Pioneering female scientist to appear on Scottish bank note

Scientist Mary Somerville has been announced as the next face to appear on the Scottish £10 note. She was shortlisted along with Thomas Telford and James Clerk Maxwell to appear on the new polymer bank note in Scotland. The final decision was made via a vote on Facebook, with the public deciding which of the three would appear on the new style of Scottish currency.

Mary Somerville was born in 1780 to a prestigious Scottish family. She wrote extensively on scientific matters, and made pioneering connections between branches of scientific thinking, including in her most influential work; ‘On the connection of the physical sciences’. Her hypothesis that another planet could be disturbing the orbit of Uranus, reputedly led the astronomer John Couch Adams to discover Neptune.

In 1825 she, along with her friend and peer Caroline Herschel, became the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society. She was an early proponent of women’s suffrage, signing the pioneering, but unsuccessful, petition for female suffrage by the philosopher John Stuart Mill in 1868.

The bank note is not the first time that Mary Somerville’s contribution to science has been commemorated. Somerville College, founded in 1879, was named after her and was one of the first women’s colleges in Oxford. She also has an asteroid, 5771 Somerville, and a lunar crater, the Somerville crater, named after her.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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