Evolution is the coin of the realm

By Phil Plait | November 27, 2010 7:04 am

Can you imagine the United States issuing a coin like this?

uk_darwin_coin

Sigh. Yeah, me neither. This is a special issue £2 coin from the UK, which came out in 2009 commemorating the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth (and the 150th of the publishing of Origin of Species). I missed this somehow, which is too bad. Wish I had picked one up when I was over there for TAM London!

I would love to live in a country where science and scientists enjoy this sort of celebration, instead of being attacked by their own government because they won’t toe an ideological fantasy-based line.

Poland has used to have Copernicus on their money. Copernicus! I’d love to see a Feynman quarter, or an Einstein dollar coin. If something like inspired a kid to look at it and think, I wonder who that is and why they’re on a coin, then it would be worth it.

Tip o’ the white lab coat to reddit.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics, Religion, Science, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: coin, darwin, UK

Comments (133)

  1. They did a double helix coin in 2003 too. I get the impression they change the coin to commemorate important things. Its a very cool tradition.
    http://www.thednastore.com/dnastuff/2%20pound%20proof%20helix%20coin.html

  2. Graham Douglas

    You could try contacting the Royal Mint to see if they’ve still got any presentation sets left.

  3. tmac57

    I would like to see “In science,we provisionally trust” on our money,but I guess that it lacks the unquestioned certainty that most people seem to need.Sigh.

  4. Aaron

    Well, we do have Benjamin Franklin on the one hundred dollar bill, but this can probably be owed to his political achievements, rather than his scientific ones . . .

  5. Troy

    I always thought Josiah Willard Gibbs (Thermodynamics) would be a good choice for at least a commemorative. His accomplishments were on par with the greats and he has the distinction of being American born. (He along with a few other American scientists were on a set of stamps in 2007)

  6. JohnDoe

    I’d say the back side of the UKP 2 coin cancels out the front: DEI.GRA.REG….

  7. Chris

    Phil, update your data on Poland :)

    We’ve lost Copernicus in 1995 (quite some time ago) and are now using kings on currency.

  8. Doug

    I have a 10 deutsche mark that not only has a picture of Gauss, and a plot of the Gaussian curve, but it also has the actual Gaussian curve equation.

  9. >I’d say the back side of the UKP 2 coin cancels out the front: DEI.GRA.REG….

    That’s just a traditional thing. It means, unabbreviated, ‘By the grace of God, Elizabeth II Defender of the Faith’. The title ‘Defender of the Faith’ has been around since long before America even existed (over twice as long), and yet the front side shows a willingness for advancement. Being secular doesn’t mean we should throw out all out religion related tradition and culture.

    So no, it doesn’t ‘cancel it out’.

  10. Correction: Poland HAD Copernicus on their money. They started exchanging the old bills for new ones since 1995 to battle the inflation. Modern polish bills don’t have Copernicus on them anymore.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_coins_and_banknotes

    Theoretically, the old ones are still exchangeable in banks until the end of this year. But in 2011, the Euro could be introduced.

    Copernicus is on the bills because Copernicus is considered to be one of the great Polish national heroes. In this context it’s interesting to consider what country would put Einstein on a coin. He was born in Germany but had to flee due to his Jewish ethnicity.

  11. The very second a physicist can explain the concept of “time” clearly and concisely, I say we put him on a coin. I’m just saying, you can lay off your hate of “Jesusland”. This is the country that gave the world more scientific progress than any other, and you guys are irritated not everyone buys your pet theories.

    Also, the link you used to prove that “government hate science, oh noes”, was simply someone daring to challenge the data. No research has been sloppier than climate science in the past decades. A real scientist doesn’t have to fake data, cobble together clearly bad data, and tweak numbers and charts to make their point. They also don’t get defensive and cry when their challenged. They back things up with data. Mann is a hack.

    And yet here you are, attacking your country because we won’t toe your idealogical fantasy-based line, at least without better data.

    Once again, stick to astronomy, Phil. You don’t know a damn thing about climate.

  12. Tim G

    Has anyone seen these five pages of mostly scientists and mathematicians on banknotes?

  13. Digital Ruse

    @3: Both of which (politics and science) were awesome, so let’s just assume it is for both. XD Same might be said for Jefferson, but he was more of an inventor than a scientist (Poor bastard was sent to the $2. Though I derive a certain bit of humor thinking that he might appreciate being on the dollar that many think is fake. ;) ). In general, I wish tree were less presidents and monuments on the currency and more Americans and American events. (Mark Twain, A Baseball Game, etc…)

  14. Brazilion

    A coin with Copernicus: http://www.blackmountaincoins.com/p/BMC/c-CRYSTAL-COINS/2008_COK_07758.html

    I saw a guy trying to sell one of this by US$100.00 dollars here in Brazil. Sometimes I regret not have got it.

  15. PayasYouStargaze

    Phil, next time you’re over, keep one of the £10 notes. Darwin is on that too and he’s much easier to see on it.

    On a similar theme, on Gibraltar £5 notes we used to have Tarik Ibn-Zayed, who first conquered the rock and settled there. A family friend living in the UK would keep one in his wallet to demonstrate than not all western nations were anti-Islam since 2001.

  16. I have a one of the five mark notes with Friedrich Gauss on them. That’s one of the advantages of constantly redesigning your currency…you can honor more people. The U.S. has been doing alternate designs on coins, but our bills haven’t changed much (except for anti-counterfeiting features).

  17. We’ve had Darwin on the £10 note for a long time.

    Ray (UK transplant)

  18. Daniel J. Andrews

    Nice. I didn’t know they had those out. I’ll contact my UK relatives and see if they can find one or two for me.

    There was an episode of that show, Sliders, where they slid into a world where the public admired intellectual figures/scientists instead of sport figures. Scientists were treated like celebrities. It’s rather telling about our culture and priorities that we pay sports figures 10 to 50x what we pay our most productive, brilliant scientists.

    edit: hmm, looks like it comes only with all the others at 80 pounds.

  19. sophia8

    Phil, better check the code of your blog. Everything below this post (comments to this post, older posts, everything) seems to have had “font size=-2″ applied to it. It’s rather hard to read!
    Is anybody else seeing this?

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    Here’s my suggestions for some US astronomers and scientists who could be honoured on the US currency. This list isn’t comprehensive, just some immediate ideas, listed in alphabetical order and restricted to those who are no longer with us – with a few exceptions (asterisk = still living.) :

    Neil Armstrong*, Buzz Aldrin* & Michael Collins* with the Eagle landing on the reverse side.

    Isaac Asimov

    Edward Emerson Barnard

    Werner Von Braun – & his Apollo & Saturn V craft

    Hans Albrecht Bethe

    Mike Brown* (discoverer of Eris and many other ice dwarf planets)

    Annie Jump Cannon together with Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Antonia Maury & Edward Pickering

    John Dobson – with his namesake telescope and a crowd

    Albert Einstein

    Edwin Hubble – with a representation of galaxies moving.

    Julius Robert Oppenheimer

    Henry Norris Russell – & a stylised HR diagram

    Carl Sagan

    Edward Teller

    Clyde Tombaugh

    Fred Whipple – and a comet and spaceprobe with prominent Whipple shield!

    I would also suggest separate coins for the Hubble Space Telescope observatory, the Space Shuttles, the Voyagers and the Mars Rovers.

    And that’s just for starters! ;-)

  21. Not to be a pessimist or cynic , but I doubt many of today’s kids would bother to wonder who was on the bill. More than our failure to offer them heroes to admire, we’ve failed to to instill in them a sense of curiosity. But I could be wrong, and would love to change my view if I could find evidence to the contrary.

  22. Messier Tidy Upper

    CORRECTION : Sorry, that should be John Dobson with an asterisk – he’s still alive according to Wikipedia. :-)

    My apologies if that upset or confused anyone.

    *****

    @13. sophia8 : Yes I’m seeing it like that too.

    Or I was until this came through normally. Good to see its been fixed.

    Less so that #8 has confusingly become # 21 but I guess that’s what you get with moderation delays. Oh well. Sigh. Don’t suppose there’s any way around that at all?

    Also note that as a non-American I don’t know if any of my suggestions in comment #22 are on your coins already. (I did see some US coins and notes on my visit .. ten years ago, can’t really recall who was on them in any great detail.) Be nice if they were, be neat if they were added if not! ;-)

  23. Alex

    To me it is really funny that the U.S. uses the slogan “In God We Trust” on their money. If according to the Bible God created everything and knew what will happen in the end, even if the yet started to work out his plan, he created all the mess we have to go through. He has created 9/11, all kinds of diseases and weird catastrophies such as tsunamis, earthquakes and the likes.

    So basically, why does the U.S. trust a Biblical God who probably caused all this mess we have to go through every day and doesn’t praise science which basically tries to clean up “his” mess!?

  24. Taiga

    Canadians put animals on their coins. They’re prettier. It is depressing to look at the image of the polar bear on a $2 coin and think that they’ll be extinct by the end of the century, however.

  25. Chris

    This is America, land of slippery slopes. Put Einstein on the money today and next year we’ll have Rush Limbaugh and Britney Spears. There are a lot more people who think those are Very Important People than there are fans of scientists.

  26. Coyote

    @24 Sadly, no, none of them have appeared on a coin that I recall, although I agree that it would be great if they were. Allow me to also suggest that Intelsat 1 and Telstar 1 each get coins or banknotes of their own, as without those two satellites much of what we take for granted as a fact of modern life simply would not be possible.

  27. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Coyote : Thanks. :-)

    Good suggestion – I’d also nominate John Glenn and the Mercury-7 astronauts & James Van Allen & the Explorer satellite, the USA’s first and the world’s third ever artificial moon as well. Again presuming they’re not on coins or notes already which, in some ways, I find surprising if they’re not.

    @25. Taiga Says:

    Canadians put animals on their coins. They’re prettier. It is depressing to look at the image of the polar bear on a $2 coin and think that they’ll be extinct by the end of the century, however.

    Aussies also have animals on our coins as well although we also have the Queen and other individuals. Australian astronomer John Tebbutt who discovered a number of comets incl. the “Great Comet of 1861″ (C/1861 J1) was on our $100 dollar bill’s reverse side for a while although this is, sadly, no longer the case.

    I doubt that polar bears will go completely extinct although I agree they might be in lot of trouble due to polar melting caused by Human Caused Global Over-Heating and possibly restricted to zoos and special nature reserves. I think it is most likely there will be strenous efforts to preserve them – although that may end up being in captivity rather than in the wild. For at time anyhow. Saying they “will” be extinct as opposed to “just possibly might be” seems a trifle too pessimistic in my view.

  28. Gamercow

    I would also nominate Robert Goddard, father of American rocketry.

  29. cgauthier

    Sadly, I think scientists on money would have a similar effect on the people’s scientific literacy as dead politicians have on the people’s political literacy.

    Though I agree it would make our money much cooler, while giving me a greater sense of pride in my country.

    Considering how many of our fellow citizens wish to drag us back to some kind of religio-corporate feudalist nightmare vs. a scientific utopia… I don’t hold much hope for the Feynman quarter.

  30. Rob H

    The Bank of England’s list of current & withdrawn banknotes shows the history of scientists on currency:
    http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/about/withdrawn_notes.htm
    Isaac Newton was on the old £1 notes back in the mists of antiquity known as the 1980’s. Michael Faraday was on a previous issue of the £20 note, and of course Darwin is on the current tenner. Being pragmatic I think the Bank was at least partly attracted by his copious beard into which they could incorporate many hard-to-forge details.

  31. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ cgauthier : I’d say you’re probably sadly right there. Still, it can’t hurt and would be at least some positive sign of who and what we value & respect wouldn’t it?

    @30. Gamercow : Yes! Of course, how could I forget him! [Kicks self.] ;-)

    I second the Goddard nomination. :-)

    ***

    BTW. Wikilink to Tebbutt for more info :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Tebbutt

    Plus this :

    http://www.australianstamp.com/Coin-web/aust/aust.htm

    Gives an idea of what Aussie coins look like if folks are curious.

    While this :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_who_have_appeared_on_Australian_currency

    Rather self-explanatorily lists those individuals appearing on our money. :-)

  32. Luc

    This polish 1000 zloty note has not been used since mid 90’s – pity (in the artistic way), because the previous notes we had were much better looking than the new ones.

  33. Just so you know, the Danish 500 kroner note has Niels Bohr on them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banknotes_of_Denmark,_1997_series#The_500_kroner_note

    Unfortunately – if you ask me at least – they are replacing these very very cool notes (I would even go as far as arguing for them to be the best notes I have seen) to some more boring ones, that look similar to the Euros: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banknotes_of_Denmark,_2009_series

  34. Sir Craig

    ElZarcho: You certainly are the little bundle of hate there, aren’t you? A climate science denier plus a die-hard über-conservative of the right wing. (Yes, I saw your web page, and frankly I’m sorry I spent as much time on it as I did.)

    You offer nothing in regards to proof to challenge Phil’s assertion that science-illiterate members of our government attack actual scientists based on ideological grounds, instead trotting out tired and continually disproven right-wing talking points regarding one of the most heavily researched areas ever.

    I for one would love to see our scientists and educators given some face time on our money instead of being vilified by the likes of ElZarcho (I’m not kidding. His site is one long rant against anyone who tries to educate people, scientists and teachers alike. How’s the WBC treating you, ElZarcho?), but the sh*tstorm that would result from us honoring the main players of the “religion” of science and not the main players of the one (out of thousands) true religion would be deafening and political suicide.

    I keep hoping our country grows up and matures so the rest of the modern world will stop looking at us like we’re ignorant goons, but those like ElZarcho are making sure that doesn’t happen anytime soon.

  35. Ron1

    @ 11. ElZarcho Says:
    A real scientist doesn’t have to fake data, cobble together clearly bad data, and tweak numbers and charts to make their point. They also don’t get defensive and cry when their challenged. They back things up with data. Mann is a hack.

    And yet here you are, attacking your country because we won’t toe your idealogical fantasy-based line, at least without better data.

    Once again, stick to astronomy, Phil. You don’t know a damn thing about climate.

    …………………………………………

    ElZarcho,
    Quite the tirade but first, a few questions … You spew a line of BS when you say Mann is a hack and you flirt with slander when you imply that he faked his data but, what exactly are your credentials? Other than belief, what proof have you that his data is wrong or that he is a fake? Further, do you even have a science background (Fox News does not count), or is Mann’s data a little beyond you?

    As for Phil commenting about climate — it’s his blog!

  36. mike burkhart

    You know this is a good idea I want every one to write to : Pres Oboma Your Crogressmen or women and the US mint for a Darwin coin.Off topic I just watched The Empire Strikes Back in the end the rebel fleet leves the galaxy,but there are stars in the background! Bad Astronomy? well no some stars orbit in the glactic halo also golbular clusters lie in the halo so you would see stars if you left the galaxy .Besides it made tactal sence if you have a evel Empire coming the galaxy to find you outside the galaxy is the best place to hide

  37. Mike

    @33: I was surprised that only one of the Australian scientists appearing on bank notes was issued.

    We have or have had: Joseph Banks (botanist), Howard Florey ( penicillin dude), William Farrer (agronomist), Lawrence Hargreaves (aeronaut and astronomer), John Tebbutt (astronomer), Douglas Mawson (explorer and geologist), Ian Clunies Ross (parasitologist and director of the CSIRO)

    It should be noted that we named a state capital after Darwin…

    So if you want to be another astronomer on a banknote, best to move to Australia, but only after you’ve released a proper scientific metric edition of Death from the Skies ;-)

  38. MadScientist

    Darwin wasn’t American, so we wouldn’t issue a coin like that. However, I can imagine a coin with George McCready Price and Jesus on it, with monkeys roasting in hell on the flip side.

    That coin looks pretty big, but I’ll still bet it doesn’t weigh 2 pounds.

    @Krystian #10: I thought Einstein featured on an Israeli coin in the 1960s, but according to a web site Switzerland was the first to feature Einstein in 1975. Huh. The only internet mention I can find of an Israeli Einstein coin is for a commemorative coin in 2005. And apparently there was a German Democratic Republic coin with Einstein.

  39. Mike

    It ain’t just the Brits. Or the Poles. Prior to the Euro, the Germans had Gauss, the Austrians had Schroedinger, and the Italians had Galileo on banknotes. Euros, unfortunately, are substantially more boring, with generic bridges and castles…

    FWIW, I object to putting Werner von Braun on anything; unfortunately it’s too late to throw him in prison where he belongs. He may have led the Apollo project, but he also led terror attacks against civilians in wartime, and used slave labor to do so, both of which are war crimes.

  40. Levi in NY

    The Vatican actually released a €2 commemorative coin for the International Year of Astronomy (with their deity on it though): http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/%E2%82%AC2_commemorative_coin_Vatican_City_2009.jpg

    And San Marino made one for the International Year of Physics which I rather like, featuring Galileo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:%E2%82%AC2_commemorative_coin_San_Marino_2005.png

  41. Gary

    The way the government debases the currency, The Three Stooges are a more appropriate image for coinage.

  42. Gary Ansorge

    42. Gary

    “The Three Stooges are a more appropriate image for coinage.”

    Comedians on money. Why does that seem SOoo appropriate?

    Gary 7

  43. Daffy

    #11 El Zarcho: What is your climatology background?

  44. Ollie

    Here in the UK Darwin is on our £10 note permanently, which is even more important as we only have 4 notes due to the coins being so high value (£2 is $3.12 right now and was above $4 a few years ago, where as a quarter is worth £0.16 and a few years ago was £0.12). Also the highest value note £50 ($80) is not in common circulation so there are only 3 notes you see often, £5 ($8), £10 ($16) and £20 ($32). Also on series of notes before last, Newton was on the £1 note, in the last note series Michael Faraday was on £20, and in the new series James Watt is on the £50 note. In fact since decimal currency was introduced in the UK there has been a scientist on the banknotes for all but 3 years and right now there are 2 notes with scientists on.

  45. Broke

    The U.S. had something like this back in the 1890s called the Educational Series, put into circulation so people in rural areas who were out of the loop could learn about certain important people. I think it was the 2-dollar bill that had Samuel Morse and somebody else on the back. They were actually really beautiful.

    While I’m all for Darwin and the like appearing on British currency, I must say that the two-pound coin pictured here looks awful. Did a high-school student design it?

  46. Mike Saunders

    Darwin being on money is very minor compared to the host of problems with both the US and UK governments.

  47. You know, Einstein on a coin is not a bad idea. Despite the anti-science sentiment in the US, Einstein is still generally held in high regard..According to Forbes, in 2009 he was the 9th highest earning dead celebrity!

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/27/top-earning-dead-celebrities-list-dead-celebs-09-entertainment_land.html

    Putting Einstein on a coin might actually be achievable and even popular!

    Eris

  48. Tom

    If it’s any consolation, Phil, the BBC aired a creationism/evolution “debate” last Sunday morning…

  49. Bob_In_Wales

    @9 MattJ – Actually to be pedantic our coins read:

    Elizabeth II D. G. Reg. F. D.

    or

    Elizabeth II Dei Gra Reg Fid Def

    both abbreviations of

    Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor

    which translates to

    Elizabeth II, By the grace of God Queen, Defender of the Faith.

    Interestingly the Fid Def title was originally bestowed by the pope on Henry VIII in 1521 for his defense of Catholicism. Revoked in 1530 when he founded the Church of England it was reawarded in 1544 by parliament to his son Edward VI and his successors for the defense of Anglicanism against Catholicism. Etc.

    You have to love religion. It all gets so marvellously silly and … well … baroque.

    @32 Rob H – Re the use of men with beards on our bank notes. As far as I’m aware the Bank of England has stated openly that the difficulty of copying beards IS one of the reasons for them choosing people with big bushy ones.

  50. Sean

    Slightly off topic, but I thought El Zarcho might like to know that in Gloucester Place, London (about 250m from where I live) there is a plaque commemorating the birthplace of “Benedict Arnold, American Patriot”.

    I enjoy taking photos of visiting American friends standing in front of it.

  51. Costas

    In Greece we used to have Democritus printed on money among other scientists, like Georgios Papanikolaou (the one who invented the pap-test). But even so we’re still a very conservative society where religion holds in high esteem.

  52. Elmar_M

    Austria used to have Erwin Schrödinger on a Banknote. Unfortunately we have the Euro now and it is just boring buildings and stuff. Nobody cares.

  53. Chelsea

    “Not to be a pessimist or cynic , but I doubt many of today’s kids would bother to wonder who was on the bill. ”

    I agree, I doubt they have much of it in their hands long enough to check more than the denomination, they’re too busy figuring out how much crap they can buy with that piece of paper. Many of us are in the same boat. Last time I had one of our $50.00 Canadian bills in my hand and bothered to look at it, it had a bunch of mounties on horses, in a circle, all facing inward. I was told that was referred to as The Newfie Firing Squad.

    There are many things honoured by postage stamps. I wonder, do they have any more effect?

  54. Miko

    “If something like inspired a kid to look at it and think, I wonder who that is and why they’re on a coin, then it would be worth it.”

    It won’t. For example, the U.S. currently puts its old dictators on coins, but (luckily) it inspires no one to think about why they’re on the coinage.

  55. bb

    Great, but why’s that crown on the ape’s head?

  56. Stanley

    Don’t you think that the UN should be torn apart?

  57. Jon Hanford

    “Austria used to have Erwin Schrödinger on a Banknote..”

    The problem with that note was while it was in your wallet, you never knew if you had any cash till you checked! :)

  58. Mike Mullen

    The point about the Darwin coin here in the UK is that it wasn’t a big deal. There were no ranting pundits on the TV demanding a creationist coin, no politicians denouncing the celebration of the anniversary. Frankly there just isn’t any mileage in creationism, at a national level at least, in the UK.

  59. Colin

    Just as an extra fun thing. The New Zealand $100 has Earnest Rutherford on it, and the Scottish Clydesdale bank has Lord Kelvin on the 100 pound notes and is going to have Alexander Fleming on the 5 pound notes. Having said that though you don’t tend to see the high denominations too often. Well, I certainly don’t!

  60. tresmal

    Austria used to have Erwin Schrödinger on a Banknote.

    Interesting nonfact about that note. On the opposite side was an image of a cat. On half the notes the cat was dead, on the other half it was alive. You would never know until you looked.

  61. Kris

    Regarding the old Polish notes:

    1000 had Copernicus (front), and a diagram of Solar System (back): http://www.flickr.com/photos/peter2222/4379047593/in/photostream/

    20000 had Maria Curie-Sklodowska (front) and a nuclear reactor (back): http://www.flickr.com/photos/peter2222/4379052769/in/photostream/

    Also, Serbia has a 100 note with Nicola Tesla:
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbourj/images/money/tesla12.jpg

    And here is a collection of banknotes with physicists from all over the world: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jbourj/money.htm

  62. QuietDesperation

    Well, I can’t see the USA issuing a coin with the queen on it, either, so there ya go. :-)

    We just sort of have the tradition of putting presidents on our money. Who knows who would have shown up if that wasn’t true?

    All I can think of are Susan B. Anthony, and Sacejewea, whio I always picture as Pocahontas from the Disney cartoon for some reason best left unexplored. Franklin was a Founding Father which is better than a mere president. ;-)

    #61: Don’t you think that the UN should be torn apart?

    Very probably, yes. Did you see who is on their women’s rights agency/panel/thing? Saudi Arabia. That’s as silly as putting, say, Pakistan on their Human Rights Comission. Oh, wait…

    But seriously, it’s a bit of a joke on many fronts. It needs to be replaced by… something… who knows what. Maybe the Thunderbirds.

  63. Ron1

    @11. ElZarcho … Where are you? Come out and play with the adults — you troll.

  64. JB of Brisbane

    Australian banknotes have always had historical figures on them, with the exception of the obligatory Queen Elizabeth II on our paper $1 and plastic $5 notes. Every so often, someone with a bit of a scientific background made it onto the paper notes, e.g. –
    $20 – Lawrence Hargrave (inventor of boxkite and co-developer of manned flight)
    $50 – Howard Florey (developer of pennicillin as medicine)
    $100 – Douglas Mawson (polar explorer)

  65. Ricky

    @68. Adults shouldn’t go looking for conflict

    re: the topic at hand
    I think Sagan would make a great coin or stamp or ANYTHING, he didn’t try to make enemies and was soft spoken for the most part
    If I ever do have kids I’m going to introduce them to people who matter and maybe future generations will care less about whats on TV and more about whats out there in space

  66. Razorgeist

    Great point. I’d also like to nominate Dr Charles Drew.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_R._Drew

  67. fluxwwild

    On the last series of the DM where Gauß (10DM), Paul Ehrlich (200DM) and Anna Maria Sibylla Merian (500DM)

  68. EdF

    We honor many of the famous Americans. including scientists, through our postage stamps. in fact the US postal service just announced a series of stamps with some Apollo astronauts on them (forget at the moment who.)

    It’s mostly a moot point anyway, I can’t see my 4 yr old daughter using cash and stamps for much by the time she’s an adult anyway.

  69. QuietDesperation

    The very second a physicist can explain the concept of “time” clearly and concisely, I say we put him on a coin.

    I’m not a physicist, and philosophers also struggle with this one, but as an engineer I’d suggest time is an illusion emerging from the forces and motions of the universe, and created by our mind’s ability to record events as memories.

    I’m just saying, you can lay off your hate of “Jesusland”.

    Remember to double tap. Oh, wait, that was Zombieland. Never mind.

  70. Cusp

    >> The very second a physicist can explain the concept of “time” clearly and concisely, I say we put him on a coin.

    No problem – time is the thing that stops everything happening at once.

    Can I be on the silver dollar please?

  71. Messier Tidy Upper

    @70. Ricky : Agreed – spot on.

    @65. tresmal Says:

    “Austria used to have Erwin Schrödinger on a Banknote.”
    Interesting nonfact about that note. On the opposite side was an image of a cat. On half the notes the cat was dead, on the other half it was alive. You would never know until you looked.

    Congratulations – you win this thread with one. :-)

    @57. Chelsea :

    ..a bunch of mounties on horses, in a circle, all facing inward. I was told that was referred to as The Newfie Firing Squad.

    A firing squad .. arranged in an inward facing circle?! That sounds smart! ;-)

    @61. Stanley Says:

    Don’t you think that the UN should be torn apart?

    Blazes yes! The UN has failed miserably at its purposes of ending wars, genocides and, well, a whole lot of other fine & noble but hopelessly unrealistic & impractical rhetoric that looks obscenely hypocritical and empty and pathetic when you look at what happened in Rwanda, what happened in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere. The UN is a body that santcimoniously pontificates and preens itself as a global beacon of ethics and justuice yet spends exponentially more time bashing Israel for defending itself from attacks aimed at exterminating the Jewish state than at real threats to global peace and security like North Korea, Iran and Syria. It is, quite simply a disgrace to international law and rational fair standards of justice and decent conduct.

    The United Nations has proven itself many times to be worse than useless, an irrelevant distraction at its best and mutual admiration club and exxagerated pulpit for third rate tin pot dictators like Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat to fulminate and speechify against Western civilisation from at worst. :-(

    I couldn’t agree more that it should be scrapped ASAP.

    Mind you, really, this probably isn’t the best place to argue about this UN issue being wa-ay off topic. Not taht that ican help expressing my views on it either. ;-)

  72. Messier Tidy Upper

    @73. Cusp : Hang on I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that line before originally spoken by somebody else! So, *they* get to be on the dollar not you! ;-)

    ***

    “What is matter? Never mind. What is mind? No matter.”
    – Homer Simpson, no doubt quoting somebody else quoted from memory and probably misquoting it but, something like that, anyhow.

  73. Richard

    Re, the UN; on the flip side it has tempered somewhat the US-Israeli extermination of the Palestinian people. Without the UN, can anyone doubt that Israel would have “wiped Palestine off the face of the earth” in double quick time, as opposed to the slow death by a million cuts that is being practiced now.

  74. Messier Tidy Upper

    Incidentally, I think there is a good case – and some folks I really admire like Isaac Asimov have made it – for *some* sort of planetary government and there is a need for international law and co-operation to try to deal with planet-wide issues like Human Caused Global Over-Heating, Global Terrorism, WMD proliferation, etc…

    But the UN is not such an effective or workable organisation. It is too badly flawed and has too bad a record. We need something better to take its place and do the job it has proven unable to do.

    A less unweildly, more reasonable body whose members, I think, must be qualified to speak & eran their positions based on being democratic, civilised nations not failed state tyrannies and tinpot dictatorships which should not be given the same respect and equal votes.

    Ideally something like Asimov’s “Council of Science” (in his Lucky Starr novels) would run things for the common good – although that of course was fictional and in practice is probably pretty dubious.

    Will we ever come up witha workable model that effectively does what the old League of Nations and the UN were supposed to do but have demonstrably failed at doing and being?

    I don’t know.

    I hope so.

    But for now I do think it is clear that the UN as it is is a dead end and an abject failure that should be disposed of so we can start again.

  75. Kimpatsu

    Don’t get too carried away, Phil. The obverse is great, but the transverse reads “Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith”, and it shows Brenda. At least you live in a country with a legal protection of free speech.

  76. Gahariet

    Didn’t the £2 coin have “Standing on the shoulders of giants” courtesy of Isaac Newton somewhere on it for a while? Haven’t got one on me at the moment to check.

  77. Pigeon Is Box

    The general issue of the £2 is made even better by the fact the edge inscription is Sir Isaac Newton’s most famous quote:

    “If I have seen a little further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    I love our money. Do wish we still used Shillings, though.

  78. Maybe every four years we could have a school contest.

    Select a politician, a scientist, a philosopher, etc. to add to several of our currencies.

    Some would never change just because that’s the way it is. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin would stay where they are.

    Other denomination would change regularly.

    Not sure how the contest would run but maybe have each school vote for a figure for each currency. Then they submit an essay for each.

  79. Meanwhile, in astronomy news — what do you think of Dr. Penrose’s pre-Big Bang theory?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11837869

    I’m not understanding how evidence of multiple successive collisions in a galaxy cluster indicates activity before the Big Bang. Feel I’m missing something.

  80. Paddy

    I went to the royal mint website to see if any of you could order a copy of that coin, but all they had was this rather expensive general 2009 presentation set: http://www.royalmint.com/store/BritishBase/D09E.aspx

    Alternatively, you can also get a fancy silver copy of the DNA coin:
    http://www.royalmint.com/store/Historic/HPT03T.aspx

    It’d be much more affordable, of course, to simply pick one of each £2 coin up if you’re in the country, or have a friend coming over from the UK who can bring them in for you. Alternatively, you can pick up the £10 Darwin banknote at any bureau de change.

    (I am neither employed by, nor receive any commission from, the Royal Mint).

  81. ntsc

    @54

    West Point has one building (old cadet chapel ?) with a plaque for each revolutionary war general. One has the name chiseled off.

  82. Daniel J. Andrews

    Once again, stick to astronomy, Phil. You don’t know a damn thing about climate.

    You know far less, Ron1. Do you think that climate scientists the world over are incompetent, or just corrupt? If you and ElZ. don’t like ‘cobbled’ numbers, feel free to ignore every temp data set in the world whether it be from oceans, land-based, or satellites. Even without those there is still a mountain of evidence from ice caps, glaciers, plant bloom times, migration, peak river flows, freeze up and melt on lakes, just to name a few.

    Here’s an exercise. Analyze the data yourself.
    tamino.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/all-that-data/

    Are you willing to put in the effort yourself to learn how these things are done, or are you just gonna sit back and make baseless accusations on subjects in which you display an abysmal level of ignorance? Make the effort and you might learn enough to hesitate before posting something that, when you think about the assumptions behind it, is rather stupid.

  83. To add to the list of scientists on coins/banknotes:

    When I was in Russia while in high school, I managed to pick up a rather large collection of old Soviet currency, including several commemorative ruble coins from the ’80s. Once of these featured a portrait of Dimitri Mendeleev. Being a young American, it was the first time I had ever seen a non-politician on a coin. I thought it was pretty cool.

    This seems to be the best image that I can find.

  84. Mike Saunders

    @Xander – you are not very observant, there are many American coins that feature non-politicians, and actually, that is only a more recent trend.

  85. Mike Saunders
  86. tommy

    The Swedish 100 kronor bill has Carl Linnaeus (“the father of modern taxonomy”) on it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Linnaeus

  87. One of the things I like about science is that a theory either is or is not valid, regardless of any political spin people try to put on it. Either the planet is warming up (it is) or isn’t (I wish). Actually that’s just a description of reality.

    I loved the money when I visited the UK. Those two-pound coins are heavy; I wonder what their terminal velocity is.

  88. amphiox

    Don’t you think that the UN should be torn apart?

    No. The UN is more than just the Security Council and the General Assembly. Without the UN there would also be no WHO, WFP, or UNICEF, for example.

    If you want to ask a question like that, you must also ask, and answer “What would the world be like without the UN?” and “What do you think would replace the UN?”

    Ask yourself these as well:

    Would the cold war have turned hot without the UN?
    How would the Korean War have been resolved without the UN?
    What would have happened during the Suez Crisis without the UN?
    What would have happened during the Ethiopian famines, or other disasters and humanitarian crises, without the UN?
    Would you prefer the Iraq war (“Coalitions of the Willing”) to become the model for all future international interventions?

    Just because the UN is as deeply flawed as every single other large human-built institution that has ever existed doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been a net force for good in the world, or that it can be easily replaced by something that is even marginally better.

  89. @Krystian #10: I thought Einstein featured on an Israeli coin in the 1960s, but according to a web site Switzerland was the first to feature Einstein in 1975. Huh.

    Einstein lived, worked and attended school in Switzerland early in his life. He worked as a patent clerk, a stable civil service job that he could do working at it one hour a day. The other 7 he spent on relativity. Nice thing about civil service jobs: as long as the work gets done and you look busy all day, no one questions what exactly you’re doing.

  90. Alex

    The UK £2 DNA coin had the helix going the wrong way…!

  91. Phil just needs to start giving out some US I-Bonds:
    http://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds_ibondslooklike.htm

    Featuring Helen Keller, Dr. Hector P. Garcia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Chief Joseph, George C. Marshall, Albert Einstein, Marian Anderson, and used to have Spark Matsunaga.

    I assure you that my eyes would fill with wonder if you gave me a $1000 Albert Einstein savings bond, Phil.

  92. réalta fuar

    Actually, Werner von Braun was the father of American rocketry. Goddard was quite an incompetent rocket builder which is one reason they were so far behind until they got NASA’s favorite nazi after WWII.

  93. You can get one with some others here:

    http://www.royalmint.com/store/BritishBase/D09E.aspx

    And this fellow will sell you one on its own.

    http://www.thednastore.com/dnastuff/coin.html

    Paul

  94. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ réalta fuar & 41. Mike :

    FWIW, I object to putting Werner von Braun on anything; unfortunately it’s too late to throw him in prison where he belongs. He may have led the Apollo project, but he also led terror attacks against civilians in wartime, and used slave labor to do so, both of which are war crimes.

    Yes. I have mixed feelings over Werner Von Braun. He was a genius and a visionary for space travel and with Apollo he accomplished the greatest feat not just the United States of America but Humanity overall has ever accomplished. (IMHON.)

    On the other hand, Von Braun’s wartime role with the Nazis building V2’s with Jewish slave labour was utterly abhorrent. If not for his strategic post-war & Cold War value to the Allies (& never forget the context of the Space Race and that Werner Von Braun was on the right side of that helping the US defeat the evil that was the Soviet Empire) and his later successful work, Von Braun may well have been – and perhaps deserved to be – imprisoned or even executed for war crimes so Von Braun is certainly an ambigous figure.

    I guess it shows our dual nature and potential for good and evil – V2’s and Saturn’s V in Von Braun’s case, other things in all of us.

    But Von Braun was a great man too and his rockets changed the world and altered the course of history.

    I’ll also note similar mixed feelings and dual potential for good and evil in the technology and careers of others I’ve named there notably Bethe, Oppenheimer and especially teller for their work on developing nuclera bombs – another technology that totally changed the world forever especially when paired with advances in rocketry.

    As Isaac Asimov has noted technology is a double edged sword bringing with it positive and also negative consequences – empowering us to do remarkale things that can be good or bad depending on how we choose to use that technology. Rockets and nuclear power / weapons physics are exemplars of this truth.

    Von Braun and the scientists of the Manhatten Project made our world what it is today. For good and for evil. They are certainly significant and key figures who should be remembered & commemorated – but not uncritically and not without noting their flaws and dark sides too.

  95. Messier Tidy Upper

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Von_Braun

    For a good wiki-page biography on Von Braun.

    Three quotes from there :

    1.) “All of man’s scientific and engineering efforts will be in vain unless they are performed and utilized within a framework of ethical standards commensurate with the magnitude of the scope of the technological revolution. The more technology advances, the more fateful will be its impact on humanity.” – Wernher von Braun.

    2.) “You must accept one of two basic premises: Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not alone in the universe. And either way, the implications are staggering”. – Wernher von Braun

    3.) “Apollo space program director Sam Phillips was quoted as saying that he did not think that America would have reached the moon as quickly as it did without von Braun’s help. Later, after discussing it with colleagues, he amended this to say that he did not believe America would have reached the moon at all.”

    It should be noted there that without Wernher von Braun the Soviet space program, for all of Sergei Korolev’s genius, failed to land cosmonauts on our Moon.

    Also worth pointing out is that Von Braun claimed – probably accurately -that if he had protested the treatment of the slave labourers or other Nazi policies – he would have been executed himself and that he refers to his V2s hitting London as his “darkest day.”

    Regarding Von Braun’s life & career as well as that of other rocket scientists during the space race period I would also highly recomend the Space Race TV docu-drama series as well :

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461887/

    &

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Race_(TV_series)#External_links

    which I found enjoyable, informative and well-worth watching although there are a few factual goofs in it too. :-)

  96. Messier Tidy Upper

    @79. Richard Says:

    Re, the UN; on the flip side it has tempered somewhat the US-Israeli extermination of the Palestinian people. Without the UN, can anyone doubt that Israel would have “wiped Palestine off the face of the earth” in double quick time, as opposed to the slow death by a million cuts that is being practiced now.

    Your comment there is not only offensively anti-Semitic (or Judaeophobic) it is also totally erroneous and without any factual basis whatsoever.

    Israel far from trying to exterminate the “Palestinians” (otherwise known as Arabs, Syrians and Jordanians) or the Israeli Arabs or, indeed *anybody* else has simply and with enormous (& pretty much historically unprecedented) restraint tried to defend itself from Arab and Palestinian attempts to wipe the Jewish state and people out.

    Israel has repeatedly tried for a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute and a two state solution making painful concessions and handing back to its savagest enemies hard-won and religiously important ancestral territory that the Jewish state legitimately captured in defensive wars and could easily have held.

    There there is no question that the other “Pan-Arab” and later Islamist Jihadi side would have committed genocide against the Jewish people had the Arabs won the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur war, etc.. Just as there is no doubting the continuationof such vile rhetoric of extermination being voiced even now by many Arabs, islmaists and most notably Iran’s theocratic dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is a homophobic Holocaust denying fruitcake who is also actively attempting to aquire nuclear bombs to use to “wipe Israel off the map.”

    Israel has unilaterally made painful concessions (incl. negotiating at all with terrorist organisations like Arafat’s PLO), offered very reasonable peace terms (“Just recognise our right to exist and stop using terrorism to try and exterminate us and we’ll give you half our land for yourselves even though your claim to a state is really pretty dubious!”) and has even, despite causing enormous pain to Israeli civilians and Jews around the world, handed back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for a Cold Peace and diplomatic recognition, various villages and a security buffer zone to the Lebanese in exchange for cessation of hostilities by the Lebanese side and the Gaza strip in exchange for, well, nothing at all actually.

    OTOH, the Palestinians have essentially created all their own problems by “never failing to miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity” for peace as it was memorably put by someone and by continually and repeatedly opting for terrorism and extremism aimed at totally destroying the Jewish state rather than showing any sign of compromise and willingness to allow Israel to live in peace and security alongside them.

    If Israeli policy and treatment of the Palestinians can *legitimately* be said to be flawed at all it can only be that they have erred too much in showing excessive softness and restraint and thereby jepoardised the security of their own people and nation.

    Israeli military planners and the Israeli Defence Forces routinely take extreme measures to avoid causing innocent Palestinian casualties. The Palestinians by contrast always take extreme measures to kill – and delight and approve in the killing – of innocent Israeli civilians and, also through terrorism overseas, act to kill as many innocent Jewish, American and other Western civilians as they possibly can.

    These are the indisputable facts as opposed to the anti-Semitic slurs spewed
    by Richard above. Richard and his fellow travellers would do well to research and reconsider things further before making any further nonsensical rants.

  97. Messier Tidy Upper

    @94. amphiox Says:

    “Don’t you think that the UN should be torn apart?”
    No. The UN is more than just the Security Council and the General Assembly. Without the UN there would also be no WHO, WFP, or UNICEF, for example.

    Technically that’s correct but in reality are you seriously arguing that no such similar, equivalent groups formed and focused on similar causes would exist in a different – perhaps even better form – in the absence of the UN? Because I don’t think that argument is tenable.

    If you want to support something like the World Health Organisation, the World Food Program or International Children’s Emergency Fund Ithink youcan make a case for their existence without necessarily requiring or needing them to be part of an over-arching UN bureacracy and glorified international debating club.

    If you want to ask a question like that, you must also ask, and answer “What would the world be like without the UN?”

    Different certainly, possibly better in some ways.

    ..and “What do you think would replace the UN?”

    There are many possibilities incl,. some that are far superior and of course for most of our globes histroy the UN did not exist and the international community and people of the Earth got by fine without it.

    Then we got the League of Nations the UN’s immediate precursor founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919–1920 befroe its dismal failure leading up to WW II and then the United Nations formed in 1945 deliberately to prevent future wars sucha s the “war toend all wars” – World War One.

    Given the fact that we are currently at war fighting Jihadist terrroism on a number of fronts and that a very large number of conflicts large and small have continued throughout the UN’s existence it is beyond any doubt that the UN has failed abysmally at its primary goal and therefore shown itself to have little if any real value.

    Ask yourself these as well:
    Would the cold war have turned hot without the UN?

    Well that’s a moot argument / speculation that’s impossible to support short of contacting a specifically suitable parallel universe & alternative history Earth.

    However, I think you are forgetting that the Mutually Assured Destruction policy – mutual nuclear deterrence and stalemate – was probably themain factor keeping the Cold War cold.

    How would the Korean War have been resolved without the UN?

    Pretty much the same way it was resolved with the UN – by force of arms between the Western Allies led by the US in support of the Korean people running their land and the Soviet Empire esp. its Chinese branch seeking to impose Communism by force on the Korean people.From my reading of history the UN did little other than provide uniforms and a name.

    Perhaps a more interesting Korean war alternative history question is what would the world be like now if General McArthur’s plan to use nuclear weapons and to totally defeat North Korea & China had suceeded. What if Beijing (or Peking as it was then!) existed only as radioactive glass and the Chinese people were split between Western and Russian rulers and territories. Now that would be a different planet! ;-)

    What would have happened during the Suez Crisis without the UN?

    Who knows – and we almost certainly never will – but need it have been bad? What if teh Arab side gave up after nasser wa scrushinglydefetaed by Israel and England and the Muslim world resigned itself to co-existing with and learning from Western civilisation rather than trying to destroy it. Perhaps if the pan-Arab movement *had* been nipped in the bud in 1956 there’d be no bin Laden & no 9-11, no “Oil Shock” crisis caused by a now-not existing OPEC in the 1970’s, no Iran, no long on-going conflict in the Middle East. Perhaps Islam would be fading into history’s wastebin already, a lot more women and non-heterosexuals curebntly beingoppressed by islamic thuggery would be free to do all sorts of things they can’t inour world we’d all be living in amuch happierm, much more stable and advanced planet. Hmm .. That does sound inviting doesn’t it! ;-)

    What would have happened during the Ethiopian famines, or other disasters and humanitarian crises, without the UN?

    Same things as has happened with them. Other charities and international groups woudl have helped. Ethiopians and others would have died and suffered and ben rescued and helped just the same. It just wouldn’t have been the UN “in charge” (hah!) of some of the things they supposedly were. Are you saying the UN stopped the famine happening?

    Would you prefer the Iraq war (”Coalitions of the Willing”) to become the model for all future international interventions?

    What has that got to do with the UN’s presence or absence?

    I don’t know. Maybe. The “coalitionof tehWilling” model failed in Iraq largely because it miscalculated the extent of irrational behaviour by the Iraqi’s. It was expected that they woud show gratitude at being liberated and work together to rebuild their nation and instead they let everyone incl. themselves down. Actually, it woked very well early on in removing Saddam’s tyrannical regime from power and liberating the Iraqi people but then, yes, there were some serious mistakes made during the occupatuion phase. That was then sent out of control by ethinc clashes between Iraqis fromrival islamic sects and by the involvement of the Al Quaeda Jihadist foreginers and similar destructive interference by the Iranians.

    Just because the UN is as deeply flawed as every single other large human-built institution that has ever existed doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been a net force for good in the world, or that it can be easily replaced by something that is even marginally better.

    So you are arguing the UN has been a net force for good in the world?

    Well has it been?
    Really?

    I, for one, don’t think so.

    Can it be easily replaced?

    Well we replaced the League of Nations didn’t we – in your view successfully enough, in mine not-so much.

    Do we settel for something thathas failed as badly as theUn and as flawe doas the Un or do we start again and try for something better without its flaws and failed record. I say we do!

  98. Messier Tidy Upper

    Argh. Sorry about the typos in my last comment. Ran out of editing time again. :-(
    —-

    I’ll just add that the “Coalition of the Willing” model maligned by (#94.) amphiox worked pretty well in World Wars I and II. Plus other conflicts. Iraq was an exception caused by exceptional circumstances.

    Also regarding (#79.) Richard’s rant against Israel – try comparing and contrasting the behaviour of Israel when the Jewish people were restored to their ancestral homeland in 1948 with the comparable cases of the Partition of India on its independence with the formation of Pakistan for the Muslims or when the Greeks were restored to their ancestral nationhood against the Ottoman Turkish empire.

    In both those cases massive conflict and wholescale transfer of the previous peoples occurred – and in both those cases that was effectively the end of the matter despite some lingering hostile feelings and mutual dislike.

    See India and Pakistan may not be on great terms and might be neighbours with negative views of each other – but Indians aren’t trying to wipe Pakistan off the map, aren’t denying its very existence is legitimate and arguing that all the Indians expelled from Pakistan must return and change that nation’s demographic balance making Pakistan into another Indian nation. The Indians exiled from Pakistan have accepted – with regret & pain but they have accepted – that they lost out and have learnt to get on with life acknowledging reality.

    The same applies vice-versa to Pakistanis too – with the possible exception of the ongoing conflict over Kashmir which is complicated and another story again. (Plus there’s Bangladesh which used to be “East Pakistan” and broke away from the artificial break-away Muslim state of Pakistan – but, again, that’s another story.)

    Same thing with the Greeks exiled from Turkey and the Turks exiled from Greece as a result of their sad history. The Grek and Turkish refugees transfered out have peacefully, if grudgingly, resettled intheir new homes and accepted the geopoliticial reality of their situation. They’ve got on with their lives, accepted that history is in the past and haven’t demonised the enemy side to the point of denying their very existence.

    Greeks and Turks, Pakistanis and Indians may not like each other very much but nobody major among those populations is talking of annhiliating the other ancient foe and present neighbour and arguing that wiping India / Pakistan / Turkey / Greece off the map as a religious duty.

    So, comparably, isn’t it time the “Palestinian” Arabs got over the fact that they lost, acknowledged the fact that like it or not the maps were redrawn and do look different from how they once did; resettled their refugees and got on with living their lives?

    If Turks can accept the loss of Greece and Indians can accept the loss of Pakistan why can’t the Arabs accept the loss of “Palestine” – which was actually never at any stage an independent nation in any case but rather always a province of another Empire or governed by another nation?*

    Israel, after all, has accepted the loss of Transjordan (now Jordan, orginally part – about 80 % in fact of the original British Colonial Mandate of Palestine) and the Sinai Peninusla which were previously Israeli territory.

    “Palestinian” suffering is largely the result of their own denial of reality and history – and at some point I think they will inevitably just have to wake up & accept that reality. As well as Israel’s continuing existence. It is also caused by the same denial of reality in the Judaeophobic Islamic world where the “Palestinians” are used as a convenient excuse for war and political distraction and mischief rather than being resettled and absorbed into their new home nations as would otherwise occur.

    Finally, before folks advocate for creating “Palestine” at Israel’s expense ask yourselves this – does the world really need yet another Muslim dictatorship in it; do we really want yet another civilisation-hating Jihadistan in a region already bursting at the seams with similar nation-states? Do we?

    —–

    PS. Hands up all those who know that from 1948 to 1967 “Palestine” – namely Gaza and the “West Bank” as Judaea and Samaria are also known (incl. the eastern half of Jerusalem) – was territory occupied NOT by Israel but by Egypt (Gaza) and Jordan (West Bank) instead? If the Arab world had really wanted to create “Palestine” rather than cynically using that notion as a cover for exterminating Israel then *that* would’ve been the time to do it! They didn’t – and aren’t.

    PPS. Listening on the radio news just now it seems that Wiki-leaks is confirming that many Arab nations – notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – were secretly hoping for and advocating a US / Israeli strike against Iran taking out its nuclear reactors (much as Israel, thankfully, did agianst Saddam’s Osirak reactor in the 1980’s) but, typically, lacked the guts to say so publicly and openly.

  99. Michael Kingsford Gray

    We Aussies went one further, and named a “state” capital city after Chucky-boy.
    Darwin, N.T.

  100. Messier Tidy Upper

    Hmm .. Returning to the topic at hand, how about commemorating this event in the evolution of the US legal and cultural systems? :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial

    Or perhaps even this one :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

    (the Dover ID~iocy trial) too? ;-)

    ***

    PS. Comic relief – even more off topic than before but funny :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luVjkTEIoJc&feature=player_embedded#!

    & not at all political. Really. Enjoy. :-)

  101. Messier Tidy Upper

    Come to think of it, you know who should be on the US coins? :

    John Scopes of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial! ;-)

    Or (and also?) perhaps Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney who defended Scopes.

  102. Nigel Depledge

    @ John Doe (6) and Matt J (9) –
    Sorry, both wrong.

    The queen’s head is on the front of the coin, and Darwin is on the back. All our coin of the realm has the Queen on the front.

    And she is Defender of the Faith because she is the head of the Church of England. Don’t anyone forget we have an official state religion here.

  103. Nigel Depledge

    Ollie (47) said:

    Also the highest value note £50 . . .

    Nuh-uh. There’s a fifth banknote, the £100 note, as part of the “standard issue”, although it is pretty rare. There also exist some specially-issued banknotes that are not in general circulation (I can’t recall much in the way of detail, but IIRC the Bank of England printed a very few £1,000,000 notes for some reason a decade or two ago).

  104. Nigel Depledge

    Kimpatsu (81) said:

    Don’t get too carried away, Phil. The obverse is great, but the transverse reads “Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith”,

    Wrong. You have the obverse and the transverse conflated.

    and it shows Brenda.

    Who?

  105. Pete Uk

    I like the strictly protected specimen with the somewhat protuberant jaw. But who’s the guy staring back at Darwin?

  106. Nigel Depledge

    Gahariet (82) said:

    Didn’t the £2 coin have “Standing on the shoulders of giants” courtesy of Isaac Newton somewhere on it for a while? Haven’t got one on me at the moment to check.

    I think that was one particular version of the £1 coin, with “On the shoulders of giants” engraved around the edge of the coin.

  107. Paddy

    Actually, the edge inscription STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS comes from the standard issue of the £2 coin, whose reverse bears a concentric design briefly summarising the advancement of technology from the iron age to the internet:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_pounds_%28British_coin%29

    The 2009 special edition that featured Darwin has the edge script “ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 1859″ instead.

  108. Bryan Feir

    I’ve got a polish commemorative coin with Maria Sklodowska-Curie on it… basically a silver version of this one:

    http://www.blackmountaincoins.com/p/BMC/c-POLAND-COINS/1979_POL_05700.html

    I always liked the alpha/beta/gamma radiation streaks on it superimposed over her profile.

  109. PayasYouStargaze

    Of all the ways this comment thread could have gone, I would not have expected a detailed discussion on the merits of the UN.

    Where are the creationists kicking up a fuss? I’m amazed there hasn’t been a bizzare call for the conversion of the godless (almost typed goldless, ooops) Bank of England. Does this mean the creationists have given up on Phil’s blog?

  110. Joseph G

    Am I the only one who, upon first seeing the one on the left, thought it was a medal? My first thought was “Oh look, a real Darwin Award!” :)
    To be awarded posthumously, of course.

  111. Dave C

    @117
    Joseph, that was worth getting through 117 messages for.

    “A mature pun is fully groan”

  112. ND

    Messier Tidy Upper,

    “Greeks and Turks, Pakistanis and Indians may not like each other very much but nobody major among those populations is talking of annhiliating the other ancient foe and present neighbour and arguing that wiping India / Pakistan / Turkey / Greece off the map as a religious duty.”

    Well that did happen to the Armenians. That chapter is still sadly left out of the history books, thanks to active Turkish pressure.

  113. LukeL

    Ther US HAS issued coins with scientists on them, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, not to mention a bunch of brass medals as well.

  114. Paddy

    @LukeL,

    I think the point is that they’d be unlikely to commemorate an evolutionary scientist in this way. If they wanted to put a great american evolutionary scientist on something, they certainly could – Sewall Wright, for instance, one of the three founders of the synthesis of darwinian evolution with mendelian genetics. However, I rather doubt they would. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sewall_Wright

  115. #109 Nigel said

    Which is why we have so many state officials attempting to force schools to teach creationism instead of evolution in science classes.

  116. Jim Spinner

    I remember Newton on the old £1, although there was something a bit odd about the diagram having the sun at the centre of the earth orbit ellipse rather than one of the foci.
    Jim

  117. @LukeL: You wrote:

    “Ther US HAS issued coins with scientists on them, George Washington Carver, Thomas Edison, not to mention a bunch of brass medals as well.”

    Those coins were only commemoratives, sold to collectors. Neither the Carver half dollar, nor the Edison coin, were released into circulation.

  118. Aaron

    NZ has Ernest Rutherford, splitter of the atom, on our $100 note

  119. Messier Tidy Upper

    @117. Joseph G Says:

    Am I the only one who, upon first seeing the one on the left, thought it was a medal? My first thought was “Oh look, a real Darwin Award!” To be awarded posthumously, of course.

    Classic! LOL. :-)

    @119. ND Says:

    Messier Tidy Upper : “Greeks and Turks, Pakistanis and Indians may not like each other very much but nobody major among those populations is talking of annhiliating the other ancient foe and present neighbour and arguing that wiping India / Pakistan / Turkey / Greece off the map as a religious duty.”
    Well that did happen to the Armenians. That chapter is still sadly left out of the history books, thanks to active Turkish pressure.

    You are missing my point.

    The Armenian genocide was indeed an appalling historical episode and, yes, should be recognised more and Turkey is very wrong to try to deny & cover up that shameful part of its past but that’s another subject again.

    Armenia and Turkey both currently exist in peace. Are there terrorist groups from Turkey currently working murderously to exterminate Armenia and denying its very existence or vice-versa?

    No, there’s not.

    And *that* is my point.

  120. Darth Robo

    —“I like the strictly protected specimen with the somewhat protuberant jaw. But who’s the guy staring back at Darwin?”

    I was gonna say Bill Dembski or Stephen C Meyer, but then I thought I don’t wanna pay them a compliment.

    Am I the only UK boy to never have seen one of these coins yet?

    :(

  121. James (the militant Agnostic)

    Scottish banknotes are literally FESTOONED with engineers, architects and scientists. Marie Curie is the only pure researcher that springs to mind, but I’ve always preferred engineering’s old title of “applied sciences”

  122. Heh. Have two of those squirreled away!

    We also have Darwin on our Ten Quid note. :)

    Messier,

    Armenia and Turkey both currently exist in peace. Are there terrorist groups from Turkey currently working murderously to exterminate Armenia and denying its very existence or vice-versa?

    Are you brain-shocked? Edrogan has recently said that if the United States doesn’t shut up about the Armenian genocide, he’ll expel the remaining Armenians in the country! Ladies and Gentlemen, Islamic tolerance at it’s finest…

  123. ND

    Hugo Schmidt,

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, Islamic tolerance at it’s finest…” Cherry picking much? You can find intolerance under the the banner of any religion. Remember the anti-mosque sentiments in Europe? Remember the NY Islamic center uproar? There is even an entire news network dedicated to creating the uproar. The same one that’s fighting against the “war on xmas”. Erdogan’s reactionary threat strikes close to home for me but it is no different than intolerance elsewhere in this world.

  124. Max Normal

    I’m a British scientist and sometimes think I’d rather work in the ‘States regardless of all the religious nutters out there. Successive government have slashed our funding. Labour to pay off Rover cars who were going bankrupt anyway (came straight from the medical research budget), and not the Condems slashing funding becuase of the banking crisis and then trying to ringfence our research.

    But anyway, Darwin is a tough act to follow, probably the most important scientist in history, even if not immediately as bright as Einstein or Rutherford. If you are American, best stick to your practical achievements rather than looking for blue-sky researchers to put on your cash. The moon landings are about as historical an event as mankind has ever come up with, so why not?

    There is one important thing that keeps me in Britain though – we think with our brains, and not our emotions. That’s why religion is in decline here, why Darwin is on our money, and why I could never, ever live in America.

  125. Collin

    I think “In Logic We Trust” would be the perfect slogan. Everyone could personally see it as representing the positive aspects of their own group.

  126. Bill

    Just found one for sale on ebay and placed a bid. Bout time Darwin was honored.

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