National Physical Laboratory

NPL featured in the Government Science and Engineering Story

The Government Science and Engineering Story is a visual celebration of the impact of government scientists and engineers on society, from Sir Isaac Newton's work on combating counterfeit coinage through to the latest developments happening today. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), an important scientific institution with an illustrious history, features a number of times throughout the Story.

The Government Science and Engineering (GSE) Profession was established in 2008 to build a network of science and engineering professionals within government. It champions the use of evidence and the scientific method in developing policy, and the GSE Story highlights examples of government scientists and engineers shaping social, economic, and political change, including examples from NPL.

World War One was a time of great social change in the UK, particularly in the opening up of new opportunities for women. NPL recruited female staff for the first time during the Great War, and by 1917 women accounted for almost a quarter of NPL's workforce. Although this number fell after the war, NPL was never again an all-male institution. See Slide 4 of the GSE Story and the Story notes

Also during a time of war, Olga Taussky-Todd was given a leave of absence from Queen's University Belfast in 1943 to join NPL. Entering the aerodynamics division to work on aircraft design, she furthered her knowledge and made significant contributions to matrix theory, now used widely today in computer science, data science and artificial intelligence. See Slide 4 of the GSE Story and the Story notes

In addition to historic influences, the Story includes the work and potential impact of contemporary engineers and scientists. The Story highlights NPL's research on graphene, including our development of the first single-electron pump with the University of Cambridge. The device allows the most accurate ever measurements of current to be made, and has the potential to be used to redefine the ampere. See SlideĀ 10 of the GSE Story and the Story notes

Find out more about NPL's history and past scientific achievements, and our Quantum Detection research

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Last Updated: 13 Sep 2016
Created: 13 Sep 2016


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