The Bank of England announced today that the pioneering gay scientist Alan Turing will be the face of the new £50 note, the first printed on polymer.
Involving the public in the initial selection process, the Bank of England revealed that they received 227,299 nominations for 989 different scientists during the six-week nomination period. With the help of public focus groups, the Banknote Character Advisory Committee, then created a shortlist of 12 scientists: Mary Anning, Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, Stephen Hawking, William and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger and Alan Turing (1912-1954) whose work on early computers, code-breaking achievements and visionary ideas about machine intelligence made him one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.
The Governor then chose Alan Turing from the shortlist. The Bank of England website describes Turing’s work and life as follows:
“Alan Turing provided the theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer. While best known for his work devising code-breaking machines during WWII, Turing played a pivotal role in the development of early computers first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. He set the foundations for work on artificial intelligence by considering the question of whether machines could think. Turing was homosexual and was posthumously pardoned by the Queen having been convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man. His legacy continues to have an impact on both science and society today.”
The note will feature an image taken from a photograph of Turing from 1951 by Elliott and Fry, from the National Portrait Gallery’s Photographs Collection as well as a quote from Turing, from 1949: “This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.”
For more information on other Turing related details to be featured on the new £50 note head to the Bank of England website.