Here are the lesser-known scientists that the UK should put on the new £ 50 bill


Scientist and engineer agree to decorate Bank of England notes. Since 1970, Isaac Newton, George Stephenson, Michael Faraday, James Watt and Charles Darwin all had their say to the Queen.

I also think that Florence Nightingale, who collected and analyzed data to inform her of her treatments and invented the polar zone diagram, clearly counts as a scientist.

But soon, James Watt, with his entrepreneurial partner Matthew Boulton, will give up his place and will be replaced at £ 50 by another British scientist.

The Bank of England has opened applications for the new face (or faces) on the back of the £ 50. Stephen Hawking, the most recognizable scientist of the modern era, is probably at the head of this field.

Rosalind Franklin is on his heels, and his contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA has been neglected for too long. Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, is definitely on the run.

But chances are you've heard of these candidates, so here's my list of lesser-known scientists who deserve a spot for £ 50.

Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 – 1994) is the only British woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. She was awarded the medal in 1964 for her pioneering work on the use of so-called X-ray crystallography to determine the structures of biological molecules such as penicillin and vitamin B12. This helped us understand how these substances work and improve their use.

From the beginning of her career, she has also worked on much more complex protein molecules. In 1969, after 35 years of testing, she discovered the structure of insulin. There is good reason to think that twelve other Nobel Prizes, relating to the structure of biological molecules (including the price for the structure of DNA), can be found in the fundamental work of Hodgkin.

Frederick Sanger

Frederick Sanger (1918-2013) invented ways to decode or "sequence" protein and DNA molecules. This laid the foundation for modern techniques such as DNA fingerprinting and medical analysis of our genomes.

Although he is one of four people to have won two Nobel Prizes (with Marie Curie, Linus Pauling and John Barden), Fred Sanger is a name unknown to most (although genetic research has given its name to Wellcome Sanger Institute).

The lack of glory is probably due to its humble nature. He described himself as "not brilliant intellectually" and refused the title of knight because he did not want to be called "sir". He deserves to be featured on the note, but he probably would have hated it. So we should hope that he will not win the nomination.

Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was the father of vaccines. Strictly speaking, he did not discover vaccination, but he was the first to study the process with a form of scientific rigor, and he certainly coined the term vaccination. Vacca, Latin for cow).

It has long been known that exposing people to a fluid from smallpox pustules could protect them from developing disease. The technique, called variolation, was risky and up to 2% of people died. But since it was considerably lower than the 30% mortality due to smallpox in its own right, it was widely practiced.

Jenner virtually wiped out the risk of death associated with this form of inoculation when he found that people infected with the less serious disease, cowpox, were also immune to smallpox.

From this observation, he devoted himself to the study of vaccination and thus changed the way medicine prevents diseases. He has often been credited with saving more lives than any other human being.

Elsie Widdowson and Robert McCance

And finally, a love at first sight, a couple that revolutionized the study of human nutrition, pioneering dietitians Elsie Widdowson (1906-2000) and Robert McCance (1898-1993).

At the time of food awareness, we hope to be able to check the nutritional content of virtually everything we eat and drink.

But at the beginning of the 20th century, the understanding of the heat and chemical content of food was very poorly understood, and much of what was published was incorrect.

One of these mistakes was spotted by Widdowson while she was preparing her PhD. It was quite direct to inform the author of the offending study, Robert McCance.

He was so impressed by the young student that he invited her to work in her lab and thus began a 60-year scientific partnership.

Together, Widdowson and McCance began a detailed food analysis and quickly developed the first accurate nutrient charts on which modern food labels are based.

They then took their job well beyond the call of duty by submitting to a diet close to starvation to understand the basic nutritional needs of humans.

Their discoveries were used to formulate wartime rationing regimes and rehabilitate famine victims of Nazi concentration camps and famines.

Later, Widdowson also became interested in the nutritional needs of the fetus and newborns, which led her to create the model for infant formula.The conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation by Mark Lorch, professor of chemistry, communication and chemistry at the University of Hull, under Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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