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Sep 29, 2015 Commentary
Ships, Clocks & Stars: the quest for impact

by Katherine McAlpine

Between 2010 and July 2015, a group of researchers at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge and the National Maritime Museum were engaged in an Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project “The Board of Longitude 1714–1828: Science, innovation and empire in the Georgian world”. The project team included a dedicated Public Engagement Officer whose role was to engage audiences with the outputs of the research project.
The National Maritime Museum celebrated the 300 th anniversary of the 1714 Longitude Act with a major exhibition, Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude, which told the story of the 18th century quest for longitude, alongside a series of longitude-themed events. To commemorate the same anniversary, NESTA launched the 2014 Longitude Prize, a challenge to find a solution to today’s equivalent of the longitude problem, with the problem chosen by a public vote. Using these two examples as a case study, I explore how history of science helps science communication organisations engage people with science, and vice versa.

Volume 14 • Issue 03 • 2015