Alan Turing, Computing Genius And WWII Hero, To Be On U.K.'s New 50-Pound Note For decades, Turing's status as a giant in mathematics was largely unknown, thanks to the secrecy around his computer research and the social taboos about his sexuality.
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Alan Turing, Computing Genius And WWII Hero, To Be On U.K.'s New 50-Pound Note

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Alan Turing, Computing Genius And WWII Hero, To Be On U.K.'s New 50-Pound Note

Alan Turing, Computing Genius And WWII Hero, To Be On U.K.'s New 50-Pound Note

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  • Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This morning, the Bank of England unveiled the design of a new 50-pound note.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It has blueprints for a code-breaking machine on a crimson background.

SHAPIRO: A complex mathematical formula in white lettering.

KELLY: And on top of it all, a portrait of a well-dressed man with dark hair parted on the side.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK CARNEY: It's my great pleasure to announce that the scientist that will feature on the 50-pound note is Alan Turing.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: That is Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, making the announcement.

SHAPIRO: Alan Turing is probably best known for cracking the Nazi code known as Enigma, a feat depicted in the 2014 film "The Imitation Game."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE IMITATION GAME")

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: (As Alan Turing) I'm designing a machine that will allow us to break every message, every day, instantly.

KELLY: Turing is also considered the father of modern computing.

ANDREW HODGES: He had to invent the idea of the computer as the thing on which you play out the computer program.

KELLY: Andrew Hodges is a mathematical physicist at the University of Oxford. He wrote a biography of Turing.

HODGES: And that sounds completely crazy, but it is more or less what he did and gives a flavor of the way in which he was so far ahead of his time.

SHAPIRO: Turing's work was cut short in 1952, when he was convicted of gross indecency for having a sexual relationship with another man. He chose to be chemically castrated rather than serve jail time. And his security clearance was taken away. He died two years later, widely thought to have been suicide.

KELLY: Turing was cleared of that conviction in 2013, and now, fully recognized for his brilliance, he will appear on the same currency note as the queen who pardoned him.

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