The rainbow flag proudly flew Thursday over the Bank of England in the heart of London’s financial district to commemorate the decipherment of World War II Alan Turing, the new face of Britain’s 50-pound coin.
The banknote’s design was revealed prior to its official release to the public on June 23, Turing’s birthday. The 50-pound paper currency is one of the most valuable denominations in circulation but is of little use during daily transactions, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic as digital payments have increasingly replaced the use of cash.
The new note, packed with high-level security features and made from long-lasting polymer, completes the bank’s return of its fiat notes over the past few years. Turing’s photo joins Winston Churchill on the five-pound note, novelist Jane Austen on the 10-pound note and artist JMW Turner on the 20-pound note.
Turing was chosen as the new face of the £ 50 bill in 2019 after a public nomination process that garnered some 250,000 votes, partly in recognition of the discrimination he faced as a gay man after the war.
Among his many accomplishments, Turing is best known for the pivotal role he played in breaking the German Nazi Enigma code during WWII. It was believed that the blade is unbreakable because the blade is constantly changing. Historians say breaking the law may have helped shorten the war by at least two years, potentially saving millions of lives.
Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said: “There is something of a nation character in its money, and we are right to respect and celebrate people in our bank notes.”
Turing is best known for his code-breaking work in Bletchley Park, which helped end World War II. However, he was additionally a pioneering mathematician, developmental biologist, and pioneer in the field of computer science. He was also gay and was treated horribly as a result. ”
During World War II, Turing worked at the secret Bletchley Park coding center, where he helped decipher Enigma by creating the “Turing bomb”, the pioneer of modern computers. He also developed the “Turing Test” to measure artificial intelligence.
After the war, he was tried because of his relationship with a man in Manchester and was given prison and probation a requirement to undergo female hormone therapy, which was used at the time as a form of chemical castration.
His conviction led to his security clearance being lifted, which meant he was no longer able to operate at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). He died at the age of 41 in 1954 after consuming a cyanide apple.
Turing received a posthumous apology from the British government in 2009 and a royal pardon in 2013. Four years later, the Turing Act was passed, which pardoned homosexuals with previous convictions.
Actor and author Stephen Fry said the recent celebration of Turing’s memory marked another step in the nation’s long-awaited recognition of “this very great man,” whose “talents” varied widely.
In a YouTube video posted by the bank, Fry explained the levels of discrimination and “barbaric punishments” that gay men faced in the years following World War II.
“Alan Turing was among the thousands of men who were provoked and drowned by the authorities,” he said. “Not only because of a hostile attitude towards their sexuality, but also in light of a fanatical belief that there is a link between homosexuality and communism.”
Over the past decade, Turing’s life has become known to a much wider audience, especially in the wake of the 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” which saw Benedict Cumberbatch play Turing.
As part of the new note design – which includes a metallic hologram that changes between the words “fifty” and “a pound” when the note is tilted and an image of an electronic chip – the bank collaborated with the British Intelligence and Security Agency (GCHQ) to create Turing Challenge-A set of 12 puzzles
GCHQ said the full challenge could take seven hours to complete the puzzle and may have let Turing “scratch his head, although we very much doubt it.”
Turing’s nephew, James Turing, who runs Turing Trust Who renews computers in the UK for use in African schools, he told BBC Radio the puzzle is “a wonderful appreciation, and it reminds us a bit of the famous crossword puzzle they used to recruit in Bletchley Park that day.”