Bank of England Unveils New Banknote Celebrating World War II Code Breaker Turing

LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England unveiled a new banknote design in tribute to mathematician Alan Turing, who helped Britain win World War II with his code-breaking skills, but is believed to have killed himself afterward. of being convicted of having sex with a man. couple.

New £ 50 note, featuring the late mathematician Alan Turing in this 2020 illustration. Bank of England / Prospectus via REUTERS / Illustration

The new 50-pound ($ 69) note features a picture of Turing, mathematical formulas from a 1936 article he wrote that laid the foundation for modern computing, and technical drawings for the machines used to crack the Enigma code.

The polymer note also includes a quote from Turing on the rise of artificial intelligence: “This is only a preview of what is to come, and only a shadow of what is to be.”

Turing drew on the work of Polish mathematicians who had discovered how to read Germany’s Enigma code, finding a way to crack the Nazi code as securely as possible.

That story was told in the 2014 film The Imitation Game in which Turing was played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Turing’s work led to the decryption of German naval communications that helped Allied convoys stay clear of submarines and was instrumental in the Battle of the Atlantic.

He also developed a technique that led to the breaking of Germany’s most sophisticated Lorenz cipher.

Turing was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having sex with a man and underwent chemical castration with injections of female hormones to avoid incarceration. He lost his security clearance to work with Britain’s GCHQ spy agency.

Gay sex was illegal in Britain until 1967.

Turing used cyanide to commit suicide in 1954, 41, according to research at the time. Queen Elizabeth granted him a royal pardon in 2013 for the criminal conviction that preceded his death.

“There is something of the character of a nation in his money,” Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said in a statement Thursday, highlighting the breadth of Turing’s accomplishments.

“He was also gay, and as a result, he was treated horribly,” Bailey said. “By placing it on our new polymer £ 50 note, we are celebrating its achievements and the values ​​it symbolizes.”

GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said the image of Turing in the note was a historic moment.

“Turing was embraced for his brilliance and persecuted for being gay. His legacy is a reminder of the value of embracing all aspects of diversity, but also of the work we still have to do to be truly inclusive, ”said Fleming.

The BoE said it would wave the rainbow flag from its main building on Threadneedle Street in London on Thursday.

The £ 50 note is the Bank of England’s highest value banknote. It will go into circulation on June 23, Turing’s birthday.

($ 1 = 0.7290 pounds)

Written by William Schomberg; Edited by Alexandra Hudson


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