What should scientists work on next?

What major issue facing humanity should scientists focus on? What is the most pressing issue that we need to solve to ensure our continued existence? (No, it's not wireless charging of handphones.)

The Longitude Prize seeks to answer this question by polling the public. They asked hundreds of leading scientists to identify 6 major scientific problems. This includes:
- Dementia: How can we help people with dementia live indepedently for longer?
- Paralysis: How can we restore movement to those with paralysis?
- Antibiotics: How can we prevent the rise of resistance to antibiotics?
- Flight: How can we fly without damaging the environment?
- Food: How can we ensure everyone has nutritious, sustainable food?
- Water: How can we ensure everyone can have access to safe and clean water?

From 22 May till 25 June, the public can decide what the challenge should focus on. The winning challenge will be announced on 25 June and will become the focus of the 10 million pound prize fund. After that, you can submit your ideas about how to solve these issues, and win the prize.

Image credit: Longitude Prize

Note by Calvin Lin
7 years, 2 months ago

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I think scientists need to work on why the human mind persists in denying the most basic facts of science, such as for example,
1) global warming is going to greatly exacerbate problems we already have today,
2) Earth is billions of years old, and life evolved, and
3) the Earth goes around the sun, not the other way around.

An unbelievable fraction of all people living today, in an age of instant information, still do not and will not believe these very basic kinds of things, and many other important things to know, such like overpopulation is destructive and the environment of the planet is endangered--the very kinds of things mankind needs to understand and accept, if it's to cope with the future. Should this fall under the topic of "Dementia", or "Paralysis"?

Michael Mendrin - 7 years, 2 months ago

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I just could not agree more.I am shocked by the arrogance with which the young earth creationists,climate change deniers and conspiracy theorists vehemently deny the basic facts of science and still pretend to be intellectually superior.

Eddie The Head - 7 years, 2 months ago

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A perfect tie in to my next post I Am Wrong, So Be It.

From experience, it is next to impossible to convince people that their 'unscientific' reasoning is wrong, and this has been backed up by research!

Calvin Lin Staff - 7 years, 2 months ago

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I vote for food and water

Vikram Pandya - 7 years, 2 months ago

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That guy's smile is creeping me out. :}

Finn Hulse - 7 years, 2 months ago

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I think all six challenges are valid and also important, but I think as far as scientists go, scientists should be working on improving the following:

  • Communication/Wifi I dare you to go look at your house phone. Or, look up "household phone" or "landline phone" in Google Images. As you may notice, phones are bulky, plastic, cheap, inefficient, and of poor construction and quality. Not to mention, they've been this way since the 80's. Same thing with telephone lines that have been running since the 90's that still exist and are still relied upon by millions of people! The more you start to notice and think about this, the more apparent it'll become. Think of a world were you can touch a (very cool and sleek) button and say a name and call somebody using optic cables that run underground, or even with no cables at all! What if wifi, internet, phones, and all communication ran via. satellite! This way, it wouldn't matter what country you live in or where you are or how much money you have, you'd always be able to use phones and internet devices! Just a thought. :D

  • Transportation

Imgur Imgur

Need I say more? This also applies to public transportation and global transportation. :D

Finn Hulse - 7 years, 2 months ago

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Whoa... That flying car is awesome... But there's one problem. With cars that fly, more skill and training would definitely be needed for the driver, and this would take very long (not to mention the training would be costly). And also... Um... The traffic police lose their jobs (they won't find any flying-car speeding, since it can just fly up into the skies and avoid detection). I personally prefer the idea of MagLev cars more to flying ones, although all of them would still be illogical in the world today.

Yuxuan Seah - 7 years, 2 months ago

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Yes, It it pretty boss. But as my English teacher spent a whole class period (after wrecking his car the day before) lecturing about how if cars were computerized, then the whole world would be so efficient and purely human mistakes would be completely avoided.

For example, humans tend to slow down to look at things while driving by. This can lead to traffic, and it's an almost never-ending cycle. If cars were purely computerized, all cars would be able to drive at max speed within 2 centimeters of each other and be perfectly in sync. Just imagine that. :D

Finn Hulse - 7 years, 2 months ago

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@Finn Hulse It's not necessarily human reaction that creates traffic. Parts that require the car to be slower, like sharp turns or merge lanes, also create traffic.

Daniel Liu - 7 years, 2 months ago

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@Daniel Liu As well as pedestrians. Yes there is no doubt that it wouldn't totally minimize all traffic, but it would definitely help A LOT.

Finn Hulse - 7 years, 2 months ago

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Being a Floridian, landlines are reliable after hurricanes whereas cell phone towers usually die.

Justin Wong - 7 years, 2 months ago

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I think the idea of clean water and nutritious food to all is what we have to look upon as they are the basic needs of a human being and making this thimgs available to all is inevitable...there are countries where people does not get enough food amd water for their living..so this is the issue I think is too important to neglect

Nikhil Lakhani - 7 years, 2 months ago

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How can we eliminate chronic pain without unpleasant side effects? How can we reduce our sleep requirements (polyphasic sleep works but what are the long-term effects)? How can we produce cheaper and more nutritious vegan food and redesign ecosystems to reduce the suffering of animals in the wild? What alterations to our financial systems will be most effective in reducing poverty? How can we create friendly AI? Can we alter out DNA to give us virus resistance?

Angela Richardson - 7 years, 2 months ago

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Food and water are main issues we are facing(especially Indians). The other issues like dementia, paralysis, antibiotics and flight don't make much sense here.

To solve them, a proper approach is necessary. Science can easily solve them but we have never thought of developing the country by discoveries while only developing the science and mind(mind to think of inventing something not for the benefit of poor but the rich, usually).

To ensure food and water to every person, recycling and reducing the use of items which harm the environment can help. Scientists have developed techniques to transform this waste into helpful products. Also, reducing the use of non-biodegradable substances will increase the arable land. The rest should be left to the govt.

Every person should be vaccinated as they come to any hospital for free. This will help to reduce the effect of diseases. We can fly without damaging the environment by using the fuel of gases present in the atmosphere with the energy from wind energy or the solar energy. For example, a Hydrogen plane or a car running on wind energy. Paralyzed man can get the restoration of movement with meditation and using artificial body parts by cutting the paralyzed body part.

Kartik Sharma - 7 years, 2 months ago

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Coming from a third world country,I think scientists should now focus on ways by which basic needs of everyone (or almost everyone) should be fulfilled. Nutritious food and clean water must be available for everyone. A lot of the water is used for industrial purposes. So,chemists should work on a chemical or chemical processes which make use of chemical other than water.

Dhanashree J - 7 years, 2 months ago

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arun organic - 7 years, 2 months ago

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I think it should be food and water because a healthy mind duels in healty body and with a healthy mind a person can imagine beyond his or her imaginations ..🙍

Siddharth singh Rajawat - 7 years, 2 months ago

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for wireless charging of headphones see "COTA" a solution that can transmit 1W power up to 30feet !!

Mohit Maheshwari - 7 years, 2 months ago

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vikas mali - 7 years, 1 month ago

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If not the above , work on human brains that can inception us that we ate lot of nutritious food, had clean water .

Harsha Babu Sree - 7 years ago

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They should work on human cognitive powers....like teleportation,telekinesis,shape-shifting etc...

Vinay Sipani - 7 years, 2 months ago

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HAHA good idea. But people would mis-use them. :O

Finn Hulse - 7 years, 2 months ago

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