You can spout this bollocks as often as you like - it isn't true now, and it wasn't when you first came up with it. The physics just doesn't work that way. Nor will it ever.

                  But if you think you can launch a mission to Mars with a pair of magnets and an AA battery, you go ahead and do it - you *will* get all the world's satellite launch contracts, you *will* get all the interplanetary launch work. You could make *billions*.

                  There's a reason why you never will. And that's because your bullshit doesn't even make enough sense to become wrong...

                  Vic.

                  1. Zmodem

                    Re: Nope

                    yup it does, you start the motor spinning with external power, the dynamo turns, it generates power, a small bit of power loops back to the motor, you remove the external startup power source

                    you can spout all the same bollox all you want, for every mm the dynamo turns and generates its power, the power is back to powering the motor within a nano second, while excess power goes off to power the main circuit grid

                    a single wind farm turbine generates 6MW at 20 RPM, a cargo ship would need 12 in the engine room to compete with some nuclear reactor war ships, minus all the insulation and liquid fuel

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_naval_reactors

                    you could chuck a turbine generator together without looking at all the math and have enough power to go around the world 100,000 times

                    1. Zmodem

                      Re: Nope

                      300,000 km per second is the speed of electric, so a nanosecond for 12 feet loop of cable if you still have a axle etc etc etc

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_electricity

                      1. Zmodem

                        Re: Nope

                        + if you have all the scientists who know everything about electric, you would end up with something as efficient as fusion, nothing lasts forever, fusion will run out of hydrogren and need a new star when the star used super novas

                        except with a turbine generator, you just flick a switch and turn it off and back on for it to be perpetual for another 40 years or so

                        1. Zmodem

                          Re: Nope

                          so if you ignore the basic`s of a turbine perpetual generator of not lasting a million years which by then you would of had to replace the motor and coil anyway, you could refurbish your cargo ships and cruise liners in a year, and save trillion tons of co2 and barrels of oil a year, and the cost of refurbishment would nodoubt be saved in a few years from not having to buy combustion fuels

  37. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Of course there is *one* development that would (or could) cover all of them.

    That would be a self replicating nanotechnology on the lines outlined by KE Drexler.

    That of course is never going to happen.

  38. razorfishsl

    The sad thing about this is that they used the Longitude Prize as an example of something 'special'

    If you actually go and look into the story, you will see it was a complete F* fest of 'self interest' groups attempting to force a specific solution onto the Navy.

    The only viable long term solution was deliberately hindered at each stage, poor John Harrison spent his whole life on it mainly because of this hindrance, and they STILL shafted him out of the prize.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me the money

    to prove all religion is utter bollocks....

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Vanity Plague

    Throw the money at a Selfie vaccine.

    Else in twenty years we'll all be gazing at ourselves on FB with engorged lips, while our galactic overlords take the planet's lease behind our backs...

  41. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    The Govt priorities are Fuscked up

    £42Bn on HS2.

    vs a couple of Bn as our part of ITER.

    Imagine a future where the UK was the first to generate self sustaining fusion by pumping £42bn into a UK only ITER, and became a net Energy and Energy Technology exporter to the WORLD.

    With a bit of vision we could actually have been the next Energy exporting state with a worthy replacement to North Sea oil.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The Govt priorities are Fuscked up

      "Imagine a future where the UK was the first to generate self sustaining fusion by pumping £42bn into a UK only ITER, and became a net Energy and Energy Technology exporter to the WORLD."

      There are quite good reasons to believe ITER won't work any better than the other upteen previous versions.

      Things like for example the 1000 odd collisions the particles have to make before there is a reasonable probability of fusion happening. That's why they are so damm big (and getting bigger). There's no such thing as a "desk top" TOKAMAK.

      That the particle distribution is Maxwellian and only a very small % of the whole will be at the top end of the tail IE energetic enough to fuse. The bulk of the charge will be in pole position to drain the energy that small fraction generates as heat or radiation.

      That the concave magnetic fields of the TOKAMAK design do not apply a corrective force to shepherd the plasma particles back to the centre of the torus, so they continually dump energy to the walls, which has to be topped up somehow.

      ITER will however make Europe self sufficient in plasma science PhD's for the foreseeable future.

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