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2010 UK 1st Class Post

On February 25th 2010, the UK's Royal Mail issued a series to celebrate the 350 Anniversary of the Royal Society.
Each sheet had 10 First Class Postage stamps, one for each of a selection of significant people associated with the Royal Society.

Those selected were
Boyle (chemistry)
Newton (optics)
Franklin (electricity)
Jenner (vaccine)
Babbage (computing)
Wallace (evolution)
Lister (antiseptic surgery)
Rutherford (atomic structure)
Hodgkin (crystallography)
Shackleton (earth sciences)

There had never been a UK stamp commemorating Rutherford and his discoveries. The story of stamps for Rutherford is interesting. Peter Kapitsa organised a Russian stamp for 1971, to mark the centennial of Rutherford's birth. (The story of how this belatedly forced New Zealand to issue its own centennial stamps is told with the NZ1c stamp.) Attempts to have a stamp in the UK failed. A prominent British scientist (whose name escapes me) later asked Peter Kapitsa how he had been successful. Kapitsa reportedly pointed to a red phone on his desk and said "That is a direct line to the Kremlin."

In many ways it is a shame Rutherford was chosen for the Royal Society series. His next two big centennials are 2011, his announcement of the nuclear structure of atoms, and 2018, when he became the first person to split an atom and coincidentally the world's first successfull alchemist. Either or both of these Manchester celebrations are worthy of commemorative stamps.


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