The Bank Of England Wants You To Nominate Scientists For Their New Bill Design


What scientist would you put on the £50 banknote? Screengrab/Bank of England

Because we all f*cking love science, the Bank of England is honoring our favorite field by putting the face of one of science’s greatest contributors on a new £50 banknote design – and they want your help in choosing who.

The new Briton will replace Scottish inventor James Watt and, just like the inventor of the rotary engine, must be real (no fictional characters), and deceased. Their work will not only have contributed to the field of science but will have “shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK” and “inspire people, not divide them,” according to the website. Other than that, the playing field is open to those who worked in any scientific field, “from the A in anatomy to the Z in zoology.”


The final decision is made by the Banknote Character Advisory Committee and is based on the person’s strengths and not by how many nominations they get. The board says it will consider people who have been chosen in the past (read: a bunch of old white dudes) and expects nominations to feature a diversity of people and fields.

William Shakespeare was the first to appear on the £20 note in 1970. Since then, a variety of famous Brits have been featured, including scientific leaders such as Sir Isaac Newton, 17th-century astronomer Sir Christopher Wren, the discoverer of electromagnetic induction Michael Faraday, and inventor George Stephenson

The Guardian reports a handful of contenders already in the running and the list includes a rad bunch of forward-thinking females worthy of the honor, from the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace and Britain’s only Nobel science laureate Dorothy Hodgkin to X-ray crystallographer and DNA modeler Rosalind Franklin and dinosaur enthusiast Mary Anning.

A few male contenders include WW2 computer scientist Alan Turing, the one and only cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Frederick Sanger (who identified amino acids that make up the insulin molecule) and Sir Peter Medawar (who revealed how our immune system rejects foreign tissues).


Until December 14, you can nominate your favorite person online or write to: Think Science, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH. The person will be announced in 2019.


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