Science

The new fifty quid’s in

By Danny Brown

The upcoming new polymer fifty pound banknote will be redesigned with a British scientist printed on the back. Who it will be is yet to be decided, the voting is still ongoing.

In 2016, the Bank of England started issuing polymer bank notes to replace paper notes we had been using for over 300 years. The polymer banknote rollout began with the five pound note, and with the new material, a new design was produced for the rear of the note, the portrait of Elizabeth Fry was replaced by Winston Churchill. The same was done to the ten pound note in 2017, with the rear portrait of Charles Darwin replaced by Jane Austin.

The current faces present on fifty pound notes are those of Matthew Boulton, English manufacturer and Innovator, and of James Watt, Scottish engineer, chemist and the developer of the steam engine, improving its efficiency which “converted it from a prime mover of marginal efficiency into the mechanical workhorse of the Industrial Revolution”. Boulton and Watt formed a partnership in 1775 manufacturing and mass producing steam engines.

As of the time of writing this article, the Bank of England is still taking possible candidate nominations. There are several rules that have to be adhered to in order for the nominee to be eligible, such as: the candidate must have contributed to the field of science; be real; not be alive – Her Majesty the Queen is the only exception; have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK; inspire people, not divide them. The closing date for nominations is December 14, with the chosen candidate being announced some time in 2019.

So far, there have been over 170,000 submissions, and the Bank of England has, so far, released a list of eligible names, covering the first 114,000 nominations. The list includes Stephen Hawking, famous for his brilliant work on black holes and Hawking Radiation; Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the first working telephone; Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize winner for her development of protein crystallography; Rosalind Franklin, chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made huge contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite; Charles Babbage, a polymath who originated the concept of a digital programmable computer; Julia Bell, pioneering geneticist and discoverer of Fragile X Syndrome; Ernest Rutherford, known as the father of nuclear physics and considered to be the greatest experimentalist since Michael Faraday.

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