How could coffee power our cities?

In this guest blog post, Arthur Kay, founder and CEO of bio-bean, explores how his company is working with the Science Museum to recycle coffee waste into useful fuels.

2015 is such an exciting year for bio-bean, as we work to close the loop on London’s coffee waste, but what does that have to do with the Science Museum? bio-bean are huge fans of the museum, and our technology is even featured in an exhibit called ‘How could coffee power our cities?’

Part of the bio-bean exhibit on display at the Science Museum.

Part of the bio-bean exhibit on display at the Science Museum.

This set us thinking about the actual waste coffee that comes out of the museum, so we decided to work with Benugo, who supply food and drink to the Science Museum’s cafes. Later this year, when you drink a cup of coffee in the Energy Cafe or Deep Blue, the waste coffee grounds will be separated, collected and transported to our world-first processing facility, a 20,000 square foot factory just outside London.

Our process is patented and world-first so we can’t give away too many details, but bio-bean will recycle waste coffee grounds from the Science Museum into Advanced Biofuels of two forms: pellets and biodiesel.

Advanced Biofuels are an energy source made from something that would otherwise have been wasted. This is what we mean by ‘closing the loop.’ If biodiesel from waste coffee can go back into powering our cars or lorries, we can get closer to reducing dependency on conventional fuels.

We want bio-bean to help engage young people with science – that’s a goal we share with the Science Museum. bio-bean was set up with a spirit of innovation to meet a real-world challenge. We want to one day soon have a bio-bean van powered entirely by coffee waste collected from the V&A, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. This is such a great opportunity for us to really demonstrate our commitment to the circular economy, as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

We were honoured late last year to be invited to show our technology in the Science Museum. As the first company in the world to industrialise this process, we are keen to tell our story and inspire others to approach real-world problems with a sense of curiosity, adventure and experimentation.

Launchpad ‘Build a Bridge’ Challenge

In Launchpad our visitors ask questions, experiment, challenge themselves and discover the science behind exhibits – often with impressive results! This is especially true with our “Build a Bridge” activity.

To celebrate our visitors’ hard work and engineering skills, here are a collection of some of their masterpieces – that not only stand up but are also easy on the eye. Click to enlarge.

Try building your own bridge on your next visit to Launchpad!

Being Modern: A Conference Devoted to Science and Culture

Dr Robert Bud, Research Keeper at the Science Museum, previews a new conference devoted to science and culture in the early 20th century. Tickets are available at the early bird rate here until 28th Feb.

This year, the 22nd April marks the centenary of the first use of poison gas on the western front. This strange new weapon was quickly seen as the emblem of how the power of science was outstripping morality. After the First World War, electricity, the wireless and the aeroplane as well as new theories — not just of physics but also psychoanalysis — came to be associated in the public mind with exciting, and sometimes threatening, developments. Engagement with science began to be commonly used as a sign of being modern across culture in Britain and the western world.

Today, historians from many different specialities are looking again at the excited discussions about science that circulated among writers and artists, through the press and radio, and in museums,  government and universities in the years after the First World War.

This interdisciplinary conference aims to bring together people who do not normally meet in the same space. Scholars from a range of disciplines can explore how the complex interpretations of science affected the re-creation of what it was to be modern. The meeting will be held at a centre of historical research in London, the Institute of Historical Research, and tickets can be booked here.

A limited number of free tickets to the video opera “Three Tales” by Steve Reich and Beryl Korot to be performed live at the Science Museum 22 and 24 April will be available to registered participants at the conference.

To find more about the conference and to register, visit qmul.ac.uk/being-modern/

Photography and the Science Museum Group

As the current Media Space exhibition Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection draws to a close at the Science Museum, before re-opening at the National Media Museum, Head of Photography Kate Bush looks at the history of the Science Museum Group’s photography collections.

Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection at Media Space © Kate Elliott

Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection at Media Space © Kate Elliott

157 years ago this month, the earliest incarnation of the Royal Photographic Society organised the first public photography exhibition ever to be held in Britain at the South Kensington Museum.

Borne of the sense of optimism generated by the Great Exhibition of 1851, the South Kensington Museum was an institution set up to promote the arts and science in Britain, later dividing up into the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The exhibition was well received by public and critics alike, with The Observer saying that ‘The collection is… the best that has been hitherto exhibited… there are many works of a degree of merit which may not be surpassed.’

The venue chosen for the exhibition was a gallery situated above the museum’s Refreshment Rooms – the very first museum restaurant.

Media Space Café © Kate Elliott

Media Space Café © Kate Elliott

Today, less than a few hundred yards from that initial gallery sits the Science Museum’s Media Space, a bright and airy part of the museum building dedicated to exhibiting photography across two spaces and held together by its own ‘Refreshment Rooms’; the Media Space café.

The gallery’s current exhibition, Drawn by Light, showcases the highlights of the Royal Photographic Society Collection from the dawn of photography to the present. The exhibition was recently reviewed by The Observer, and was similarly well-received to its 1858 predecessor, with the newspaper’s art critic calling the assembled photographs ‘a stupendous selection’ and a ‘magnificent exhibition’.

In February 1882, Captain William de Wiveleslie Abney, the South Kensington Museum’s Director of Science and President of the Royal Photographic Society on several occasions, had a letter published in the British Journal of Photography stating that ‘the Director of the South Kensington Museum is anxious to obtain a collection illustrating the history of photography’. This represented the beginnings of what became the Science Museum Group’s National Photography Collection – a collection of international significance containing some of the most important items in the history of the medium.

Throughout the 20th century, as the Collection continued to expand, the Museum continued to exhibit photography, with a major part of the RPS collection shown in the Science Museum at the end of the 1920s, in a gallery just below where Media Space stands today.

The Science Museum Group acquired the RPS collection in 2002 with the help of the Art Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, which added to the collection’s existing highlights which include the largest collection of work by William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of modern photography, including the Latticed Window, the very first photographic negative. It also includes the largest public collection of portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron. Other exceptional holdings include the Nièpce heliographs, the Herschel Collection and the Ellis daguerreotypes, as well as key work by Anna Atkins, Hill and Adamson, Lewis Carroll, Roger Fenton, Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Henry Peach Robinson, Peter Henry Emerson, Alfred Stieglitz and Fred Holland Day.

Gathering Water Lilies, 1886, Peter Henry Emerson © National Media Museum, Bradford

Gathering Water Lilies, 1886, Peter Henry Emerson © National Media Museum, Bradford

All of the major movements of 19th century photography are represented in the collection, which is situated in the fascinating National Media Museum archives in Bradford. The major focus of the collection’s 20th century holdings is on British post-war documentary photography. The jewel in the crown here is the archive of Tony Ray-Jones (showcased in our exhibition Only in England, which is touring to Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery where it runs until 7 June), but there are also strong bodies of work by Martin Parr, Paul Graham, Chris Killip, Graham Smith and Peter Mitchell.

Location Unknown, possibly Morecambe, c1967, Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum, Bradford

Location Unknown, possibly Morecambe, c1967, Tony Ray-Jones © National Media Museum, Bradford

The Science Museum Group would not necessarily be the first institution on people’s lips if they were asked to name a committed collector of photography, but the collection as it stands today grew out of the birth of the medium when exhibitors at the Great Exhibition were unsure whether to situate their photo displays in the Science section or the Arts section. They chose to give their display its own site as an ‘independent art’ and photography has retained something of this middle ground up to the present day. The Science Museum’s Optics Collection has many pre-photographic camera obscuras as well as an exhibit on the grinding of lenses. The Aeronautics Collection has an example of a microphotograph flown into Paris by pigeon when the city was under siege in 1870-71.

The collection also continues to expand, both in size and in reputation, as more and more work by a diverse range of contemporary photographers is acquired and a wide programme of touring and loans ensures that our rich archive is a resource which is shared as widely as possible.

‘Now, more than ever, photography plays a prominent role in contemporary life and part of the collection’s function is to provide opportunities for dialogue between genres, periods and other contexts for photography. Building and using a comprehensive collection of the medium’s various cultural histories, produces a greater understanding of what is particular, special and important to photography in the visual arts, media, popular culture and the everyday.’ – Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs, National Media Museum, Bradford.

Drawn by Light: The Royal Photographic Society Collection runs at Media Space until Sunday 1 March, and then at the National Media Museum from 20 March to 21 June 2015. The next major Media Space exhibition, Revelations: Experiments in Photography, opens on 20 March 2015.

The National Photography Collection is housed at the National Media Museum, Bradford. Find out about guided tours and how to make an appointment to visit the collection here.

Professor Stephen Hawking gives London’s Guest of Honour a tour of the Museum

This week, Professor Stephen Hawking gave London’s Guest of Honour, Adaeze Uyanwah, a personal guided tour of the Science Museum.

Describing the museum as one of his favourite places, the Cambridge University cosmologist told Adaeze “It helped fuel my fascination with physics and I have been coming here for decades.”

Professor Stephen Hawking arrives at the Museum and greets Guest of London Adaeze

Professor Stephen Hawking arrives at the Museum and greets London’s Guest of Honour, Adaeze

The tour, which lasted more than an hour, is one of a series of magic moments for Adaeze, 24, from California, who beat off over 10,000 international entrants to win a trip of a lifetime to London.

Adaeze and Professor Hawking  were formally welcomed by Ian Blatchford, Director, and Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Board of Trustees.

The tour reflected Professor Hawking’s passion for space travel, cosmology and the museum itself. In the Energy Hall, he talked about the science of thermodynamics and his prediction that black holes would emit radiation, now called Hawking radiation, which has been highly influential  in fundamental physics.

In the Making the Modern World gallery, he pointed out the command module of Apollo 10, launched in May 1969 as a dress rehearsal for the first Moon landing, and in the Exploring Space gallery, a model of the Apollo 11 moon lander, telling Adaeze “it is important we continue human space exploration”.

Curator Doug Millard, who accompanied the tour alongside fellow Curators Alison Boyle and Andrew Nahum, carefully opened the Apollo 10 command module. Adaeza had the rare opportunity to peer inside the module, which carried astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan to within 14 kilometres of the surface of the Moon.  Professor Hawking also had the opportunity to peer inside, with the help of a camera on a stick.

Curator Doug Millard showing Adaeza the inside of the Apollo 10 command module

Curator Doug Millard showing Adaeza the inside of the Apollo 10 command module

Professor Hawking introduced Adaeze to items from the collection that hold special significance for him, including a rare copy of Newton’s Principia Mathematica, one of the most important books in science, and an iPad portrait of him drawn for a 70th birthday exhibit in the museum by David Hockney, about which he commented: “I’m still not quite sure about the fingers.”

He also discussed his speech synthesiser, the first version of which is in the museum’s collections. “I was happy to lend my voice recently to Eddie Redmayne recently to give him a bit of a boost in his efforts to win an Oscar. Unfortunately, Eddie did not inherit my good looks.”

Voice synthesiser

Voice synthesiser

During the tour, which included the double helix, Adaeze asked Professor Hawking what of our common shortcomings as human beings would he alter, and what of our virtues would he magnify, if it were possible. He replied:

“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory, or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all. A major nuclear war would be the end of civilization, and maybe the end of the human race. The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.”

Adaeze said that Professor Hawking’s tour of the Science Museum was a once in a life time experience which would stay with her:

“It’s incredible to think that decades from now, when my grandchildren are learning Stephen Hawking’s theories in science class, I’ll be able to tell them I had a personal meeting with him and heard his views first hand. It’s something I’ll never forget and I’m so grateful to him and the Museum for this awesome experience.”

Professor Hawking and Adaeza in front of a model of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

Professor Hawking and Adaeza in front of a model of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

Professor Hawking, who is a fellow of the museum, has been visiting since his childhood.”When we were young, my mother used to leave me at the science museum, my sister, Mary, at the Natural History Museum, and my younger sister, Philippa, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. At the end of the day, my mother collected us all.”

Each year around one million school age children visit the museum, which plays a fundamental role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers.

 

A view of the cravings exhibition

Cravings: Can Your Food Control You?

What’s driving your food obsession? Is it the colour of your spoon, the food your mum ate while pregnant, the trillions of bacteria that dine with you, or the little known ‘second brain’ in your gut?

The answers to these questions and more can be found in Cravings: Can Your Food Control You?, a new exhibition which looks at how your appetite is shaped by food, from the flavours you learned to love in the womb to the very next bite you take.

Cravings exhibition at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum

Cravings exhibition at the Science Museum. Credit: Science Museum

In the exhibition you can discover how scientists and chefs are manipulating our senses to make food seem healthier and tastier. Quirky dining utensils that use colour, material and shape to trick our sense of taste are on display (see them in action here), alongside art-inspired food such as ‘Salad with a Taste of Kandinsky’, created by scientists and chefs to help understand how the brain creates the perception of taste and flavour.

Salad with a taste of Kandinsky. Credit Bottletop / Science Museum.

Salad with a taste of Kandinsky. Credit Bottletop / Science Museum.

Are squares spicier than circles? Can music make a dish taste better? By answering these questions in a unique online science experiment in the exhibition you can help chef Heston Blumenthal and Prof Charles Spence at Oxford University understand how our senses influence food cravings (click here to take part).

As Heston explains, “Think about the most memorable meal you’ve ever had. It’s not just the food you remember. Eating is a multi-sensory experience that can shape your appetite for life.”

Guests at the Cravings press preview watched as BBC Breakfast broadcast live from the Cravings exhibition to 7 million viewers, with stories from the exhibition featured in the GuardianNewsweekThe IndependentRadio 4’s Today programme and on BBC News.

BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from the Cravings exhibition. Credit: Science Museum

BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from the Cravings exhibition. Credit: Science Museum

Jean M. Franczyk, the Science Museum’s Deputy Director, welcomed guests to the press preview, remarking that, ‘You don’t need me to tell you that food has an increasing grip on the nation – whether it’s eating out at trendy restaurants, staying in to watch Great British Bake Off on TV or public discourse about obesity. Yet little is known about our cravings. What drives us to take that extra bite, or reach for another helping of breakfast? Our fabulous Cravings exhibition brings together the latest scientific research on food and appetite with personal stories and fascinating objects to explore these questions and many more.’

Chef Heston Blumenthal made a special appearance at the press preview via video and the exhibition was officially opened by Prof Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, who said, ‘I think this exhibition shows the relationship with our weight and food wonderfully. What Ling has managed to do with her colleagues is bring new science and technology together, revealing how the food we all eat shapes our appetite throughout life, from the very beginnings as an embryo.’

Ling Lee, Project leader for the Cravings exhibition, explained more, ‘Everything you’ve ever eaten, and will eat, leaves a stamp on you. Through the latest scientific research on appetite, Cravings reveals the inner workings of our brain, gut brain and gut bacteria and – more importantly – how all three work together to regulate our eating habits.’

An artificial gut developed by scientists at the University of Reading. Credit: Science Museum.

An artificial gut developed by scientists at the University of Reading. Credit: Science Museum.

When you eat, 100 trillion gut bacteria dine with you, and their response to food has a big effect on your appetite. Cravings delves inside the hidden world of these gut bacteria and your second ‘gut’ brain – millions of nerve cells embedded in the gut wall – which can make you feel hungry, full or even crave certain foods. In the exhibition you can see an artificial gut used by scientists to study gut bacteria and discover how NASA are studying how gut bacteria behave in space and on Earth thanks to astronaut twins Scott and Mark Kelly.

Cravings: Can Your Food Control You? is generously supported by GSK (Major Sponsor) and Danone (Associate Sponsor), with additional support from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Medical Research Council. The exhibition is free and is open until January 2016. For more information visit sciencemuseum.org.uk/cravings.

Logotype of the Anti-Noise League, pressure group behind the 1935 exhibition. Credit: Science Museum.

Music, Noise and Silence

Dr. Tim Boon, Head of Research & Public History at the Science Museum reflects on a series of upcoming public events exploring science, technology and music.

In 1935, the Science Museum staged a very uncharacteristic temporary exhibition, on the theme of noise abatement. The Museum’s exhibitions in those days usually celebrated new technologies, such as television (in 1937) or showed unfamiliar parts of its collections, for example ‘rafts, canoes and boats’ (1931). But noise was seen as a by-product of industrial modernity that needed to be tackled, not least by new silent technologies and measuring devices, and so the exhibition was planned.

‘Silent lift’ display in 1935’s Noise Abatement exhibition. Credit: Science Museum

‘Silent lift’ display in 1935’s Noise Abatement exhibition. Credit: Science Museum

To celebrate the 80th anniversary of this exhibition, and as part of the research towards a future exhibition on science, technology and music, the museum has organised a series of events, organised around the themes of ‘Music, Noise and Silence’. The series, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is being developed in conjunction with the Royal College of Music and the University Nottingham. Each workshop includes publicly-accessible concerts and talks by high profile speakers.

Logotype of the Anti-Noise League, pressure group behind the 1935 exhibition. Credit: Science Museum.

Logotype of the Anti-Noise League, pressure group behind the 1935 exhibition. Credit: Science Museum.

On February 25-26 at the Royal College of Music, we explore Music and Silence, starting form the idea that silence is the ‘absolute zero’ of both music and the science of acoustics. The conversations will discuss the proposition that modern ‘quiet’ musics – including experimental, ambient and spiritual genres – are responses to industrial modernity.

The publicly-accessible concerts and talks for ‘Music and Silence’ features a two-part concert on 25th February and an afternoon of presentations by David Toop (author of Ocean of Sound, 1995) and Hillel Schwartz (Making Noise, 2011) on 26 February (book here).

On 26–27 March, we explore Noise and Silence at the University of Nottingham, focussing on the issues that led to the Museum’s 1935 exhibition and their resonances today.

How can electronics mediate a noisy world? Advertising flyer, Electronic Music Studios, c.1975

How can electronics mediate a noisy world? Advertising flyer, Electronic Music Studios, c.1975

Finally, at the Science Museum on 23–24 April, we go into Music and Noise, exploring the interactions and musical possibilities that industrial modernity has opened up for new kinds of music of all kinds. Watch this space for updates on the later events.

A Day In the Life of an Outreach Officer

New outreach officer Heather Patrick, talks about her experiences as a new member of the team.

Hello, my name is Heather. I’m one of the two new recruits on the Outreach and Resources team at the Science Museum. I’ve been in the team for two months now, and I’ve already had some amazing experiences!

The Outreach team’s job is to travel around the country, bringing explosive science shows and workshops to schools, communities and festivals. The Outreach team perform lots of different shows and workshops. Most of my time has been spent in training, learning to perform the shows. Here I am performing the Glorious Blood show for the very first time in a school. The flour shower experiment was very popular!

flour shower1

On Mondays, the Outreach team plan their visits for the week. As well as figuring out how to get to the different schools, we also need to figure out what props we need to bring for our shows. Every Monday, the team goes to the Outreach storeroom to organise the show props for the week. We perform 22 different shows and workshops, so there are a lot of boxes in the storeroom.

store

Once we’ve sorted out what we need, we load all the props into the Outreach van. Lifting the boxes can be tiring work, but I’ve been getting better at it every day. Sometimes fitting all the boxes into the van can be like a giant game of Tetris, but the oldies on the team make it look easy.

packing1

When we’re not out visiting schools or communities, we’re in the office planning our visits, ringing up schools, or working on special projects. One of my projects is to update the Meet the Team section of our webpages. I’ll be taking photos of the team, asking them intriguing interview questions and putting their answers up on the website for all to see. Watch this space!

One of the best aspects of working in Outreach, aside from all the different shows I get to perform, is visiting new places. Occasionally the Outreach team go on away trips to exotic locations such as Ireland, Italy and Hong Kong. My favourite away trip to date has been the annual Outreach trip to Gibraltar. Our team performed shows and workshops for every school over the course of the week. I was surprised when I saw photos of myself and Laura performing the Not So Sleepy Hedgehog storytelling in the local newspaper on my second day!

NSSH1

I’ve been learning something new every day on the Outreach team, and I’m having an absolute blast visiting people all around the world and showing them how fun science can be. Perhaps I’ll see you around in the New Year!

If you’d like the Science Museum’s outreach team to visit your school or event, details of what we offer and how to book can be found on our website.

A Remarkable Moment for Science

By Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs

When the House of Commons voted to legalise a revolutionary new form of reproductive medicine on Tuesday, it was a remarkable moment for science.

This technique, known as mitochondrial replacement or three-person in vitro fertilization, aims to prevent women passing on harmful mutations in their mitochondria, the cell’s energy-producing structures. 

The vote in the House of Commons, decided by 382 members of parliament casting in favour and 128 against, is expected to lead to the United Kingdom becoming a pioneer in mitochondrial replacement methods.

I wrote one of the first newspaper accounts of mitochondrial donation for The Daily Telegraph a decade ago, and also chaired a debate on the technique on Monday night, organised by the Progress Educational Trust in the Houses of Parliament.

The debate was hosted by Luciana Berger, Labour and Cooperative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, and Shadow Minister for Public Health.  Among the audience of around 150 people were MPs, Lords, fertility experts and members of families affected by mitochondrial disease.

After being introduced by Fiona Fox of the Science Media Centre, who is also chair of the Progress Educational Trust, I reminded the audience that we were there as an indirect result of events that took place one or two billion years ago: that’s when bacteria invaded the cells of our ancestors to trade chemical energy for a cosy home. 

But, of course, mitochondria can suffer faults and the Commons was about to debate methods designed to prevent children being born with some 50 or so metabolic disorders that result this way. Almost 2,500 women of child-bearing age in the UK are at risk of passing on disease caused by faults in mitochondria to their children.

The speakers debating the safety and ethics on Monday night were: Frances Flinter, Professor of Clinical Genetics at King’s College London; John Harris, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation at the University of Manchester; Dr David King, Founder and Director of Human Genetics Alert and Philippa Taylor, Head of Public Policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship, and Consultant on Family and Bioethics at Christian Action Research and Education.

Important contributions to the discussion came from members of affected families, the pioneer of the research, Prof Doug Turnbull of Newcastle University, journalist and author Matt Ridley and Prof Andy Greenfield,  who chaired the HFEA Scientific Review panel.

What was gratifying was that on Tuesday the debate was cited by several MPs – including Luciana Berger, Liz McInnes and Guy Opperman  - in their contributions to the House of Commons debate before the historic vote in favour of this form of gene therapy.

Another MP even complained that we had more time for our public debate than the MPs had for their debate in the Commons.

The science and ethics of mitochondrial donation have been the subject of an exhibit in the Science Museum and years of high-profile discussions, including public consultations by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Department of Health, and representations by scientists and key organisations such as the Wellcome Trust.

£1 million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering goes to chemical engineer Robert Langer

The visionary chemical engineer Dr Robert Langer, whose work on drug delivery systems has benefited millions of patients, has today won Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

Every two years, the £1 million QE Prize brings a splash of glamour to the world of engineering, and with Professor Brian Cox is sitting in the audience rather than addressing it, this year was no exception. As Professor Cox explained in a video shown to the audience, the prize goes “not to areas of potential, or engineers who may be great in the future, but to engineers who’ve already done something that’s demonstrably changed, in this case, millions of lives”.

Dr Robert Langer, winner of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Dr Robert Langer, winner of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

The announcement itself was made by Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of York, who told the audience “the UK is the best place to do science and engineering” and spoke about how his personal passion for engineering had been inspired by his father.

Lord Browne paid tribute to the work done throughout history by the engineers who have found solutions to the world’s most troublesome problems, noting the “excellent solutions are not inevitable”. He pointed to “imagination, creativity and tenacity” as the qualities most needed in the next generation of engineers. In December 2014, the Science Museum opening a new exhibition, Engineer Your Future designed to inspire 11- to 15-year-olds to think about careers in the engineering. 65,000 people have already visited the exhibition.

Dr Langer is one of 11 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. His laboratory at MIT – with over 100 students, postdoctoral students, and visiting scientists at any one time -is the world’s largest academic biomedical engineering laboratory.

Professor Lord Broers, Chair of Judges for the QEPrize, said: “Robert Langer has made an immense contribution to healthcare and to numerous other fields by applying engineering systems thinking to biochemical problems. Not only has he revolutionised drug delivery, but his open-minded approach to innovation and his ability to think ‘outside the box’ have led to great advances in the field of tissue engineering. He is a truly inspiring leader who has attracted brilliant people to these relatively new and exciting areas of research and is extremely involved in the commercial development of his group’s research.”

Her Majesty The Queen will present the prize to Dr Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year.