The Bank of England has announced it would like to feature a scientist on the new £50 banknote. So, whom should they pick?
The initial announcement of a £50 redesign sparked social media campaigns for all sorts of famous Brits, including British spy Noor Inayat Khan and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But a new post from the Bank of England’s website said it would choose a contributor to the field of science who is dead and will “inspire people, not divide them.” It said it would consider any contributor to the fields of applied or pure science.
Rather than a vote, the Bank of England is asking the public for nominations, and will then whittle down the list based on historical research and focus groups. The bank’s governor would make the final decision. This seems wise, given that public votes to name things often end up with Boaty McBoatface.
There’s Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary theory; Rosalind Franklin, who contributed to understanding the structure of DNA but died before the Nobel Prize for the discovery was awarded; Ada Lovelace, considered to be the first computer programmer; or Alan Turing, famed scientist who developed much of modern computing theory.
Some, like British physicist Brian Cox, have recommended that Stephen Hawking receive the honour for his contributions to cosmology, understanding black holes, and popular books. The UK Royal Society’s president Venki Ramakrishnan told the Guardian he would pick Dorothy Hodgkin, the only female Briton to have won a science Nobel Prize.
The bank has not announced when it will release the new note.