british inventions

Wondering what these three household objects have in common? Well, you guessed it. They were all invented right here in Britain. In fact, many of the things we take for granted every day were born straight out of the minds of British inventors!

Over the years, British inventors have innovated almost every aspect of our lives. From garden-care to dental-care, they've really contributed lots of things that we should be grateful for.

Want to see our top 10 famous British inventors and their inspiring creations? Just keep reading. More...

The worlds of science and medicine things change and develop at an alarmingly fast rate - and things won't be slowing down in 2020. We took a look at this article from the Nature Research Journal which rounds up the predictions made by some of the biggest names in science to give you an idea of what to expect in the coming year. 

 

 

Computing Cancer

Christina Curtis - Computational and Systems Biologist at Stanford University, California

 As it stands, we don't know the process by which cancer develops - we can only sample a tumour once it's become physically detectable. This is one of the problems that researchers have been battling for years now, but Curtis' research team might have created something to help study cancer development. 

"Our team built a computational model to explore the dynamics of tumour progression while accounting for tissue spatial structure". Using this model, the team are able to simulate different scenarios and create 'virtual tumours' that mimic the tumours of real patients.

They hope that this simulated data can be compared to real-life scenarios, allowing researchers to infer how the tumour came to be.

Better cryo-EM samples

Hongwei Wang - Structural biologist at Tsinghua University, Beijing

Cryo-EM (cryogenic electron microscopy) is a method in which biological specimens are quickly frozen in liquid nitrogen, preserving their molecules and preventing damage during the electron imaging process.

Wang predicts that in two or three years "cryo-EM will become the most powerful tool for deciphering the structures of macromolecules". Hopefully, the development of this technique will help us gain a better understanding of biochemical mechanisms, enabling better drug development.

Improving RNA Analysis

Sarah Woodson - Biophysicist at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland

Woodson is "keeping her eye on long-read RNA sequencing and live-cell imaging using light-up RNA strands called aptamers". 

Short-read sequencing can be used to identify RNA sequences that contain biochemically modified residues, but long-read sequencing can determine how common a particular modification is within the cell, as well as helping technicians determine whether changes in one part of the RNA molecule relate to another.

Aptamers, which are strands of DNA or RNA capable of binding to fluorescent dyes, allow researchers to track things like the formation of intracellular RNA clusters which lead to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's.

Woodson expects to see the aptamers used to study the development of cancers, metabolic syndromes and Alzheimers as the technology progresses.  

If you'd like to play a part in creating life-changing technologies like the ones outlined here, we can help you find the perfect career. Browse our current job vacancies or get in touch to get the ball rolling.

Browse Career Opportunities >

Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who helped pave the way for the first American astronaut to successfully orbit the Earth, died on Monday morning at the age of 101.

Hired by NASA in 1953 after working as a teacher, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space, before electronic computers were in use. The key roles played by Johnson and other African-American women at NASA were even highlighted in the 2016 film Hidden Figures, indicating the huge influence that she had on such a huge milestone in history.

Katherine Johnson NASA photo

Image by NASA (source)

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of colour. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon, and before that, made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars."

As well as her massive contributions to human spaceflight, Johnson was a champion of STEM education and a trailblazer in the quest for equality - paving the way for fellow women and African Americans now working in STEM. Reminiscing on her time working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), Johnson said: "The women did what they were told to do. They didn't ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there."

It was this inquisitive nature that made Johnson a valuable resource to her team and the only woman at the time to ever be pulled from the computing pool to work on other programmes.

During her time at NASA, Johnson received several prestigious awards, including the NASA Lunar Orbiter Award and three NASA Special Achievement Awards. She was also named Mathematician of the Year in 1997 by the National Technical Association. She strove to push more students into STEM, saying: "We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics. Everything is physics and math."

Just like Katherine Johnson, we at Hyper Recruitment Solutions believe that diversity in STEM is crucial to the advancement of the industry. STEM work is critical to all sorts of fields, including medicine, transport and computing - it's at the very heart of modern life, and if diversity continues to fall short, so will the number of qualified people needed to fill crucial roles.

Read our blog posts to learn more about diversity and the gender gap in STEM:

Diversity in STEM >   Gender Gap in STEM >

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we strive to place the most talented individuals into roles where they can make the biggest impact - whether that's in engineering, science or technology. Regardless of your gender, race or background, if you are interested in working within STEM and you're looking to either kick-start your career or take it to the next level, our team of experienced recruiters can help you.

Browse our latest jobs to find a role that's suited to your skills!

"We're going to turn the UK into a supercharged magnet, drawing scientists like iron filings from around the world" - Boris Johnson.

While giving a speech at the Culham Science Centre, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke about his plans to expand the UK's hub of scientists and intellectuals following Brexit.

To do this, he plans to remove the cap on 'tier one' visas which currently only allow 2,000 skilled migrants into the UK each year.

On top of this, he wants officials to come up with a way to allocate automatic endorsement (subject to immigration checks) that allows researchers' families to work and live in the UK too. 

 

The Current Situation

Currently, over half of UK scientific workforce is made up of EU researchers (roughly 211,00 people), who don't need visas to work in Britain. Researchers from outside of the EU are faced with an arduous, expensive process to gain a working visa for the UK costing, on average, £8000.

Following our departure from the EU, researchers from European countries will be expected to go through the same process, which has sparked fears of a scientific skills shortage.

 

Concerns

Researchers in the UK are already worrying about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. The loss of scientific collaborations with EU institutes, alongside the loss of European funding, is predicted to impact our science industries.

It's thought that the UK will be unable to participate in EU-funded Horizon projects and that British scientists may not be involved at all if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

Mr Johnson addressed these concerns by saying "the UK will continue to collaborate in great scientific projects under any circumstances".

 

What Does the Future Hold?

It's nice to see the PM already addressing these concerns and prominent scientific figures, like Dr Daniel Rathbone (assistant director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering), have welcomed the Prime Ministers "powerful message".

But, like us, they look forward to seeing the finer details of these proposals. Science is a collaborative enterprise and we're hopeful that these proposals will keep our science industries thriving for years to come!

Read more on this story here >

If you're currently looking for jobs in the science or technology sector, we can help match you with your dream role! Start by browsing our current job vacancies now. 

Don't forget to follow us on social media for more science news and insights.

Britain

We have a proud history of scientific achievement and innovation here in Great Britain. A surprising number of watershed technologies were born on this island, and us Brits have always been well-represented across a broad spectrum of scientific fields, from astrophysics to zoology and just about everything in between.

Don't believe us? Here are 15 famous scientists who were born right here in Blighty (and all since 1900 - apologies to fans of Charles Darwin, Ada Lovelace, Alexander Graham Bell and other pre-20th century science superstars!):

 

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Birthplace: London, England (1968)

Field: Astronomy

The first scientist on our list is also the youngest (although Brian Cox was born less than a week earlier). Maggie Aderin-Pocock is perhaps best known for hosting the current incarnation of long-running BBC series The Sky at Night, but she's not just a TV personality: she is an Honorary Research Associate in UCL's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and she's worked on a wide variety of projects over the course of her career, from developing landmine detection devices to managing the observation instruments for the Aeolus satellite.

Aderin-Pocock is also the Director of Science Innovation Ltd, an organisation that works to engage school-aged children in the field of space science.

 

Tim Berners-Lee

Birthplace: London, England (1955)

Fields: Engineering, Computer Science

If you've heard of Tim Berners-Lee, it's probably because he's the man who invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Without his world-changing work, you might not be reading this article right now!

But TimBL, as he's sometimes known, hasn't been resting on his laurels during the intervening three decades. He has worked with the UK government to help keep online information open and accessible, and he's been a key voice in the ongoing fight to preserve net neutrality.

 

James Black

Birthplace: Uddingston, Scotland (1924)

Field: Pharmacology

James Black won a scholarship to the University of St Andrews at the age of 15, and graduated from the university's prestigious School of Medicine - the oldest in Scotland - in 1946. In another life, he might have gone on to be a doctor, but he decided against this career path because he objected to the insensitive way in which patients were treated at the time.

Instead, Sir James Black is best known for developing propranolol and cimetidine, which are still used to treat heart disease and stomach ulcers respectively. He was knighted in 1981 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988.

 

Brian Cox

Birthplace: Oldham, England (1968)

Field: Physics

Professor Brian Cox is something of a household name these days, but in the grand scheme of things, it really hasn't been that long since the most notable entry on his CV was playing keyboards for D:Ream (on whose biggest hit, 'Things Can Only Get Better', he didn't even feature!).

It was during his music career that Cox completed a degree in physics at the University of Manchester. After that, he went on to get a PhD in particle physics, and nowadays he can be seen / heard on all sorts of science-themed TV and radio programmes. He has also co-authored a number of physics books, and he works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Speaking of which...

 

Lyn Evans

Birthplace: Aberdare, Wales (1945)

Field: Physics

Lyn Evans, nicknamed 'Evans the Atom', was the project leader of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland until 2008. He actually spent his first year at Swansea University studying chemistry, only switching to physics in his second year because - rather amusingly - he found physics easier.

Evans has been honoured with a number of science awards since stepping down as LHC project leader, including the Glazebrook Medal, the 2012 Special Fundamental Physics Prize, and the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal.

 

Rosalind Franklin

Birthplace: London, England (1920)

Field: Chemistry

In 1951, Rosalind Franklin - already an accomplished X-ray crystallographer - became a research associate at King's College London. Famously, her work at King's would prove crucial to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that holds the genetic instructions for the growth and reproduction of every organism on planet Earth.

Franklin sadly died of ovarian cancer at just 37 years old. She was not nominated for a Nobel Prize in her lifetime, although her colleagues Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1962, once DNA structure had been widely accepted as proven science. To this day, there is still debate over the degree to which Crick, Watson and Wilkins were taking credit for Franklin's work; as a result, she has become somewhat iconic of the discrimination that women in STEM fields face.

 

Isabella Gordon

Birthplace: Keith, Scotland (1901)

Field: Marine Biology

Dr Isabella Gordon was a leading expert in carcinology, the study of crustaceans (crabs and sea spiders were her particular speciality). During her 86 years of life, she worked at the Natural History Museum - no doubt a dream job for many British biology enthusiasts - received an OBE, and became a Fellow of the Zoological Society.

She also had the distinction of meeting with Emperor Hirohito while visiting Japan in 1961. The 'Grand Old Lady of Carcinology' (as she was posthumously dubbed) was invited to the laboratories of the Imperial Household and spoke to the Emperor, who was apparently something of a marine biology enthusiast himself.

 

Stephen Hawking

Birthplace: Oxford, England (1942)

Field: Theoretical Physics

What can we say about Stephen Hawking that you don't already know? BBC Earth have a great article listing Hawking's many scientific achievements (as well as the fact that he has appeared on TV shows like The Simpsons and Star Trek), so if you're not familiar with his work, we'd recommend starting there.

Stephen Hawking famously lived with motor neurone disease, which is why he used a wheelchair and communicated via American-accented voice software. When Hawking was first diagnosed, doctors estimated that he had approximately 2 years to live; that was in 1963, when Hawking was 21 years old. He eventually died in March 2018, a couple of months after his 76th birthday.

 

Peter Higgs

Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England (1929)

Field: Theoretical Physics

Ever heard of the Higgs boson? Peter Higgs is the man for whom that particle was named. He is a Nobel laureate who received the Prize for Physics in 2013 "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles". (Higgs shared the award with Belgian physicist François Englert in a great testament to the collaborative, border-crossing spirit of modern science.)

Rather remarkably, Higgs was awarded honorary degrees by 15 different institutions between 1997 and 2015. He was even offered a knighthood just prior to the turn of the millennium, but unlike some of the other people on this list, he turned it down, expressing his cynicism towards the British honours system.

 

Steve Jones

Birthplace: Aberystwyth, Wales (1946)

Field: Genetics

John Stephen Jones was rejected by all of the Welsh universities he applied for, so he ended up going to Scotland and studying zoology at the University of Edinburgh. Years later, he would be made Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London.

Jones published a number of books and presented various TV programmes on the subject of evolution. The study of snails has proven a particular area of interest for him. In 1996, he won the Michael Faraday Prize for his contributions to public understanding of science.

 

Mary Leakey

Birthplace: London, England (1913)

Field: Palaeoanthropology

British palaeontologist Mary Leakey is notable primarily for discovering the first fossilised skull of Proconsul, an extinct primate that existed approximately 25 million years ago and is now thought to be an ancestor of human beings. She found the skull on Rusinga Island, a small island in Lake Victoria (that lies within the borders of Kenya).

The Proconsul skull was far from Leakey's only discovery, though - over the course of her career, she discovered no fewer than 15 new animal species, and 1 new genus. In 2013, 100 years after her birth, Mary Leakey's face appeared on both a Royal Mail postage stamp and a Google doodle.

 

Anne McLaren

Birthplace: London, England (1927)

Field: Developmental Biology

Millions of people currently walking the Earth were born via IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). This technology, which first yielded results in the 1970s, has allowed many would-be parents to conceive children they would otherwise have been unable to have.

Dame Anne McLaren's work was instrumental in the development of IVF as a viable solution to infertility problems. She was an officer of the Royal Society - the first woman to hold the position - as well as a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She was sadly killed in a car accident at the age of 80, but her name lives on to this day: The Anne McLaren Memorial Trust Fund was founded after her death to support scientific study and events.

 

Alan Turing

Birthplace: London, England (1912)

Fields: Mathematics, Computer Science

Despite being dead for more than 60 years, Alan Turing was in the news recently when the passage of the so-called 'Alan Turing law' retroactively pardoned men who, like Turing himself, were convicted for their homosexuality. You might also remember the 2014 movie The Imitation Game, in which Turing was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

If you saw that film, you know exactly why Turing is so famous: his code-breaking techniques enabled the Allies to defeat Axis forces in a number of key engagements during World War II. Turing's role in the eventual Allied victory was underappreciated during his lifetime, and he tragically died of cyanide poisoning in 1954 after being convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated by his own government.

 

Elsie Widdowson

Birthplace: Wallington, England (1906)

Fields: Chemistry, Dietetics

Elsie Widdowson was a highly influential dietitian who, like Alan Turing, did her most notable work during World War II. As you're probably aware, rationing was introduced in Britain during the war in order to ensure that food supplies didn't run out. Widdowson, together with her colleague Dr Robert McCance, was tasked with overseeing the rationing effort, making sure that people were getting the nutrition they needed even during extreme food shortages.

Widdowson and McCance are also known for heading up the very first government-mandated addition of vitamins and minerals to food (e.g. adding calcium to bread). She became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976, a CBE in 1979, and she died in 2000 at the age of 93.

 

Robert Winston

Birthplace: London, England (1940)

Fields: Medicine, Biology

Recognisable by his signature moustache, the Right Honourable Lord Winston has done a lot of work to get the general public interested in biology and medicine. He has hosted a litany of BBC series, including Your Life in Their Hands, Child of Our Time, The Human Body, and many more.

Robert Winston is also a medical doctor. He graduated from The London Hospital Medical College in 1964 and quickly established himself as an expert in human fertility. He actually performed the world's first Fallopian tubal transplant in 1979 (although this procedure is seldom used nowadays, having been superseded by IVF - see Anne McLaren, above).

 

Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) is a British recruitment company specialising in science and technology. We have offices in Essex, Manchester and Edinburgh - use the links below to learn more!

About HRS >   Browse Science Jobs >