Published on July 22nd, 2019 | by Sam Rose
New £50 Note to Feature Alan Turing
Stemming from a six-week public nomination period, the face of the new £50 note has been announced as Alan Turing.
The announcement, which is featured in the Bank of England’s recent press release, was made by the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney.
Made at the fitting location of the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the announcement to use Turing as the face of the £50 note came after the Banknote Character Advisory Committee shortlisted 227,299 public nominations down to a final 12.
The last call was then made by Carney for Alan Turing to feature on the new polymer £50 note which is expected to enter circulation at the end of 2021.
Despite the ongoing rise of cashless payment, the new £50 note will be the final of the plans made by the Government to convert Britain’s currency notes from paper to polymer.
Who is Alan Turing?
For anyone unaware of the work and influence Alan Turing had on science within Britain, Turing was the main provider of theories which surround modern computing.
He is best known for his efforts to develop code-breaking machines throughout the Second World War, whilst also making significant progress in advancing the technology behind modern computers.
Working primarily at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester, Turing made the very first steps into uncovering the true nature of artificial intelligence by posing the question on if machines and machinery could think.
One of his most famous and highly thought of inventions, the Turing Test, has become the world standard for determining if AI can be distinguishable from a human.
Ask anyone in the engineering and technology disciplines of work and you can be assured that they will speak of how Turing has greatly influenced much of today’s technology, along with creating a lasting impact on the society of Britain at the same time.
What Will Be Featured on the New £50 Note?
The new £50 note will be a much-deserved tribute to Alan Turing and his innovative work with computers and will feature several references to his lasting legacy.
Whilst the note will feature a photo of Turing (taken in 1951 by Elliott & Fry), the new £50 note will also include:
• A table and mathematical formulae taken from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper ‘On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem’
• Technical drawings of the British Bombe, one of the main machines specified by Turing and regarded as one of the main tools used to help decipher Enigma messages during World War Two.
• The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine, regarded as one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers.
• Turing’s signature taken from the Visitor’s Book at Bletchley Park in 1947.
• An image of ticker tape containing Alan Turin’s birth date (23rd of June 1912) in binary code format.
• A quote from Alan Turing, given during an interview with The Times newspaper on the 11th of June 1949 which reads: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what it is going to be.”
Further details on the design of the new £50 note, such as security features and other elements, are to be revealed closer to the note entering circulation.
Why Was Alan Turing Chosen?
Providing some commentary on the strength of the shortlist that Turing was chosen from, Chief Cashier at the Bank of England, Sarah John expressed:
“The strength of the shortlist is testament to the UK’s incredible scientific contribution.
The breadth of individuals and achievements reflects the huge range of nominations we received for this note and I would like to thank the public for all their suggestions of scientists we could celebrate.”
Included on the 12-person shortlist 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, Frederick Sanger, Ernest Rutherford and Alan Turing.
Ultimately however, Turning was chosen due to his lasting impact on today’s technological world, with Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England commenting:
“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.
Turing is a giant whose shoulders so many now stand.”