Alan Turing could become the next face of the £50 note. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney recently announced a public contest to find someone from the scientific community to replace James Watt on the redesigned bank note. Turing is one of the frontrunners, along with mathematician Ada Lovelace and physicist Stephen Hawking.
Turing's work as a computer scientist and codebreaker is widely believed to have ended World War II earlier than expected. The mathematical genius worked at Bletchley Park to crack the German Enigma codes.
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Despite his achievements and contributions to ending the war, Turing was once considered a pariah. After having sex with a man, he was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, and was chemically castrated. After being barred from working for GCHQ, he was driven to suicide.
“We’d be very happy to see Alan Turing placed on the £50 note," Richy Thompson, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at Humanists UK, told PinkNews. “Turing was a humanist who helped save the UK during World War II and invented modern computer technology as we know it, but the UK still subjected him to harsh, homophobic treatment and attempted to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality through chemical castration... That terrible treatment can never be undone, but the new £50 note presents an opportunity for the UK to honor one of its greatest heroes.”
Since his death, Turing has been largely celebrated. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth presented him with a rare posthumous royal pardon. His life was also the basis for The Imitation Game, a 2014 Oscar-winning film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
The contest to find the new face of the £50 note ends December 14. The public can make nominations online.