Secret History of the Future

A Clock in the Sky

In 1714, the British government offered a huge prize for a way to determine longitude at sea. Can prizes spur innovation today?

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In 1714, British Parliament offered a huge cash prize to anyone who could find a way to determine longitude at sea. And it worked, sort of—several decades later. Are modern contests like the DARPA challenges and the X Prize an effective way to spur technological innovation? Guests include: Dava Sobel, author of Longitude.

Email: secrethistory@slate.com

Podcast production by Bart Warshaw and Kate Holland.