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Margaret Thatcher on list of scientist nominees for new £50 note



The Bank of England has released the names of more than 800 people nominated as part of the public process to choose a scientist to appear on the next £50 note.

Those on the list range from early favourites such as Stephen Hawking and computing pioneer Ada Lovelace to the lesser known likes of John (Iron Mad) Wilkinson – an eighteenth century industrialist – and Victoria Drummond, a pioneering marine engineer.

They also include Margaret Thatcher, who studied chemistry at Oxford and worked as a scientist for food company J Lyons, later becoming a fellow of the Royal Society.

The bank said it had received 174,112 nominations since the process was launched less than four weeks ago by governor Mark Carney at London’s Science Museum.

Stephen Hawking could be in the running to appear on the new £50
Stephen Hawking could be in the running to appear on the new £50

Of these, 114,000 were received in the first week and have been through a preliminary process to decide if they are eligible.

That has involved checking whether the character is real, deceased and has contributed to the field of science in any way – producing a list of 817.

The names have not yet been considered by the Bank’s banknote character advisory committee.

It encouraged the public to continue nominating characters until its 14 December deadline.

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was a nineteenth century computing pioneer

The list published on Monday contains eminent names from scientific history, such as Alexander Fleming, Alexander Graham Bell, Dorothy Hodgkin and Rosalind Franklin, as well as more recent figures such as astronaut Piers Sellers and TV astronomer Patrick Moore.

Another colourful addition to the list is James “Paraffin” Young, Scottish chemical engineer and pioneer of oil refining.

The inclusion of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher may raise eyebrows.

Like her political career, the nature of her contribution to science has also been the subject of dispute, with contested claims that she was part of the team that invented the Mr Whippy ice cream while working for food conglomerate J Lyons.

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