The Bank of England introduces a new banknote to celebrate the code-breaker Turing from World War II
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A view of the Bank of England and the City of London financial district in London, UK
LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England unveiled the design of a new banknote in celebration of mathematician Alan Turing who helped Britain win World War II using his code-breaking skills but fell apart after being convicted of sex with a man allegedly killed partner.
The new 50 pound note ($ 69) includes a picture of Turing, mathematical formulas from a 1936 paper he wrote that laid the foundation for modern computer science, and engineering drawings for the machines that power the Enigma Code has been decrypted.
The Polymernote also includes a quote from Turing about the rise of machine intelligence: “This is just a taste of what is to come and only the shadow of what will be.”
Turing built on the work of Polish mathematicians who figured out how to read the German Enigma code and found a way to break the Nazis’ heightened security for the code.
This story was told in the 2014 film The Imitation Game, in which Turing was played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Turing’s work resulted in the decryption of German maritime communications that helped Allied convoys stay away from submarines and that was vital to the Battle of the Atlantic.
He also developed a technique that resulted in breaking the more sophisticated German Lorenz cipher.
Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for sex with a man and subjected to chemical castration with injections of female hormones to avoid incarceration. He lost his security clearance to work with the UK spy agency GCHQ.
Gay sex was illegal in the UK until 1967.
According to an investigation at the time, Turing killed himself with cyanide in 1954 at the age of 41. Queen Elizabeth granted him a royal pardon in 2013 for criminal conviction before his death.
“There’s something of the character of a nation in their money,” BoE Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement Thursday that highlighted the breadth of Turing’s accomplishments.
“He was gay too, so he was treated horribly,” said Bailey. “By putting it on our new 50-pound polymer banknote, we are celebrating its successes and the values it symbolizes.”
GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming said Turing’s picture on the slip was a milestone.
“Turing has been welcomed for his brilliance and persecuted for his homosexuality. His legacy is a reminder of the importance of addressing all aspects of diversity, but also the work we have yet to do to become truly inclusive,” said Fleming .
The BoE said it would hoist the rainbow flag from its main building on London’s Threadneedle Street on Thursday.
The 50 pound note is the highest denominated banknote in the BoE. It goes into circulation on June 23, Turing’s birthday.
($ 1 = 0.7290 pounds)
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