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The Bank of England chooses Alan Turing for new £50 banknote design

July 16, 2019 Share Source
On July 15th, 2019, Bank of England announced the historical figure that will be featured on the new £50 banknote, which is expected to enter circulation by late 2021.

Excerpt from Bank of England

Alan Turing provided the theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer. While best known for his work devising code-breaking machines during WWII, Turing played a pivotal role in the development of early computers first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. He set the foundations for work on artificial intelligence by considering the question of whether machines could think.

"Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today. As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as war hero, Alan Turing’s contributions were far ranging and path breaking."
" Mark Carney Governor of the Bank of England As quoted by BoE (Jul 15, 2019)

Alan Turing provided the theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer. While best known for his work devising code-breaking machines during WWII, Turing played a pivotal role in the development of early computers first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. He set the foundations for work on artificial intelligence by considering the question of whether machines could think.

Turing was homosexual and was posthumously pardoned by the Queen having been convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man. His legacy continues to have an impact on both science and society today.

Read full press release here

Excerpt from the Independent article

Faced with the prospect of imprisonment, he accepted the alternative of “chemical castration” – hormone treatment supposed to suppress his sexual desire. He died of cyanide poisoning in 1954 at the age of 41. The mathematician’s housekeeper found him in his bed with a half-eaten apple on a table. His death was recorded as suicide but experts have since questioned the evidence presented during the inquest at the time.

In 2009, then prime minister Gordon Brown made an official apology for the “appalling way” Turing was treated, and in 2013 he was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen. In 2016 the government unveiled an “Alan Turing law” that posthumously pardoned thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted under outdated gross indecency laws.

The law effectively acted as an apology to those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships before homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967. It came after decades of campaigning from the LGBT+ community and after the family of the Enigma codebreaker delivered a petition to Downing Street before the 2015 general election.

The new note will feature a 1951 photo of Turing, a table and mathematical formulae from one of his most influential scientific papers. It will also feature a picture of the British Bombe code-breaking machine built at Bletchley Park, as well as a quote:

“This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
" Alan Turing Mathematician and war hero As quoted in The Times newspaper (Jun 11, 1949)

The full note design, including all the security features, will be unveiled closer to it entering circulation. The shortlisted characters, or pairs of characters, considered for the new note were Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger and Alan Turing.

Read full independent article here

Last Updated: Aug. 14, 2019

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