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Latest £50 Note to Feature Father of Computer Science, Alan Turing

16 Jul 2019  Tue

The Bank of England officially announced yesterday that the reverse side of new polymer £50 notes will feature the great scientist Alan Turing. The announcement was made at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. The reverse design was also revealed and the notes would be circulated in 2021.

In 2018, the Banknote Character Advisory Committee gave citizens six weeks to nominate a scientist who according to them, deserves to appear on the new banknote. Out of 227,299 nominations, 989 were eligible names and 12 of them were shortlisted for the Governor to take a final call. These scientists were related to various fields such as astronomy, physics, chemistry, palaeontology, mathematics, biochemistry etc. The 12 shortlisted nominees 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.

Known as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, Alan Turing was a great mathematician whose works have changed our lives today. He also invented code-breaking machines during WWII.

The banknote would depict the following elements:

A 1951 photo of Turing taken by Elliott & Fry which is showcased at the National Portrait Gallery.

A table and mathematical formulae from Turing’s seminal 1936 paper “On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem” This paper laid the foundation for computer science and suggested that any theorem can be declared provable or not with a universal machine. Based on this paper, Turing machine was introduced as a thought experiment for computers.

The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE) Pilot Machine that was developed based on Turing’s ACE design at the National Physical Laboratory. It was one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers.

Technical drawings for the British Bombe which was used to break Enigma-enciphered messages during WWII.

A quote from Alan Turing, recorded on 11th June 1949: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”

Turing’s signature which was produced by him on a visitor’s book at Bletchley Park in 1947. He had worked here during WWII.

A Ticker tape showing his birth date (23 June 1912) in binary code. A paper published by Turing in 1936 explained the concept of a machine fed by binary tape.

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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