The Bank of England has released a list of the scientists that have been nominated by the public to replace James Watt and Matthew Boulton on the new £50 note, with over 600 men and almost 200 women being nominated so far.
The list of nominations includes black holes expert Stephen Hawking, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell (if you ignore competing claims by Antonio Meucci and Philipp Reis), mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, penicillin discoverer Alexander Fleming, father of modern epidemiology John Snow, naturalist and zookeeper Gerald Durrell, fossil pioneer Mary Anning, British-Jamaican business woman and nursing pioneer Mary Seacole and Margaret Thatcher, who was a scientist before becoming British Prime Minister.
There’s still time to submit your nomination if you wish to; this can be done on the Bank of England's website. Nominations must be real people, have contributed to the field of science in the UK (this can include anyone who worked in any field of science including astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology or zoology), and are deceased. Of the 174,112 nominations received so far, 114,000 have met the eligibility criteria.
Once the nomination window has closed, the decision will be made by the Bank of England’s Banknote Character Advisory Committee, which will include space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, author and genetics expert Emily Grossman, editor of the British Journal for the History of Science Simon Schaffer, and theoretical and particle physicist Simon Singh.
According to the Bank of England, there are currently 330 million £50 notes in circulation, with a combined value of £16.5bn. A year ago there were doubts that the £50 note would continue to exist at all; fears that the largest denomination note was widely used by criminals, and rarely for ordinary purchases, prompted a government-led discussion on whether to abolish it.
Nevertheless, in October, ministers announced plans for a new version of the note, to be printed in the UK, which they said would be plastic - so, more durable, secure and harder to forge.
The deadline for nominations is 14th December 2018.