Alan Turing will be the face on the £50 note. Polish internet reacts with a new note

July 16, 2019

Bank of England announced that Alan Turing would be on the new £50 plastic note. According to the Bank there were 227,299 nominations for 989 different scientists during the six-week nomination period.

The Banknote Character Advisory Committee, with the help of public focus groups, created a shortlist of 12 options:

Mary Anning (1799-1847) – a self-taught palaeontologist known around the world for the fossil discoveries she made in her hometown of Lyme Regis.

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984) – whose research revolutionised our understanding of the universe’s smallest matter.

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) – who drove the discovery of DNA’s structure, a critical breakthrough in our understanding of the biology of life.

Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) – who made outstanding contributions to our understanding of gravity, space and time.

William (1738-1822) and Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) – a brother and sister astronomy team devoted to uncovering the secrets of the universe.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994) – whose research using x-ray crystallography delivered ground-breaking discoveries which shaped modern science and helped save lives.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) and Charles Babbage (1791-1871) – visionaries who imagined the computer age.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) – who made discoveries which laid the foundations for technological innovations which have transformed our way of life.

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) – whose incredible talent for numbers helped transform modern mathematics.

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937) – who uncovered the properties of radiation, revealed the secrets of the atom and laid the foundations for nuclear physics.

Frederick Sanger (1918-2013) – whose pioneering research laid the foundations for our understanding of genetics.

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.

From the shortlist, the Governor chose Alan Turing: “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”.

Polish social media were critical and underlined the fact that Alan Turing could not have cracked the Enigma without the help of Polish mathematicians and it is time to acknowledge their contribution too. A 3 photoshopped notes created by @ChrisSzkoda showed 3 Polish cryptographers – Jerzy Różycki, Henryk Zygalski and Marian Rejewski:

According to articles published by The Telegraph, The Times, BBC and PolandIn few people realise that early Enigma codes had already been broken by the Poles who then passed on the knowledge to Britain shortly before the outbreak of war. Deciphering the German system is believed to have shortened WW2 by 2 years and saved countless lives. As a Twitter user @Ojdadana stated: “Without Polish mathematicians having cracked the Enigma code before Alan Turing, Bletchley Park may have continued relying on linguists rather than mathematicians for too long to make a difference to the result of WW2”:

The new note will enter circulation by the end of 2021.

Source and picture: Bank of England/NB

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