Think Science for the next £50 character

Today, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, encouraged the public to “Think Science” and nominate eminent scientists from the UK’s glorious history to be recognised on the next £50 note.
Published on 02 November 2018

News release

During an event at the Science Museum to launch the character nomination period, he announced that the new polymer £50 note will celebrate the UK’s achievements in science.

Mark Carney said: “I am delighted that the new £50 will celebrate the UK’s contribution to science. There is a wealth of individuals whose work has shaped how we think about the world and who continue to inspire people today. Our banknotes are an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of UK society and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens. My colleagues and I look forward to hearing from the public as they think science and put forward their nominations.”

Members of the public have six weeks to nominate a historical character who has contributed to science and influenced UK society. They could have worked in any field of science including astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology or zoology.

Sarah John, Chief Cashier and Director of Notes, said: “Developing a new £50 note is an important step to ensure we can continue to provide secure banknotes that can be used with confidence. For this note, we want people to nominate a variety of characters to reflect the brilliance and breadth of the UK’s contributions to the field of science.”

The Governor has also announced the appointment of four experts in the field of science to the Banknote Character Advisory Committee – Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Dr Emily Grossman, Professor Simon Schaffer and Dr Simon Singh. They will join the permanent members on the Committee in creating a shortlist from the range of characters put forward by the public. The Governor will then make a choice from the shortlist and the final decision will be announced in 2019 alongside a concept design for the new note.

The public can make their nominations on the Bank’s website until 14 December on the Think science and celebrate Alan Turing page.

Notes to editors

  1. The Bank confirmed plans for the next £50 note on 13 October 2018.
  2. See an explanation of the character selection process.
  3. The Bank will not represent living characters on its notes, with the exception of the Monarch. Banknotes are designed to be easy to authenticate and difficult to counterfeit and for this reason the Bank will choose only characters for which it is confident that it can include a recognisable and usable representation within a banknote design. The Bank will seek to avoid individuals who would be unduly divisive.
  4. See details on the Banknote Character Advisory Committee and permanent members.
  5. The Governor has today announced the appointment of the following field experts to the Banknote Advisory Committee:
    • Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE is a British space scientist and science educator. She studied at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc in physics in 1990 and completed her PhD in mechanical engineering in 1994. She has spent her career to date making novel, bespoke instrumentation in both the industrial and academic environments. Aderin-Pocock set up and runs her own company ‘Science Innovation Ltd’. Through this she conducts public engagement activities sharing the wonders of space. To date Maggie has given these presentations to over 250,000 people around the world. As well as public speaking she also works as a TV presenter and since February 2014 she has co-hosted the world’s longest running television series “The Sky at Night”. In 2009 Aderin-Pocock was awarded an MBE for services to science and education.
    • Dr Emily Grossman is an internationally acclaimed science author, public speaker and TV personality. She is an expert in molecular biology and genetics, with a Double First in Natural Sciences from Queens' College Cambridge and a PhD in cancer research. Emily is best known as a Resident Science Expert on ITV's The Alan Titchmarsh Show and Sky1's Duck Quacks Don't Echo, for her fun YouTube videos for BBC Britlab and The Royal Institution, and for her inspirational talks in schools, universities and at live events such as The Hay Festival, The Science Museum and Cheltenham Science Festival. Emily is a passionate advocate for gender equality and diversity in STEM. Last year she was named as the second Honorary STEM Ambassador, alongside astronaut Tim Peake, for her pioneering work in STEM education and as a role model to young people.
    • Professor Simon Schaffer is Professor of History of Science at the University of Cambridge. He has been editor of British Journal for the History of Science and Trustee of the Science Museum. In 2005 he was co-winner of the Erasmus prize. In 2013 he was awarded the Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society and in 2015 the Caird Medal of the National Maritime Museum. His research concentrates on the history of natural philosophy and the physical sciences between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. In 2005-10 he led a collaborative AHRC research project on the history of the Board of Longitude and of the navigational and astronomical sciences.
    • Dr Simon Singh is a British popular science author, theoretical and particle physicist whose works largely contain a strong mathematical element. Simon studied physics at Imperial College in London, before completing a PhD in particle physics at Cambridge University and at CERN, in Switzerland. His first job was with the BBC's Science Department, where he produced and directed many science themed shows, including Horizon and Tomorrow’s World. His show, Fermat's Last Theorem won a BAFTA in 1996 and the related book became a bestseller. Since then, Simon has written multiple other books including The Code Book and The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Working closely with education projects, Simon has used the UAS scheme to encourage university science departments to work more closely with schools and the Enigma project for conduct maths and cryptography workshops in schools.
  6. In 2014, the Bank entered into a contract with De La Rue for the printing of its banknotes.
  7. The £20 note featuring J.M.W Turner will be issued in 2020 and the new £50 will follow this.
  8. The Science Museum in London aims to inspire visitors with award-winning exhibitions, iconic objects and stories of incredible scientific achievement. Its world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical advancement from across the globe.

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