The Best Banknote in the World!

You may have seen some videos doing the rounds
online: the new British 5 pound banknote and the new Australian $5 note being used as the
needle for a record player. It’s pretty cool – they actually play
music! Oh that’s so cool! But like any story involving Britain and Australia,
one of us had to do it better. It’s a friendly rivalry! And according to some reports, the 5 pound
note is so much more awesome than Australia’s. So I felt like I had to look into it. I’m not letting my dollarydoos go down unjustly. “$900 Dollarydoos!” And it turns out – the science behind these
two notes is exactly the same. They’re made from the same technology and
the same materials. But the interesting thing is that the new
5 pound banknote wouldn’t even be around if it wasn’t for the Australian dollar. Let me take you back in time. On February 14 1966, Australia broke free
from the mother country and released it’s own decimal currency. After a nationwide competition to name our
notes – submissions included the “austral”, “boomer”, “kwid” and “ming” we
settled on “dollar”. Pretty unoriginal. Around the same time, some guys in a Melbourne
pub hatched a plan to print fake notes with simple office equipment– they pocketed eight
hundred thousand dollars worth of forgeries in 1966 – an adjusted value of over ten
million dollars today. They got some serious bank. But, the next year, most of the guys from
the pub went to jail – it turned out one of them became a police informant – and
there was a general distrust of $10 notes – some unions wouldn’t accept them in
their pay packet – let’s call it the $10 side-eye. Then the next year – 1968 if you’re playing
along at home – the Reserve Bank of Australia turned to the national science agency CSIRO
and said, “we need all of the science” or something to that effect I couldn’t actually
find a direct quote so I just made that one up. And they teamed up to create the polymer banknote
– the world’s most secure cash money that debuted in 1988. It underwent a lot of testing leading up to
its release, like “the feel test” that I found this picture of. Just gonna leave that up here for another
second. From there the polymer banknote technology
kept improving and it’s culminated in this $5 note, that was released in September, 2016. Look, there’s the Queen! Hi Liz!, if you’re watching. Please subscribe. These banknotes have a fair bit of bling,
like this transparent window that has an Optically Variable Device – it splits and diffracts
light into several beams, so their appearance changes when the note is viewed in different
directions. In fact, the anti-counterfeiting features
of these notes are full of cool party tricks. If you carry a clip on microscope lens around
in your handbag like I do, you can see the microtext printed on the $10 note. I kind of wish I was joking but I do actually
take this everywhere. On Australia’s 10-er, there’s the poem
The Man From Snowy River, which is printed as shading behind the man who wrote it, Banjo
Patterson. There’s a bunch of microtext on notes where
it looks like shading. “Where the wild bushhorses are and the stockhorse
snuffs the battle with… 10 dollars, 10 dollars, 10 dollars, 10 dollars,
10 dollars. Isn’t that great? On the new $5, it says “five dollars, five
dollars, five dollars” you get the picture. But, of course, the best party trick is that
you can use the notes as a record needle. Really you can use any of the older notes,
the new ones just work better because they’re super crisp and don’t have as much wear
and tear. Okay, let’s see if I can actually do this. The polymer these notes are made from is called
BOPP, kind of fitting in this case, and it’s non-fibrous and non-porous material. It has a strong plastic structure and while
they’re really flexible they also have rigid, sharp corners – more so than other fibrous
materials like paper. These pointy corners are the key to making
music, because they ride along the groove in the record and the tip of the note vibrates
back and forth in the groove. It kinda wiggles around in there. The rest of the note carries these vibrations
along its length and the air around the note vibrates too. The banknote actually amplifies the sound
– just like those big horns on something more old school, like a phonograph. Our brains decode those vibrations to give
us the sensation of sound – all being created by the beautiful harmony of a record and these
dolla dolla dolla dolla dolla bills. And in the last 20 odd years, this polymer
banknote technology has been licensed to 24 other countries. It’s used in notes from Canada to Mexico…
but not in between. (Seriously, these are terrible). So thanks for using our Australian science,
Britain! And all those other countries around the world
too. Please don’t claim to have a better banknote
than the humble dollarydoo. I hope everyone realises how cool these things
you just have in your wallet are. Thanks to Prudential for sponsoring this episode. It’s human nature to prioritize present
needs and what matters most to us today. But, when planning for your retirement, it’s
best to prioritize tomorrow. According to a Prudential study 1 and 3 Americans
is not saving enough for retirement and over 52% are not on track to be able to maintain
their current standard of living. Go to and see
how if you start saving more today, you can continue to enjoy the things you love tomorrow. Thanks to Prudential for sponsoring this episode. We all want our future to be as secure as
our present. But studies have shown that people have a
tendency to place a higher value on immediate rewards than future rewards. In terms of our finances, most Americans only
focus on the financial needs of today. According to a Prudential study, over half
of Americans are not on track to be able to maintain their current standard of living
in retirement. Go to to learn more
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