Alan Turing featured on new £50 note
The Bank of England has released new £50 polymer notes featuring Alan Turing. The release of the banknotes completes the Bank’s transition from paper to polymer banknotes and is a fitting tribute to a brilliant mind.
A famous mathematical mind
Alan Turing is perhaps best known for his decoding work for the Allies at Bletchley Park during World War II, but he is also credited with formulating the foundations of computing. His 1936 article, On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem problempresented his theory on the possibility of evaluating a theorem using a machine and introduced the concept of the Turing machine.
Turing was a homosexual and was persecuted because of his sexual orientation. In 1952 he was arrested after having sex with a 19-year-old man from Manchester. Such relationships between men were illegal in Britain at the time.
Instead of a prison sentence, he was forced to take female hormones as a form of chemical castration, and just two years later died by suicide after ingesting cyanide. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II posthumously pardoned Turing.
The ticket is officially released
The new £50 note was released on June 23, 2021, Turing’s birthday. The decision to nominate him was announced in July 2019, following a 2018 campaign, which allowed the public to submit nominations for those they believe should be represented on the denomination.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey ultimately made the decision to feature Turing, saying: “Our banknotes celebrate some of our country’s most important historical figures. That’s why I’m delighted that Alan Turing is featured on the new polymer £50 note. After undertaking remarkable deciphering work here at Bletchley Park during World War II, he continued pioneering work on early computers, as well as groundbreaking discoveries in the field of developmental biology.
“He was also gay and was treated appallingly as a result. Placing him on this new post is an acknowledgment of his contributions to our society and a celebration of his remarkable life,” he concluded.
To coincide with the publication of the bill, the Bank of England launched an online exhibition on how Turing’s work inspired design.
A festive design
The banknote design features a series of images dedicated to the achievements of Alan Turing. The image of him was taken by Elliott & Fry in 1951 and is part of the National Photography Gallery’s photography collection. As with other British mottoes, a portrait of the Queen is on the opposite side.
His signature is from Max Newman’s house guestbook in 1947, and there is a 1949 Time quote, which reads: “This is but a taste of what is to come and only a shadow of what is to be.” There is also a small transparent window towards the bottom corner of the ticket in the shape of Bletchley Park.
There are various images depicting his life’s work, among a host of security features. These include his technical drawings for the British bomb, tables and mathematical formulas from his 1936 paper, a sunflower head to represent his morphogenetic work, and the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) pilot machine.
The future of paper money
According to the Bank of England, the £50 paper notes currently in circulation will no longer be legal tender from September 30, 2022. Their production has already ceased, and after the September 2022 deadline, only post offices will accept.
The release of the £50 note is the latest in a series of polymer notes the Bank has launched to replace paper money. Paper £5, £10 and £20 notes were replaced by polymer notes with images of Winston Churchill, Jane Austen and JMW Turner, respectively.
Polymer ones are believed to last two and a half times longer than their paper predecessors and have advanced security systems to make them harder to tamper with. “The £50 polymer note is the Bank of England’s most secure banknote to date, and the characteristics of the note make it very difficult to counterfeit,” says Sarah John, Chief Cashier at the Bank of England. ‘England.
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“All of our polymer banknotes can be checked by looking for two key security features: an image-changing hologram; and transparent windows. So if you can verify one banknote denomination, you can verify them all,” she continued.
The rollout of the new banknotes to banks and ATMs will take place over the next few days and weeks.