Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Which scientists might feature on the new £50 note?

Here is a guide to some of the possible candidates.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney at the announcement of the new polymer £50 note (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
Bank of England governor Mark Carney at the announcement of the new polymer £50 note (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

The new face of the £50 note – other than that of the Queen – will be a scientist, the Bank of England has said.

If they are British, no longer living and are not fictional, then they are in with a chance.

With the public asked to submit nominations, here is a guide to some of the possible candidates:

– Professor Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking (Joe Giddens/PA)

The theoretical physicist and cosmologist emerged as a favourite straight after the announcement, with Professor Brian Cox lending his endorsement.

Prof Hawking inspired the masses with his insight, humour and success against the odds with motor neurone disease, which left him nearly totally paralysed.

He died at the age of 76 in March and his ashes were interred in Westminster Abbey alongside Sir Isaac Newton, who featured on the final £1 note.

– Dorothy Hodgkin

Then-PM Margaret Thatcher greets her former tutor Professor Dorothy Hodgkin in 1989 (Tony Harris/PA)

The chemist’s 1964 achievement of winning the Nobel Prize in science made her the first and only British woman to take the coveted honour. Today, in 2018, she retains that record.

Her pioneering work on X-ray crystallography revealed the 3D structures of penicillin and insulin. The work led the way for greater treatment for diabetics.

The professor, who died in 1994, won early backing for the note from Royal Society president Venki Ramakrishnan.

– Alan Turing

Bletchley Park (Rui Vieira/PA)

He is celebrated as the father of theoretical computer science and a pioneer of artificial intelligence. If that was not enough, he was also one of the Bletchley Park codebreakers who deciphered Nazi messages.

But his contribution was not fully recognised in Britain during his lifetime, and he was persecuted for being homosexual during a time when it was outlawed in the UK.

He was made to undergo chemical castration treatment and died two years later by suicide at the age of 41 in 1954.

In his honour, a law introduced last year pardoning men convicted for having same-sex relationships was dubbed “Turing’s law”.

– Ada Lovelace

Two pages (featuring Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace – Iconic Innovations) from the new British passport design that have been unveiled at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London (Home Office/PA)

Despite dying at the age of 36 in 1852, she is regarded by some as having been the first computer programmer.

She worked on an early general-purpose computer named the Analytical Engine, recognising its potential as more than just calculations.

– Rosalind Franklin

Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins may have shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, but their work was inspired by Dr Franklin’s.

It was the Photo 51 image of DNA taken in her lab using an X-ray scattering technique and her subsequent report that helped inspire Watson and Crick to create their model.

Crick would later acknowledge her importance in the discovery, but she died of ovarian cancer at the age of 37 in 1958, four years before they scooped the Nobel.

– Frederick Sanger

Dr Frederick Sanger (PA)

The biochemist is one of only four people in history, and the only Briton, to win two Nobel prizes.

His first came for identifying the amino acids that are the building blocks of insulin, the second came in 1980 for developing the “Sanger sequencing” method of decoding DNA, which remains in regular use today.



From Belfast Telegraph