Viruses used to pinpoint superbugs within minutes, might lead to safer surfaces

Antibiotic resistant bacteria is one of the greatest public health threats of our age, because we're heading for a world where common maladies can overcome any drug that we throw at them. That's why it's been chosen as the goal for this year's Longitude Prize. Like the original, awarded in 1765 to a carpenter who built the first chronometer, a £10 million ($17 million) bounty will be offered to anyone who believes that they can come up with a solution to the problem.

The prize is being co-funded by the UK Government and innovation charity Nesta, and is open to members of the general public as well as businesses and research institutions. According to the prize's managers, the challenge will center around being able to build a cheap, accurate and rapid diagnostic system for bacterial infections. That way, medical professionals around the world will be able to use specific antibiotics, but only in cases where they'd actually be of use, rather than firing drugs blindly into our bodies. The challenge will run over the next five years, with the specific criteria for a successful test to be worked out over the summer. Participants will then be able to submit their ideas, with the first review taking place in the fall of 2015.