Ulster Bank honors marginalized astrophysicist on £50 note
- Published: Mar 28, 2022, 8 AM
Northern Ireland’s Ulster Bank used the month of March and the joint celebrations of both St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and International Women’s Day on March 8 to reveal the designs of its new polymer £50 bank note, one that will prominently feature women.
The new issue will enter circulation on June 15.
The face includes women both famous and not, whom the bank describes as critical to advancing science and the trades. Dame Jocelyn Bell qualifies as famous by any definition. Bell was born in Lurgan, about 18 miles from Belfast, and is thought of as one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists. The portrayal on the note represents her iconic 1967 discovery of pulsars, the spherical, compact objects that are about the size of a large city but contain more mass than Earth’s sun. In 1974, the discovery earned the Nobel Prize for Physics, but instead of it being awarded to her, it went to her male doctorate supervisor. The bank’s statement says she has since been a trailblazing advocate for women and the marginalized in science. She was also the first woman to serve as president of the Institute of Physics.
Also depicted on the face is a “Millie,” as the young working-class mill workers in Irish linen factories were once pejoratively and now affectionately called, working at the loom, a tribute to their unsung role in the famous industry.
The back of the note has images of flora and fauna found in Northern Ireland, including a pine martin, a cryptic wood butterfly, and gorse. Other images on the back represent Northern Ireland’s ship building and aviation industries, its creative sector, and its reputation for excellence in cybersecurity.
The note contains UV images on both sides.
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