The First Shortlist For The New £50 Note Is Out

By Holly Brockwell on at

As you might remember, the Bank of England asked for suggestions of who to put on the new polymer £50 note.

Well, 174,112 of them have come in so far (though the nominations haven't closed yet), and the Bank has gone through the 114,000 entries from the first week and narrowed it down to a much more manageable 800.

Understandably, lots of people are hoping the new person on the note would be a woman, since the notes have been so heavily male in the past (other than the Queen, obvs). The shortlist is still pretty strongly male, though: 600 men and 200 women. That's 75% male, fact fans.

The criteria for inclusion on the list are:

  • Be a real person
  • Be dead
  • Have contributed to science in the UK (any area, including tech, chemistry, biology, physics, engineering, zoology, maths...)
  • Be inspirational, not divisive

Brilliantly, it seems Margaret Thatcher met those rules, as she's on the shortlist. Quoth the BBC:

"The late Baroness Thatcher studied chemistry at Oxford University and after graduating joined British Xylonite Plastics in 1947. Two years later she joined J. Lyons & Co in Hammersmith, west London, as a food research chemist in a role that involved testing the quality of cake-fillings and ice-cream, wrote biographer Hugo Young.

The politician has been credited with inventing soft serve ice cream - a product Lyons worked on - but "there is no firm evidence that Thatcher directly assisted in its invention", according to a Royal Society journal article."

There's no way she's beating out the other 799 names, which include Stephen Hawking (current favourite to win), Nobel chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Alexander Fleming (who discovered penicillin), Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Jethro Tull and loads more.

You can read the full list here. Nominations close on the 14th of December, so submit yours here if your scientist of choice isn't on the shortlist.