back to article Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

This week the Bank of England said it was going to put a famous boffin on a new polymer £50 note, and has decided to ask the public who it should be. There is even an online form where you can put in a nomination – it will be open for the next six weeks. There are only two rules attached: they must be a) a scientist – covering …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Trollface

    What about Tony Blair ?

    Inventor of Weapons of Mass Destruction ?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. chuckufarley

        Re: What about Tony Blair ?

        But is he pining for the fjords?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Tony Blair ?

        > Unfortunately, he's not dead yet...

        Is that an offer?

      3. lee harvey osmond

        Re: What about Tony Blair ?

        I'm sure that can be fixed

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Tony Blair ?

        "Unfortunately, he's not dead yet..."

        Once he realises all the publicity he'll get, I'm sure he will follow through with the prerequisites...

    2. lee harvey osmond

      Re: What about Tony Blair ?

      Or, indeed, Bill Penney. Who wanted to be remembered for his contribution to science, and not for his specific contributions to the Manhattan Project and to its British successors.

      And who wouldn't want a man named Penn[e]y on the £50?

      This is also the man who demanded, and got, an IBM machine with a FORTRAN compiler after his first efforts at a two-stage device didn't work. The next set of tests ran just fine.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Eh? Come again?

    "a scientist – covering any field from astrology through to zoology"

    Since when was astrology a science?

    1. DeVino
      Joke

      Re: Eh? Come again?

      Since time immemorial to around the 1700s and then the late 1960's to the current day sadly.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Eh? Come again?

      Friday night blunder - it's fixed. Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.co.uk if you spot anything wrong.

      C.

      1. lee harvey osmond

        Re: Eh? Come again?

        "Welcome to The Scry At Night"

    3. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Eh? Come again?

      But to be fair Newton world on both astrology and alchemy `9as well as some rather stunning work - everyone has his/her bad days.

    4. Richard 31
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Eh? Come again?

      That but also the Acoustics, Aerodynamics and Zymology scientists can all cram it too.

    5. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

      Re: Eh? Come again?

      Technically that would be be one of the fields, and he would retain the fact he's a scientist when he investigates this field. Although if you were to argue even a faint interest in astrology strips you of all links to science, I'd find that harsh but fair :)

  3. smudge Silver badge
    FAIL

    astrology????

    they must be a) a scientist – covering any field from astrology through to zoology

    Russell Grant is still with us, so my vote goes to John Dee.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: astrology????

      Friday night blunder - it's fixed. Don't forget to email corrections@theregister.co.uk if you spot anything wrong.

      C.

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        Re: astrology????

        Nope, Newton wasn't a conceited prick who looked down on people who looked upwards in their own way--as that is what he was doing anyway. If you can't look at the sky without being able to resist the thoughts of what others think--fueling your self-conceit by the fact that some thoughts are wrong and yet unify the thinkers of them--then you truly belong with those who never do look up.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: astrology????

          @define Infinity

          It would take me quite a while to unpick that paragraph , even if I had some idea what the hell you're talking about in the first place, as it stands i dont. I've checked the comments above for people dissing Newton , and been back to read the Newton part of the article (too much time on my hands) and I still dont know what prompted your outburst.

          maybe its just me. can anyone elaborate?

        2. lee harvey osmond

          Re: astrology????

          To me that looks like a reply to an even weirder post than has been deleted since.

  4. graeme leggett

    One problem with this

    Putting a scientist on the £50 doesn't mean much recognition for the British scientist chosen.

    Because the average Briton seldom sees a fifty.

    Short of massive inflation reducing the British pound to a fraction of its current worth, the image when chosen will appear briefly in the news and then fade from memory. Finally becoming a question on a tv quiz show in a few years.

    1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: One problem with this

      @Graeme L

      As a child, I never saw one of the then-current black and white fivers. Then they were abolished, before photcopiers came to be. Give it time, and a £50 note will buy just one Mars bar - the chosen currency unit of that weekly rag The Economist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One problem with this

        " Give it time, and a £50 note will buy just one Mars bar [...]"

        In my 1950s childhood a Mars bar was a rare treat dispensed by a spoiled cousin. He also had a collection of expensive toys including Britain's model field guns with spring-loaded shell casings. Anyway - a Mars bar then cost 6d - (2.5p). Nowadays they are probably smaller and cost in the order of twenty times the nominal price.

        1. graeme leggett

          Re: One problem with this

          According to the Measuring Worth website, a 6d Mars bar in 1955 going by retail price index would be worth about 60p today. Coincidentally the current price of a 51g Mars bar from Tesco.

          Using other measures of 'value' 6d in 1950s is worth up to £2.50 in terms of earnings or share of economy.ie it took more to earn that Mars bar in the 50s.

        2. Jan 0

          Re: One problem with this

          Another problem:

          > Mars bar then cost 6d

          IIRC, they cost 3d in the early 50s, but got progressively smaller as inflation bit. I don't remember in which year the size reverted and the price started rising. but it would have been late 50s or maybe early 60s.

          1. The Nazz Silver badge

            Re: One problem with this

            IIRC they were 9d immediately prior to Decimalisation, (Feb ''71 was it?) soon to be 5p. A perfect excuse for increased inflation. Weren't aware that sizes were reducing by then though.

            Genuine consistency, prior to the abominal recipe change too.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One problem with this

          @AC

          In my 1950s childhood a Mars bar was a rare treat dispensed by a spoiled cousin

          "Tell my my dear, do you collect chocolate paper?"

          A question asked by an uncle of a someone I know as he proceeded to consume a whole bar of chocolate by himself, giving her just the wrapper at the end.

          1. RegGuy1

            "Tell my my dear, do you collect chocolate paper?"

            I wonder how many times the little shit got kicked in the goolies?

            1. MAF

              Re: "Tell my my dear, do you collect chocolate paper?"

              Or had it switched for a jumbo bar of Choc ex-lax...

        4. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: One problem with this

          He also had a collection of expensive toys including Britain's model field guns with spring-loaded shell casings.

          I had an extensive collection of those. From memory: The 155mm howitzer (with the aforementioned breech mechanism/shell casing) the 25 pounder, the Battalion Anti-Tank gun, the 105mm Howitzer, the 18th century cannon, the Ballista and the Catapult. Oh, and a Swappets 52mm mortar team with a working mortar.

          Britain's stuff used to be great. Their Elephants (from he Zoo range) are eagerly sought out for wargamers to this day. I have the Livery Stable from the western buildings range they did and a bunch of American civil war stuff. Always wanted the Civil War cannon/limber and team.

          The artillery pieces were all in a box that my father, gorblessim, lifted and the bottom fell out. The 155mm cannon had about a dozen separate bits. only about 8 survived to be passed back to me. Ditto the 105mm howitzer.

          You don't see anything like those toys these days. I mean, the guns could be taken out of the swappets cowboys' holsters, and when you took the hats off there was no peg/hole - magnificent construction.

      2. SGJ

        Re: One problem with this

        I think you mean a Big Mac, not a Mars bar. See https://www.economist.com/news/2018/07/11/the-big-mac-index

        1. dajames Silver badge

          Re: One problem with this

          I think you mean a Big Mac, not a Mars bar.

          No, it has to be something edible.

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: One problem with this

        The Economist uses the Big Mac as its preferred currency unit, not the Mars Bar.

        https://www.economist.com/news/2018/07/11/the-big-mac-index

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One problem with this

      "Short of massive inflation reducing the British pound to a fraction of its current worth,"

      Mid April next year then.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Short of massive inflation reducing the British pound to a fraction of its current worth

        Put Boole on the ten pound note, then people will understand that it is really a two pound note.

        1. Paul Kinsler

          Re: Put Boole on the ten pound note... it is really a two pound note.

          And Gray on another different £10 note, because a three pound note would also be handy. :-)

    3. Paul D Smyth

      Re: One problem with this

      "Short of massive inflation reducing the British pound to a fraction of its current worth"

      Have you met Brexit?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One problem with this

      ATM's should dispense £50 notes. It's long overdue.

  5. Roger Kynaston
    Mushroom

    Astrology??!!

    Me thinks you mean that Newton was a pioneer in Astronomy.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Astrology??!!

      He was also a noted alchemist, so quite possibly an astrologist as well

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Astrology??!!

      @Roger Kynaston

      Newton would be gastronomy, you eat apples, right?

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Astrology??!!

      Yeah, Friday night pub o'clock editing strikes again. It's been fixed.

      C.

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Astrology??!!

        @diodesign Bletchley Park – the code-breaking center

        Was that the Bletchley Park in California?

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    A logical choice...

    ...would be George Boole.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: A logical choice...

      Not De Morgan?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: A logical choice...

        There is always George Coulouris, without whom Bill Joy would never have written vi, and where would we be today without that?

        (I know, he's still alive and so ineligible. Discrimination, I calls it.)

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Not De Morgan?

        Then again there's John Venn.

        1. Winkypop Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Not De Morgan?

          I'm in two minds over John Venn

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Not De Morgan?

            I'm in two minds over John Venn

            Surely you can find some middle ground.

      3. DeVino
        Joke

        Re: A logical choice...

        Boole or De Morgan ?

        Maybe

        Neither not Boole and not DeMorgan

        1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
          Holmes

          Re: A logical choice...

          Bertr& Russell \/ nobody.

    2. MAF

      Re: A logical choice...

      For the £50 NOT? ;-)

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I'll back a winner

    Let's go with Hawking, he was also sort of in an episode of Dexter's Lab, Proffessor Hawk. Kind of a Willie Wonka\Charlie and the Chocolate factory meets Stephen Hawking, who recovers from his disease in the end.

    1. King Jack
      Boffin

      Re: I'll back a winner

      Don't forget he also appeared in Star Trek the Next Generation and the Big Bang Theory. He deserved to win because he could always put Sheldon in his place.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: I'll back a winner

        He was given a tour of the TNG set, and when he passed the warp core, he said "I'm working on that."

        1. Is It Me Bronze badge

          Re: I'll back a winner

          And several episodes of The Simpsons.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: I'll back a winner

            A regular on the Big Bang Theory.

            I saw one the other day when Sheldon was on the phone complaining to Hawking that earlier at dinner all the conversation hadnt been about the smartest person in the conversation - him.

            Hawking said "see the irony here?"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public's choice

    No Beardy McBeardface? And David Attenborough is still alive!

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Public's choice

      Beardy McBeardface is a record salesman, not a scientist.

  9. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Equally deserving woud be...

    Robert Recorde.

    He invented the equals symbol.

    According to Wikipedia:-

    "Recorde published several works upon mathematical and medical subjects"

    Does that imply he invented the colon too?

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Equally deserving woud be...

      "Does that imply he invented the colon too?"

      Wasn't that Mother Nature. Indeed why not put her on the £50?

  10. smudge Silver badge

    Your non-Brits wouldn't qualify

    The full set of criteria on the BoE website includes this one - "[must] have shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK".

    So although you are correct to say that someone doesn't have to be a Brit, most if not all of those that you suggest would not qualify.

    1. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
      Pirate

      Re: Your non-Brits wouldn't qualify

      Discrimination! Just because James Clerk Maxwell was born in Scotland! he still tops those britons (except Newton).

  11. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Bertrand Russell

    Another one to add to the set...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Bertrand Russell

      There's one downvoter who doesn't get it.

    2. Ian Mason

      Re: Bertrand Russell

      > Another one to add to the set...

      Which would be incomplete without Kurt Gödel.

    3. Velv Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Bertrand Russell

      He’s the only man* to have put a teapot into orbit around the sun, that must deserve recognition.

      *several wives have managed to put teapots into inexplicable orbits although few are verifiable, a bit perhaps like Russell’s.

    4. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Bertrand Russell

      It would be pretty symbolic

  12. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    Seriously?

    No Mary Anning?

  13. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Happy

    A humble suggestion

    Doktor Merkwürdigliebe

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: A humble suggestion

      Not enough röck döts, or he'd be a shoe-in.

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: A humble suggestion

      Finsterliebe?

  14. Symon Silver badge
    Boffin

    Maxwell

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2018/11/02/nikola_tesla_stupidity/#c_3646366

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maxwell

      404... the post is required and must contain letters.... FOUR ZERO FOUR

  15. Christoph Silver badge

    Emmy Noether

    If you are listing non-Brits, she absolutely must be included.

    "In the judgment of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began." -- Albert Einstein

    1. tfb Silver badge

      Re: Emmy Noether

      Yes, definitely her. It's actually going to be Hawking, of course, but Noether would be a really great choice.

  16. 45RPM Silver badge

    I’d go for Rosalind or Ada myself. In my view, and in the interests of getting more women into technology, the honour has to go a woman. But I’d be a lot happier if it was the five pound or ten pound note - you know, a note that people actually see, use, and (sometimes) talk about.

    1. graeme leggett

      Ada Lovelace gets a poor showing sometimes because although a romantic figure, there's not the evidence to point to and say 'she did that'. But as a symbol of women in technology and as a bridge between the literary and scientific sets could be a justification as an early communicator?. Her 'social' network included

      Mary Sommerville

      Babbage

      Charles Wheatstone - influential but a bit of a sod over claiming IP that wasn't necessarily his to claim?

      Dickens

      De Morgan - her tutor

      Brewster - optics

      Faraday - nuff said

      Perhaps a hypothetical soiree of the above could be considered.

      1. smudge Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        I highly recommend that you (and everyone) get your hands on the steampunk graphic novel "The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage" by Sydney Padua.

        On page 19 you will find a cartoon illustration of an imaginary one of "Babbage's famous parties". It includes everyone you mentioned except Brewster, and also includes others whom Babbage knew:

        William Whewell ( polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian, historian of scienc, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge)

        John and Caroline Herschel

        Elizabeth Gaskell

        Florence Nightingale

        the Duke of Wellington

        Alfred, Lord Tennyson

        Harriet Martineau ("the first female sociologist")

        Charles Darwin

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thrilling_Adventures_of_Lovelace_and_Babbage

        I cannot recommend it highly enough.

        1. graeme leggett

          I do have a copy. And in hardback it's a beautiful item. I haven't looked at it in a while but it must have partly influence my suggestion.

        2. Julz Bronze badge

          Her dad? Lord Byron...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why?

      It has a woman on te front already.....

    3. mhoulden

      I'd go for Caroline Haslett. She's done lots of good stuff but the one that most people will have heard of is that she designed the 13 amp plug and socket.

    4. Alan Johnson

      The problem with Ada Lovelace and Rosalind franklin is thatthey are rightly overshadowed by others.

      Conraray to teh mythology Rosalind Franklinw as not screwed over her experimental work was as was Wilkes but here preferred model of DNA was wrong and Crick and Watson had the insight she did not have. She was a significant scientist but it doesn't make sense to honour rather than those who actually did discover the structur eof DNA rather than help in doing so.

      Ada Lovelace's contribution is massively overblow and exageratted clearly Bababge had to have had all the ideas about programming and have example programs he wa susing a stest cases and input to the design of the thing itself. Again she may well have been impressive but why honour her when her part is necessarily far less than Babbage's.

      Now Noether. She is a worthy recipient but probably not considered as not British.

      My favourite, head and shoulders above other in my opinion, is James Clerk Maxwell.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        @Alan

        Wow. Your argument is as convincing as your typing - and, I'd argue, incorrect, at least as far as Ada is concerned. There are documented refinements to Babbage's design, by Ada, without which it could not have approached Turing Completeness. As far as Rosalind is concerned, I don't know enough about the subject - but I do think that, owing to the significance of her contribution, she should at the very least have had a name-check at the time.

        In addition, there's a seriously worrying lack of women in STEM subjects - so I'd argue that, even if no worthy recipients could be found (which isn't the case - there's an army of unrecognised women out there), the bar should be lowered.

        Were you frothing a bit as you typed that post? Come on, you can admit it to me. I won't let anyone know. I appreciate that many great contributions have been made by people who can't spell - but come on, usin uh spel-chequer shud bee uh know braner.

  17. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

    I mean, come on... the cat flap. A work of pure genius... a door within a door!

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

      Well, yes. gravity was just a discovery, they leave it on even on the weekends...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

        Our cats are indeed very much in debt to Sir Isaac because of the cat flap. This gravity thing however is boldly ignored by one of them, and I suspect the others wouldn't be all that bothered if it wasn't there except perhaps for keeping the kibble in its bowl.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton I mean, come on... the cat flap.

      Yeah, but electricity or magnetism is needed to keep the local mogs out.

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

      I mean, come on... the cat flap. A work of pure genius... a door within a door!

      The door from Classical to Quantum Physics??? (If only Schrödinger's Cat had the use of a Cat Flap?)

    4. Nick Kew Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

      Wasn't Newton's genius in his balls?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm. Obviously Isaac Newton

      Not original though. Most Cambridge colleges have a big door within which is a smaller door.

      However, if Newton knew about the 20th century in the US he would surely take out a patent on "A small door within a larger door but for a cat".

  18. LenG

    Maxwell

    James Clerk Maxwell - best known for the unification of electricity and magnetism but also a major contributor in other areas of physics. Einstein described Maxwell's work as the "most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton". Plus he has a truly epic beard.

    1. RJG

      Re: Maxwell

      The next time you see a picture of Einstein in his office, look at the wall behind him.

      The portrait of the man with the beard you see there is J C Maxwell.

    2. Mike Richards

      Re: Maxwell

      Great man about which people don't nearly know enough.

      There was an episode of the recent series of Cosmos in which Neil de Grasse Tyson told the story of Humphrey Davy*, Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. It's a terrific bit of story telling about how three of the greatest scientists of the 19th Century inspired then next.

      * a worthy choice for a bank note in his own right. Seems to have been the Brian Cox of his time with people gushing over his charm and good looks. Discovered seven elements, the arc lamp, anaesthesia (using nitrous oxide), burned a diamond, climbed Vesuvius when it was erupting and wrote poetry considered equal to that of Coleridge in his time.

  19. Paratrooping Parrot
    Thumb Up

    Rosalind Franklin

    I believe she should be on the £50 note, so then more people will know about her work in discovering the DNA. Everyone talks about Watson and Crick, but very few know about Franklin.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Rosalind Franklin

      Nonsense. Franklin comes up again and again: I hear a lot more of her than of Watson or Crick (the latter name comes up, but only in the context of the institute that bears it).

    2. Social Ambulator

      Re: Rosalind Franklin

      Except she didn't discover DNA — it was discovered 50 or more years earlier. She didn't even discover the structure of DNA — She produced x-ray photos of DNA fibres but did not determine the structure of DNA from this. Crick (the Brit who should be considered for the £50 note) and Watson used her information to test (although not prove) their model of DNA, which had huge significance in explaining how genetic info is passed on when cells divide. It was her boss — Wilkins — who screwed her in relation to the Nobel prize, but neither he nor she was party to the intellectual brilliance of the double-helix, and it can be argued that neither deserved the Nobel. Feminist tokenism is in nobody's interest.

  20. wobblestar

    Rosalind Franklin discovered DNA?

    Oh dear.

    DNA was discovered in the 19th century. Watson and Crick discovered the STRUCTURE of DNA.

    Franklin did get a raw deal, but she was no way close to discovering the structure of the molecules of which she produced very good x-ray diffraction photos.

  21. Stephen Lindsey

    James Clerk Maxwell

    “From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now – there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics.”

    RICHARD FEYNMAN

    “Maxwell is the physicist’s physicist.”

    STEPHEN HAWKING

    “The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell’s equations of the electromagnetic field.”

    ALBERT EINSTEIN

    “He achieved greatness unequaled.”

    MAX PLANCK

    Carl Sagan“The equations were to represent Nature, and Nature is, Maxwell believed, beautiful and elegant… This essentially aesthetic judgement by a nerdish physicist, entirely unknown except to a few other academic scientists, has done more to shape our civilization than any ten recent presidents and prime ministers.”

    CARL SAGAN

    “When he crossed the bridge from Astronomy to Physics he left behind him for ever the prospect of becoming a great astronomer – but only to become the greatest mathematical physicist the world has seen since Newton.”

    JAMES JEANS

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: James Clerk Maxwell

      And he had a silver hammer!

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: James Clerk Maxwell

        His coffee was crap though!

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: James Clerk Maxwell

          His coffee was crap though!

          It was the House blend

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: James Clerk Maxwell

            It tastes like mud. Probably because it was ground last year.

  22. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Thomas Midgley Jr.

    Posthumous awards are fine, but they're really just to make us feel good/special/whatever. Wouldn't it be nice if we could also admit that we're often amazingly stupid and doing great harm to ourselves and our planet?

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Thomas Midgley Jr.

      Don't most sane people admit that already?

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Thomas Midgley Jr.

      Hmm, on the subject of the planet, how about David J. C. MacKay? Recently dead, but wrote the book[1] on what is and isn't realistic with renewable energy.

      [1] ISBN 978-0954452933

  23. DeVino
    Pint

    A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

    Putting Rosalind Franklin on as a kind of consolation prize smacks of white male guilt and would have probably just annoyed her.

    Put Maxwell on but most folk would not have a clue who he is sadly.

    I would say that Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing get enough publicity maybe.

    (Go to Bletchley Park BTW. Excellent place).

    I'd like to see Lovelace and Babbage on a fifty.

    Having a pic of the Engine between them on the note would look good and delight the anti-counterfit folk.

    Maye Sydney Padua could draw them ;-)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

      "Putting Rosalind Franklin on as a kind of consolation prize smacks of white male guilt and would have probably just annoyed her."

      OK, both Franklin and Maxwell. There is a connection.

      Would Wheatstone be a bridge too far?

      1. HieronymusBloggs

        Re: A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

        "Would Wheatstone be a bridge too far?"

        There may be some resistance to that suggestion.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "Would Wheatstone be a bridge too far?"

          Hmm I can see the potential there.

        2. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

          Re: A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

          You would need to balance that one out.....

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A tricky balance between worthy and recognition

      "Putting Rosalind Franklin on as a kind of consolation prize smacks of white male guilt and would have probably just annoyed her."

      Not saying this applies you specifically, but more often than not when I hear or see comments like the above, I find it says more about the the speaker/writer than anything else.

      Having said that, although the work she did was very impressive and important, I don't feel it stands well with those who invented new and original work. Hers was very much a case of standing on the shoulders of giants in that she improved on existing techniques. Science needs people like her, but she's a premier league player, not a superstar. And she didn't have a beard :-)

  24. OssianScotland Bronze badge

    What, no Barnes Wallis?

    No more text really needed.....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What, no Barnes Wallis?

      It's an idea to bounce around.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: What, no Barnes Wallis?

        Absolute grand slam of an idea.

  25. Chronos Silver badge

    Where's Rutherford?

    Admittedly he was born in Kiwiland but the father of nuclear physics? How cool a title is that?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Where's Rutherford?

      And add in James Chadwick, who discovered the electron.

      John Dalton should be there too, as the first scientist to put atomic theory on a usable basis and make it the foundation of chemistry.

      However, atomic theory was all a bit theoretical until Chadwick discovered the electron, proving that the were smaller particles than atoms, and Rutherford discovered that the atomic nucleus existed and was very much smaller than the atoms that contained them. This led directly to the Bohr atomic model and so to modern nuclear physics.

      As far as I know none of the three - Chadwick, Dalton and Rutherford - have much recognition outside science: none are as well known as they deserve.

      1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

        Re: Where's Rutherford?

        I thought J. J. Thompson discovered the electron. Didn’t Chadwick discover the neutron? But yes, all of them - Thompson, Rutherford, Chadwick - diserve a mention.

        Thompson is also notable for his role as a teacher to the next generation of physicists (according to Wikipedia) including Rutherford, Neils Bohr, Max Born and William Bragg.

        I think I’d still vote for Maxwell though. His unification of physics (i.e. light is an electromagnetic wave) was something really significant, and with lots of practical consequences. Also, unlike the three nuclear physicists above, his memory is not tainted by the use of his discoveries to kill people (see also Alfred Nobel).

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Where's Rutherford?

          I would throw in Dirac too

    2. Scott 26

      Re: Where's Rutherford?

      >Where's Rutherford?

      >Admittedly he was born in Kiwiland but the father of nuclear physics? How cool a title is that?

      upvoted, but he is already on our one hundy kiwi peso note.

  26. chuckufarley

    Michael Faraday got my vote...

    ...because without him it would have been a much longer road getting to where we are today.

    His work was so basic and so practical that it could be the very definition of practising the scientific method. He stood up for his ideas when he knew they were right and would admit it when they were proven wrong. The fact that he was right about so much without ever knowing how to prove it mathematically should be not be lightly dismissed. I think that had he been given a quality education in his youth our world would be better off today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

      "I think that had he been given a quality education in his youth our world would be better off today."

      Unfortunately a "better" education can inhibit innovative thinking by teaching people what is an establishment's rigid view of something.

      My own technical education consisted of a series of milestones - at which we were told what we had been taught previously was an over-simplification. Useful in some cases within its constraints.

      Our Geography teacher in the 1960s denigrated the "new" idea of tectonic plates. He said that the complementary coastlines of South America and Africa were just a coincidence.

      People should be taught to query and test things in a reproducible way. Identifying the influence of wishful thinking is probably the most important aspect of self-criticism.

      1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

        Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

        Sounds great! How do I test the theory of tectonic plates for myself?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

          "How do I test the theory of tectonic plates for myself?"

          Measure the height of Himalayan mountain peaks very accurately. The Rift Valley is also getting wider. Any of the tectonic plate edges have measurable relative movement. You just need the right equipment - probably laser - and technical knowledge. The Ring of Fire is full of such movements.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

            "How do I test the theory of tectonic plates for myself?"

            The old "making hot coco" variation is easy, and tasty. Probably on youtube, I can't be arsed to look.

            Similarly, thawing out a pot of chicken stock over a point source of heat, such as the propane torch you use to sweat copper pipes together (or situate the pot so only one corner is over the hob). As the gelatin melts and starts moving around due to convection currents, the schmaltz on top mimics continental plates. When the pot is hot, skim off the fat (retain for roasting spuds!) throw in veg, meat and seasoning to taste and enjoy your tectonic soup.

            Another: make a loaf of bread. Throw the water, yeast and a little sugar (honey, molasses, anything sweet) in the bottom of a bowl and whisk together. Float the flour evenly over the top of the liquid mixture and salt to taste. As the yeast proofs, you'll see cracking & rifting and upwelling and all kinds of other geological action. Then make the bread. Serve with the soup.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Michael Faraday got my vote...

      Already been on a £20 note.

  27. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Crystal clear

    I nominate Lawrence Bragg, for his work in X-ray crystallography. It was that technique which elucidated the chemistry of the silicates, the rocks that make Earth's crust and mantle. See Wikipedia.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Steve Goodey
    Thumb Up

    Another one who got screwed over...

    Robert Hooke.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Hooke

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Another one who got screwed over...

      @Steve Goodey

      I was surprised he was not mentioned with Newton, given their history

      For the non UKers, and not a male, surely Hedy Lamarr? Who also showed beauty & brains are not incompatible. If they chose Hedy as non UK person I would be ecstatic.

  30. spacedive

    Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination.

    Everyone has heard of vaccines. Many have been vaccinated. But how many know the name of the person who invented vaccination? Truly an unsung hero. Edward Jenner.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination.

      "Everyone has heard of vaccines. Many have been vaccinated. But how many know the name of the person who invented vaccination? Truly an unsung hero."

      I don't know the state of science teaching in secondary schools today, but when I did my GCEs in the late 70's, pretty much every "forgotten" scientists mentioned in these pages was part of what we learned about at school in Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Maybe we had exceptional teachers at my school?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination.

        I strongly suggest looking up Variolation in 15th century China before bragging too much about which country invented vaccination.

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination.

          I strongly suggest looking up Variolation in 15th century China before bragging too much about which country invented vaccination.

          It's a well known fact that absolutely everything was invented in China before we even knew we needed it.

          But the important difference between variolation and vaccination is Blossom the cow. Even in backward old Europe it was known that inoculation - a mild dose of smallpox - provided future immunity. The problem was ensuring that the dose was mild enough not to kill or disfigure the patient. Jenner recognised that cowpox, apparently a fairly benign infection endemic among milkmaids, provided immunity to smallpox.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Edward Jenner, the inventor of vaccination.

        "Maybe we had exceptional teachers at my school?"

        No. We had the same. Standards have not just slipped, they are snowballing downhill at an ever accelerating rate.

  31. hekla

    1+2+3+4+ to infinity = -1/12

    Srinivasa Ramanujan did lots of work at Oxford/Cambridge thought to be one of C20s top mathematicians

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: 1+2+3+4+ to infinity = -1/12

      Needs to be a Brit to qualify.

      Ramanujan's mentor Hardy gets my vote. His work, proudly useless in his own time, now fundamental to modern cryptography. And his discovery of Ramanujan: interesting that an established great mathematician bothered to read the unsolicited work of an unknown Indian, as opposed to putting it straight in the spam!

      I would also vote for Bertrand Russell, who might also qualify on grounds other than his science.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: 1+2+3+4+ to infinity = -1/12

        @Nick Kew - he lived during British Rule in India, so he was British by the standards of his time.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    James Clerk Maxwell

    Gets my vote

  33. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Franklin

    Anything else aside, she should have been _MENTIONED_ along with Watson and Crick.

    Once she was dead the two esteemed gentlemen could not be bothered citing her work while collecting kudos and laurels. Do not even get me started on what is called not citing your source in science.

    1. wobblestar

      Re: Franklin

      To be fair, Watson and Crick did acknowledge Franklin in their 1953 Nature paper, writing that they had been stimulated by the unpublished results and ideas of Wilkins, Franklin and their co-workers.

    2. Alan Johnson

      Much nonsense about Franklin.

      "Once she was dead the two esteemed gentlemen could not be bothered citing her work while collecting kudos and laurels. Do not even get me started on what is called not citing your source in science."

      Nonsense the key paper in Nature specifically mentioned her. the idea she was treated unfairly makes a good story but isn't actually true. She was a very good experimentalist working at the forefront of her field who happened to be beaten to a key discovery by soemoen else. The story about the key photgraph 'stolen' by Crick and Watson ignores the fact she had publically announced these results and therefore Circk and Watson were perfectly entitled to use those results, as they did, with due credit, which they gave.

  34. spold Bronze badge

    Given the minimal everyday users perhaps we should poll currency smugglers as to who they would like to see on the 50s in their suitcases.

  35. Uffish

    Francis Bacon

    Because he invented the scientific method.

    1. HieronymusBloggs

      Re: Francis Bacon

      "Because he invented the scientific method."

      I've heard rasher suggestions.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Francis Bacon

        Actually he could be an appropriate choice in the context of the phrase "bringing home the bacon."

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Francis Bacon

      Wow, well you just brought an ICBM to a knife fight. I mean all of these other suggestions have merit, but you cannot compare them with Bacon. Bacon is the best thing since sliced bread with bacon on it.

    3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Francis Bacon

      Francis Bacon

      Because he invented the scientific method.

      Hmm, there are many inventors of the scientific method. There are a couple of other Englishmen who could be argued to be instrumental in that endeavour, apart from Francis Bacon (Elizabethan statesman).

      You could choose Roger Bacon

      Or even, Roger Bacon's earlier contemporary, Robert Grosseteste who would also be an interesting candidate, but probably infeasible.

  36. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    No call for young philosophers..

    In this day and age, we all work in technology. I raise you John Locke, see you Gustav Kirchoff and since it seems to have been never translated properly, for the win, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. However, just for the dinosaurs, Mary Anning. #stonesoup

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No call for young philosophers..

      "I raise you John Locke"

      I'll see your John Locke and raise you James Lock... originator of the bowler hat

  37. cpage

    Logie Baird wasn't a scientiest, not even a half-way decent engineer

    Baird was a crank who persisted with his plans for mechanical television well after the point that pure electronic solutions had been demonstrated to be vastly superior. I can't imagine how anybody could consider him.

    One scientist that I'm surprised is not on the list: Francis Crick, who discovered (jointly with Jim Watson, but he's an American so ineligible) DNA. Surely much more notable than many of the minor figures on your list?

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Crick

      See all the comments about Rosalind Franklin on this thread. With a woman championed by the entire Establishment on the same ticket, a mere man like Crick is a non-starter. If DNA wins, Franklin will be the face of it.

      Though I still think Hawking will win. He has an aura, and massive name recognition.

  38. Dr_N Silver badge
    Pint

    James Prescott Joule

    Icon says it all.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Icon says it all."

    ...but how many people know he was a brewer?

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: James Prescott Joule ...but how many people know he was a brewer?

      He invented the energy drink no?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: James Prescott Joule ...but how many people know he was a brewer?

        Well, his dad was a brewer. James joined the family firm.

  40. trisul

    Ada Lovelace

    To my mind, Ada Lovelace is more deserving than Babbage ... he invented the hardware, which was not all that hard, but she envisioned programming, a real revolution. So many hardware people have been honoured, but not a programmer ... I voted for Ada.

    1. Alan Johnson

      Re: Ada Lovelace

      "he invented the hardware, which was not all that hard, but she envisioned programming, a real revolution."

      Is this a wind up? He invented the concept of a digital programmable device and then did the detailled design. He must have envisioned programming well before her as otherwise the invention made no sense at all. You can't accidently create the worlds first programmable computation device. He clearly communicated the concept to her to him and she provided an example program. Promoting her contribution as greater than his is crazy.

  41. HildyJ
    WTF?

    Charles Freakin Darwin

    There are two British scientists who have created truly world shattering laws - laws that changed how the average person views the world - Newton and Darwin. Since Newton had his time on the currency, Darwin is the only answer.

    I cannot believe that neither El Reg nor any of the posters even mentioned him.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Darwin is the only answer.

      He was on the back of the old tenner, which is the reason why he's not been mentioned.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Charles Freakin Darwin

      There are two British scientists who have created truly world shattering laws

      Read the comments again and you'll find the list is longer than that and he's already had a go.

      1. HildyJ
        Facepalm

        Re: Charles Freakin Darwin

        Sorry. I was wrong. I'm from across the pond and haven't used pound notes since my visit during the '70s.

        Removing Darwin, I'd say Bacon for the scientific method or Hutton for deep time.

        As far as the others mentioned, yes they were great scientists and worthy of recognition, but, in my mind, they didn't, for the most part, change the way non-scientists think about the world in general.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: haven't used pound notes since my visit during the '70s.

          Neither have us Brits since 1988 when they (the pound notes) were phased out.

    3. Mike Richards

      Re: Charles Freakin Darwin

      How about Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles).

      Founded the Lunar Society with Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, and James Watt. Studied biology, physics, chemistry, geology and meteorology.

      Abolitionist

      Theory of evolution (1794)

      The canal lift

      The Ackermann linkage (found in the steering of most cars)

      A copying machine

      A speaking machine which could reproduce phones

      The hydrolox rocket engine

  42. Roq D. Kasba

    How about John Snow?

    The discover of epidemiology and avid collector of pump handles.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: How about John Snow?

      So he's the vandal that Robert Zimmerman was talking about!

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: How about John Snow?

        He knows nothing.

  43. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Wot no chemists?

    Very biased sample. Loads of Brits made invaluable contributions to chemistry even if it's not as fashionable at the moment…

    John Dalton, Humphrey Davy to get the party started. But Maxwell should also be on the list, while Baird can take a walk.

    If you want to stick to computers then go with with Babbage and Lovelace together.

  44. M7S

    Could TPTB be persuaded to consider a partnership?

    Lovelace and Babbage?

  45. Ian Bush

    Not a mention of Paul Dirac. But to be honest if it's not Dalton or Maxwell it's criminal

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Not a mention of Paul Dirac.

      Did you think of him on impulse?

  46. RDW

    "Because she discovered DNA and was basically screwed over by the scientific establishment when it then gave credit to two men - James Watson and Francis Crick – who basically confirmed her findings."

    DNA was first isolated by Friedrich Miescher in around 1869, and by the beginning of the 20th century Albrecht Kossel, who got a Nobel for his trouble, had characterised the nucleotides that are the key components of DNA and RNA. Franklin's work was of course crucial for the discovery of the _structure_ of DNA, but she did not arrive at Watson's critical insight (informed by Erwin Chargaff's work on nucleotide ratios in DNA, discussions with colleague Jerry Donohue, and published work by June Broomhead and others) - that Adenine pairs specifically with Thymine, while Guanine pairs with Cytosine, on the inside of the double helix. Franklin should receive full recognition for the importance of her work without over-simplifying or distorting the events that led to the DNA structure. It's tragic that she was not honoured for it in her lifetime, as she may have been in one of the 1962 Nobels if she had lived.

  47. aoliphant

    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned-

    Oliver Heaviside:

    1) Heaviside Layer

    2) The formulation that we now call Maxwell's Equations

    3) The shape of a rapidly moving electron: self-energy effect

    4) Telegraph cable equations

    5) Key results for enabling under-sea telegraph cables

    6) Self taught

    7) Didn't like quaternions (maybe not a plus)

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Oliver Heaviside: Didn't like quaternions

      I hate them even when they are finely chopped.

  48. whitepines Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Since this is the UK after all...

    ...and since there's no Orwell option, the most logical option is Flowers right? Won't stop until the contents of every private message are known to Her Majesty and archived / analysed by her US trading partners?

  49. JRS

    Honestly can't decide

    between Johnny Morris and Patrick Moore

    1. meanioni

      Re: Honestly can't decide

      Come on, Magnus Pyke or David Bellamy have to be in there ;-)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Honestly can't decide

        "David Bellamy" isn't dead yet! (but is the epitome of "local boy made good" so was very, very popular around these parts.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Honestly can't decide

          ""David Bellamy" isn't dead yet! (but is the epitome of "local boy made good" so was very, very popular around these parts."

          David Bellamy, a botanist, was called in by Mr. Blobby as an "expert witness"to stop a local farmer putting up a wind turbine.

          He may not be dead yet but frankly I wouldn't get overly upset if he died suddenly.

    2. Soruk

      Re: Honestly can't decide

      Patrick Moore. Amateur astronomers, quintessential British eccentric, and did more than most to get generations of people interested in learning about the sky, the planets and the stars - and more.

      He even accompanied Einstein on the piano to Einstein's violin.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Honestly can't decide

        "He even accompanied Einstein on the piano to Einstein's violin."

        So did Rubinstein. They were practising a piece and Einstein kept fluffing his entries. Eventually Rubinstein was heard to complain "Albert, can't you count?".

  50. Anonymous IV
    Happy

    How about Claude Shannon?

    That is, if mathematics can be considered as a science...

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: How about Claude Shannon?

      Obligatory

  51. This post has been deleted by its author

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Only one choice...

    She's an intellectual powerhouse, and she's named after the second best city in the world. May I humbly present...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Only one choice...

      She's an intellectual powerhouse, and she's named after the second best city in the world. May I humbly present...

      Being very much alive, and American makes her ineligible

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Only one choice...

        Being a useless bint makes it ineligible.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Only one choice...

          She has a better track-record in business than Donald Trump ...

  53. Timfy67
    Boffin

    Johnny Ball?

    Surely Johnny Ball instilled more of an interest in mathematics and physics than any other person alive or dead!

    Too young? American? see here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czmeDRWDg5E

  54. Richard Parkin

    Trio - Tommy Flowers, Bill Tutte and Alan Turing

    On the official web site I voted that they put a trio of Tommy Flowers, Bill Tutte and Alan Turing because they make a good group, won the war and were all shafted by the establishment in multiple ways. It doesn’t hurt that they were the offspring of a gardener, bricklayer and Indian civil servant — not only dead but dead common ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trio - Tommy Flowers, Bill Tutte and Alan Turing

      >not only dead but dead common

      The Turing's are extremely posh! Alan wasn't in direct line so lacked a title - his nephew Sir John Dermot Turing is the current (12th) Baronet of Foveran.

    2. Richard Parkin

      Re: Trio - Tommy Flowers, Bill Tutte and Alan Turing

      OK, but I’m not taking Turing off my list just because he’s a toff :-)

  55. Matthew Taylor

    Logie Baird's "stupid" ideas.

    "He also came up with some stupid ideas: like trying to make diamonds by heating graphite, designing a glass razor (which shattered) and inventing a pair of pneumatic shoes whose internal balloons burst."

    How are any of those things stupid ideas? Okay, they didn't pan out - but they all seem plausible enough to me, and precisely the sort of ideas a creative, inventive mind might come up with.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobel prizewinner Sir Peter Mansfield, who died last year.

    Thank him the next time you go for an MRI scan.

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Obesrver1
    Happy

    not bad suggestions

    my top three would be:

    Michael Faraday

    Ada Lovelace

    Tommy Flowers

    but perhaps my vote would not count as I'm an Aussie.

  59. random mathematician

    What about the £100 note?

    Don't worry about nobody ever seeing a £50, there will be far more of them around after next March, and not long afterwards we'll be asked who to put on the £100 note.

  60. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: What about the £100 and £200 notes?

      We do have a £100 note in Scotland

      https://www.scotbanks.org.uk/banknotes/royal-bank-of-scotland/royal-bank-of-scotland-100-ilay-series.html

  61. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Simple solution

    All of the above. Put each one on a different denomination, and Sterling becomes the only currency where you can always pay the exact amount. Convenience and practicality are overrated.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok, so if Ms Tatcher is out

    ...how about another chemist? I propose Dr Angela D. Kasner.

    (seeing the way the negotiations are going, every bit helps!)

  63. Mattknz1

    Notey McNoteface

    Gets my vote

  64. E_Nigma

    All worthy candidates. I think I would maybe pick Babbage, although Fleming is a close second. Not such popular choices I see...

  65. WibbleMe

    Why not do a circle with all the faces on

  66. NeilHoskins

    James Clerk Maxwell

    Cam't believe he doesn't even make your list. I have absolutely no idea why he always gets forgotten. Even to this day, pretty much the whole of electromagnetic communication depends on his work. Albert Einstein had his photo on his study wall fer chrissakes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James Clerk Maxwell

      Possibly because Mawell's Equations aren't easily written in standard type, whereas "E equals M C squared" is widely known, even if not so widely understood.

      It's a sad irony really, as Maxwell's Equations are succinct and elegantly beautiful, one of the very few bits of maths I've ever found genuinely exciting.

  67. katrinab Silver badge

    Maggie Thatcher does meet the qualification requirements

    o - British

    o - A scientist who invented soft scoop ice cream

    o - Dead

    However, she doesn't get my vote. It goes to Ada Lovelace.

    1. Mike Richards

      Re: Maggie Thatcher does meet the qualification requirements

      The soft-scoop story is sadly not true. Soft-scoop was invented in the late 1930s in the United States. The confusion is that Thatcher worked for Lyons between 1949 and 1951 on emulsifiers when Lyons had obtained the Mr Softee franchise.

      She did do a science degree at Cambridge and specialised in X-ray crystallography, so she had a formidable qualification. But there is no evidence she invented anything or proposed a new theory.

      Apparently Thatcher applied for a place at ICI after graduation, but was rejected for being "headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated."

      1. camlc

        Re: Maggie Thatcher does meet the qualification requirements

        She did her science (Chemistry, to be accurate) degree at Oxford. Somerville College. She did specialise in X Ray crystallography, and her supervisor was Dorothy Hodgkin. Who does deserve to be nominated.

  68. Marco van de Voort

    Fleming, no contest.

    Penicillin saved so many lives. Anybody had an appendix taken out, or other now routines surgery? Was quite a risky procedure before antibiotics.

    I like my computers and software, but in the end I'm still a bag of bones.

  69. Fred Daggy

    Brian May

    Brian May - Get two for the price of one!

  70. Jedit
    Black Helicopters

    Lise Meitner

    Funny that this name should come up in conversation just now; last week I was in Germany, and my hotel was on Lise-Meitner Strasse. Is the person who discovered the frequency of coincidences dead? Because if so, they'd be my candidate to go on the note.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Lise Meitner

      Is the person who discovered the frequency of coincidences dead? Because if so, they'd be my candidate to go on the note.

      Your candidate might be John Littlewood (1885-1977). See Littlewood's Law.

      One of the mighty Trinity of ultra-pure mathematicians of around a century ago, with Hardy and Ramanujan.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Your candidate might be John Littlewood (1885-1977)

        He would have been a good advert for Littlewoods Pools.

      2. Jedit
        Pint

        Littlewood's Law

        Thanks Nick, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Although Littlewood was of course mistaken; we all know Pratchett's Law states that million to one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

  71. BoldMan

    No James Clarke Maxwell?

    Much more important than any of these computery boffins!

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      No James Clarke Maxwell?

      Gak Eisenberg for the win.

  72. Dave White

    Why not all of them?

    Is there a practical reason why they can't print several notes for the most prominent scientists? Why not have one with Turing, one with Hawking, one with Lovelace etc?

  73. Spazturtle Silver badge

    Bank notes have a person and a location/building on them. I still think that having Margret Thatcher and a coal mine would be fitting for the £50.

  74. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    I think it's time for a woman ...

    and I notice no one (including El Reg itself) appear to have thought of Mary Anning -

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Anning 1799-1842 who predates Ada Lovelace (my choice) and by the very fact is unknown to commentards is deserving of a profile boost.

    1. Paul Cooper

      Re: I think it's time for a woman ...

      I'm a geologist and have to say that calling Mary Anning a scientist is a bit of a stretch. She was a gifted fossil collector who happened to have the good fortune to live next to a good fossil locality where she carried on the family business (her father also collected fossils for sale). I'm not denigrating fossil collection - it is much harder than people think, and requires a good eye; I know this as I'm no good at it! But palaeontology only starts with fossil collection, which is pretty much where Mary Anning stopped. I'd say that she bears about the same relationship to palaeontology as the lab technicians did to Rosalind Franklin. If Mary Anning hadn't been female and hence noteworthy, I doubt we'd know she'd existed.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: I think it's time for a woman ...

        I'm not a geologist, but if you'll accept Extra History as a source (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-CW0B4YeBQ), Mary Anning disputed the claims of established scientists and was proved right. She went beyond collecting, carefully studying her finds, and was noteworthy for being good at it.

      2. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Mary Anning

        ... Which is why my choice was Ada Lovelace. I just mentioned Mary Anning to show there is a wider choice than some thing.

  75. This post has been deleted by its author

  76. ICPurvis47 Bronze badge
    Boffin

    My personal recommendation.

    I would like to put forward Professor Hugh Davson. In the post war period he did ground breaking work on the physiology of the brain, ophthalmic research (leading to the setting up of several Corneal Banks), and other important medical work regarding the Blood/Brain Barrier. Although not IT related, and therefor probably not high on any list produced here, I knew the man and respect him. Most of his work was conducted at the Institute of Ophthalmology on Judd Street, University College on Gower Street, University of Louisville on South Seventh Street, and California Institute of Technology on Wilshire Boulevard.

  77. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Absolute Zero

    William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, would get my vote.

    An oversight that he did not make The Register's top 10 list.

  78. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    two more to the list

    Two more from left field

    John Stewart Bell

    and

    Beatrix Potter (Yes really)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: two more to the list

      "Beatrix Potter (Yes really)"

      Indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

  79. Nigel Sedgwick

    First Algorithm?!

    The Register article states, WRT Ada Lovelace: "We also have her notes for Babbage's machine that represent the first algorithm every produced."

    I refute this thus: Euclid, c. 300BC; also Eratosthenes, c. 200BC.

    That's merely reference to a refutation or two - not a claim for first algorithm.

    For the avoidance of doubt, IMHO Ada Lovelace is certainly worthy of such recognition.

    Best regards

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: First Algorithm?!

      @ Nigel Sedgwick

      Your namesake Adam would also be a good choice: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Sedgwick

  80. Andrew Alan McKenzie

    John Snow

    My vote is for John Snow - an English physician and a leader in the adoption of anaesthesia and medical hygiene. He is considered one of the fathers of modern epidemiology, in part because of his work in tracing the source of a cholera outbreak in Soho, London, in 1854. If it wasn't for that era of medicine the probability is that we would be dead, not voting!

    And a positive side effect - the unscientific will think 'Jon Snow, cool - game of thrones' and vote for my suggestion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: John Snow

      He also done a good job reading the news

  81. Keith Oborn

    Good God. Was this written by a smart ten year old?

    Riddled with inaccuracies, eg:

    Rosalind Franklin "Because she discovered DNA". No. She was instrumental in working out the *structure* of DNA. None of the four main protagonists in this "discovered" it.

    Terrible copy editing.

    El Reg: are you writing intelligent news or a breathless kiddie's comic?

  82. SonofRojBlake

    James. Clerk. Maxwell.

    James Clerk Maxwell is the most important scientist nobody has ever heard of. He laid the foundations for modern physics. And he's not even in your top ten. He's not been on a banknote before, not had a blockbuster movie made about him and not been in Star Trek.

    In terms of contribution vs. recognition, I can't think of anyone else whose ratio is so skewed.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: James. Clerk. Maxwell.

      Einstein credited Maxwell. Maxwell was a hairsbreadth from relativity theory.

      real father of Radio (though Hertz important). Marconi didn't claim to be a scientist, but an entrepreneur. His main jump was realising that radio range needed and aerial (wire) and an earth(ed connection) rather than a small loop. Later when VHF was possible, loops were used on transmitters. A multiturn loop does work for receive.

      Also Maxwell realised how colour photography could be done (though a panchromatic film was some time in the future).

      Many other things too.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    R V Jones

    R V Jones not even mentioned? We owe him every bit as much as we owe Turing and Flowers, a great deal indeed.

    Perhaps an example of the HollyWeird stereotype of "Scientist" being necessarily equivalent to "Sufferer", which I've always suspected as being used to assuage the jealousy of the ordinarily thick.......

    1. Richard Parkin

      Re: R V Jones

      Yes but he wasn’t shafted by the establishment like the others. Since WW2 is ruling our lives (brexitmania) perhaps a larger group of all the scientists who were important in “winning the war”. Actually in these days when it’s popular to denigrate the Poles, my favourite for £50 note portrait would be the Polish pilots who won the Battle of Britain (exaggeration to make the point).

  84. Andi McDonald

    What about Margaret Thatcher, she was a Chemist and it would really upset the delicate snowflakes if she won

    1. Spanners Silver badge
      Linux

      @Andi McDonald

      If you want to upset people who deserve it, Edward Jenner...

  85. Spanners Silver badge
    Boffin

    How about?

    Edward Jenner?

    In the sad event someone hasn't heard of him Read this

    He has probably saved more people from nasty illnesses and early death than any other scientists in history, if not all of them!

  86. LesC
    Coat

    Brit Boffins

    What about Bernard Lovell (Jodrell Bank) and perhaps, more importantly, El Reg's very own Lester Haines (PARIS, LOHAN, spam wusubi, etc, etc)

    Mines is the one with the chlorine trifluoride in the pocket :)

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: chlorine trifluoride

      You USED to have a pocket. There is a hole in the concrete floor and the asbestos ceiling below is on fire.

      1. LesC
        Flame

        Re: chlorine trifluoride

        Excellent, sir indeed the large drum of the stuff that split in the 1950's must have been quite a sight.... Clark's excellent 'Ignition' is of course the source :)

        John Conway must get an honourable mention: Life and the concept of the (spreadsheet) cell: you can still get a hold of Life today in these days of AI and Kuberdocker :/ Unfortunately Conway is still alive but us pre AgileCloudAmazon old schoolers will have run Life amongst our S-50, OSWRCH and Data General Nova code (Wild Hare) :)

        (Edit) Baird's ideas are still with us with slow scan mechanical TV was never going to work but the electronic equivalent works just fine with the amateurs.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: electronic equivalent works just fine with the amateurs

          Actually that's derived from Fax, First experimental Fax on wire was in 1851. SSTV is to Fax, what RTTY is to Telex/Teleprinters (from 1928, but also Victorian experimenters). Radio Fax was also in 1930s, at same time as Baird, and transmitted in the USA after radio program close down. Add on printers for existing ordinary radios were sold in USA. The Mechanical TV was also done in USA too as a novelty after normal progam close down, but the radio fax was more practical.

          SSTV doesn't do moving images, it's basically Fax.

  87. RobDog

    Notable by their absence

    John Harrison - as a maritime nation it’s shameful that he hasn’t had a mention as the man who solved the longitudinal navigation problem.

    And where is Isambard Kingdom Brunel ferchrissakes?

  88. Stoke the atom furnaces

    Maurice Wilkes

    Maurice Wilkes, inventor of cache memory, microcode and the subroutine, would be a worthy choice.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about TBL

    He invented the Internet?

    1. Allonymous Coward

      Re: What about TBL

      I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and say I see what you did there.

  90. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Charles Babbage - gentleman innovator

    Charles Babbage appeals because he typifies the 19th century gentleman savant. Rayleigh is another example.

    Babbage's distaste for plebeians and their culture shows powers of discrimination (a virtue) sadly nowadays lacking among the supposedly educated.

    Maybe 'scientist' is misnomer for Babbage and some others on the list (e.g. John Logie Baird). However it fits his era because 'science' and 'scientist' were terms used differently from now. At one time theology was 'the queen of sciences'. The mantle passed to mathematics but neither is science in the sense explained below.

    Followers of Popper would exclude from 'science' activities not entailing devising testable theories to which may be applied the inverse logic of falsification. General usage of the term these days is somewhat lax but not as much as in pre-Popper times.

    What the named persons on the list have in common is brilliant insight which later proved fundamental to present day technology. For instance the chain of reasoning/action leading from Babbage to present day computers is shorter than that leading from the scientist Becquerel to nuclear power. Put another way, Babbage had a realisable goal in mind whereas Becquerel was curiosity driven. Each motivation is of tremendous value in its own way.

  91. h4rm0ny

    Write In Option:

    Charles Babbage AND Ada Lovelace.

  92. Graham Dresch

    Eric Laithwaite

    maglev, linear motor, and for investigating gyroscopes, against the wishes of the Royal Institution

    1. SGJ

      Re: Eric Laithwaite

      Unfortunately Laithwaite believed that the behaviour of gyroscopes violated the law of conservation of energy! According to the Royal Institution web site he "appears to have used various engineering approximations in his calculations on the behaviour or gyroscopes and when told by professional mathematicians that once the calculations were done rigorously there was no discrepancy, refused to believe them."

      The affair harmed his career considerably – he left his position at the Royal Institution and was never elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society.

      Perhaps not the best role model to have on a £50 note.

  93. knarf

    James Clark Maxwell

    His most notable achievement was to formulate the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, bringing together for the first time electricity, magnetism, and light as different manifestations of the same phenomenon.

  94. Mike Richards

    James Hutton

    The Father of Geology.

    In the late 18th Century up with the fabulously named Theory of Uniformity which basically says that the processes which create and change the Earth's surface haven't changed through time, so by studying what is going on right now, we can work out not only how the Earth has evolved through time, but give an insight into its age.

    By doing this, he struck a blow against the Biblical view of the Earth's history and suggested that the Earth was incredibly old, making him the first person to consider Deep Time.

    Hutton even proposed a theory of evolution through natural selection.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: James Hutton

      He was also wrong and set back geology by a couple of hundred years... it's slowly becoming accepted again that catastrophic events form far more major geological structures than any slow and gradual process ever did, or could.

      There are countless examples of real world features which uniformitarian "measurements" would claim to be of vast age when in reality they are of known age (i.e. have been observed forming.)

      Pontificating philosophers like Hutton and Hawking have had far too much publicity already, it's high time for recognition for Maxwell, Boyle, Kelvin and their like - scientists whose major work has actually been proven measurably, demonstrably correct and of real practical use to mankind.

  95. x 7

    How about George Porter?

    https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1967/porter/biographical/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Porter

    Outstanding scientist, Nobel Prize winner, but also he was a nice bloke. Unlike a lot of elite scientists......

  96. mgbrown

    Albert Niemann (chemist)

    Albert Friedrich Emil Niemann. I know he's not British, but his discovery is more associated with £50 notes than anyone else's.

  97. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Any of 'em except Stephen Hawking, because he was a total bastard, professionally as well as personally.

  98. D@v3

    Bernard Lovell

    Surprised to see only one other mention.

    Gave his name to the telescope which was the largest steerable dish radio telescope in the world when it was built (in 1957), even now it is the third-largest (or 2nd, depending on how you look at it, 1st and 2nd are the same size).

    Lots of work, research and developments.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Lovell

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lovell_Telescope

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot no mention of Heinz Wolff !!!

    OK, so he was German refugee, but he was a great explainer... and 'The Great Egg Race'... think of how many people went into science and engineering because of that

  100. Eccella

    Patrick Moore

    Astronomy for the masses, appeared with Morecombe and Wise, made eyebrows fashionable!

  101. Horsefly

    Michael Faraday did so much more

    I'm astonished that the article section didn't mention that Faraday also discovered electromagnetic induction and used it to invent both the mechanically driven AC electric generator and the transformer that are the basis of pretty much the entrire worldwide electricity supply industry!

    That said, my vote is for James Clerk Maxwell because Faraday has already been on the £20 note

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Michael Faraday did so much more

      "I'm astonished that the article section didn't mention..."

      That's why we have a comments section.

      C.

  102. Roger Ramjet

    Carl Friedrich Gauss ?

    I always thought his name should be brought to the fore?

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Dorothy Hodgkin?

    Awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 for her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances." -aka vitamin B12. Dorothy Hodgkin was a woman of great intellect and an immense passion for science, she helped advance the x-ray crystallography technique, which was the key to studying and understanding three-dimensional structures of biochemical compounds.

    She also tutored and remained friends with Margaret Roberts (later Thatcher), but that is entirely incidental.

  104. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    John Logie Baird

    "John Logie Baird

    Why?

    He basically invented television"

    !

    !

    Not this old chestnut. He DID NOT invent Television. He was successful at raising the profile of it and promoting a dead-end mechanical concept. Electronic TV was outlined in 1905 or 1906. The only difficulty was the camera target. Various people even replaced the receiver disk and later mirror unit on the Baird system with a CRT. He used a near real time developed cine film and scanner eventually when the resolution reached 240 lines. That was later developed for spy satellites for HD and slow transmission.

    By 1935 the RCA electronic system had beaten Farnsworth's (his was a dead-end camera target concept). EMI worked with RCA (historic links via Marconi, HMV and Victor Talking Machine Co,) and developed a decent camera for UK.

    No country in the world continued with Baird way of doing it.

    1. Roger Ramjet

      Re: John Logie Baird

      Carl Friedrich Gauss did the footwork.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: John Logie Baird

        But Gauss was a Kraut. So tellies in Blighty need de-Gaussing.

  105. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    If we pick the penicillin bloke we can sing the name of Fleming with pride.

    Fleeeeeeming!

  106. Richard Parkin

    Hologram

    No idea if this is possible but all the above and they are in a hologram so who you see varies with the angle. Or hundreds of tiny portraits replacing the background wavy lines etc on the note.

  107. DrD'eath

    I nominate Peter Mitchell

    Genius and maverick, Peter Mitchell. His work was remarkable and revolutionary.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_D._Mitchell

  108. labourer

    wot! no Hedy Lamarr in the foreign section?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Note:

      That's NOT Hedley!

  109. steviebuk Silver badge

    That pole closed quick!

    I was working so didn't get a chance to read.

    Its between

    Rosalind Franklin

    Tommy Flowers

    Alan Turing

    Why can't we have all 3 in stripped images.

    Its difficult to decide between those 3.

  110. Mothballs

    And the winner is...

    Jethro Tull gets my vote. Not only did he invent the Seed Drill, which revolutionised agriculture in the 18th century, but he was also quite good at playing the flute while standing on one leg.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Jethro Tull

      Some say he was Thick as a Brick*, others say he was Living in the Past.

      *I had the original album, which was in the form of a newspaper with a sleeve for the vinyl record.

  111. beecee

    Ada Lovelace there is no question in my mind.

  112. rmstock

    James Clerk Maxwell

    His two volume set monumental work "A treatise on electricity and magnetism" (c)1873 has remained hidden in some drawer of the Gravitational Department of Berkeley CA (University of California) for decades. The only copy left ? The successful detection of Gravitational waves by Thorne et.al. was rewarded with the 2017 Nobel Prize of Physics. When glancing through the Gravitation bible https://archive.org/details/GravitationMisnerThorneWheeler and comparing the covered content like introducing e.g. Chapter 4 ELECTROMAGNETISM AND DIFFERENTIAL FORMS Box 4.2 ABSTRACTING A 2-FORM FROM THE CONCEPT OF "HONEYCOMB¬ LIKE STRUCTURE," IN 3-SPACE AND IN SPACETIME with that of Maxwell's 1873 work https://archive.org/details/electricandmagne01maxwrich https://archive.org/details/electricandmagne02maxwrich you know that the Berkeley professors were peeking in Maxwell's 1873 book set all of the time. He probably died premature because of his opinion on the instantaneous nature of E, the electric field, which was opposed by Einstein and the Berkeley professors, who imposed a general speed limit of c. Of course the speed of light was first calculated by Maxwell. In 1962 J.D. Jackson published Classical Electrodynamics 1st ed https://archive.org/details/ClassicalElectrodynamics probably the best book on its subject. It seems however that his first edition contained some inconsistencies in Chapter 11 Special Theory of Relativity, that it took only a few year before J.D. Jackson was berglarized to join Berkeley in order to publish his famous 2nd edition, in which Chapter 11 on Special Theory was totally rewritten https://archive.org/details/ClassicalElectrodynamics2nd .

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: James Clerk Maxwell

      OK, that was weird.

  113. JohnGrantNineTiles

    Alan Blumlein

    Invented the 405-line TV system that was actually used, unlike Baird. Many other inventions including stereo audio. Died young, in a plane crash while testing a new radar system during WW2.

  114. Exrugbyman38

    Guglielmo Marconi

    I suggest Guglielmo Marconi as he founded Marconi after inventing long distance radio.

    This nomination is contentious because the Brexiteers would insist on a referendum if the Bank of England proposed such a foreign sounding name on one of our notes (he was featured on a commemorative 50p coin in 2001) See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Marconi

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