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Bank of England unveils £50 banknote featuring Alan Turing

by Mark Tyson on 26 March 2021, 10:11

Tags: UK Government

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Yesterday the Bank of England unveiled the new £50 note featuring Alan Turing. The computer science pioneer is one of the UK's most important scientists and helped hasten the end of WWII thanks to code breaking activities at Bletchley Park. Turing was chosen from over a 1000 names put forward by the public, into a shortlist of 12, whittled down to one by the Banknote Advisory Committee.

This polymer £50 note joins the Churchill £5, the Austen £10, and the Turner £20 on 23rd June (Turing's birthday) which will mean all the UK standard banknotes will be polymer. You will have six months from that date to use up your mattress full of paper £50s. When you see it and look at it closely at the design there are a surprising number of tech design Easter eggs hidden within.

The main thing that identifies Turing on the new £50 is of course his portrait, from a photo taken in 1951. However, there are lots of other interesting designs inspired by Turing's work, added to the polymer note, as follows:

  • A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper 'On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem'.
  • A detail diagram of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine.
  • Technical drawings for the British Bombe, the Enigma code-breaking machine.
  • Alan Turing’s birthdate (23 June 1912) in binary code.
  • A Turing quote and signature.
  • Two green 21 spiral features based on a sunflower head (linked to Turing’s morphogenetic work in later life).
  • See-through windows on the note inspired by architectural features at Bletchley Park.
  • A red foil patch featuring a sunflower head with an AT monogram.

The Turing Challenge

In addition to the above £50 news, the BoE has collaborated with GCHQ for a set of 12 puzzles based on the new note's design. Put together by the intelligence staff at GCHQ, this is said to be the cyber agency’s "toughest puzzle ever". Each puzzle is more difficult than the previous one, while the last puzzle requires all the previous answers plus an Enigma simulator to solve it…



HEXUS Forums :: 22 Comments

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so they jail him, kills himself then make a bank note.
tomcoleman
so they jail him, kills himself then make a bank note.

He was a victim of his time, you can't judge past experiences by modern standards.
bae85
He was a victim of his time, you can't judge past experiences by modern standards.
Indeed, we should be thankful that things have moved on and we now (at least most people) understand the errors of the past so we can make efforts not to repeat them.
Corky34
bae85
He was a victim of his time, you can't judge past experiences by modern standards.
Indeed, we should be thankful that things have moved on and we now (at least most people) understand the errors of the past so we can make efforts not to repeat them.

Wishful thinking, when we're right in the middle of the growing ‘cancel’ culture. Oh well.
Corky34
Indeed, we should be thankful that things have moved on and we now (at least most people) understand the errors of the past so we can make efforts not to repeat them.

People seem to be so short sighted and it horrifies me, think about some of the things we say and do now, in 50 or 100 years time they might be outlawed or frowned upon. This is exactly what has happened with attitudes from his time to these days, human attitudes and what we deem to be right or wrong are constantly changing.